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Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Call for Acre Demo against evictions, Friday 25/4

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Calling to participate in the Acre demonstration

Against eviction if the family of Salwa Zeidan

On Friday 25/04/2014 at 13:00

66 years after the Nakba and the expulsion of the majority of Palestine’s inhabitants, the various governmental agencies continue to lay out plots to uproot the Arab residents from their land and homes in the Negev, the Triangle, the Galilee and the mixed cities.

Haja Um Ahmed, Salwa Zeidan, lives with her family for fifty years at their home in “Alborg” neighborhood – near the eastern gate of Old Acre. In these days “The Acre Development Authority” is trying to evict the family as part of a range of programs and measures to “Judaize” the old city of Acre… We have not forgotten how in 2008 city council members in Acre spoke openly and brazenly about the need to maintain a Jewish majority, what provoked the anger of the Palestinian Arabs of Acre and many others.

Ramiya’s Friends Group was formed several months ago to speak out against the plan to expel the people of the village of Ramiya from the land of their ancestors. The authorities want to grab this land to build a new Jewish neighborhood for expanding Karmiel as part of the “Development of the Galilee”, a code name for Judaization. The group organizes various activities to stop the racist policies to preserve the Jewish character of Karmiel, in support of the struggle for the right of Ramiya’s people to build and live in dignity as residents with full rights in the city.

Our struggle for Ramiya continues in support of the steadfast of its people in the most difficult conditions and despite repeated harassment against them on the part of the municipality of Karmiel. We know that the struggle against apartheid and ethnic cleansing is one struggle in all the places where Arab residents are persecuted and discriminated against in this country.

Therefore we invite the public to participate in a demonstration against the Judaization of Acre and against the dispossession of its Arab residents to be held on Friday, 25.4.2014, at 13:00. The demonstration will begin at one o’clock in the afternoon from near Um Ahmad’s home, near the eastern gate of Old Acre, after Friday’s prayers at the “Alborg” mosque nearby. We will march together towards the offices of “The Acre Development Authority” which is responsible for the eviction orders.

Ramiya’s Friends Group

Ramiya4ever@gmail.com

Facebook invitation for the demonstration

Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

This call is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

 

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How did Israel’s Shabak made Majd Kayyal disappear?

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How did Israel’s Shabak make Majd Kayyal disappear?

On Saturday, April 12, “Adalah” – the most respected Human Rights NGO in Haifa – published “breaking news” about the detention of political and media activist, journalist Majd Kayyal, who happened to be also the editor of Adalah’s internet site. Majd was arrested at a border crossing from Jordan called “Sheikh Hussein” on the Jordan River, immediately on his arrival to the Israeli checkpoint. He was on his way back from Beirut, where he participated in a public conference held on the occasion of 40 years of the newspaper “Al-Safir”, in which he regularly publishes articles.

Adalah reported that its lawyer tried to meet Majd in detention, but the police didn’t allow this, claiming that there is an order prohibiting Majd from meeting lawyers. Adalah further noted in its statement that its lawyers will represent Majd on the next day, Sunday, 13.4, in hearings of the police request to remand the detention.

Adalah’s short message about Majd’s detention ends with an optimistic note promising further details…

According to foreign sources…

Since the initial announcement of Majd’s detention, Adalah didn’t publish any further details.

Instead, we read on their site general discussions concerning the law that forbids Israeli citizens from visiting “enemy countries” and the law that allows the authorities to prevent a detainee meeting his lawyers. No names, no details, no Majd. Yesterday he was detained and today he disappeared, as if he never existed.

You could think that Majd was released… After all, hundreds of people are arrested every day for little or no reason by the Israeli police and most of them are released without anyone writing a word.

Searching the net for Majd Kayyal in Hebrew brings very little fresh news. A site called “KafeHafukh” (White Coffee) reported (Tuesday 15.4) that in the routine briefing at the US State Department, the speaker Ms. Psaki expressed concern about reports on the arrest of journalist Majd Kayyal. She added: “We have seen the reports… that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information”.

If the State Department can’t determine the facts despite their “concern” – how would we discover what happened to Majd?

The couple of magic buttons leads us to search in English for “Majd Kayyal” and we can easily find Ali Abunimah’s report in “Electronic Intifada”. It says that the Haifa Court extended Majd’s detention from Sunday, 13.4, until next Tuesday, 22.4. Electronic Intifada even publishes a protocol of the court’s hearing in Hebrew and English. From this protocol we learn that the court prevented any publication about the proceedings against Majd and that Majd is still prevented from meeting his lawyers.

Another reliable source, journalist Richard Silverstein in his site “Tikun Olam”, also publishes details about Majd’s detention and a photograph of the police’s request for GAG order.

We also learn that the judge who extended the detention and ordered the “disappearance” of Majd is Zayed Falah, a former military prosecutor.

About Majd

To be honest with my readers, I must clarify that I know personally Majd Kayyal as a neighbor and a family friend ever since he came to this world some 23 years ago…

He is the son of prominent proud Palestinians activists from Haifa.

The Kayyal family was displaced from their ancestors’ village of Birwa when it was occupied and destroyed in 1948. Birwa is well known as the birthplace of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. On its ruins was established the Zionist settlement of “Akhihud”, while the original inhabitants are forbidden from returning to their lands.

Majd’s cousin, Asil ‘Asli, was killed by the Israeli police in the second Intifada demonstrations in October 2000 in the Galilee village of Arabeh. He was one of the 13 Arab demonstrators murdered in the territories occupied by Israel since 1948 at the first days of the Intifada. Their killing symbolizes for many the unity of fate of the Palestinians in their struggle against Zionist occupation and apartheid.

Majd grew into political activity and we often met in many demonstrations: On Land Day, in the days commemorating the events of October 2000, in protests against the demolition of homes and land confiscation, in solidarity activities with Palestinian prisoners.

In the commemoration of the Nakba on May 15, 2011, we were detained together in a demonstration in Bir’am forest, just in front of the village of Maroun Ar-Ras on the other side of the Lebanese border, where a peaceful “March of Return” of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon met with murderous fire of the Israeli army.

Majd was arrested in November 2011 with the crew of the ship “Tahrir”, which was on its way to Gaza with humanitarian supplies as part of the campaign to break the siege.

