INDEX (stories follow)
- Japan Dumps Water on Reactor; Radiation Levels Rise
- Deaths, Arrests in Bahraini Protest Crackdown
- Thousands Protest as Michigan Enacts Emergency Management Laws
- Wisconsin Prosecutor Challenges Anti-Worker Bill
- Florida Advances Restrictions on Teachers
- CIA Agent Accused of Murder Freed in Pakistan
- Hundreds Protest Clinton in Tunisia
- Clinton Visits Tahrir Square; Won’t Stay on Past 2012
- Palestinian Factions to Hold Unity Talks
- Study: 800,000 to Contract Cholera in Haiti
- EPA to Regulate Coal Power Plant Emissions
- Former Chicago Police Commander Begins Prison Term
from Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss
In a reversal of an earlier statement seeming to oppose the Israeli law making it illegal to advocate for boycott,this statement by Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America says that the boycott movement is an existential threat to Israel, a human rights loving democracy, and so therefore American Zionists must maintain solidarity with the Jewish state… The whole Jewish state– i.e., the West Bank too:
A boycott against any part of the Jewish state of Israel, a human rights loving democracy, is wrong, immoral, despicable, and frequently anti-Semitic.
So the new battle line inside the Jewish community is, Boycott the settlements/Don’t boycott. I’m glad the line has moved. Not that I think it will make much difference.
There’s a ton of resources on the Israeli anti-boycott law, thanks to the groups in American and Israel who have condemned it across the political spectrum. But I will post groups we have featured on website before.
A new law passed July 11 in the Israeli Knesset. The law seriously harms freedom of expression and freedom of association, and is expected to protect the illegal West Bank settlements in Israeli law, by penalizing their opponents.
Hours before the vote, Eyal Yanon, the legal advisor of the Knesset, released a legal opinion criticizing the law as “bordering illegality and perhaps beyond”. He stated the the law clearly violates the freedom of expression in Israel. This argument apparently was not convincing for the 47 MKs who voted for the bill, to 38 who objected.
The ‘Law for Prevention of Damage to the State of Israel through Boycott – 2011′ prohibits the public promotion of boycott by Israeli citizens and organisations, and, in some cases, agreement to participate in a boycott. It forbids not only a boycott of Israeli institutions but also of the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. It will enable settlers or other parties targeted by boycotts to sue anyone who calls for boycott, and the court may award compensation including punitive damages, even if no actual damage is caused to the boycotted parties.
The law will revoke tax exemptions and other legal rights from Israeli activists, organisations and institutions if they “engage in boycott”. This means that peace and human rights organisations “engaged in boycott” will not be able to receive funding from the EU and other public institutions.
Israeli businesses and industries will also be penalised by the law, if they work with the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian companies and accept their conditions that exclude trade with businesses that also trade with settlements.
In Israel, as well as in the rest of the world there is extensive use of boycott as a means to achieving social and consumer ends. The new law is targeting only a very specific form of calls to boycott, of groups and movements of the opposition, who resist the occupation. As such, this law tramples upon the civil rights of a political minority and has a “chilling effect” on civil society.
In addition to extensive mobilization of civil society and international community in objection to this bill, it was met with harsh criticism from government offices, including the attorney’s office who called it borderline unconstitutional). Several MKs from the coalition who previously signed on the bill, later withdrew their support.
Journalist Mya Guarnieri reminds us in Huffington Post that the alarm for Israeli democracy should have been wrung long ago.
Finally, a new documentary about the military “justice” system that has always made Palestinian protest illegal
Henning Mankell: ‘I promise that the Israeli regime won’t have a quiet moment until this illegal blockade is broken’
from Mondoweiss by Adam Horowitz
Swedish novelist Henning Mankell writing in Ha’aretz:
We will return with broader support and a bigger flotilla, and I promise that the Israeli regime won’t have a quiet moment until this illegal blockade is broken. Our action has had more impact this year – unlike last year when the media didn’t pay attention until the commandos started killing people.
Even though our ships didn’t move an inch, this is yet another failure for Israel. The regime’s desperate fear increases the opposition against human rights violations in Gaza. According to basic international law, it’s illegal to collectively punish people as is done in Gaza.
In the same way I always claim that Gilad Shalit should have been released long ago and that Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel must stop, I claim that we must look at this situation from this perspective: What comes first, oppression or rebellion? Not even Israel’s intellectuals can wave their magic wand and make reality disappear – the reality that the Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens in their own country. The Gaza blockade is not mainly about concrete, diapers or medicine. It’s about the human dignity that Israel deprives its own citizens of. Thus, it provokes desperate actions.
