Trending Topics:

‘This is travesty of American criminal justice’: Supreme Court denies Holy Land Five appeal

on 45 Comments
A rally for the Holy Land Five in New York City, October 25, 2012.

The Supreme Court has denied the Holy Land Five appeal and will not be issuing a decision in the case. This almost definitely marks the end of the legal appeal process.

The Holy Land Five — Shukri Abu Baker, Mohammad el-Mazain, Ghassan Elashi, Mufid Abdulqader, Abulrahman Odeh — were convicted of providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza through zakat committees allegedly connected with Hamas. The case relied on “secret evidence” from an anonymous Israeli intelligence source. Four of the five defendants are now serving sentences in a Communication Management Unit, or CMU, an “experimental” detention facility outside of oversight from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, where two-thirds of the inmates are Arab and/or Muslim. Detainees in these facilities are subject to arbitrary policies that restrict their movement within prison cells, and minimal contact with the families and attorneys.

Nida Abubaker, the daughter of Holy Land Five member Shukri Abubaker, announced the decision over Twitter:


She added on her blog:

That’s it. They denied it… So what now? Are these men going to sit in prison, for something they didn’t do, while the world all over the poor is getting even poorer? While the hungry is dying of starvation? While the sick is dying without medicine and blood? While the homeless is in desperate need of a home during The harsh winters? This is outrageous. I am at loss of words… God has a plan for everything and everyone. We must not give up. #FreeTheHolyLandFoundation #FreeMyBaba #FreeMyUncles

Mondoweiss talked to Holy Land Five attorney Nancy Hollander who explained this will most likely end the legal fight in the case, “Technically they can file a petition for writ of habeas corpus, but they would have to go back to original court and I don’t think they will be successful. I fear this is the end of the road and far as the courts are concerned.” Hollander added:

This is travesty of American criminal justice. I don’t think American citizens understand that this effects all of us and the world that believes in the American criminal justice system. Anyone in any court in America now risks being convicted based on the opinion of someone who claims to be an expert without any opportunity to cross examine that person because everything about that so-called expert can remain secret. The right to Confrontation, so long enshrined in our justice system, died today.

Attorney Linda Moreno, who also worked on the case, told Mondoweiss:

We fought so hard for this case we believed in these men and we believed in the charity, their good will, their good works. I have always said they fed the wrong children. They were Palestinian children and for some reason Palestinian children, Palestinian widows do not deserve humanitarian aid.

And I will tell you this, I don’t care what the government believes it has proved in this case, a decision that allows a man to be sentenced to 65 years in prison for feeding Palestinian children in my view is racist.

As Joe Catron wrote earlier today on Mondoweiss, even if the court denied the appeal, this doesn’t mean work in solidarity with the Holy Land Five is over. On the contrary, it is time to redouble our efforts:

The imprisonment of the Holy Land Five is a conscious act of imperial repression against Palestine no less than those of Khader Adnan, Hana Shalabi, Mahmoud Sarsak, or Hassan Safadi, returning today to his family in Nablus. Like their freedom, the HLF prisoners’ may boil down to a question not of laws, but of solidarity, mobilization, and power.

Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Executive Editor of

Other posts by .

Posted In:

45 Responses

  1. joecatron on October 29, 2012, 1:43 pm

    Here’s the text of the Supreme Court’s decision :

    • eGuard on October 29, 2012, 4:45 pm

      You mean, this most readable part, paragraph 1:

      The motion of petitioner for leave to proceed in forma
      pauperis and the petition for a writ of certiorari are granted.
      The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the Court
      of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, for further
      consideration in light of Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. ___


      How legible.

      • annie on October 29, 2012, 6:21 pm

        scroll down to 3rd page “CERTIORARI DENIED”

  2. Philip Munger on October 29, 2012, 1:44 pm

    This from Allison’s October 28th article:

    During the 2008 trial, for the first time in a U.S. criminal court “secret evidence” was used by an anonymous source. A so-called Israeli intelligence expert testified under a pseudonym and said that the defendants had ties to Hamas. How did “Avi,” the Israeli intelligence officer, prove a “terror” affiliation? Elashi told me, while on the stand Avi said he “could smell Hamas.”

