ZOA lauds Rep. Sherman for pushing George Galloway investigation
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) applauds U.S. Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, for calling on Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Douglas Shulman to investigate the activities of George Galloway, a radical Israel-bashing member of the British Parliament; his organization called Viva Palestina; and an entity called the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations/Pastors for Peace, to determine whether they have been soliciting funds for Hamas, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.
Congressman Sherman has also urged Dr. Michael V. Drake, the Chancellor of the University of California, Irvine, to thoroughly investigate the activities of a student group called the Muslim Student Union, which sponsored a campus event on May 21, 2009, at which Galloway solicited funds on behalf of Viva Palestina.
In three separate letters to federal officials dated December 1, 2009, Congressman Sherman expressed concern about whether an organization known as Viva Palestina, headed by George Galloway, may be soliciting funds for the terrorist group Hamas. The Congressman noted that Galloway is the leader of Viva Palestina convoys to Gaza and has spoken publicly on behalf of Viva Palestina. Citing a statement that Galloway made during one of the Viva Palestina convoys to Gaza in March, Congressman Sherman called it “compelling evidence that the major purpose of Viva Palestina is to provide material support to Hamas”:
“We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine, to Prime Minister Ismail Haniya [a high ranking Hamas official]. Here is the money. This is not charity. This is politics. . . . We are giving this money now to the government of Palestine. If I could, I would give them 10 times, 100 times, more [emphasis in Congressman Sherman’s letter].”
The Congressman noted in his letters to federal officials that “Viva Palestina itself is not a 501(c)(3) entity” and that its legal status was not ascertainable. It “apparently uses a 501(c)(3) conduit, the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organizations/Pastors for Peace (IFCO), to accept charitable donations . . . .”
The Congressman also cited evidence that he received from the ZOA – a videotape of Galloway soliciting funds at the University of California, Irvine, on behalf of Viva Palestina on May 21, 2009. According to the videotape, Galloway states:
“The convoy is the first thing . . . If you can’t come, then help those who are fundraising to send others. There are many ways that you can do it . . . Please take it. It’s a small colored leaflet, Viva Palestina USA, which tells you how you can raise the funds, how you can help this great cause.”
In his letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, Congressman Sherman urged the Attorney General to investigate Galloway, Viva Palestina USA and IFCO immediately. Congressman Sherman said, “Clearly, people and organizations in the United States cannot be allowed to solicit funds for foreign terrorist organizations. That such solicitation is occurring during the middle of the day at a public university is truly frightening.”
In his letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Congressman Sherman requested that the Secretary “investigate . . . immediately to determine whether Mr. Galloway and his foreign associates should have any outstanding visas revoked and any future admittance into the United States barred . . . and whether Viva Palestina, its affiliates, and its leadership should be designated . . . as supporters of a Foreign Terrorist Organization.” Congressman Sherman emphasized, “The borders of the United States should not remain open to individuals that provide support to recognized terror organizations” (italics in original).
In his letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, Congressman Sherman called on the IRS to “investigate . . . immediately to determine whether the Internal Revenue Service should revoke IFCO’s 501(c)(3) status . . . .” Congressman Sherman emphasized, “The taxpayers of the United States should not and cannot support the activities of recognized terror organizations” (italics in original).
In a letter to UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake, also dated December 1, 2009, Congressman Sherman noted that UC Irvine was already “cooperating with local authorities” and “conducting an internal investigation” into the Muslim Student Union event on May 21, 2009, at which Galloway solicited funds for Viva Palestina. Urging that the university’s probe be thoroughly conducted, the Congressman alluded to previous letters he had written to the Chancellor, in which he had expressed concern about the Muslim Student Union’s programs that “appear intended to encourage violence against the State of Israel and propagate the spread of anti-Semitism.” In his December 1st letter, Congressman Sherman said:
In the past we have discussed the actions of the MSU in the context of First Amendment rights; soliciting funds for terror organizations is a far different matter. Students using a public university’s resources to provide material assistance for terror are in clear violation of federal law.
The Congressman referred to the videotape evidence provided by the ZOA, showing that at the May 21st Muslim Student Union event, Galloway had solicited funds at UC Irvine on behalf of Viva Palestina USA. Calling the evidence of fundraising “alarming,” Congressman Sherman said:
“I strongly urge you to review this evidence in your investigation. I believe your investigation will confirm that the UCI MSU [Muslim Student Union] has solicited funds for a terrorist organization (or knowingly aided and abetted such solicitation). After you confirm these facts, I believe you will, at a minimum, prevent the MSU from operating on campus unless and until its leadership is purged of those responsible.”
Morton A. Klein, the ZOA’s National President, and Susan B. Tuchman, Esq., the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, praised Congressman Sherman for urging investigations into whether funds are being solicited in the U.S. and on our college campuses for the terrorist group Hamas in violation of federal law: “Last September, the ZOA raised concerns about the Muslim Student Union’s event at UC Irvine, at which the Muslim Student Union and George Galloway solicited funds for Viva Palestina. Based on university records, the Muslim Student Union solicited funds without UC Irvine’s approval and indeed misrepresented to UC Irvine that the event was not going to be a fundraiser. Our concerns were heightened by evidence that Viva Palestina may well be providing material support and resources to the terrorist group Hamas in violation of federal law.
“The ZOA sent detailed information about its concerns to Congressman Sherman and numerous other officials, including UC Irvine’s chief campus counsel and the U.S. Department of Justice. We were gratified when UC Irvine’s chief campus counsel immediately responded by thanking us for bringing the matter to the university’s attention and informing us that the university had referred the matter to law enforcement and initiated its own internal probe. Last week, the university informed us that the internal probe is ‘underway.’
“For years, students have complained to us that UC Irvine has not enforced the university’s own policies when it comes to the Muslim Student Union. In this current situation, the Muslim Student Union has itself publicly admitted that it violated the university policies on fundraising.
“UC Irvine is looking into the conduct of not only the Muslim Student Union, but also that of university officials who were present at the Muslim Student Union’s event on May 29th and knew or should have known that unauthorized – and possibly illegal – fundraising was taking place. These officials did nothing to stop the solicitation of funds for Viva Palestina. And when one official submitted a report about the event to the Vice Chancellor, he did not even mention that funds had been solicited there.
“We are pleased that other groups and organizations have taken a strong stand in support of the federal government and UC Irvine investigating what occurred at the university on May 21, 2009. We thank Congressman Sherman for taking a leadership role on this serious matter, which could show that the UC Irvine campus was used as a base for fundraising for the terrorist group Hamas in violation of federal law. Hopefully, Attorney General Holder, Secretary of State Clinton, and IRS Commissioner Shulman will heed Congressman Sherman’s calls for an immediate investigation. And Congressman Sherman’s letter will hopefully reinforce the need for UC Irvine to conduct a thorough investigation which, when completed, holds wrongdoers fully accountable for their misconduct.”