Majd is an example of the new generation of young Palestinian activists, sharing his time between Internet activities on more traditional ones in the streets. He finds time for creative writing and journalism, the struggle for human rights and the struggle for national and social liberation.

He was among the activists who organized the opposition to the “Prawer plan” for ethnic cleansing of tens of thousands of Bedouin from the Naqab (Negev) and the destruction of dozens of villages. When news came of the cancellation of that plan (at least temporarily) I saw him full of happiness and satisfaction.

No wonder the police and Shabak (GSS) are looking for an opportunity to shut up Majd. His mother, Suhair Badarne, told us that in one recent “interview” with the Shabak in Haifa the interrogator warned her they were planning to frame Majd and have him imprisoned for a long period.

The Forces of Darkness

The evil forces prefer to operate in the dark. Majd is held now, as far as we know, in the damp and dark cellars of the “GSS Division” at the Jalameh detention center (“Kishon”), isolated from the outside world. The steamroller of repressive mechanisms is applied upon him in order to force him to confess of crimes he did not commit.

It’s the only reasonable explanation for preventing him from meeting his lawyers, for the prevention of even eye contact with his family during the remand proceedings, for the sweeping publication ban on details of the proceedings against him (all according to foreign sources, of course).

If the investigation was about the offense of entering an “enemy country” – it could be held in the open and wouldn’t even require detention, as Majd traveled openly to Lebanon to attend a public event. He also reported himself on his experiences in Beirut, among other places in a post (in Arabic, of course) on “Jadaliyya”.

Many Israeli journalists visited all “enemy countries” and reported their trips without being arrested or punished. If Majd Kayyal is detained and persecuted because of his trip to Lebanon – the problem is not of Lebanon being an “enemy country” but the attitude of the State of Israel regarding all the Palestinian people in the country as enemies.

The total blackout imposed on Majd would not be possible were it not for the indifference, consent and naturalness with which Israeli public opinion accepts the denial of basic human rights of any Arab, just for being an Arab. A journalist, a human rights activist, a political activist is detained for a prolonged period while GAG is imposed and he is denied meeting his lawyers. These are draconian measures that make mock of the thin veneer of proclaimed democracy.

The Forces of Light

A group of Anarchists named “Unity” called for a demonstration on Wednesday (16.4) morning in front of the offices of “Haaretz” newspaper in Tel Aviv to protest the non-publication of the affair and attract media attention to it. They planned to shift the vigil later in front of police and Shabak offices nearby, to demand the immediate release of Majd and cessation of political persecution against him and against the Palestinians in general.

Majd’s friends are planning a demonstration on Thursday, 17.4, at 19:30, in “Prisoner’s Square”, Carmel Avenue (Ben Gurion) near the Haddad hotel in the German Colony in Haifa. Another demonstration is planned outside the courthouse in case the police will apply for remand on Tuesday (22.4) morning.

Public struggle can at least remove the veil of secrecy over human rights violations against Majd Kayyal. Help us in this struggle.

This post was originally published in Hebrew.

Hot News

(Wednesday 16.4, 18:00) Under the pressure of protest and publications here and abroad, the police informed Adalah that the GAG order over Majd’s detention will be removed tomorrow (Thursday, 17.4) at 12:00.

You may freely write and demonstrate about the case, demand Majd’s release and protest the fact that he is prevented from meeting his lawyers!

Good News

(Thursday 17.4, morning) The public pressure helped – Thanks to all of you who took part in lifting the veil of darkness by protesting and publishing! This night Adalah lawyers were at last allowed to meet Majd Kayyal.

Now we demand Majd’s immediate release. See you in the demo today at 19:30 in the German Colony, Haifa.

Even Better News

(Thursday 17.4, 17:30) Majd was released from the Jelemeh detention center and is now under house detention…

Thanks again to everybody that published and protested!

There was no legal justification for Majd’s detention in the first place – and it couldn’t stand even 5 hours of public scrutiny.

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On the Democracy of the One State – being its most important quality

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On the Democracy of the One State – being its most important quality

Supporters of the “One Democratic State” in Haifa are holding a study session to analyze this program, its political dimensions and its implications on current struggles. I took on myself the preparation of the discussion about the role of democracy in this project…

I do not deny that I‘m biased and extremist in my support for democracy and I see it as the most important component of the ODS program. Why?

Democracy is the essence of the liberation project

In the text of the invitation for the discussion session, it is written that we will “attempt to decompose the slogan” – as if the slogan was a watch or a car built from screws and hinges, and we have to understand the role and importance of each of them…

I tried to decompose and separate “democracy” from the “one-state” – and found that the one-state is painfully and heavily present on all the land of Palestine. But this is the state of occupation and colonization which is the antithesis of the democratic state and not any of its components…

If we take the “state” by itself, it is, in the best of cases, a necessary evil. In many other cases it is an evil that should be resisted.

The “one” is conceived by many observers as the heart of the program, as we talk about the “one-state solution” versus “two-state solution”. This is a dangerous illusion, because the two-state solution does not exist. The main goal of the constant talk about it is to make us ignore the reality of the one non democratic state on the ground… and even if a democratic Palestinian state will be set up on part of this land – and this is not “a solution” – our main reason for objection will not be the division of the land, but the acceptance of the results of ethnic cleansing and the absence of democracy in most parts of the country.

Some come with the slogan “one secular democratic state” – dividing our aspirations from the future state between the two qualities – “democratic” and “secular”. In my opinion, this addition does not increase the clarity of the goal and could harm it. If we mean by “secular” the freedom of all religions, freedom from coercion in religion and equal rights for all – all of these qualities are basic to the definition of democracy. But over the times and even now, not far from here, we witness the suppression of democracy in the name of secularism – which contradicts our democratic message: everyone’s participation in dialogue, decision-making and shaping the future.

The only strong “competitor” to represent the essence of the program, except for “democracy”, is “Return”. Ethnic cleansing was, and remains, the most important and most dangerous quality of the Zionist colonization of Palestine. For this reason the return of the Palestinian refugees should be at the center of our liberation project. But, from a broader perspective, denying the right of the refugees to live in their homes and motherland is one of many forms of dispossession of the Palestinian people wherever they are, like military occupation, repression, apartheid, racism, land theft and much more… The restoration of the rights to their owners and the return of the Palestinian people to live free in their homeland – all this, in the most comprehensive way, means the establishment of democracy in the land of Palestine and for all the people of this land.