But for me the biggest mystery is that the Israeli regime doesn’t realize that it’s digging holes for itself, and that the situation in the end will be unbearable. Why are they blindfolding themselves?
from Mondoweiss by Laura Durkay
“What is your father’s name?”
“What is his father’s name?”
“Where are you going?”
“Where are you staying there?”
“At the Lajee Center in Aida Refugee Camp.”
That is as far as my conversation at Israeli passport control goes. I am at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, one of dozens of activists who have flown in from across Europe and the US for the Welcome to Palestine mission, a week of cultural and solidarity activities organized by Palestinian civil resistance groups across the West Bank.
As part of our mission, our Palestinian hosts have asked us to honestly declare our goal of traveling to the West Bank to visit Palestinians. Israel controls all access points into the West Bank. While traveling to the Occupied Territories is not strictly illegal under Israeli law, internationals and Palestinians living abroad are commonly interrogated, searched, harassed, and often denied entry if they state their intention to visit or work with Palestinians.
The political policing at Israeli-controlled borders is just one facet of an elaborate system that keeps Palestinians in the Occupied Territories isolated and under siege. The Welcome to Palestine mission is intended to be a mass challenge to these policies, so of course the Israeli government is doing everything it can to stop it.
In the days before July 8, when hundreds of nonviolent activists were scheduled to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport, the Israeli government’s hysteria about the action reached a fever pitch. On July 5, Israeli Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said of the activists: “These hooligans who try to break our laws will not be allowed into the country and will be returned immediately to their home countries”—conveniently ignoring the fact that none of the activities of the Welcome to Palestine campaign are illegal under Israeli law. In the days before our arrival, Israeli government officials issued numerous threats against us in the media and airport security was beefed up despite our clear statements that we were not planning to stage any demonstrations inside the airport and were committed to nonviolence in all our actions.
In a last-ditch effort to stop Welcome to Palestine activists from reaching Ben Gurion Airport, the Israeli government sent a blacklist to major European airlines containing 374 names of passengers to be barred from boarding their planes in Europe. Most airlines seemed to comply with this list, sending last-minute letters or phone calls to some activists telling them in advance that they would not be allowed to fly. Many more, including the majority of the French delegation, the largest component of the campaign, arrived at the airport and were simply refused permission to board their flights. If the siege of Gaza extends to the shores of Greece, it seems the blockade of the West Bank covers all of Europe.
In London the night before departing, our group of about 15 Brits, Irish and Americans discussed what we would do if we were kept off our flight out of Luton Airport. Those of us who had been speaking and writing openly about the Welcome to Palestine mission were quite sure we would be on the blacklist.
At the airport the next morning, one American is in fact kept off the plane by security at the very last minute. But as the plane takes off, I and the other participants realized that we have cleared the first hurdle and are on our way to Palestine.
From the moment we land at Ben Gurion Airport around 4pm on Friday, it’s clear the security presence is intense. Plainclothes security officers line the hallway leading from the gate to passport control, watching us as we disembark. Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, our delegation leader, gives us hushed updates about other groups that have been stopped in Europe or here at the airport. As we approach passport control, he turns back to us and said simply, “Now it’s our turn.” And it is.
At passport control, anyone who lists their destination as “Bethlehem,” “Palestine,” or “the West Bank” is quickly pulled aside, their passports disappearing into the hands of Israeli immigration officials. After most of my group has been waylaid by security, we are herded into a basement immigration holding area, where a number of French, Belgian and German activists are already being detained. There are about forty of us packed into the small waiting room. The immigration officials are not interrogating us. We think they are mostly just trying to figure out what to do with us.
We are held in the downstairs waiting area for about three hours. During this time I am taking non-stop press calls from Israeli and international media. I am shocked that the Israeli officials let me keep my phone (and even let me charge it) but determined to let as many people know what is happening as possible. I also contact the US consulate in Tel Aviv—not that I expect them to do anything to help us, but on principle I think they should know that Americans are being detained.
Around 7pm, a large number of plainclothes and uniformed immigration officers, police, and Border Patrol soldiers suddenly enter the room. I attempt to sneak a picture of the Border Patrol soldiers with my phone, only to have it roughly grabbed out of my hands by a burly immigration officer in a suit. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hang onto it indefinitely, but the loss of my only connection to the outside world still makes me nervous, especially since something is clearly about to go down. We notice several officers filming us, including one who climbs onto a desk to get a better angle.