    Attorney Michael Ratner says that Avi’s testimony violated the defendent’s sixth amendment right to face their accuser. This “screams to be heard by the Supreme Court and be reversed.” Relying on intelligence from a foreign country also reflects a troublesome sharing of intelligence between nations. If the Supreme Court decides to uphold the convictions it will mean that in future terror cases due process will be abandoned for an Israeli military court style system, which regularly imprisons Palestinians on secret evidence.

    emphases added.

    1) There was certainly at least one important constitutional issue in this case. Why did they avoid it?

    2) This opens some floodgates, does it not?

    3) Does “Avi” get his bonus now?

  3. annie on October 29, 2012, 1:55 pm


  4. annie on October 29, 2012, 2:00 pm

    can’t stop crying.

  5. Alex Kane on October 29, 2012, 2:00 pm

    Messed up. So twisted.

  6. just on October 29, 2012, 2:02 pm

    This is beyond horrible and a disgrace.

    There is NO justice.

  7. Dan Crowther on October 29, 2012, 2:16 pm

    we’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside…..taking a ride to nowhere, i’ll take that ride….

    it’s getting pretty crazy round here

    • Mooser on October 30, 2012, 12:25 pm

      “we’re on a road to nowhere, come on inside…..taking a ride to nowhere, i’ll take that ride….”

      It’s pretty discouraging, Dan. I’ve found it helps if you emulate Old King Cole.

      • Dan Crowther on November 1, 2012, 3:59 pm

        me too, moose – me too.

        did you read stoller’s “progressive case against obama” essay? man-o-man.

  8. Pamela Olson on October 29, 2012, 2:23 pm

    I’ve met Ghassan Elashi’s family, he is a beloved son, husband, and father. Taken away from his family, possibly for life. Because he tried to feed “the wrong children.” There are no words.

    That would be horrible enough, but it leaves all the rest of us — everyone — open to indefinite arbitrary detention, for any reason or no reason at all. Even just because the government doesn’t agree with what we are doing politically. Chilling doesn’t begin to describe it. It seems that now every single American citizen officially has the same legal rights as occupied Palestinians, whenever the government wishes it thus.

  9. joecatron on October 29, 2012, 2:32 pm

    If I can “like” one thing about the whole awful, rotten situation, it’s the wording of this announcement on the daughters’ Web site:

    “October 29, 2012. The U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear the Holy Land Foundation case. Their decision marks the end of the judicial process and the beginning of a massive effort to free the Holy Land Five.”

    And of course, as Nida says above, “We must not give up,” and as Noor Elashi wrote five days ago, “no matter what happens in the next few days, let us not be brought down. Let us hold on to that patience and mercy as we keep moving onward.”

    So let’s make this thing happen. Take a few days to breathe, but start thinking now about what we need to do next.

  10. seafoid on October 29, 2012, 3:08 pm

    Scalia and the lobby. Brutal

  11. DaveS on October 29, 2012, 3:11 pm

    I can’t say I’m surprised. The Supreme Court agrees to hear a tiny tiny percentage of the cases for which certiorari is requested. Even with a very significant constitutional issue, chances are slim. What they are leaving here is not just an important issue, but egregious injustice. Doing charity work for Palestinians can earn a life sentence; meanwhile Friends of the IDF hold fundraisers at the Waldorf. And we have a choice for President between two men and two parties who wholeheartedly support this status quo. My heart goes out to these men and their loved ones.

  12. Wonder Bunder on October 29, 2012, 3:38 pm

    Horrible news, but are any of us really surprised? It’s should come us no surprise that the justice system is anything but just. As Glenn Greenwald wrote, “liberty and justice for some.”

    • Stephen Shenfield on October 29, 2012, 5:36 pm

      Not surprised, but a bit disappointed. Here and there a judge does still have enough integrity to issue a ruling that defies some lawless outrage of the “security” establishment.

  13. John Douglas on October 29, 2012, 4:01 pm

    The damage to the civil liberties of everyone, Americans and all others, by the bogus hysteria that is called the “war on terror” as prosecuted now by two Administrations would have been unimaginable just days before nine-eleven. Spying upon citizens, indeterminate detentions without charges, kill lists, assasinations by the American government of Americans without charges or verdicts, the militarization of law enforcement. Generations of children will grow up where this overreaching by government will seem commonplace, where people will wonder at the NSA’s tapping of their phones, “What’s all the fuss?” With that, it’s difficult to envision ever returning to a time when courts protected individual liberties and the government respected the Constitution.

