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Protesters shut down presentation by Holy Land 5 prosecutor Barry Jonas

Jonas is currently on case of anti-war and international solidarity activists
By Kait McIntyre |
March 13, 2013

"Hands off our families, hands off our friends! Barry Jonas, this must end!" This chant rang out in front of DePaul’s College of Law in Chicago, where over 30 protesters gathered to denounce Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas’ speaking at an event titled, “Fighting Terrorism in the Courtroom,” about government targeting of charity organizations that send humanitarian aid to Palestinians, especially the Holy Land Foundation (HLF). The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter at DePaul raised the call, “Hey DePaul, let’s be clear - racists are not welcome here!” Other members of SJP organized a silent protest outside the door of the event, giving visual representation to how Palestinians are often silenced and reminding attendees of the killing of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli military.

Jonas is the notorious anti-Palestinian ideologue who is guilty of prosecutorial misconduct in the HLF case - most egregiously denying the defendants their constitutional right to confront witnesses against them, specifically an Israeli intelligence officer who refused to release his identity, agreeing only to testify under a pseudonym. This and many other constitutional violations led to the convictions of five leaders of HLF, each now serving decades in prison.

A number of protesters went inside the event to confront Jonas directly, putting themselves face to face with him and his supporters. Some questioned the audience, asking how an institution that claims to stand for justice could allow a presentation rooted in Islamophobia and racism. Others spoke to Jonas directly.

Joe Iosbaker, one of the 23 antiwar activists who were subpoenaed to a federal grand jury by Jonas’ superiors in 2010, queried him: “My wife and I had our home raided two and a half years ago due to similar allegations of material support for terrorism. No indictments have been issued but we have had a dark cloud hanging over our heads ever since. How long is the statute of limitations on cases like this?” Jonas responded that the statute of limitations was eight years but added that he could not comment on ongoing investigations. Iosbaker left the room while shouting: “Solidarity is not a crime! Charity is not a crime! Organizing is not a crime!”

Jonas’ supporters revealed even more about the true nature and character of these investigations. One shouted that he hoped Iosbaker would be “indicted tomorrow,” and another suggested using torture techniques on a protester who was being escorted out of the event by the police. In the morning, an organizer of the event told a DePaul law student, who was passing out leaflets about Jonas’ history of attacks on Palestinians, that she would make the rest of his career at the College of Law very difficult for him. She also stated that he may be in violation of student conduct rules by objecting to Jonas and that his protest would most certainly be a roadblock to his ability to practice law in the future.

Despite the bloodthirstiness of his supporters, Jonas and his co-panelist, Stephen J. Landes, crumbled under the pressure of the dissenters. They could not make it through the whole presentation and the event ended half an hour early, much to the embarrassment of the Judaic Studies faculty, students and staff who organized the event.

Jonas was escorted out of a back entrance to avoid contact with protesters, but the picket outside DePaul continued. Attendees left hearing the sound of chants like, “Hey hey, ho ho, Islamophobia has got to go!” Muhammad Sankari, a member of the Chicago chapter of the U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and a protester, said, “Our shutting down of Jonas was a major victory. These people cannot just spew their racism with impunity.”

Kait McIntyre is a member of the Chicago Antiwar Committee

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