Suddenly, a couple of the officers grab a French man who looks to be of Arab descent and try to pull him out of the room by himself. He protests that he wanted to stay with the group, and his comrades tried to nonviolently resist him being removed from the room. This is all the excuse the police and soldiers needed to move in and start punching, hitting and shoving anyone they can reach.
It’s clear the whole event is a deliberate provocation staged for the camera—perhaps to demonstrate what “hooligans” we are. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine us passively allowing someone to be removed from the group against their will—particularly someone of Arab origin who is quite right to believe they are more likely to be mistreated.
The upshot of the scuffle is that we are not removed from the room one by one, but in pairs or small groups. (We still have no idea where we are being relocated to and no one will tell us.) I pair up with a British woman named Fiona and we link arms so we can’t be separated. I am still trying to regain possession of my phone, which I can see the immigration officers playing with behind the desk. “I’ll turn it off, I’ll delete the pictures, I just want my phone back,” I tell one of the men in suits. No go. We are forcibly shoved out of the room, with one of the immigration officers pinching Fiona hard on the arm to make her comply. When Fiona says something along the lines of “That’s not necessary, we’re going,” the only response is “You fucking bitch.”
We are taken up to a women’s bathroom inside the airport where our bags and persons are searched. (Thankfully we are not strip-searched.) From there we’re taken outside to an isolated corner of the airport where what looked like a normal tour bus with dark windows awaits us. “Get in the limo, you’re going to the Hotel of Immigration,” one of the officers says sarcastically. We are pretty sure the Hotel of Immigration is prison.
Once we enter the bus we realized it has been converted to a paddy wagon on the inside, with metal grates on the windows and hard metal seats. Men and women are separated and put in different sections of the bus. While none of the women are handcuffed or shackled, several of the men were. It is night by this point but still quite hot, and the bus is stifling and crawling with roaches. We sit there for three hours, with no ventilation, no food or water, no toilet access and no information on what will happen next. We finally get a few bottles of water by banging on the metal walls to demand them. Everyone is nervous. If this is how we are being arrested, are there worse things to come?
Around 11pm we finally started driving. No one has told us where we are going, but those in the front of the bus are able to look out the tiny window and identify street signs for Ramla, a Palestinian town conquered in 1948 that is about 30km from Tel Aviv. I know there is an immigration detention center there, which is normally filled with migrant workers who have lost their visas and African refugees who have attempted to cross Israel’s border through the Sinai. Sure enough, Givon Detention Center, with its massive gate and barbed-wire-topped walls, is exactly where we end up.
We’re brought into a large open room to wait while we are processed for detention extremely slowly. Around 1am, after nine hours of detention, we’re finally given some food, which the guards film us eating so they can demonstrate how humanely they’re treating us. We’re allowed to keep our carry-on luggage with us, although our IDs, money, credit cards, and any media and electronics are confiscated. Those of us (like me) who had been stupid enough to check a bag have not been reunited with it, and therefore have no toiletries and no change of clothes. I’m finally processed and put in a cell with five other women around 2:30am—only to be woken up for a headcount at 6:30 the next morning.
It doesn’t matter how “humane” the conditions are—waking up in prison sucks. There’s a lot of anxiety on the first day, since no one knew how long we’ll be here and how the guards might treat us. At one point, a rumor goes around that they’re trying to photograph and fingerprint us all and we must all resist because we are not criminals. I imagine being in a room full of guards, alone, outnumbered, having to physically resist being fingerprinted, and get quite scared. That threat turns out not to materialize—either the rumor wasn’t accurate or they gave up that project after they realized we were all going to resist. But it’s a shaky first day or so.
My first cell contains one Austrian, one German-Palestinian woman whose father was from Gaza, and three Belgians. We’re all between 23 and 31, and four of us are Muslim. Needless to say, these ladies do not exactly fit the stereotype of the meek, submissive Muslim woman.
Some of the women in my cell had been part of a small group of mostly young Arabs who were separated from the large group at the airport and put in a smaller arrest van with a large number of soldiers and police, who filmed them and made sexually suggestive comments. One French Algerian woman was very roughly arrested, beaten, kicked, and put in handcuffs and leg irons before being thrown in the arrest van.
Someone has markers and we distract ourselves by graffiting all over the walls and lockers in our cell. When the guards finally open the doors and allowed us out into the closed-off hall of our cellblock a few hours later, we see that almost every cell had graffiti written on the walls and doors. Many cells have used soap or toothpaste to write “Free Palestine” on the inside of the doors. The prison toothpaste takes the paint off the doors, which is funny until you think about the fact you’ve been brushing your teeth with that.
