ADL Urges Justice Department to Investigate Reports of Fundraising for Hamas
May 14, 2009
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We are writing to bring to your attention our concerns about the US-based organization Viva Palestina US and to urge the Justice Department to investigate reports of fundraising by this organization for the purpose of providing material support to Hamas.
Viva Palestina US is being promoted by British Member of Parliament, George Galloway, who led a March 9, 2009 convoy of trucks loaded with supplies which were delivered to Hamas in Gaza together with a substantial amount of cash.
According to reports, the initial “Viva Palestina” effort raised in excess of one million British pounds and included 100 vehicles presented to Hamas authorities. At a press conference in Gaza announcing the donations, Galloway openly stated: “We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of their contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine.” Galloway also is reported to have personally donated three cars and ₤25,000 to Hamas, met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and indicated that he was given a Palestinian passport. A March 24, 2009, article in the Guardian UK reported that the UK Charity Commission is currently investigating Viva Palestina. Viva Palestina’s Facebook group page confirms that its bank accounts have been frozen.
During a recent US speaking tour, George Galloway urged American activists to organize a Viva Palestina convoy of their own. On the last stop of his tour in Anaheim on April 7, 2009, Galloway announced that plans for a Viva Palestina US convoy were underway. There, he reportedly encouraged his audience to contribute to Viva Palestina US to enlarge the original effort, stating for example:
It’s very easy for you. If I can raise 2 million you can raise 10 million. If I can raise 110 vehicles you can raise 500 vehicles. 500 trucks flying American flags would be quite a site going into Gaza.
The Viva Palestina US convoy is set to travel to Egypt on July 4, 2009, to purchase materials and to enter Gaza on July 7. According to their web site, organizers hope to bring 500 vehicles and $10 million to Gaza.
In furtherance of this activity, Viva Palestina US announced today on its website that the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (“IFCO”), a New York-based organization seeking “to advance the struggles of oppressed people for justice and self-determination,” is acting as Viva Palestina US’s “tax free fiscal agent” and that checks should be made payable to “IFCO – Viva Palestina.”
Notably, Mr. Galloway was scheduled to make several stops in Canada during this trip to North America but was denied entry on the grounds that he had provided material support to Hamas. Mr. Galloway is now scheduled to speak at a number of locations in the United States beginning May 17, 2009, and we expect that he will use these engagements to urge contributions to Viva Palestina US.
For your reference, we have attached a list of Mr. Galloway’s planned speaking engagements, as well as other information relating to Viva Palestina US in the United States.
We know the Department of Justice takes seriously its role to prevent the United States from being used as a base for fundraising and support for designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations and we urge you to promptly pursue this matter.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide you with any additional information.
Michael A. Salberg
Director, International Affairs