Pro-Israelis Target Widows and Orphans

As many of us watch with great interest the latest developments in the so-called Middle East Peace talks, we should be aware that there is a dangerous campaign to hurt the very people affected by the process.

This campaign is a multi-tiered effort to shut down among others, the Holy Land Foundation, a U.S. based charity, which for the last 11 years, has done a great deal of work to assist the needy in countries around the world.

Thus far, it is unclear exactly who is orchestrating this campaign, but names of some of these players are beginning to emerge. Not surprisingly, Islamophobe Judith Miller was the first to publicly attack Holy Land Foundation with a story published several months ago in the New York Times. In the article, Miller reported that a Jewish family had filed a lawsuit against HLF and several other organizations for the death of their son in a suicide bombing carried out by members of Hamas. The multi-million dollar lawsuit accuses the charity of being a front organization for Hamas. It should be noted that Miller received a copy of the lawsuit before it was even sent to the foundation itself.

Miller attacked HLF again in the August 25 issue of the NYT in an article titled, "U.S. Contends Muslim Charity Is Tied to Hamas". In the piece, Miller wrote that the U.S. State Department had asked the Agency for International Development to remove HLF from its registry. However, Miller failed to name a single source of this information in her story and even admitted that USAID had not officially heard from the department. After the article appeared, reporters from the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal called HLF to write their own article. But as one reporter concluded after interviewing an HLF staff member, "...this is pretty much a non-story," and dropped the piece.

It is extremely disturbing to know that Miller is not alone in her quest to deprive orphans and widows of much needed relief. U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York has launched a media campaign of his own. In a copy of a letter obtained by, Schumer urged U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Attorney General Janet Reno to "crack down" on HLF for "raising millions of dollars for the Palestinian cause in the Middle East, some of which has been knowingly channeled to support the families of Hamas terrorists." The letter was faxed to at least several other news organizations, including the New York Post and Jewish Week.

It is ironic that Sen. Schumer prides himself as a leader in bringing restitution to Holocaust survivors and their families. Perhaps the senator is only interested in helping Jewish victims of ethnic cleansing and oppression and not others.

Assistant New York State Attorney General Karen Goldman has joined Schumer in his efforts to shut down HLF. In letters and meetings, Goldman has asked the Internal Revenue Service to audit the records of HLF in an effort to, "Enforce the laws applicable to exempt organizations".

HLF has responded by saying that they are not in the business of politics, but rather in the business of helping individuals. HLF spokesperson Dalal Mohammed said the charity is not in the habit of asking potential recipients about their family background.

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't ever recalling hearing about the U.S. government asking potential welfare recipients whether their parents or any one else in their family was convicted of murder," said Mohammed.

In the past, the State Department has been successful in hurting another Muslim charity. USAID, under pressure from the State Department, revoked two grants totaling $4.2 million awarded to the Islamic African Relief Agency, which is based in Columbia, Missouri. The charity has since challenged the action as unlawful.

At issue of even greater concern here is that if the forces behind this campaign are successful in shutting down Holy Land Foundation, then what will be next? Will other charities serving the needy in Afghanistan, Kashmir, and Iraq be forced to spend precious resources and funds defending bogus lawsuits and government pressure?

Let's wake up to this dangerous trend. Our suffering brothers and sisters are depending on us.

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