Democracy between form and content

If we decompose democracy itself we find that it is composed of “Demo” – the people – and “Kratia” – Power or Rule. Hence we find at the heart of democracy the concept of the people’s sovereignty: The legitimacy of the regime stemming from his role in serving the people; the people’s interests can only be determined by the people themselves; to determine their interests the people should be free and conscious.

Many activists wonder: is there any connection between this ideal of democracy – rule by the people – and the so-called democratic political systems that are controlled by a small group of capitalists?

The basic response to this criticism of “bourgeois democracy” is that the falsity of this democracy does not undermine the basic concept of democracy. We need more democracy than what we find in these models that are incomplete or distorted, not less.

Adding to this essential response, the power of democracy, as is the power of any great positive principle, is such that even its partial and distorted application has many positive effects… The available space for thought, expression, movement and organization under the rule of bourgeois democracy is an important achievement and could be used to work toward a real democracy. The extent of influence of the people over political decisions and the ability to change government (even if nominally) through elections, political action and direct action enabled the masses to achieve many social rights even under bourgeois regimes and the rule of capital.

Hence, our opposition to bourgeois democracy (if we oppose it) is opposition to the restrictions on democracy by the rule of capital. We have to develop the concept of democracy and not to diminish it.

Through the study of history and experiences of different peoples we can find many attempts to develop different types of democracy – from the rule of the People’s Councils till “participatory democracy”. I hope that we will be able to study these experiences and use them to develop a wider vision of democracy.

From here we start

The value of democracy – like the value of air and water – is known only to those deprived of it. The rule of colonialism and apartheid is a system depriving the indigenous inhabitants of the land of the most basic human rights, freedom and self-determination. In one word, it is the denial of democracy.

Our struggle in every area of ​​life starts with the defense of basic rights, striving to retrieve usurped rights and to gain freedom. Those are manifestations of resistance to the lack of democracy, hence resisting the system that deprives us of democracy. The political dimension of all these struggles is the struggle for democracy.

We read history and learn that all the big revolutions were essentially revolutions for democracy – beginning from the French Revolution, passing through the Russian and Chinese revolutions, until the Arab Spring that shook the world order but did not win yet. This is just natural, because these are popular revolutions of peoples that have been deprived of their right to expression, organization and self-determination. They fought for their robbed freedom in order to take their destiny in their own hands. When it is possible for people to decide their fate, they can change the regime in a democratic way and are not obliged to resort revolutionary upheavals, which are dangerous and costly.

Behind any repressive regime there is a group or a class that benefits from the repression… On the other hand, the movement of the masses for democracy is not devoid of class, social, national, and others interests. However, in the absence of democracy, the oppressed and exploited masses can’t defend their interests other than through resisting tyranny and demanding their freedom.

In order to obtain democracy we should form as broad a front as possible from all the forces, movements and parties who have interest to resist the apartheid regime and struggle for the establishment of democracy. In order to form this Broad Front, the liberation movement should adopt pluralism, dialogue and understanding among all its components. In other words – it should be a profoundly democratic movement in order to achieve democracy.

From here we should begin.

(This article was also published in Arabic and Hebrew.)

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The Founding Body of “The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historical Palestine” meeting in Ramallah

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The Founding Body of “The Popular Movement for One Democratic State on Historical Palestine” held a meeting on Saturday 8.2.2014 in the meetings’ hall of the municipality of Al-Bireh, in the presence of members of the body and selected guests from the Palestinian political leadership, academics and supporters of ODS from all over Palestine, including a delegation from inside the Green Line.

The participants discussed the current political situation and the position of the Popular Movement toward the initiative of U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry. The organizers presented a position paper defining the movement’s position regarding the latest political developments concerning the Palestinian struggle and the vision of the movement to solve the conflict in Palestine, which already lasted over a century. This vision proposes the establishment of one democratic state based on the principles of freedom, justice, democracy and equality, adopting the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – a state for all residents – while upholding the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and property from which they were expelled by force. A country governed by a democratic constitution based on the right to citizenship as one of the basic human rights, equality before the law, equality between women and men in all walks of life and equal opportunities without discrimination based on race, religion, color or anything else. It is a Humanitarian and civilized solution to the conflict, a real alternative to the racist demand to recognize Israel as a racist Jewish state.

Most of the meeting was dedicated to discussion with the audience, hearing different opinions, criticism and suggestions to the Steering Committee of the movement.

During the meeting, forms for joining the popular movement were distributed.

It was announced that the movement launched its new website:

Ods-palestine.org

The meeting was opened with a minute of silence in commemoration of all the martyrs who gave their lives in the struggle for freedom everywhere and the participants stayed standing while the Palestinian national anthem was played.

Then the chairperson, Mr. Ghassan Olayan, welcomed the participants. He was followed by Mr. Munir Abushi, the former governor of Salfit district, who presented the principles of the popular movement, its goals, its basic concepts and the reasoning for the timing of its establishment. Mr. Radi Jarai, a professor at the University of Jerusalem, read the position paper of the movement on the political situation in the Palestinian arena.

At the end of the discussion of the position paper, Mr. Awni Al-Mashni, member of the Advisory Board of the Fatah movement, and Dr. Uri Davis, member of the Revolutionary Council of Fatah and lecturer at Jerusalem University, replied to questions that were raised by the guests.

Comrade Yoav Bar from the Haifa group for one democratic state talked about the activity of different groups of supporters of the idea, the challenges facing the movement in the territories occupied since 1948 and prospects for its development both in Palestine and on the international level.

(This report was translated from the Arabic, and is also available in Hebrew.)

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Eldad Zion Repeats “The Fatal Mistake”

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We return from the demonstration in Ramiya against Apartheid in the Galilee and talk about the struggle against the Prawer Plan for dispossessing the Arabs of the Naqab (Negev). Confusion reigns … Did we win or not? Was the Prawer Plan really stopped or does the government still intend to raise it again? In any case it is clear that the fight is not over. Discrimination, destruction and dispossession are the characteristics of “the system” all across the country, from the river to the sea. With increasing self-confidence of the young activists the struggle will go on and escalate.

Are we ready for the struggle ahead? Did we learn the lessons from previous struggles and recent events?

