More Smears Against Todd Gallinger

I’m always amazed when some people where their bigotry on their sleeve, but the latest scoop over at the Irvine Tattler is how Irvine City Council candidate filed a defamation lawsuit for a Hamas Charity. 

How bad are journalistic standards when we can’t even used the words “alleged Hamas Charity,” especially when the hotlink to the article about a trial that “proves” KinderUSA is a Hamas front group actually ended in an acquital and several mistrials due to huge gaps in evidence. So, the trial actually proved KinderUSA wasn’t a Hamas front group, even though Stephen Smith says it is.  Just because there’s a hotlink to the story doesn’t make it true? Click through and read the context and, when it comes to stories on the Tattler, the hotlink is often non-conclusive.

Some background first on KinderUSA; a group founded by American doctors  and humanitarian relief workers in 2002, KinderUSA is an acronym for “Kids in Need of Development, Education, and Relief.”  The group seeks to solve problems and help kids with the rights of survival, health, shelter and education.   Todd Gallinger has represented KinderUSA as a lawyer.

Smith’s scoop is on how Gallinger, as a lawyer, field a defamation suit on behalf of KinderUSA against Matthew Levitt, an author described by Tattler publisher Steven Smith as one of the nation’s leading terrorism experts, and Yale University Press, over the publication of the book, “Hamas, Politics, Charity and Terorism in the Service of Jihad.”  Levitt claims KinderUSA helps fund Hamas.  Levitt wrote that KinderUSA replaced a defunct group that once funded Hamas, and tried to connect KinderUSA to funding of Hamas and how this tactic also funds Al Qaeda.  KinderUSA disagreed with this and sued for defamation.

The rest of Smith’s post is a rehash of Gallinger’s law practice and other stories designed to derail the political career of Irvine’s first homegrown candidate by tying Gallinger to extremist Islamic groups; but there’s no smoke and no fire.  It’s flat out religious bigotry pushed by Smith and parroted by Mayoral candidate Christina Shea, Council member Steven Choi, and candidate Patrick Rodgers. 

For Shea, this is the third attempt at dividing the community — the first was the divisive Measure N–an initiative that specifically excluded gays and lesbians from protections against discrimination. The LA Times reported Shea “did most of the work, and took most of the flak, in the bitter campaign that voters narrowly approved.”  “I’m a mom with three kids and I don’t want gay pride festivals … in my city,” she said then.

Two years ago, Shea and Choi attempted to divide the city over a mistake made by a city staffer in adding a new PRC city to Irvine’s sister city program.  A protest at city hall featured mostly bused-in protesters.  The gambit failed when Beth Krom crushed her opponent in the 2006 election.

The new target in an attempt to divide the city is Muslims.  And Smith, through his (don’t call it a blog) website, is the toady for the TeamIrvine slate with attempts to link Todd Gallinger (and drag the rest of the KeepIrvineGreat ticket along with in) to extremist Islamic groups.  Since the ticket has two Jewish candidates, I find this attempt to connect them with Hamas laughable.

And Levitt, the author trumped up by Smith as a “leading expert” may not have the credentials Smith gives him.  In a book review by Sara Roy, a senior research scholar, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, writing in The MiddleEast Council Policy Journal, states:

His evidence, at times interesting, particularly with regard to Hamas’s external sources of financing, is more often than not based on assumption, extrapolation and generalization. For example, as evidence for how religious organizations raise money for Palestinian terrorism, Levitt quotes from a pamphlet produced by a Quranic memorization center that was sponsored by the Ramallah-al Bireh charity committee. The pamphlet listed 30 ways to enter heaven, including “Jihad for the sake of Allah by fighting with one’s soul and money.”

In another example of how hospitals are used to support terrorism, Levitt briefly describes the Dar al-Salam Hospital: “According to information cited by the FBI,” the hospital is considered a Hamas institution because it was founded with “Hamas funds and protection.” But Levitt fails to provide any real evidence of these funds or how and why they are considered “Hamas.” The assumption is that these ties, even if they are shown to exist, are inherently evil and can be nothing else.

….

The possibility that Palestinians receive support from Hamas institutions without preconditions or that popular support requires more than the lure of financial incentives and free social services does not enter Levitt’s argument. Levitt also claims, “When angry, frustrated or humiliated Palestinians regularly listen to sermons in mosques in which Jews, Israelis and even Americans are depicted as enemies of Islam and Palestine, Hamas’s official policy may not restrain individual enthusiasm.” One wonders how Mr. Levitt knows these things, given that he appears never to have stepped inside a Hamas institution in Gaza or the West Bank or to have conducted any fieldwork at all.

While these arguments are oft-repeated in today’s media, Levitt does little to address research that supports a very different conclusion regarding the Hamas dawa…..Levitt’s book has many serious flaws and merits a detailed critique that extends well beyond the scope of this review. His is not a work of analysis or scholarship, to say the least, and despite certain points that are interesting and accurate, anyone wishing to gain a substantive, reasoned and critical understanding of Hamas would do well to look elsewhere.

This review was originally commissioned by The Fletcher Forum of World Affairs, the official foreign-policy journal at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, the same school in which Levitt holds a PhD.  It was rejected as “too one-sided” and my guess, the review was rejected because its publication might embarass Tufts.

Levitt’s book tried to connect KinderUSA with fundraising for Hamas and Al Qaeda, but the only evidence provided appears to be guilt by association.  The same sort of tactic employed by Stephen Smith and the Team Irvine slate.