December 30, 2010

WESPAC statement on FBI raids

For over thirty years, WESPAC Foundation has been a leading force for peace and justice work in Westchester County. It has provided both individuals and groups a space to come together as a community as well as a progressive voice for those whose views would not otherwise be heard. More than a dozen committees work within WESPAC to educate, organize and promote peace and justice, at home and abroad, as well as to promote a sustainable environment for our planet and all its people.

The work of the WESPAC Committee for Justice and Peace in the Middle East focuses primarily, but not exclusively, on peace with justice for Palestinians. Our members are therefore extremely concerned by the subpoenas issued to Palestinian solidarity activists. Not only do these subpoenas violate their right of free speech and assembly, as guaranteed by the Constitution, but they also violate one of the FBI’s “core values” posted on your website: “rigorous obedience to the constitution of the United States”.

Given the total secrecy that surrounds the grand jury subpoenas , issued to Midwest activists in September and again in December to activists in the Chicago area, we feel obliged to ask: how are we to verify the validity of these accusations if the evidence is not disclosed ? According to Jim Fennerty, a lawyer who has represented some Palestinian solidarity activists, the latest subpoenas issued to two Chicago-area women who have visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank this summer, suggest that the FBI is “trying to squeeze anybody they can”. Mr. Fennerty views the FBI’s actions as “an attack about people who do solidarity work around Palestine” . Without naming the two, Fennerty said they are “young and frightened”. It brings to mind something Jefferson once said “'When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny”. A statement worth pondering considering the central role Jefferson had in drafting our Declaration of Independence.

The WESPAC Committee for Justice and Peace in the Middle East stands in solidarity with Palestinian solidarity activists who were targeted by the FBI both in Minneapolis and in Chicago. All they did was to remind our government and the people that they stand for justice, both here and abroad. We stand with them and with Palestinians whose rights are guaranteed by International Law and UN resolutions and yet denied. We ask the FBI to uphold the Constitution, nothing more. How are we to trust a government which fails to do what it preaches and forgets that “The most sacred of duties of a government (is) to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens” , as Jefferson so rightly stated.

Given what precedes, we ask the FBI to drop all charges brought against the Palestinian solidarity activists and discontinue any legal action as well. We also ask that those who were targeted be compensated for the violation of their rights and reimbursed for any legal expenses that may have occurred as a result of FBI and Justice department action against them.