One essential issue in every struggle is the defense of the detainees. On the last “Day of Rage” (30/11/2013) against the Prawer Plan, in the demonstrations in Hora and in Haifa, it seemed that it was mostly the police that unleashed unbridled rage at the demonstrators. Demonstrators who were arrested were brutally beaten systematically after their arrest and beating continued even in the police stations. Contempt for the law by the police is reaching new heights when a prisoner begs to stop hitting him and the cop advises him to “complain to Mahash” and continues to beat him. (“Mahash” is the department responsible for investigations of complaints against policemen, and is famous for closing cases without any investigation.) We still have a lot to do even just to make the police try to pretend to respect the law.

In any case we can learn a lot from the experience of the recent detentions…

Why was Eldad Zion Arrested?

One of the detainees in the Hora demonstration was a teacher from Tel Aviv named Eldad Zion. Even according to the police Eldad was not involved in any violent activity during the demonstration. He was detained because he tried to talk to the police and convince them not to beat other detainees.

The primary offense that was attributed to Eldad by the police in the Be’er Sheva court occurred at the police station called “The Townships Station”, to which he was taken with other detainees from the demonstration. Eldad’s description of the event is presented by Or Kashti in “Haaretz” in the following words: “I entered the detainees’ room, whose walls are adorned with handwritten ‘Kahane was right’ and ‘Moses commanded to kill all the Arabs’, with the symbols of the Border’s Guard police unit. I saw a policeman slapping a detainee, so I raised my voice. In response 2-3 policemen attacked me from behind, took me out of the room, kicked me and broke the glasses… I did my civic duty while confronted by police violence. The police must be supervised by civilians. We must remain vigilant.”

On the other hand, the police accusations against Eldad, designed to justify the assault, amounted to claiming that “he grabbed a policeman’s shirt and pushed another officer.” On this flimsy base the prosecution tried consistently to build an image of Eldad as a dangerous person, as Kashti reported from the court: “This is a dangerous man,” said prosecution attorney Guy Zehavi yesterday, “the first rule of release on bail is confidence. Here is someone that has no fear of the law and goes against the law – assaults and disrupts.” Mr. Zehavi objected to the claim that Zion is not dangerous because the Prawer Plan was canceled. “First, the program is not canceled, and secondly – it’s like one who killed his wife and now claims not to be dangerous any longer because his wife already died.”

Eldad was kept in detention due to these accusations for two and a half weeks. The police even sought remand until the end of proceedings. Finally, the court decided to release him to house arrest under “24 hours guard” by his friends who volunteered to guarantee his release. Just yesterday (24.12) Eldad was finally released from house arrest under severe restrictive conditions.

Eldad himself, being such a good soul, after being beaten by the police, declared that he forgives them for all that they did. He reiterated this position even after his release and expanded his forgiveness to include the prosecution that insisted on remand and the judges which extended his detention for no reason again and again.

We’re talking about Eldad and try to understand his position – is it naivety or greatness? Is it possible that this position has led to further harassment against him? Here are some historical precedents.

Memories from the Intifada

Muhannad tells us about a friend from the days of the Stones’ Intifada (1987-1995), who was active in “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine” and participated in many clashes against the occupation soldiers. He was arrested many times, interrogated and tortured. He was sentenced and spent a period in Israeli prisons.

After he served his sentence and the Intifada ended, our friend finished his undergraduate studies and earned a scholarship to graduate school in the United States. He applied for permission to study through the Palestinian “Liaison Committees”, but all his appeals were rejected.

In his repeated appeals to the Palestinian liaison officer our friend begged him:

- “Tell them, the Israelis, that I’m not vindictive. I forgive them for everything they did to me.”

- “You see,” replied the liaison officer, “precisely because of this attitude you will never get a travel permit. Because you see yourself in a position where you can forgive the Israelis! They will never forgive you for that…”

Dangerous Historical Precedent

Finally Iris summarizes the discussion.

Eldad was lucky to be released to house arrest. He got off cheaply. The person that preceded him and thought he could forgive everybody finished on the cross.

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This post was also published in Hebrew.

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Apartheid Bulldozers Threaten Ramiya’s Houses in Karmiel

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Apartheid Bulldozers Threaten Ramiya’s Houses in Karmiel

Karmiel was born in sin – it was a cornerstone of the “Judaization of the Galilee” racist colonialist project. It was built on large areas of land that were confiscated from nearby Arab towns and villages. This confiscation was not for development for “public purposes” – as claimed by the Israeli government’s confiscation orders – but in order to uproot the residents of the area, concentrate them in ghettos of poverty and settle in their place another public – exclusively those adhering to the Jewish religion.

Galilee Apartheid reality, represented by Karmiel, Misgav “communal” settlements, Nazareth Illit and their likes, does not end with the expropriation of land and its allocation according to racial criteria. Judaization is a comprehensive policy encompassing all aspects of life: discrimination in building infrastructure and providing services to residents; endless obstacles obstructing residential construction in Arab communities while encouraging Jewish settlement; blocking economic development in the Arab ghettos versus benefits and incentives to enterprises in the Apartheid towns.

Ahab and Naboth’s vineyard in Karmiel

The most outrageous illustration of Karmiel’s character as Apartheid City is the fate of the residents Ramiya, who live on their own land, which was lawfully registered in the Land Registry Office, long before the establishment of Karmiel.

When Ahab of Karmiel desired the vineyard of Naboth and his land, he was ready to use any means to get them.

Usually the legal excuse against unrecognized Arab villages, built on their private lands, is that they are built on agricultural land and therefore no building can be legalized there – even if it is an old building, standing there before the planning law itself. (For building Jewish settlements, of course, the designated usage of land is easily altered). But Ramiya’s lands are in the midst of Karmiel’s building areas. Why not recognize Ramiya’s houses as a separate village or as part of the city? The answer is obvious: because the city was founded for Jews – and Arabs should be evacuated.

A sweeping confiscation order against Ramiya’s lands was issued already in 1976 – on the grounds of “public needs” – at the height of the “Judaization of the Galilee” drive. After a long legal battle Israel’s “Supreme” Court upheld the expropriation on March 1, 1992.

But the abuse of Ramiya’s residents didn’t stop at the expropriation itself. In order to force the residents to give up their houses and lands, Karmiel’s Municipality and various state agencies wage a deliberate policy of siege and deprivation of basic needs against Ramiya’s residents, which can’t but remind us of the siege of Gaza.

