Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pro-Israel McCarthyism: Arab Americans Spied on by ADL Sue Three Police Departments

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Pro-Israel McCarthyism: Arab Americans Spied on by ADL Sue Three Police Departments

Article excerpt

Pro-Israel McCarthyism: Arab Americans Spied On by ADL Sue Three Police Departments

A coalition of Arab-American organizations has accused the police and sheriffs' departments of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego of negligence in connection with a long-running spy operation conducted against Arab-American and other political activists. A suit to recover at least $100,000 in damages from each law enforcement agency was filed on June 23 by the Center for Constitutional Law in Los Angeles and New York, and the American-Arab Anti- Discrimination Committee (ADC), which claim that the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and privacy were violated. Members of the coalition include ADC, the National Association of Arab Americans, the Association of Arab-American University Graduates and the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine.

The case originated earlier this year when the San Francisco district attorney's office revealed that a retired San Francisco policeman, Tom Gerard, and a private investigator for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Roy Bullock, had illegally collected confidential information on more than 500 organizations and 12,000 individuals. The two men had shared the information with the government of South Africa and possibly with police departments in other parts of the country. Because of ADL's close relationship with Israel, and the fact that Gerard took part in an ADL-sponsored tour of that country, there is concern among Arab Americans that Gerard and Bullock may also have given some of the information to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

According to Abdeen Jabara, vice chairman of ADC, the files contain information on 36 Arab-American organizations and their members and on 412 groups listed by Bullock as "pinko," including the United Farm Workers, the National Lawyers Guild, and the American Indian Movement. Anti-apartheid organizations are also listed, as well as several Jewish peace groups. At a news conference held the day the suit was filed, Jabara said, "What's at stake here is whether or not private organizations with political agendas may maintain an information-sharing relationship with law enforcement agencies without compromising those agencies."

The suit claims that the spy operations deprived Arab Americans and others of "their right to anonymity in the conduct of their political activity and associations" and "chills their exercise of freedom of speech and associational privacy." Maha Jaber, Bay Area coordinator for ADC, told the press conference that "Our First Amendment rights have been violated because of our ethnicity and our religious and political beliefs."

Gerard, who is accused of illegally possessing San Francisco police intelligence files, was indicted last May on felony charges involving theft of government documents. No charges have been filed against Bullock, with whom Gerard shared the information, or the ADL, Bullock's employer. Members of the district attorney's office have indicated that because of the volume of material collected and the legal need to share it with the attorneys of the accused, there will probably be no further indictments until fall.

McCloskey Group Sues ADL

Meanwhile, Gerard, Bullock, ADL and Richard Hirschhaut, director of ADL's Central Pacific office, are the targets of a civil suit filed last April by former Congressman Paul N. …

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