A day of video evidence (July 31, 2007)
All eyes were on the screen Tuesday, July 31, 2007 as government lawyers played more than a dozen clips throughout the day. Echoing off the high courtroom walls were the sounds of Palestinian nasheed — traditional Arabic songs that express the continuing oppression that Palestinians face. The many sights included children throwing rocks at armed Israeli soldiers and protesters waving Palestinian flags. An obvious smell of desperation was also present in the courtroom. That is, what many thought was the government’s failed attempt to show that the Holy Land Foundation was a supporter of violence.
For the first hour or so, government attorney Jim Jacks continued direct examination of FBI agent Lara Burns. She began her testimony by reading aloud a list stating the names of the defendants, their titles at the HLF, their salaries and their length of employment. She also briefly discussed phone bills, credit card bills and bank records from the HLF.
And then it was movie time.
The first video clip showed defendant Mufid Abdulqader singing nasheed. Another showed Abdulqader singing nasheed in a festival with his band members dressed in white shirts and black slacks. During this video, Jacks asked Burns to read an Arabic banner that was hung in the festival. “Hamas X the Jews = Palestine will return,” she said. In another clip, the same band sang a song that mentioned Hamas founder Ahmad Yasin and another traditional Arabic song entitled Ala Dalona.
Another clip showed interviews with Palestinians being detained in Israeli jails. Some clips were somewhat humorous, like the one that showed children hoping, dancing and waving Palestinian flags to songs performed by the same band in a California festival commemorating the first Intifada, or uprising in 1987. In other clips, prosecutors showed footage of the band singing Ya Hamas, thuri thuri (Oh Hamas, revolt revolt) and Thuri Thuri Thuri, hey hey hey (Revolt Revolt Revolt, Yeah Yeah Yeah.)
The following excerpt showed a skit performed by Abdulqader and another individual dressing like an Israeli soldier. Abdulqader chanted Ana Hamas Ya’yooni (I am Hamas oh beloved) … Wahmi Bladi Falasteen (And I protect my country Palestine.) The “Israeli soldier” replied by saying, Ana Esahyooni Elmanhoos (I am the sly Zionist) … Lazim Ahdim Falasteen u Akhaliha Israel (I must destrory Palestine and make it Israel.)
Other clips showed stage performances of a Hamas rally and the dabka, a traditional Arabic dance. Burns pointed out the defendants in some of these events and some posters of Hamas. But she did not point out the pictures of Palestinians injured and killed by Israeli soldiers.
Other chants included: Ibnik Yantifada Ibnik Ya Hamas (Your child Intifada is your child Hamas) and Alardu Lana, Walqudusu Lana, Walahu Biquwatihi Mana (The land belongs to us and Jerusalem belongs to us and God with all his might is on our side.)
In the end of some of these videos, a short clip read: Donate to Occupied Land Fund, the former name for the Holy Land Foundation.
During the presentation of the videos, defense lawyers objected to most of the clips. They said the videos are not relevant because the events that were shown occurred in the late 1980s. Hamas wasn’t designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government until 1995.
Note: On Monday evening, one juror was dismissed from jury duty due to health and financial problems. So starting Tuesday, an 18-member jury decreased to 17 individuals who will hopefully hear the remainder of the trial.