One example that cries out to heaven is preventing Ramiya’s houses from connecting to the electricity grid. When residents bought generators, (who learns by candlelight these days?) the “good neighbors” complained about the generators’ noise. Instead of providing electricity to the residents, Karmiel’s Municipality sent inspectors to demand the shutdown of the generators at night and left Ramiya’s residents in the cold and dark.

Struggle and Agreement

In the early 1990s Ramiya became the center of the struggle against the Judaization of the Galilee. On one opportunity the central Land Day demonstration was held in Ramiya. Later there was a mass march from Majd al-Kurum to Ramiya.

Public pressure forced the Israel Lands Administration to agree to negotiations and finally reach a compromise, which was signed as an agreement with the residents in 1995.

The agreement, as signed, is far from doing justice. According to it the village will be destroyed and with it the existing fabric of life. The residents succumb to the racist expropriation forced upon them. It allows the state to take over the lands of Ramiya for a compensation that is a small fraction of their market value.

However, the agreement, to some extent, breaks the principle of Apartheid around which Karmiel was founded by enabling Ramiya residents to stay in the area and build their homes. To this end the Administration undertook to provide 30 building plots in a special neighborhood that will be built in Karmiel.

The agreement also included the provision of compensation to Ramiya residents in the form of 15 building plots and some farmland outside of Karmiel.

The Zionist Principle: More Land, Fewer Arabs

The Israel Lands Administration, which hurried before the agreement to try forcibly evict the residents, was in no hurry to fulfill the agreement. More than five years passed before it allocated the proposed land for resettlement of Ramiya’s residents in a new neighborhood of Karmiel.

The residents also were in no hurry to give up their homes and lands with which their lives’ stories were entwined.

Finally, between 2001 and 2003, the Administration began implementing the agreement in its own way: Take control of as much land as it can and allow as few Arabs as possible to remain in Karmiel. It signed an agreement for the evacuation of two families that possessed more land but had a smaller number of inhabitants and gave them about 35% of the land intended for the construction of the new neighborhood (which had shrunk meanwhile from 30 to 29 plots).

The Administration informed all other residents that they must make do with what was left. By doing so the administration is trying to force a reality which clearly does not maintain the minimum that was to be guaranteed by the settlement agreement – enabling Ramiya residents persist as a community and build their lives in their village.

The Shifting Sands of the Law

At this stage a legal miracle occurred for the residents of Ramiya.

Some residents had filed a lawsuit against the administration in the Haifa District Court, arguing that the administration had violated the settlement agreement. The ruling, issued by Judge Raniel on November 24, 2009 (civil case 699/07), confirms the claims of the plaintiffs that the Administration violated the agreement. Beyond that, the ruling states that “compliance with the agreement as it is, at the current state of affairs as of today, is not possible, given the unequal distribution carried out by the Administration. In this situation the agreement should be applied approximately. The administration should make adjustments in order to correct the distortion and inequality that were created and that the administration acknowledged their existence, by adding on the plots quotas agreed upon.”

Would you expect the Administration to rush to comply with the verdict and allow all Ramiya residents to build their homes in Karmiel? Not in Israel. We have seen it in many cases in the past, most famously in the case of displaced villagers of Bir’am, Iqrit and Ghabsiyah, where the Supreme Court issued orders allowing them to return to their lands. Even if “by mistake” an Israeli court issues a ruling recognizing some rights of Arab citizens, it is nothing but an unfortunate mistake to be fixed by another judicial ruling or directly in practice by the authorities.

In our case, the Administration made the petitioners who won their case to join other judicial proceeding dealing with the cases of other Ramiya residents, which was held in the same Haifa District Court. In this proceeding (civil case 35576/12/10), the Administration found a sympathetic ear in the form of judge Lamshtreich–Leter, which justified all the claims of the Administration, embraced all claims against the residents and even invented new arguments on her own behalf. In her judgment issued on August 5, 2013, contrary to custom, the judge ignored the previous verdict of judge Raniel issued at the very same court, and turned his ruling upside down.

Judge Lamshtreich–Leter was not content “only” to justify the theft of lands belonging to Ramiya residents and to order their deportation from Karmiel. She went farther and put forward her own militant agenda, ruling that any of the residents who would not sign an evacuation agreement with the Administration within 90 days (until November 4, 2013) shall be deemed to renounce voluntarily his rights within the framework of the 1995 settlement agreement and would have to evacuate the area immediately.

The residents filed an appeal against this draconian ruling in the Supreme Court (Civil Appeal 7198/13). The hearing of the appeal on its merits was not yet been held, but Judge Barak-Erez, in her decision of November 11, 2013, refused to grant suspension of execution of the evacuation until the hearing of the appeal and required the petitioners to pay the costs.

Divide and Rob

The most disgusting aspect of the authorities’ conduct in this context is their systematic efforts in sowing discord between Ramiya residents.

The method is simple: The Administration announced that the 30 plots allotted to the new neighborhood in Karmiel are the last offer for Ramiya’s people and that if any of the residents had no place to live this is an internal problem of the division between the residents.

Thus we see, unfortunately, some lawsuits by Ramiya residents against other residents.

When judge Raniel ordered the Administration to allocate additional plots, the Administration completely ignored this directive.

On the other hand, judge Lamshtreich–Leter, in her ruling, adopts this quarrel-mongering tactic wholeheartedly and finds for it new justifications out of any context.

But the arbitrary and scandalous judgment, which denies the achievements of the residents in the agreement of 1995 and ordered their immediate evacuation without housing solutions, finally re-united the residents and re-ignited the public struggle over the principled issues, against racist evictions and land grab.

No to Apartheid – Yes to all Ramiya residents’ right to live in Karmiel

After decades of suffering and persecution, the drama in Ramiya is approaching the moment of truth.

Will forced evictions take place? Is the city of Karmiel determined to solidify its position as Apartheid City through a celebration of destruction and violence?

Or perhaps there is another way, allowing Ramiya residents at least to build homes in the neighborhood assigned for them in Karmiel? We repeat and mention that it is much less than justice – but definitely a crack in the walls of Apartheid…

Let us not forget that the struggle against dispossession and evictions in Ramiya takes place concurrently with the struggle against the “Prawer Plan” for ethnic cleansing against the Naqab (Negev) Bedouin and their concentration in ghettos, as well as similar dispossession and deportation programs in South Mount Hebron, the Jordan Valley and other areas. The guiding principle in all these cases and many others all over Palestine is the dispossession of the indigenous people on a racial basis, the theft of their lands and its re-allocation for the benefit of Apartheid Settlements.