Consular officials begin arriving that morning. The two people from the American consulate are friendly and do call our families, but they don’t seem to have much power or information about what will happen to us. They initially tell us we will be deported that night—it turns out they’re off by three days.
On Saturday, when the consular officials are present, our cell doors are kept open most of the day. We’re still confined to a closed hallway, but at least we can move about and talk to each other. The next day, Sunday, we’re locked up 21 out of 24 hours. We demand phone calls, only to be told “later.” We start to joke that in Hebrew, later means never. When we point out that it says on the “prisoners’ rights” document on the wall that we are to be allowed phone calls within 24 hours, we are told: “You’re special—those rights don’t apply to you.”
On the second night, I switch to the cell across the way without asking permission. It turns out the guards aren’t keeping track of us that carefully and no one notices. I want to be with Donna, the other American, since there are only two of us.
One of the prisoners in my second cell is Pippa Bartolotti, the only Brit who made it through passport control, perhaps because she is very posh and does not look like a “typical activist,” whatever that is. She is a Brit with an Italian name because her grandfather was sent out of fascist Italy as a teenager—other family members did not survive. On Friday, she made it out of the airport only to get a frantic text from one of us while we were being attacked by security in the basement. Her no-nonsense approach to getting back into the airport was effective (you can, and really must, watch the video here) but did result in her getting thrown to the ground and roughly handcuffed with someone’s knee on her back. The marks from the handcuffs are still visible and the bruises are just beginning to appear.
There is also an older French woman in our cell who has diarrhea. Her requests to see a doctor are being ignored. We take care of her—thankfully Donna is a nurse—but it’s not until the day we’re released that she’s finally able to see a doctor to her satisfaction. It’s pure luck that she doesn’t become seriously ill.
A sort of primitive communism develops in which everyone instinctively shares food, clothing, toiletries, and the most precious resource, information. Enough people speak either French or English that those become the common languages. When French and Belgian activists come back from their consular visits reporting that our story is huge in the European media and there are protests in support of us in Paris and Brussels, it’s like a ray of light.
We find ways to entertain ourselves, sharing stories and singing songs. The light switches for our cells are outside in the hall, so once the doors are locked at 8pm, there is no way to turn the lights off. The girls across the hall from us work out an ingenious solution that involves a spoon attached to a mop head and some feeling around for the light switch with the guidance of your cellmates across the hall.
Some of us begin to be allowed to see lawyers, although who is permitted to go seems totally random. We have two wonderful Palestinian lawyers, Anan and Samer, from Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organization, who are representing us pro bono. They are allowed to see us between 2pm and 5pm—not nearly enough time to talk to the approximately 120 of us who are here. I am the last person of the day to see them on Sunday, and they spend half our meeting arguing with the guards, who are trying to kick them out before they can give us any information. The guards seem determined to humiliate them, but they somehow maintain their dignity. I guess they’ve had a lot of practice.
The main thing they are able to tell us is that we are in a sort of legal black hole. The Israeli government is arguing that we have not formally entered Israel and are still “in transit,” as we would be as if we were being detained at the airport. Our lawyers are countering that this is absurd since we have now spend several days in a prison 30km from the airport. They warn us in no uncertain terms not to sign anything the Israelis give us. They tell us that it can take up to four days to get a deportation hearing, at which point the judge can decide, arbitrarily, to hold us for another four days—meaning we could be here for up to a week. This seems to me to be a pale shadow of the system of administrative detention that Palestinians face—except what’s days for us can be months or years for them.
At 1pm on Monday—almost three full days into our detention—I am finally allowed to make my phone call. I go with Pippa, whose phone was confiscated and still has not been returned. While Pippa is arguing with the guards, demanding to use their phone (request denied), I’m able to send some surreptitious text messages. I call my parents and tell them to call an activist friend in New York. “Tell her to call the media, tell everyone what’s happening, do something to get us out,” I say. At that point I’m promptly told, “Your time is up now.”
On Monday afternoon some people start to be deported. We hear that two of the British men have left. We later learn that there were numerous empty seats on the flight they were on. I think it’s just pure disorganization that some of the women were not put on that flight.