  14. thankgodimatheist on October 29, 2012, 8:48 pm

    ” 65 years in US federal prison for sending aid to charity groups in Gaza with no connection to violent activity”
    On the other hand, sending money to illegal and violent settlers to build more illegal settlements is totally kosher.

  15. Keith on October 29, 2012, 9:08 pm

    Keeping our eye on the big picture, it seems obvious that this is a part of the ongoing attempt to establish laws and precedents for arbitrary application of state power in repressing any sort of resistance to the vicious, Wall Street led war on the 99%. The pieces have been put in place, with Obama leading the charge, to smash us good in the very near future. But hey, feel free to vote for your assailant.

  16. peeesss on October 29, 2012, 10:11 pm

    I am surprised that so many MW contributers are “surprised” that this Supreme Court refused to rectify the great injustice done to these 5 good human beings . Also sad to read the comments of so many intelligent , sensitive people , talking about the “Values” they were taught as youngsters that is now being betrayed by these “Neocons” and “Zionists.” “Values” that the United States{America} stood for in the past and which now has been betrayed. Long before Israel existed, before Zionism took control of US middle east policy the US was conducting an imperial, savage policy of repression, invasion, assassinations, regime change. Those “values” never existed except in our school books, media disinformation, film. Since its inception, destruction of the indiginous people, slavery, Spanish-American war, Manifest Destinay, Haiti, Cuba, Central and South America, please tell me when the “values” we were taught was endemic to the US govt. actions in the world . We wanted to BELIEVE that theUS stood for the ideals of a truly liberal society as we were told.
    The Palestinians are the latest people to suffer the brutality of the hypocricy of US policy . They won’t be the last sad to say.

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars on October 30, 2012, 3:39 am

      I entirely second that. Just want to add that this is also true for most of the Western powers that tout their values too (UK, France, Germany, Spain et al)
      What “values” are the talking about ? … How come people still boast about this empty concept … How come ordinary people still BELIEVE in this hypocrisy ?

      • ritzl on October 30, 2012, 10:05 am

        Good question.

        I don’t know that ordinary people boast about it, but regarding “believe,” it’s because without the egalitarian belief/ideal, broadly held, there is no check whatsoever to elites steamrolling the rest of us. The belief is a standard, however loosely and increasingly desperately clung to, without which we’d simply be eager and/or happy-go-lucky participants in our own subjugation.

        Maybe it’s just all we got to eventually make things better.

    • gamal on October 30, 2012, 7:17 am

      ” Also sad to read the comments of so many intelligent , sensitive people , talking about the “Values” they were taught as youngsters that is now being betrayed by these “Neocons” and “Zionists.” ….Those “values” never existed except in our school books, media disinformation, film. ”

      well! just right peeesss, its called seeing through privilege

      do no black Americans post here, I wonder what they would say of American justice?

      “They won’t be the last sad to say.”
      courage mon brave, they may be, who knows, the monstrous nostrums running this world are not invulnerable, i once did a broadcast about my love for my sacred brother Ariel Sharon, not one complaint except a Jewish guy, Aubrey Cohen emailed me to say what the fuck was i thinking of, actually truth is i was thinking like a Muslim, not the brightest pennies in the stack may be, but our hearts are big, do you not remember that many Iraqis ran to save Blackwater guys hit by IEDS and when asked by reporters one Iraqi remarked “Because they are people” no one hates you, we all are grieving we all have loss, dont you read Moosers posts, is he not the real Jew. Jazak allah khairan Musa

      peace perfect peace is not so unattainable, in fact it is the natural state, of both the world and the psyche. Just check the scriptures, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist and all others, science may not agree but who cares, comforting though it is to have science on our side, have you read Lafif Lakdars take downs of the “science” in the Quran, its hilarious though he and i are opposite sides of the equation he, like that ancient Lebanese poet from Ma’arat al Numan Abu Alaa Al-Maari make me laugh. No one in reality is ever wronged the Palestinians and all victims of empire hold us lovingly in their hearts, really you should check them, this anger and despair is the wage of privilege, the despised are glorious in the depth of their love.

    • gingershot on October 30, 2012, 9:41 pm

      hear, hear

      With all due respect to everyone

      • peeesss on October 31, 2012, 2:40 am

        I second that, “Hear, hear.”