You can help us in the struggle to stop Apartheid.

What can you do?

·        Join the demonstration on Friday, December 20

The Follow-up Committee of the Arab population calls for a demonstration against the eviction of Ramiya and for the right of all Ramiya residents to live on their land, as an independent village or as residents of Karmiel.

The demonstration will take place on Friday, December 20, 2013. Gathering will be at 13:30 in front of the Municipality of Karmiel and from there we will march to Ramiya.

If you can’t come that far you may organize a parallel vigil elsewhere and let us know.

·        Come to visit Ramiya, learn about the place and show solidarity

To coordinate your visit please call in advance Mr. Salah Sawa’ed 054-5975958

·        Join Ramiya’s Friends on Facebook

The Friends of Ramiya group on Facebook was established to help organize solidarity activities.

·        Share information

You may publish and share this publication, as well as invitations to different activities.

This publication is available also in Arabic and Hebrew.

·        Send letters

You can start by sending the attached protest letter (or anything you like to write) to the Israel Lands Authority, which is responsible for the racist policy against Ramiya’s residents, through its site:

www.mmi.gov.il

And to the Mayor of Karmiel, Adi Eldar:

Adie@karmiel.muni.il

Please send a copy to us too (the Friend of Ramiya group): ramiya4ever@gmail.com

Proposed letter in support of Ramiya’s residents

לכבוד מר בנצי ליברמן, מנהל רשות מקרקעי ישראל,

לכבוד מר עדי אלדר, ראש עיריית כרמיאל,

ברצוני להביע את מחאתי נגד נישול תושבי ראמיה ונגד הכוונה להרוס את בתיהם ולפנותם מאדמתם.

נישול ופינוי תושבים ערבים כדי לשכן במקומם תושבים יהודים הינו צעד גזעני שנוגד את ערכי היסוד המקודשים של החברה האנושית.

יש לאפשר לכל תושבי ראמיה לגור בכבוד כתושבים בעלי זכויות מלאות באדמת כפרם.

חתימה: ____________________

To Benzi Lieberman, Manager of the Israel Lands Authority,

To Adi Eldar, Mayor of Karmiel,

I want to express my utmost protest at the expropriation of the people of Ramiya and against the intention to evacuate them from their land and destroy their homes.

Expropriation and evacuation of Arab citizens in order to settle Jewish citizens in their place is a racist measure that contradicts the sacred values of Humanity.

All the people of Ramiya should be allowed to live as equal citizens with full rights on the land of their village.

Signature: __________________

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Bar Israeli leaders from Nelson Mandela’s funeral

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Bar Israeli leaders from Nelson Mandela’s funeral

Letter to South Africa’s government

You report that Israeli leaders will be attending Nelson Mandela’s funeral on 15 December (World leaders converge on South Africa, 7 December 2013). However, Israel is a state which actively practices apartheid against the Palestinians under its rule, and had very close ties with apartheid South Africa. Allowing leaders of such a state to attend Mandela’s funeral would be grotesque and in our eyes make a mockery of his and South Africa’s battle against apartheid.

We therefore urge the South African government to reject Israel’s participation at Mandela’s funeral. That would be the most fitting homage to the man who said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”, and to affirm the words of his compatriot, Desmond Tutu, who wrote “The Palestinians are being oppressed more than the apartheid ideologues could ever dream about in South Africa.”

Samir Abed-Rabbo, Dallas

Blake Alcott, Cambridge

Abbas Ali, London

Diana Alzeer, Ramallah

Eli and Nitza Aminov, Jerusalem

Ahmad Azem, Birzeit

Yoav Bar, Haifa

Sophia Barta di Albufera, London

Aysegül Bag, Ankara

Oren Ben-Dor, Southampton

Haim Bresheeth, London

Andy Brown, Leeds

Chris Burns-Cox, Wotton-under-Edge

Shirine Dajjani, Zürich

Uri Davis, Ramallah

Hassan Fouda, Berkeley

Muhammed Zeyn Green-Thompson, Cambridge

Jenny Hardacre, Cambridge

Kurt Häusermann, Zürich

Roger Higginson, London

Owen Holland, Cambridge

Radi Jarai, Ramallah

Ghada Karmi, London

Yacoub Kureh, Cambridge

Geoff Lee, London

Rafi and Liz Magnes, Yaffa

Alan Mann, Leeds

Harald Molgaard, London

Susan Naser, Cambridge

Ramzi Nasir, London

Jacob Norris, Brighton

Rajaa Zoabi Omari, Haifa

Averil Parkinson, Cambridge

Miko Peled, San Diego

Merav Pincharsoff, London

Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem

Antoine Raffoul, London

Attia and Verena Rajab, Stuttgart

Rupert Read, Norwich

Samah Sabawi, Toronto

Leila Sansour, Bethlehem

Jeffrey StClair, Oregon City US

Derek Summerfield, London

Virginia Tilley, Fiji

Jenny Tonge, London

Alison Weir, Vancouver, US

Jaber Wishah, Gaza

Theresa Wolfwood, Vancouver, Canada

Özlem Yazlik, Cambridge

Yahya Zaloom, London

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Beaten, Wounded and Proud – Detainees from the Haifa Demonstration against Dispossession of the Naqab Arabs

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Beaten, Wounded and Proud – Detainees from the Haifa Demonstration against Dispossession of the Naqab Arabs

It is common knowledge that the police are taught the art of “dry beating” – causing a lot of pain but not leaving clear marks to show in court. Well, today’s police apparently lost this fine art. 21 demonstrators who were arrested on Saturday in the “Day of Rage” demonstration in the German Colony in Haifa downtown were brought to the court yesterday (Sunday 1/12/2013) for remand. Many of them did not have to raise a shirt or roll up their pants’ sleeves to show the judge their bruises – signs of trauma and blood were easily seen on their faces.

Sabrin Diab, a young woman from Tamra in the Galilee, appeared at court with a broken arm fixed in plaster (in the picture, last on the left in the rear) – as a result of the beating she had taken at the time of her arrest. When the lawyers of some other detainees asked the police representative in court “Did he receive medical treatment?” the answer was uniform and laconic: “whoever asked for medical treatment received it.” One after the other the detainees stood up and testified about beatings and pains – and the refusal of the Haifa police and the guards at the Jalameh detention center (“Kishon”) to allow them to see a doctor or receive treatment.

