Last month, at a gala held in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated her wishes for the creation of a Palestinian state. While her feelings on the matter are no longer a subject of controversy, the group that she was speaking in front of, the American Task Force on Palestine – a group with past and present ties to the terrorist PLO – is.
The information about the gala's sponsor was ignored by the government officials paying homage to it. Will we continue to ignore these officials' pro-terror activities?
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is a terrorist organization. That is according to the U.S. government, which states in its Anti-Terrorism Act of 1987, signed into law by then-President Ronald Reagan, "[T]he Congress determines that the PLO and its affiliates are a terrorist organization and a threat to the interests of the United States, its allies, and to international law and should not benefit from operating in the United States."
This bill is still law, although future Presidents have sought to circumvent it by signing six-month waivers of the bill, thus allowing for the operation of a PLO office within the United States. From President Bill Clinton to President George W. Bush to President Barack Obama, the privilege (or lack thereof) of signing this waiver ("Presidential Determination") has been passed on and acted upon like clockwork. That, however, has recently changed.
April 7, 2010 was the last time that a U.S. President signed the waiver. On October 7th, when the waiver was set to expire, the new signatory did not bear the Presidential seal. The duty was handed over by President Obama to the State Department. The waiver was signed by Hillary Clinton's Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg.
Interestingly, while the April 7th waiver has a large presence on the internet – mostly on government web pages devoted to it – until this author found a government official willing to retrieve it, the October 7th document was nowhere to be seen on the web and was virtually hidden from the public domain.
According to the official, the waiver's non-public release was simply an oversight by the State Department. But regardless of the reason for the "mistake," the change of signatures must be looked into, especially given the fact that it was Hillary herself who participated in a PLO-associated event only less than two weeks later.
On October 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C. where the group is headquartered, the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) held its 5th Annual Gala, entitled 'Building Palestine – the Indispensable State for Peace.'
The event was attended by a number of dignitaries, including: former Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States Turki al-Faisal; former White House Chief of Staff and former Governor of New Hampshire John Sununu; and current member of U.S. Congress Darrell Issa.
The latter two were listed with various other current and former government officials as being part of the gala's Honorary Host Committee, which included names like former U.S. Secretary of State and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright; U.S. Senators John Kerry and Carl Levin; and U.S. Representatives Keith Ellison, Howard Berman, Gary Ackerman, Nita Lowey, Bill Delahunt and Dennis Kucinich.
The keynote speaker for the event was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
During her speech, Secretary Clinton discussed her past call for a Palestinian state. She said, "[A]s First Lady, I may have been the first person ever associated with an American administration to call for a Palestinian state and the two-state solution. This goal is now the official policy of the United States."
Indeed, in May 1998, speaking at a forum of Arab and Israeli youth, then-First Lady Clinton stated, "'Well, I think that it will be in the long-term interest of the Middle East for Palestine to be a state, to be a state that is responsible for its citizens' well-being, a state that has responsibility for providing education and health care and economic opportunity to its citizens."
And while, at the time, this was considered a significant controversy, it is also true that today this is the official policy of the U.S. government.
However, though this policy may be highly flawed or worse, Secretary Clinton's words at the gala were not as much of a problem as her and the other dignitaries' presence and/or participation, at the event – an event sponsored by a group with ties to the PLO.
The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) or as it was previously named,the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ), was incorporated in May 1995.Speaking at the group's "inaugural public activity," held in November 1995, was its then-President Rashid Khalidi.
Khalidi had previously been identified in news reports as "a PLO spokesman" and "a director of the Palestinian press agency, Wafa," (Wikalat al-Anba al-Filastinija), which Khalidi himself has described as "the P.L.O's news agency."
Eight years later, at the time of the group's name change in August 2003, ACJ Chairman Ziad Asali and ACJ President Rashid Khalidi respectively became ATFP President and ATFP Vice President.
Asali has remained President of the ATFP to this day. As such, he was the individual possessing the honor of greeting and introducing Secretary Clinton at the 2010 gala.
Also speaking at this year's gala was Maen Rashid Areikat, the head of the PLO Mission based in Washington, DC and the Chief Representative of the PLO tothe United States. Areikat's speech consisted of his reading of a letter addressed to Asali and the gala attendees from Global President of the PLO [and thePalestinian Authority (PA)] Mahmoud Abbas.
No one could be surprised by Areikat's involvement in this event, as he had done exactly the same at last year's gala. Furthermore, no one could be surprised that Abbas would write a letter for this Gala, as a photo of Abbas along with a link to Abbas's Presidential website – which contains the PLO logo atop it – is found on every page of the ATFP official website.
Certainly Secretary Clinton and all those other officials partaking in the ATFP event, including their handlers, would and should have known about most if notall of the above.
Yet these officials elected to participate in the event anyway – an event featuring the leaders of a U.S. recognized terrorist group and sponsored by an organization connected to that same terrorist group.
Maybe they can waiver the fact that they were there associating themselves with terrorists.
Or maybe those of us concerned will not allow them to forget.
Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the spokesman forYoung Zionists. He has been responsible for the closure of at least one terror-related charity and has convinced a number of government officials to shun the Hamas front group, CAIR. In June 2009, he won a lawsuit brought against him by seven Dallas-area radical Muslim organizations.