On Tuesday afternoon, eight of our English-speaking crew are finally driven to the airport. We are taken to a completely empty security screening area, made to sit down and surrounded by about twenty immigration officers and police. Suddenly we are told: “You can go to Bethlehem now.” No one is sure exactly what is going on, but being surrounded and outnumbered two to one by threatening security officers makes it really hard to believe this is a sincere offer. We are at the airport—surely they have already secured seats for us on the EasyJet flight that’s about to depart. We notice they are filming us again. Maybe the point of this is to film us refusing their offer—which we do on principle since dozens of our comrades have already been deported—so they can say “Look, we offered them the chance to go to Bethlehem and they didn’t really want it, so that proves they were just here to make trouble.”
At this point I feel they’re just screwing with us and get quite angry. I stand up and start questioning the head immigration officer, the thug who orchestrated the attack on us in the basement holding area on Friday night. “If you say you’re letting us in now, why didn’t you let us in four days ago?” He says something about there being dangerous people in our midst. “Who?” I demand. “You know.” “No, I don’t know. Tell me who.” I try to get him to say something about “terrorist” Arabs or Muslims among us, which I’m sure is what he means, but he, at least, is too smart for that.
Finally we are put on the plane, separated from all the other passengers. We get our passports back from a flight attendant. Most people’s are stamped ENTRY DENIED, but mine is stamped with nothing. It’s as if I never entered the country, even though I’ve been in prison for the past four days. It is 8pm on Tuesday when the plane finally takes off. We have been detained for 100 hours.
Throughout the whole process, we never saw a single piece of paper stating why we were being detained. If we have deportation orders, we did not see or sign them. We have no information about whether we are banned from re-entering Palestine, although I don’t think any of us expect a problem-free entry in the future.
We are well aware, as we fly off from a country we supposedly never entered, that things could have been much worse. We all know that the way we were treated is nothing—nothing—compared to what happens to Palestinians. As internationals, we have the luxury of only encountering the repressive system on its mildest setting. Our prison experience was full of barked orders, petty meanness, and lies upon lies upon lies, but we learned by the end that the guards were very much unwilling to use violence against us. Not because they were particularly nice, but because they knew the story would get out. As westerners our lives are still perceived as having some value. Less so for the poor migrants who filled the rest of the prison, and not at all for Palestinians.
Like the response to the Flotilla, like the violence against the Nakba and Naksa Day protests and the brutality that unarmed protesters in Palestine face every day, the Israeli government’s response to the Welcome to Palestine mission shows that they know only one way to react to nonviolent protest—with brute repression and total stupidity. If they had simply let us in, there would have been no story. Instead they created a multi-day media embarrassment for themselves and ensured that all of us came out of prison more determined to fight.
By detaining dozens of Europeans and Americans for simply declaring their intent to visit Palestinian cities, the Israeli government has only internationalized the struggle. We will return to our countries and build the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. We will continue to speak out against Israeli apartheid and for Palestinian human rights. And we will return to Palestine. We know we are always welcome.
Laura Durkay is a member of Siegebusters Working Group and the International Socialist Organization in New York City. You can follow her on Twitter at @lauradurkay.
from Mondoweiss by annie
The following press release was sent out by the Dignité Al Karama:
The Freedom Flotilla lives on; the French boat, Dignité Al Karama has reached international waters. The voyage has begun… let us continue! Respect our right of passage!
On Saturday July 16th, the French boat Dignité al-Karama finally passed the multitude of obstacles and obstructions put in its way by Greek authorities. Departing from the Greek port of Kastellorizo, Dignité has reached international waters. On board, in addition to the French activists, is a delegation representing all the international campaigns comprising Freedom Flotilla II – “Stay Human”.
The Dignité, sailing under a French flag, left Corsica in late June, and has, over the past weeks, been in Greek waters. It is the only boat of the Flotilla that has so far escaped the prohibition against sailing imposed by Greek authorities at the request of the Israeli government. The campaign, “A French Boat to Gaza” therefore decided to continue its voyage, serving as spokesperson for the whole of the Freedom Flotilla, denouncing the blockade of Gaza and demanding it be immediately lifted, and bringing a message of solidarity to the Palestinians in Gaza.
The Dignité Al Karama carries with it the spirit and principles of the campaign ‘A French Boat to Gaza’ and of the international coalition: a demand for justice and legality by putting an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, condemned repeatedly by the international community. In the face of Israeli threats, we reaffirm our commitment to non-violence in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
The Dignité has now departed: Let our people go !
