Michel Shehadeh, San Francisco Chronicle, November 15:
For the last 20 years, the U.S. government has accused me of being a terrorist. Along with six other Palestinians and a Kenyan, we were dubbed the “Los Angeles Eight” by the media. Our case even made it to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Oct. 30 – 20 grueling years after the early morning raid in which armed federal agents barged into my apartment, brutally arrested me before my 3-year-old son’s eyes, incarcerated me in maximum security cells in San Pedro State Prison for 23 days without bond, and attempted to deport me – the government dropped all charges fabricated against me. The charges involved accusations of aiding a member group of the Palestine Liberation Organization that the government alleged aided terrorism. But Los Angeles immigration Judge Bruce J. Einhorn had ordered an end to the deportation proceedings against us last January because the government failed to comply with his order to disclose evidence that supported our innocence. He called their behavior “an embarrassment to the rule of law.”
Why did the U.S. government spend 20 years trying to ban us from this country? Because we tried to educate Americans about the situation facing millions of Palestinians living in apartheid-like conditions under Israeli military occupation. Because we organized fundraisers to provide Palestinians with humanitarian support. And because we attended demonstrations to urge a shift in U.S. policy away from unconditional financial and diplomatic support of Israel.