  17. jewishgoyim on October 29, 2012, 10:22 pm

    The lobby likes the smell of oppression in the morning…

  18. elephantine on October 29, 2012, 10:40 pm

    What is most frightening isn’t what’s happened to civil liberties but the fact that it’s being done without much resistance. Most people don’t even see a problem!

    I was just watching an old documentary about Noam Chomsky again, Manufacturing Consent. One of the things he discusses is how authorities in a democracy may not be able to use force to coerce the population but they still need to control what people think somehow. To accomplish this, they need to create necessary illusions through propaganda in order to manufacture consent and let people still believe they’re free.

    Seems like this is a perfect example for how effective this tactic is; virtually no one is opposing this or even see it as problematic. It’s necessary for safety, they believe. It only affects people who are guilty so if you haven’t done anything, why would you worry, they believe….

    It’s just scary to think how easy it’s really been to take away so much with the majority’s blessing! You’ve got to wonder just how far it’s going to go and whether there’s going to be a point where people suddenly finally wake up and push back.

    It really doesn’t seem like that’s anytime soon so as much as things are bad and hard to understand now,you’ve got to wonder just how bad is it going to get? Not really feeling too optimistic and it’s quite frightening.

  19. DICKERSON3870 on October 30, 2012, 1:33 am

    RE: “The supreme court denied the case. They dont even want to look at it. They dont want to spill the truth [about?] the US Govt bc of their lies . . .” ~ Nida Guerzoni Baker

    MY COMMENT: Can you blame the “Supremes” for not wanting to “spill the truth”?!?! In this instance “The Truth®” is one hellaciously nasty ‘chamber pot’ (or perhaps an even more atrocious ‘slop jar’; we’re not talking about Mother Weiss’ highfalutin, artsy-fartsy, ‘state of the art’ toilet training here) that the “Supremes” dare not let us lowly plebes get a good whiff of. The noxious odors would undoubtedly undermine the very foundation of our über-narcissistic “shinning city on a hill” nation (said foundation being our highly touted mass delusion known as “American exceptionalism”; praise the L_rd and pass the grits)! ! ! And speaking commercially, it would undoubtedly be even more of a dismal flop than the Dynamite album they did jointly with the Four Tops back in ’71. PEE-YOO, that one sho’ was a stinker! ! !
    Another dud like that Dynamite album might give us plebes enough audacity so as to start asking why not even so much as a single Wall Street oligarch has been prosecuted for the flagrant fraud amounting to Grand (and grandiose) Larceny of such a stratospheric value as to have existentially threatened our precious Western Civilization with a complete financial/economic meltdown back in 2008 (and probably still does despite – and/or because of – the trillions and trillions and trillions of dollars transferred by Bush, Obama and Bernanke to the Wall Street fraudsters/crapshooters).
    [loud sniff . . . another loud sniff] Why, I do declare, I can smell the stench all the way down “he—uh” in “these here parts” and it’s even more revolting than when the wind is blowing towards us from the direction of Atlanta’s infamous “treatment plant” on the Chattahoochee that after decades of flagrant EPA violations only recently managed to finally get its act together (so to speak).

    SERIOUSLY THOUGH, THE REAL (NOT REALLY SO IRONIC) IRONY HERE IS that whatever votes there were to grant review were most likely the votes of Jewish justices (my guess: Breyer and Ginsberg, possibly along with non-Jewish Sotomayor).

    FROM WIKIPEDIA (Certiorari):

    [EXCERPTS] . . . A minimum of four of the nine Justices are required to grant a writ of certiorari, referred to as the “rule of four”. The court denies the vast majority of petitions and thus leaves the decision of the lower court to stand without review . . .
    . . . Certiorari is sometimes informally referred to as cert., and cases warranting the Supreme Court’s attention as “cert. worthy”.[20] The granting of a writ does not necessarily mean that the Supreme Court disagrees with the decision of the lower court. Granting a writ of certiorari means merely that at least four of the justices have determined that the circumstances described in the petition are sufficient to warrant review by the Court. Conversely, the Supreme Court’s denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari is sometimes misunderstood to mean that the Supreme Court approves the decision of the lower court. Such a denial “imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case, as the bar has been told many times”: Missouri v. Jenkins.[21] In particular, a denial of a writ of certiorari means that no binding precedent is created by the denial itself . . .

    SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870 on October 30, 2012, 2:36 am

      The Supremes – Where Did Our Love Go – 1964 [VIDEO, 02:16] –

      Come to think of it, the above video might help explain Diana Ross’ recent problem with that “moving violation” out in Phoenix! ! ! Goodness gracious, those gals were certainly ‘living large’ there on the Champs-Élysées in “Gay Paree”!
      I assume y’all are aware that the parents of Berry Gordy Jr. (of Mowtown fame) were originally from Georgia.

    • ritzl on October 30, 2012, 5:00 am

      Good points. If Obama had nominated someone more judicially akin to Stevens, as opposed to executive power groupie Kagan, these guys probably get a new trial and limits on the secrecy used to convict them the second time around.

      Scratch another rationalization to vote for Obama. I mean how far to the right is he going to reach to get someone to replace Ginsburg?

    • HemiFaulk on October 31, 2012, 2:56 am

      Excellent work, above and below the Belt(Way).

  20. Michael Gillespie on October 30, 2012, 2:02 am

    Yet another decision that puts the USA at odds with the universe government and on the wrong side of justice, mercy, and history. They keep piling up.

    “I guess part of me still thought I was living in the country I was born in.” –Jim Garrison

  21. Hostage on October 30, 2012, 3:51 am

    ‘This is travesty of American criminal justice’: Supreme Court denies Holy Land Five appeal

    No, I’m sad to say this is par for the course. A few years ago the NY Times reported that “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.” See “U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations”

    The United States still tops the list with a rate of 730 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars.

    • piotr on October 31, 2012, 11:13 am

      You are right. Two aspects of our Justice system (Justice != justice) are at play here:

      * ridiculously high sentences

      * mockery of misguided concept that Founding Fathers put into the Constitution, and which would make Justice unworkable, like “the right to bail”, “fair trial”.

      * the State can determine the Truth (Truth != truth)

      But is some ways this is an outlier case, thus cementing a precedent. Now the state Truth can be woven from abstract concepts without any ground in reality like “Terrorist” (as determined by the State Department), “material aid” (however immaterial, as in the case of posting translations without coordination, or hower unrelated to actual armed activity as in this case). And secret proofs.

  22. seafoid on October 30, 2012, 4:04 am

    This is appalling. So blatantly political, justice so sickeningly perverted. For Muslims all over the world it is just another nail in the coffin of American PR. If Obama wins again he shouldn’t bother doing a cairo mark 2. Actions have destroyed his 2009 words. The fact that the issue combines gaza, deliberately malnourished kids and the central Muslim value of zakat intensifies the shame. Haram. This is a full frontal attack on what it means to be a decent Muslim.

    Imagine imprisoning Hindus for life for visiting Benares. Or sending everyone who goes to Mecca to Gitmo. That is how obscene this is.

    If you want a war of cultures this is what you do.

    No doubt, this will be linked with Judaism in the Arab media.

    The pity of it all.

  23. Mooser on October 30, 2012, 12:32 pm

    “No doubt, this will be linked with Judaism in the Arab media.”

    Well, at least in America, Judaism is still linked with civil liberties. So take all the liberties you want. (I don’t want to divert the thread, but there’s an odd connection here. )

  24. seafoid on October 30, 2012, 1:39 pm

    Abusing the national Untermenschen in your own sovereign State is one thing but interfering in the judicial process of another country to continue the practice is off the scale.

    This is going to come back at Israel. The goal of subjugating Islam everywhere – whether by destroying Iran or by slurring the good names of over 1 billion people or just plain old starving Gaza- it will come to a very sticky end, I imagine.

  25. Erasmus on October 30, 2012, 1:55 pm

    The Virus of Moral Decay and Israel “democracy and judiciary” has taken root also in the US and is becoming endemic.

    Further spread of infection….. no antidote?

  26. foresomenteneikona on October 31, 2012, 12:02 am

    The last paragraphs of this piece are very important:
    “…this doesn’t mean work in solidarity with the Holy Land Five is over.”

    No indeed. For the sake of justice in our democracy, it is important for us to stand with the victims of this judicial injustice. I hope that Mondoweiss continues to keep us informed.

  27. wiserman on November 2, 2012, 2:45 pm

    While Pelosi’s fund-raising was apparently in the interests of the Palestinian cause, so were the acts of the five. Free them!!

Leave a Reply