Passengers on board the Dignité:
Stéphan Corriveau, Coordinator of Canadian boat to Gaza
Ayyache Derradji, Journalist from Al Jazeera
Dror Feiler, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Sweden, President of the European Jews for a Just Peace, musician
Hilaire Folacci, Mariner
Jérôme Gleizes, member of the executive board of « Europe Ecologie Les Verts »
Stéphane Guida, Cameraman from Al Jazeera
Amira Hass, Israeli journalist – Haaretz
Jacqueline Le Corre, France, Médecin-Collectif 14 (Calvados region) de soutien au peuple palestinien, member of the French Communist Party
Jean Claude Lefort, former MEP
Jo Leguen, Navigator
Claude Léostic, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza/ vice president of the France Palestine Solidarity Association
Yamin Makri, France, Collectif 69 (Lyon region) de soutien au peuple palestinien
Omeyya Naoufel Seddik, Fédération des Tunisiens pour une citoyenneté des deux rives (FTCR), and Ligue tunisienne des Droits de l’Homme (LTDH), Phd in Political Science
Vangelis Pissias, spokesperson of Ship to Gaza-Greece, Professor at Technical University of Athens
Thomas Sommer-Houdeville, spokesperson of Un bateau français pour Gaza, Researcher, Political Science, Middle East Studies, at the Institut francais du proche Orient
Yannick Voisin, Captain
Amira Hass reports:
On Saturday evening a Gaza-bound boat left Greek territorial waters. Its 10 participants regard themselves as representatives of the entire abortive flotilla to Gaza, and are determined to exhaust all possibilities in order to reach their destination, or at least carry out the symbolic act of protesting the blockade. They are well aware of the Lilliputian dimensions of their venture, compared with the massive impact organizers had initially planned to have with the 10-odd vessel flotilla.
Dignite-Al Karama, one of two yachts purchased by the French delegation in the second Freedom Flotilla, left a port in Corsica on June 25. Thus, it was spared the fate of eight other boats which were supposed to sail out of Greek ports, but were impounded by Greek authorities.
Last Wednesday Karama left the port of Sitia in Crete, where it had been anchored for a week, awaiting the other boats in vain. Once it was clear that Greece, under strong Israeli pressure, would not allow those boats to sail, its remaining passengers ¬ three French nationals and one Tunisian ¬ were joined by three representatives of other delegations, a Greek, Swede and a Canadian, and by three more French activists who arrived from France. Also on board are three crew members and three journalists from Al Jazeera and Haaretz.
B’Tselem: In past the six years, only one Palestinian minor acquitted out of 835 charged with stone-throwing
from Mondoweiss by Seham
New B’Tselem report reveals for the first time official data on treatment of Palestinian minors in Israeli military court system in the West Bank: 93% of all minors convicted of stone throwing were given jail sentences. This includes 19 children under age 14, who under domestic Israeli law could not be held in detention.
The rights of Palestinian minors who are suspected of stone-throwing in the West Bank are violated severely throughout the criminal justice process. These are the finding of No Minor Matter, a new B’Tselem report, published today (Monday, 18 July).
The report brings, for the first time, full official data on Palestinian minors tried for stone-throwing in the past six years, and is based on dozens of court cases, and on interviews with 50 Palestinian minors who had been arrested on suspicion of stone throwing, and with defense attorneys.
PopoutHere are some statistics presented in the report dealing with Palestinian minors charged with stone throwing between 2005-2010:
- 835 Palestinian minors were tried in military courts in the West Bank on charges of stone throwing. Thirty-four of them were aged 12-13; 255 were 14-15; 546 were 16-17.
- Only one minor was acquitted during that time (0.11 percent of the total), a conviction rate far higher than the extremely high conviction rate in Israel.
- Of the 642 files where B’Tselem received details about the conclusion, 624 (97 percent) ended with a plea bargain; in only five of the cases (0.77%) was a full trial held. In Israel, about half of criminal cases are resolved in a plea bargain.
- 19 minors aged 12-13 who were convicted of stone-throwing served a jail sentence ranging from a few days to two months. In Israel, it is forbidden to impose any prison sentence on a child under age 14.
- 26% of the minors aged 14-15 and about 59% of minors between 16-17 served a jail sentence of four months or more.
Read the full report here.
While our attention is rightly on the new anti-boycott law
, this development reminds us of the other inequalities in Israeli society. While not the keystone oppression like that of Palestinians, conditions for women seem to be worsening, as they often do in both situations of conquest and religious fundamentalism. It is also worth noting that defenders of Israel often criticize gender relations in Arab societies as if it was a problem unique to them.
- Photo: Emil Salman
Frances Raday covers the conference for Ha’aretz
and notes the participation of officials of the same government that passed the anti-boycott law. She also cites the traditinon of female breadwinners in traditional Judaism, freeing men up for study. (I don’t know if this unique to Judaism as she claims, but it is certainly distinctive.) She predicts that this will lead to increased segregation of the labor sector to allow for more men’s participation.
