Jury Selection Begins (Sept. 15, 2008)

The deja vu was as transparent as a glass of water on Monday, Sept. 15, 2008 as the first day of voir dire began for the Holy Land Foundation retrial. The guards who stood at the entrance of each floor, the suited attorneys who filled the courtroom and the courageous defendants who crowded near their lawyers were all reminders of the trial (which ended in a mistrial) that began 14 months earlier.

Twenty-five jurors entered U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis’ courtroom on the 16th floor of the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Downtown Dallas. Each potential juror was questioned individually first by a federal prosecutor, then by a defense attorney about questionaries they answered about 10 days earlier.
A White, heavyset woman — the first to take the stand — was the only potential juror to weep. The Irving resident lives in a neighborhood with lots of Middle Easterners and Muslims.

“I’ve been feeling like a minority in my community,” she said as she wiped tears from her eyes and cheeks.

Because of that, she told defense attorney Linda Moreno, it would be difficult for her to be a fair juror. She was excused from the jury pool.
A middle-aged Black woman sporting hoop earrings and a bob cut said she was “pretty sure” the HLF case was associated with Sept. 11, 2001. Even after government and defense attorneys told her the case had no relation to 9/11, the woman said it would be difficult for her to be impartial because she was convinced the two were somehow connected. She also couldn’t be a fair juror because she didn’t like the way men treat women in Islam, she said. She was excused.

An elderly White man with a mustache, large glasses and a Texas Longhorns orange shirt had a different perspective. When asked about his opinions on terrorism, he said the term has existed throughout history.

“Like the IRA in Ireland,” he paused briefly. “To the British, we were terrorists.”

He concluded by saying, “I’m a true believer in the American system … Everybody has the right to be heard by 12 jurors — no matter what your nationality is.”

The potential jurors were asked about their opinions on Muslims and Arabs. Some expressed negative sentiments, while others expressed positive sentiments. One White woman stated a bizarre reason why she liked one Muslim she met at her job.

“She loves my guacamole. She’s a good person,” she said.

One Black man with a burgundy shirt and a short gray afro admit he couldn’t erase Sept. 11 while sitting on this case. The man, who has relatives in the U.S. Military, said, “They’re in the military because of 9/11.” Several eyebrows were raised at this thought. This man was excused.
One White woman with a red blouse and brown hair that looked blow-dried admit she has strong negative feelings about Muslims. She said she feels Muslims sometimes hide behind their religion, sighting a North Texas man who killed his daughter because she was dating a White boy.

A White man with a buzz cut who served in the U.S. Marines in Iraq said it would be “tough” to return a not guilty verdict when the prosecution fails to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“I wouldn’t look at an Arab or Muslim the same way I look at someone from say Chicago,” he asserted.

The last woman called on Monday — White with neck-length sandy blonde hair — swung her chair back and forth as she explained a couple thoughts she stated in her questionnaire.

“Israel has a right to their land. Palestinians also have a right to their land, but not to take over Israel,” she stated regarding her opinion about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In the questionnaire, she also said, “I don’t see a lot of charity in the religion of Islam.”

As attorneys from both sides asked her whether she has preconceived notions about Muslims, the woman answered their question with another question: Why don’t Muslims speak out against violent acts? “It makes me so angry to see media reports of them killing in the name of religion,” she said. She was excused.

Jury questioning is expected to last two more days.

Lets pray the ultimate jury will see the evidence as it is: A political maneuver for the benefit of a foreign government (Israel) whose main goal is to criminalize the feeding, clothing and educating the children and widows of Palestine.

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