Police Escalation – Also in Court

In the last days the Israeli media was full with incitement by the heads of the racist Zionist establishment against the demonstrators protesting the “Prawer Plan”. Netanyahu’s call to “prosecute them to the end” was not lost on the Haifa police. The police chose to request remand for 21 of the demonstrators that were detained in Haifa, two of them minors. When the hearing judge decided this morning to release the two minors and send them to house arrest, the police rushed to ask for a stay of execution and appealed.

The hearing on extending the detention of the 19 other detainees – four of them women – was conducted in 3 different sessions due to the difficulty to accommodate all the detainees in the courtroom. But the police in its remand request collected all the charges in one package against all of them. To raise the severity of the accusations they resorted to articles of the law that are rarely used in such cases. All 19 detainees were accused of “assaulting a police officer with firearms or cold weapons” and of “causing severe injury when the offender is carrying a weapon.”

Fortunately the enthusiasm and wild exaggeration did not serve the police well this time. The police representative tried to describe the situation as if the German Colony’s streets were full of stones being thrown and told about many policemen that were injured and needed treatment. When asked to provide details he could not name even one policeman who was injured and could not provide any medical certificates.

When the police prosecutor was requested to elaborate how were the “suspects” armed and asked whether any weapons were sized he claimed that they were armed with stones, which were naturally thrown and therefore not caught with the protesters. When asked what was the role of each of the suspects he responded only that “the evidence is before the court.” In some cases the judge volunteered to review the material and answered instead of the policeman – and in all those cases it appeared that the suspects were charged in their initial interrogation only with “assaulting police officers” and all the issue of stone-throwing (or any other “weapons”) was not even mentioned.

Beating in the Advanced Command Post

From what the detainees told in court we learned that they were beaten hardest after their violent arrest. The police established a forward command center in a municipal building on Radak Street near Carmel Boulevard (“Ben Gurion”). The cops were leading the detainees to this center where they could beat them freely away from the media and the public.

One detainee told how a policeman held him down by pressing his knee (the cop’s) on his neck while punching fists in his face. The signs of the knee and punches were easy to identify.

A declaration of the Haifa “popular committee” that was published (in Arabic) against the violent dispersal of a demonstration accuses the police also of sexual harassment in words and deeds against female detainees.

Alleged Ground for Remand

Cases where protesters are detained typically follow a fixed pattern: the cops complain that they were victims of assault and they are also the witnesses. This format has one advantage: because it is assumed that the detainees can’t influence the police witnesses, it is difficult to use the grounds of “fear of obstruction of justice” to justify prolonged detention. This time the police tried to justify a prolonged detention by claiming that they intend to interrogate many people who were present, not only police officers…

The police prosecutor, who recently enjoyed high unconditional confidence from the Haifa Court in various political detention cases, refused to answer most questions. He even refused to answer some question routinely repeated in remand hearings as “how many investigation acts the police intends to conduct?” (The only answer given to this question was “a lot”). When he was asked questions about various details in the case he often avoided any answer and kept himself busy with the mobile phone in his hand. At one point, he even ostentatiously turned his back to the lawyer who was questioning him. When that attorney protested he said: “I hear you this way just the same.”

The detainees complained that they were denied food and drink all the way at the Haifa police station, in prison and while in detention in court. One of the lawyers even asked whether starving the detainees is part of the many “investigation acts” taken by the police in this case.

The fight against the Prawer Plan continues in court

Many representatives of the media attended the court hearing. There is no doubt that the “Day of Rage” protest on Saturday brought a quantum leap in public awareness to the Prawer plan to dispossess the Arabs of the Naqab (Negev in Hebrew) and the resistance it evokes.

It is common practice that, while the detainees are brought into the court, reporters and photographers get a “time out” to take pictures and interview them. These are often difficult and embarrassing moments for detainees. This time the detainees entered holding their heads high and happy for the opportunity to speak out – obviously proud to take part in the just struggle against ethnic cleansing. They rushed to make statements to the media about the objectives of the struggle. Some of the detainees raised their hands with the victory sign upon entering the hall.

Many of the defense lawyers explained and stressed in court that this is a legitimate, just and even indispensable struggle of the Arab population against the injustice done by the state. Some lawyers even mentioned that they themselves participated in the demonstration.

Release, appeal and postponement

Meanwhile the appeal hearing about the release of the two minor detainees was held in the district court. Under pressure from the court, the parties agreed on postponing the release until 8 pm.

After long proceedings that filled most of the time from 9:30 am to 17:00 pm, the judge decided to release the rest of the detainees. The prosecution announced that it plans to appeal. Six detainees, including Sabrin Diab with the broken arm and lawyer Suhair Assad were released anyway. Release of the rest, two women and eleven men, was postponed until the appeal hearing on Monday.

* * *

Today (Monday, December 2) at 14:30 the Haifa District Court decided to dismiss the prosecution’s appeal and release all the detainees – some of them under house arrest.

* * *

This post was initially published in Hebrew.

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Israel Furious for Missing the War on Iran

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Israel Furious for Missing the War on Iran

In 1973 I happened to be in Amsterdam when the October war erupted. I was hanging around penniless until the war will be over before going back. Being there, I met an Israeli guy that came at his own expense from California and was looking for any plane that will take him to Tel Aviv to join the war. He told me that he was in his last year at high school in ‘67 and just missed that war. He later “served” in the army – but he would not let himself miss his first real war…

No doubt Netanyahu feels the same about the war on Iran. No wonder he lost his nerve and cries with full tears at the face of any western leader that is ready to speak with him – like a spoiled baby when his parents forcibly take from him the precious glass ornament he was trying to break.

Transparency

To be honest with my readers, I must admit that I’m not objective in analyzing the fate of the missed war on Iran. For a long time I called this war, in my private thinking, “the war in which we all might die”.

It is typical of the thinking of the generals and frustrated lower officers (like Netanyahu) which are leading Israel that they only think of what they can do. They are always enthusiastic about how they will beat “the enemy” painfully. When the other side beats back, they feel betrayed and start to shout and cry as innocent victims. Israeli Pavlovian patriotism makes sure that any aggression will be supported and the generals and leaders will not be blamed, unless they lose the war.