[Jerusalem Mayor] Steinitz and [Finance Minister] Barkat’s participation in the conference follows this pattern of political endorsement. What is new here is the exclusion of women from participation in the economic sphere.
Ultra-Orthodox women are often the family breadwinners, a phenomenon unique to Judaism. This is not equality, but simply a way to let men pursue the more important goal of studying and praying.
The new departure is an indication of shifting values in the Orthodox community, which is now beginning to understand the importance of economic activity. Leaving aside internal community politics, the result is devastating for a liberal economy.
There are clear indicators that women need to be full participants in the economy in order for it to flourish. The prime minister has indeed remarked that it takes two working parents to keep a family out of poverty. In Israel, the low participation rate of Arab women (and Haredi men ) in the workforce is a central factor impeding economic growth.
The men-only economic conference at Binyanei Ha’uma promises to put Jewish women outside the labor market, too. The growing segregation of women in Israel will affect not only Orthodox women. Men who insist on segregation in the army, in class and in political parties are not going to cooperate with women in the workplace.
The more the ultra-Orthodox enter the workforce, the more women are going to find themselves marginalized and excluded. The solution has to be clearly conditioning the use of public resources, public spaces and the political arena on equal access and participation for all Israelis, including women. The lack of political will evinced by the Knesset and the government will no doubt once again leave the Supreme Court as Israel’s only guardian of liberal democracy.
Here’s hoping for increasing alliances of all those excluded by this government, from Palestinians to Israeli women.
If an Arab used the term “Jewish terror”, he would be accused of anti-Semitism (personally, I am against linking terror and any religion)
from Mondoweiss by Jonathan Cook
It was an Arab legislator who made the most telling comment to the Israeli parliament last week as it passed the boycott law, which outlaws calls to boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories. Ahmed Tibi asked: “What is a peace activist or Palestinian allowed to do to oppose the occupation? Is there anything you agree to?”
The boycott law is the latest in a series of ever-more draconian laws being introduced by the far-right. The legislation’s goal is to intimidate those Israeli citizens, Jews and Palestinians, who have yet to bow down before the majority-rule mob.
Look out in the coming days and weeks for a bill to block the work of Israeli human rights organisations trying to protect Palestinians in the occupied territories from abuses by the Israeli army and settlers; and a draft law investing a parliamentary committee, headed by the far-right, with the power to veto appointments to the supreme court. The court is the only, and already enfeebled, bulwark against the right’s absolute ascendancy.
The boycott law, backed by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, marks a watershed in this legislative assault in two respects.
First, it knocks out the keystone of any democratic system: the right to free speech. The new law makes it illegal for Israelis and Palestinians to advocate a non-violent political programme — boycott — to counter the ever-growing power of the half a million Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land.
As the Israeli commentator Gideon Levy observed, the floodgates are now open: “Tomorrow it will be forbidden to call for an end to the occupation [or for] brotherhood between Jews and Arabs.”
Equally of concern is that the law creates a new type of civil, rather than criminal, offence. The state will not be initiating prosecutions. Instead, the job of enforcing the boycott law is being outsourced to the settlers and their lawyers. Anyone backing a boycott can be sued for compensation by the settlers themselves, who — again uniquely — need not prove they suffered actual harm.
Under this law, opponents of the occupation will not even be dignified with jail sentences and the chance to become prisoners of conscience. Rather, they will be quietly bankrupted in private actions, their assets seized either to cover legal costs or as punitive damages.
Human rights lawyers point out that there is no law like this anywhere in the democratic world. Even Eyal Yinon, the naturally conservative legal adviser to the parliament, assessed the law’s aim as stopping a “discussion that has been at the heart of political debate in Israel for more than 40 years”. But more than half of Israelis back it, with only 31 per cent opposed.
The delusional, self-pitying worldview that spawned the boycott law was neatly illustrated this month in a short video “ad” that is supported, and possibly financed, by Israel’s hasbara, or propaganda, ministry. Fittingly, it is set in a psychiatrist’s office.
A young, traumatised woman deciphers the images concealed in the famous Rorschach test. As she is shown the ink-splodges, her panic and anger grow. Gradually, we come to realise, she represents vulnerable modern Israel, abandoned by friends and still in profound shock at the attack on her navy’s commandos by the “terrorist” passengers aboard last year’s aid flotilla to Gaza.
