Will the Justice Department prosecute associates of President Obama who are organizing flotillas and marches in support of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip?
That question is being asked by pundits as several of Obama's associates are participating in efforts to end Israel's naval blockade of Gaza – a blockade that is legal according to international law and that Israel says is necessary to ensure the Hamas terror group does not re-arm itself by sea. Indeed, ships loaded with weapons have been caught multiple times heading for Gaza.
Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy argued at National Review Online that the federal government should investigate Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, a pro-Palestinian Liberation Organization activist known for his friendship with Obama.
Khalidi and other Obama associates are members of an American effort to raise $370,000 to finance the purchase of a U.S. ship in an effort to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza. The tentative name of the ship is "The Audacity of Hope," after Obama's autobiography.
McCarthy argues the Justice Department, under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, could investigate Khalidi and other flotilla organizers for providing material support to Hamas, which is designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization.
Jonathan Schanzer points out at the Weekly Standard that according to a Supreme Court decision in June, Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project, the prohibition against material support to terrorists can apply even when the offerings are not money or weapons.
At American Thinker, Ed Lasky asks, "Will Holder investigate this effort to help Hamas? Will he implicate Barack Obama's friend? This is one area where I have no hope."
(Story continues below)
The comments come after the Justice Department found itself under heavy criticism when it dropped its investigation into the New Black Panther Party for alleged voter intimidation.
According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, Obama first befriended Khalidi when the two worked together at the university. The professor spoke on condition of anonymity. Khalidi lectured at the University of Chicago until 2003, while Obama taught law there from 1993 until his election to the Senate in 2004.
Khalidi in 2000 held what was described as a successful fundraiser for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2001, the Woods Fund, which describes itself as a group helping the disadvantaged, provided a $40,000 grant to the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, led by Khalidi's wife, Mona. The fund provided a second grant to the AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.
Speakers at AAAN dinners and events routinely have taken an anti-Israel stance. The group co-sponsored a Palestinian art exhibit titled "The Subject of Palestine" that featured works related to what some Palestinians call the "Nakba," or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948.
In 2003, Obama delivered a glowing in-person testimonial for Khalidi when he departed Chicago for a new position at Columbia.
Khalidi's farewell dinner was replete with anti-Israel speakers. One, a young Palestinian American, recited a poem in Obama's presence that accused the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticized U.S. support of Israel. Another speaker, who reportedly talked while Obama was present, compared "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden.
Other Obama associates 'aiding Hamas'
Khalidi, meanwhile, is not the only Obama associate involved in the Gaza flotilla effort.
WND found that another signatory to the American flotilla project is Naomi Esther Jaffe, who founded the Weather Underground terrorist organization along with William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. Jaffe engaged in fundraising efforts for Obama's presidential campaign, even advertising a "Yoga for Obama" event on Obama's campaign website.
Ayers and Dorhn themselves have been leaders of efforts to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
WND first exposed in May that the group behind the Gaza flotilla that engaged in deadly clashes with Israeli commandos counts among its top supporters Ayers and Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of the radical activist organization Code Pink.
The flotilla was organized by the Free Gaza Movement, a coalition of leftist human rights activists and pro-Palestinian groups engaged in attempts to break a blockade imposed by Israel on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Ayers, Dohrn and Evans' Code Pink have led several recent Free Gaza Movement initiatives, including attempted marches into the Gaza Strip. Dorhn was in the Middle East in April on behalf of the movement.
Ayers and Dohrn were close associates for years with Obama, while Evans was a fundraiser and financial bundler for Obama's presidential campaign.
In January, WND reported Ayers, Dohrn and Evans were involved in provoking chaos on the streets of Egypt in an attempt to enter Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement to join in solidarity with the territory's population and leadership.
The three helped to stir riots after the Egyptian government refused to allow a large number of protesters to enter neighboring Gaza. Eventually, the protesters accepted an Egyptian offer of allowing about 100 marchers into Gaza. Once in the territory, the marchers were reportedly met on the Gaza side by Hamas' former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
At the time of the march, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wrote a letter in support of a "humanitarian delegation from Massachusetts" to Gaza. Members of Ayers', Dohrn and Evans' group documented on their blogs how Kerry's letter was used at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while attempting to pressure Egypt to let their group into Gaza.
Images of the letter were also posted on the Electronic Intifada website run by Ali Abunimah, who was with Evans' group in Egypt and who, WND previously reported, spoke at pro-Palestinian events in the 1990s alongside Obama. In one such event, a 1999 fundraiser for Palestinian "refugees," Abunimah recalled introducing Obama on stage.
Kerry's office previously met with Code Pink members, WND has learned. Sarah Roche-Mahdi of Code Pink also is a member of the United for Peace and Justice Palestine Task Force, which met with Kerry's staffers.
Kerry last year became the most senior U.S. politician to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, although at the time he did not meet with Hamas leaders.