The emails below were written to members of the Syracuse University community. Because I feel time is of the essence I did not have time to request permission to publish these emails, but I have told the people involved this is what I intend to do. The emails have been changed to take out repetition and to clarify things where I felt it was necessary.

Dear Chancellor Cantor,

I am asking you to get the university community involved in what is happening here in the community in Syracuse at the trial of Dr. Rafil Dhafir. I have been attending the trial since it began in October and have been trying to tell people what is happening, to not much avail.

At least three of the people involved in this trial have graduated with advanced degrees from the university. The one I know best, Walid Smari, testified as one of the first witnesses for the prosecution. He received a PhD in electrical engineering from the university in the early 1990’s. A close friend of mine was Mr. Smari’s dissertation adviser and hold’s Mr. Smari in the highest regard. Friends and associates of Dr. Dhafir, including his office staff, have been forced to testify for the government mostly through plea bargain or by being given immunity. The people who have taken plea bargains will come before Judge Mordue after this trial ends. No one, to my recollection, has said anything about Dr. Dhafir that would suggest he is anything other than a man of the highest integrity trying to aid suffering in the world, in Iraq and here in his oncology practice in Rome, New York. Perhaps this is the reason the defense only called one witness for 15 minutes after 14 weeks of the government presenting their case.

People who testified for the government under a plea agreement still have to come before Judge Mordue and be sentenced. Some are facing possible deportation. In the case of Osameh al Wahaidy, he would likely face death if returned to Jordan. [I have since found out that this is not the case. The Jordanian government thoroughly investigated the case and is convinced that the Help the Needy defendants were indeed sending humanitarian aid to Iraq.] His wife and 4 children received US citizenship recently, but because of his association with Help The Needy and the FBI investigation that was in progress he was denied the possibility of citizenship.

Mr. al Wahaidy was arrested the same morning as Dr. Dhafir. It’s not within the scope of this letter to go into the description of his arrest, but I would encourage people to seek out court testimony of Mr. Wahaidy arrest and of others who were arrested and questioned on that day. Mr. al Wahaidy was sacked immediately by Oswego State University after the arrests; so much for the right to due process and to being held innocent until proven guilty. Fortunately, he is also an Imam at the Jamesville correctional facility, and although immediately suspended, his union has stood behind him and he is at least getting paid, so has some income. On the day of the arrests here in Syracuse, the newspapers in Jordan were full of reports about the “terrorists” who had been apprehended in the USA. I believe Mr. al Wahaidy testified that his brother in Jordan was arrested and held for 3 months solely on the basis of being related to al Wahaidy

The trial, in my opinion, has a striking resemblance to the show trials of the former Soviet Union in the 1930s. I’m wondering if no press cameras in court is to protect the government rather than the defense. I am suddenly beginning to understand some things that I had no experience of before. I can now see clearly that it really could happen that people could escape from the concentration camps and try to tell people what was happening, and no one would listen. I can identify with that experience, I have been trying to tell people about this case since October and the sound of silence from the response I’ve had is deafening.

I am one person and I can’t do it all. I need other people in the community to help spread the word. I took incompletes in my courses at the university last semester and I’m not taking classes this semester (I could have graduated in May 2005). I have attended the trial two days a week until Christmas and then every day since then. I attend the trial for all 5 hours each day and write as much of the proceedings as I can keep up with. Ten days ago, because of the inadequate coverage by the Post-Standard, I started a website. Since then, after proceedings are finished, I come home and put information on my website. I want to help people have access to information even though they might not be able to attend the trial. The day the trial finished I stayed up until 5am typing an account of the days proceedings because I felt it was important to let people know about the days proceedings and the end of the trial. I am hoping to have the forty-six page indictment of Dr. Dhafir available on my website in the next day or so. I can’t understand why the university community and the community in general have been ignoring what is happening in front of their noses. You are my last hope for getting the university involved.

Forgive me for forwarding these two emails to you, but I do not have time at the moment to explain to you as an individual. I believe these two emails will give you a better understanding of my concerns about the similarities between what is happening in this country at the moment and what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. It did not happen in Germany overnight, it started with a slow erosion of civil liberties. I urge you to act, so that people won’t be able to say, “we did not know”, they will only be able to say, “we did not act”. I encourage you to look at my website and to let as many people as possible know about the site and the coming last days of the trial. I hope you will help mobilize the university community in a way that I have been unable to.

Katherine Hughes
This piece was written to Rabbi Dave Levy after seeing an article about the Holocaust in The Daily Orange, January 24, 2005. In the article, Rabbi Levy admonished people to be vigilant and to speak out early and often when they see things in the world that are not right.

Dear Rabbi Levy

Below is a piece that I sent to John O’Brien of The Post-Standard. After reading your words about the Holocaust in the Daily Orange, I agree with you about the need to be vigilant early on. However we do not have to look as far away as Sudan, unfortunately right here at the Federal Building in downtown Syracuse is far enough. I hope you will act on your own advice, “to speak out early and often when we see these things in the world.” and help me spread the word about this trial as far and wide as you can. It’s so often much easier to look much further away than at what is happening in our own front yard.

I would also ask you to get the university community involved. I have wanted to, but I am spread so thin already and I believe time is of the essence. At least three of the people who have been associated with the case were students who earned advanced degrees at Syracuse University. One and a half million people died in Iraq due to the sanctions between 1990 and 2002, wasn’t it incumbent upon people, of Iraqi descent or otherwise, to send aid to starving people? Many people broke the sanctions against Iraq, but Dr. Dhafir is the only person who has spent two years in prison, and been continually denied bail before he even came to trial! Not only this, the Muslim community is a close neighbor of the university and on the day of Dr. Dhafir’s arrest, one hundred and fifty, mainly Muslim, families were interviewed by the FBI. Where has our concern and support for them been? I believe many more of them would have attended the trial if this episode had not occurred. I want to let as many people know as I possibly can so that people cannot say “we did not know” and still face themselves in the mirror.

It’s so easy for me to see now what happened to Jews in Europe in the1930s, and to see how Hitler achieved what he did. Ordinary people, like you and me, were the people who helped perpetrate what happened there.

I urge you to act on this as soon as you can. The trial has been going for 14 weeks. The prosecution is charging Dr. Dhafir on 60 counts. They have taken 14 weeks to present their allegations, the defense called one witness for 15 minutes in response.

I would be grateful if you would also consider forwarding this email and the other one that I will send to Tom Wolf, Dean of Hendricks chapel.

Sincerely, Katherine Hughes.

These two letters are representative of the hundreds of emails that I sent to individual members of the Syracuse University community, the Syracuse community at large, and to various other groups and organizations, with very little response. I was very grateful for the little response that I did get because that kept me going.

My email to John O’Brien, reporter for the Post-Standard, was also attached.