Immune to reality — that the ships were trying to break Israel’s punitive siege of Gaza, that the commandos illegally boarded the ships in international waters, and that they shot dead nine activists execution-style — Miss Israel tearfully recounts that the world is “forever trying to torment and harm [us] for no reason”. Finally she storms out, saying: “What do you want – for [Israel] to disappear off the map?”
The video — released under the banner “Stop the provocation against Israel” — was part of a campaign to discredit the recent follow-up flotilla from Greece. The aid mission was abandoned after Greek authorities, under Israeli pressure, refused to let the convoy sail for Gaza.
Israel’s siege mentality asserted itself again days later as international activists staged another show of solidarity — this one nicknamed the “flytilla”. Hundreds tried to fly to Israel on the same day, declaring their intention to travel to the West Bank. The goal was to highlight that Israel both controls and severely restricts access to the occupied territories and to Palestinians.
Proving precisely the protesters’ point, Israel threatened airlines with retaliation if they carried the activists and it massed hundreds of soldiers at Ben Gurion airport to greet arrivals. Some 150 peaceful protesters who reached Israel were arrested moments after landing.
Echoing the deranged sentiments of the woman in the video, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, denounced the various flotillas as “denying Israel’s right to exist” and a threat to its security.
In reality, however, the surge in flotilla activity reflects not an attack on Israel but a growing appreciation by international groups that Israel is successfully sealing off from the world the small areas of the occupied territories left to Palestinians. The flotillas are a rebellion against the Palestinians’ rapid ghettoisation.
Although Netanyahu’s comments sound delusional, there may be a method to the madness of measures like the boycott law and the hysterical overreaction to the flotillas.
These initiatives, as Tibi points out, leave no room for non-violent opposition to the occupation. Arundhati Roy, the award-winning Indian writer, has noted that non-violence is essentially “a piece of theatre. [It] needs an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?”
Netanyahu and the Israeli right understand this point. They are carefully dismantling every platform on which dissident Israelis, Palestinians and international activists hope to stage their protests. They are making it impossible to organise joint peaceful and non-violent resistance, whether in the form of boycotts or solidarity visits. The only way being left open is violence.
Is this what the Israeli right wants, believing both that it will confirm to Israelis’ their paranoid fantasies as well as offering a justification to the world for entrenching the occupation?
Netanyahu appears to believe that, by generating the very terror he claims to be trying to defeat, he can safeguard the legitimacy of the Jewish state — and destroy any hope of a Palestinian state being created.
Jonathan Cook won this year’s Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.
A version of this article originally appeared in The National (www.thenational.ae), published in Abu Dhabi.
from Mondoweiss by Nima Shirazi
By now Mondoweiss readers have probably seen Jeffrey Goldberg’s updated post on supporting the boycott of Netanyahu here in the US. It includes this tidbit (emphasis added):
“…all I can say is this: Since 1948, Israel has been a besieged state that nevertheless has, with rare exceptions, defended the right of people to say whatever they have wanted to say. This is why Israel has the freest press in the world, and why Arab members of Knesset can scream down the prime minister and not get shot. Israel’s defense of freedom of speech, even in wartime, is one of the many reasons to be proud of it.
Ok, beyond the weirdness of the sentiment (an elected government official not getting shot in a country’s parliament for opposing occupation, ethnic cleansing, and discrimination is cause for celebration?!), is this inconvenient fact, from Ha’aretz today:
Israeli Arab MK Hanin Zuabi will be stripped of her right to address the Knesset and to participate in committee votes until the end of this parliamentary season, the Knesset Ethics Committee ruled on Monday.
The decision to penalize Zuabi, a lawmaker from the Balad party, comes in the wake of her participation in the Gaza-bound flotilla last year. Zuabi, who sailed on the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara, had already had certain parliamentary rights revoked by Knesset last July.
The rights previously revoked are “her diplomatic passport, entitlement to financial assistance for legal assistance and the right to visit countries with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties.”
Last week, “Zuabi was being ushered out of the parliamentary session after interrupting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech and after being called to order three times by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin.”
It’s true that “being ushered out” is not the same as not getting shot. But it’s also true that physically preventing a Knesset member from voicing her views is certainly not an example of what Goldberg describes as Israel’s defense of “the right of people to say whatever they have wanted to say”. Apparently, for Goldberg, anything short of murdering a Palestinian in cold-blood is grounds for lauding Israel’s democratic character…unless, of course, you count Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Golan, or the past, of course.
Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. His analysis of United States foreign policy and Middle East issues is published at WideAsleepInAmerica.com. Follow him on Twitter @WideAsleepNima.