(act-mtl) Acquitted! Palestinian Concordia student Nidal Alalul cleared after bogus charges by Hillel members

Jaggi Singh jaggi at resist.ca
Fri Jun 11 13:04:31 EDT 2004


Acquitted! Palestinian Concordia student Nidal Alalul cleared after bogus
charges by Hillel members

MONTREAL, June 11, 2004 -- This morning in Montreal's Municipal
Courthouse, Concordia student Nidal Alalul was acquitted of the charge of
"uttering a death threat". Judge Antonio Discepola, who is regarded as one
of the most pro-prosecution judges in Montreal, nonetheless found Nidal
not guilty with a terse four word statement: "The information is
dismissed." In his written judgement, Discepola found Nidal's testimony
very credible, while casting doubt on the accounts provided by the
complainants, who were members of Hillel Concordia and Birthright.

On March 11, 2003 -- several months after Benjamin Netanyahu was shut down
by pro-Palestinian students at Concordia University -- Nidal was arrested
on campus and charged with "uttering a death threat". Nidal, a member of
Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) had been in an argument
with Schlomo Lifshitz, 47, of Birthright, which offers free trips to
Israel to Jewish youth (in his judgement, Discepola describes Birthright
as "a non-governmental organization funded by the Israeli government").
Schlomo was tabling with Hillel, and began to bait Nidal, who is a foreign
student orginally from Nablus. When Schlomo said that Nidal had "a weak
personality", Nidal replied: "I'll be famous in two years ... a lawyer or
a politician ... and you'll be selling falafel."

Nidal's comment was interpreted as a death threat, with Schlomo, members
of Hillel, Concordia security, and eventually the Crown attorney assuming
that Nidal meant that he wanted to be a suicide bomber. The overtly racist
assumption throughout the trial was that the only way for a Palestinian
youth to be famous is by becoming a suicide bomber. That racist assumption
was backed by Concordia University, whose security guards detained Nidal,
and did not attempt to get his side of the story. Moreover, Concordia
University lawyers attended the trial, helping the Crown make her case, in
a clear show of bias against Nidal. (Similarly, Concordia lawyers have
been helping the Crown in cases against other pro-Palestinian students and
their allies, in relation to the September 9, 2002 protests at Concordia
University, with little success. In one case, a defendant has already been
acquitted of five charges before even having to present a defence!)

Written complaints against Nidal were made by several members of Hillel,
including Rachel Guy (who now sits on Concordia student council). Rachel
testified against Nidal, but her credibility was severely weakened when
she conveniently forgot to admit that she actually wrote Schlomo's written
statement to the police for him.

That Nidal was ever charged is another example of the biased treatment of
Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students, and their allies, by Concordia
University. Nonetheless, Nidal's acquittal -- as well as other recent
acquittals and dropped charges -- indicates that victories are possible in
court, especially when the charges are so racist and bogus in the first
place.

To stay in touch about ongoing court proceedings related to Concordia
University, please e-mail noii-montreal at resist.ca.

-- JBS



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