For the civilian victims of their military adventures on their own side Israel’s military leaders have harsh advice: You should suffer quietly and not disrupt the army. We have seen it in Haifa during the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon how the Israeli “civilian” government simply stopped functioning in all the north area. Many people in the north, who felt “dispensable”, found condolences in thinking that next time the Tel Aviv “bubble” will share the burden.

The Villa and the Jungle

For a long time Israel tries to project an image of itself as “a villa in the jungle”. It tries to show how its civilized population is always endangered by the surrounding barbaric people of the Middle East. It echoes well with white-racist prejudice in Western Europe and North America, with colonialist nostalgia and Islamophobia.

This image is used to explain why Israel should be armed to its teeth and why any violation of the Human Rights, National Sovereignty or the security of Palestine’s native population and of the neighbors should be ignored. After all only Israel is always under threat to its very existence. It is the “sleeping beauty” that Western Imperialist knights fight to save.

In order to perpetuate this perspective, Israel works hard not only to guard and expand its own Villa, but also to keep the Jungle around from turning any better. The list of criminal actions committed for this purpose is endless. Already in 1954, Israeli agents planted bombs in Western civilian targets (like cinemas and a library) in Cairo in order to destabilize Egypt and encourage Western aggression against it. In the Eighties Israel and the US took care to keep arming both sides of the Iraq-Iran war in order to prolong the bloodshed in which more than a million people were killed and colossal destruction was caused on both sides. Until Hezbollah reached the ability to fire back, Israel was regularly bombing refugee camps and infrastructure in Lebanon.

Israel is not working any more

It will not be just to blame Israel for all this. As General Schwarzkopf once said, there is no sense holding a bulldog, if you don’t let it loose from time to time. Israel was planted in the Middle East by Western Imperialism in order to prevent the emergence of really independent Arab States. It is paid to do the work it is doing.

As happens with any policeman, Israel naturally cares for its own interests first.

Ariel Sharon used to say: “Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.” Playing with fire is an efficient way to keep the high prestige and high salary of the fire brigade. Whenever crime goes up – you don’t fire the police (which apparently failed) but give it more powers.

But the equation that made Israeli aggression so profitable for the West is not working any more.

Israel has the military power to strike, but not the soft power to make things go its way. Its blatant anti-Arab racism makes it an unacceptable ally in the region and a public relation liability to its external sponsors. The only time it tried to directly control an Arab country outside Palestine, during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, it aroused popular resistance that forced it out unconditionally after 18 years of war. The net result was that the most fierce resistance force became the main force in the government of Lebanon.

The 2003 war on Iraq was another disaster for the Imperialist/Zionist system of hegemony. First, instead of fighting its masters’ wars, Israel was a main force in dragging the US to fight for it. Once again, the imperialist aggression was met with mass resistance. The war for oil, which was planned to be highly profitable, ended costing so much that it helped to push the mighty superpower into the deepest economic crisis in sixty years. On the political level, the war toppled the already isolated Saddam Hussein, which could not damage anyone but his own people, and brought a new Iraqi government under Iran’s sphere of influence.

All this didn’t deter Israel from mongering another, bigger war, now against Iran. This is no surprise – Israel as a military tool can’t but drag itself from war to war. Actually, since their almost-defeat in 1973, they always plan the next war as a way to compensate on the trauma of the last war.

But for the US, after its internal regime change that was caused by the Iraq war, this was one war too much.

 

This Nuclear Thing

Too bad, the agreement between the six powers and Iran will not serve the goal of preventing nuclear war in the Middle East. It will not bring us any closer to clean the region from WMD.

Actually the danger of nuclear war is much higher when one side is armed with all the weapons and there is no deterrence. It is much more dangerous still when the holders of WMD are racist fanatics with contempt to the lives of all other people (and little regard to their own citizens). It is especially dangerous in the hands of proven serial initiators of wars.

Just a month ago, when the Israeli press was indulged with memories from the 40 years old “Yom Kippur” (1973) war, they openly discussed the proposal by some Israeli leaders, notably General Dayan, to deploy nuclear weapons.

Calling off the war on Iran was a good idea. Putting an end to the system of military aggression ethnic cleansing and racist apartheid that intoxicates the Middle East will be a much bigger step for real peace.

 

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Why I was transformed from a political dissident to a dangerous terrorist?

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Why I was transformed from a political dissident to a dangerous terrorist?

The following story is 100% true. It tells us a lot about the modus operandi of the security services… and not necessarily only in Israel.

(A story goes with it… As this story was already published in Haoketz, +972 and Al-Ittihad, what Free Haifa can add is the story behind the story. You may find it at the end of the original text.)

During the seventies of the previous century I was active in the leftist organization “The Workers’ Alliance”. It so happened that I represented this organization in several meetings and conferences in Europe.

In those days, the security services shared the left’s belief in the power of the word. According to this belief, as the world was created by words, it can be changed through words… The services put a lot of efforts to monitor our words. On each “visit” to Lod’s Airport, while traveling out of the country or on the way back, just as I presented my passport for examination, I was taken to the police station at the airport, like many other activists and opponents of the regime. They would search my bags and clothes, looking for any piece of paper that could indicate what I’m up to, where would I travel and with whom I met or will meet.

Human beings, by their nature, learn from experience. On one occasion they found a phone book in my possession and took it for farther inspection. It came back by mail weeks later, all ragged and torn. I decided to make things easier for me and for them and started searching myself before being searched, to make sure that I don’t have with me any piece of “personal” paper that may open the way to questions or to prolong the inspection.

Everything went on very well. Gone were the days of “The Workers’ Alliance”, I joined “Abna Al-Balad” and did not have any political travel for a long period… I found a job in high tech and began traveling for work. But once you entered the blacklist it was very hard to get out. I continued to search myself before arriving to the airport and “The Comrades” there continued to stop me every time I presented my passport and search me without finding anything to ask about.

I’m a quiet person by nature. I don’t like to complain and I was satisfied with the mutual security arrangements. But I learned that some other “names” on the blacklist become managers and university professors. They had to travel many times and were tired of the repeated searches. Their complaints reached the press. Finally they couldn’t bear it any more and petitioned “The High Court of Justice” (the famous Bagats) through “The Association for Civil Rights in Israel” (ACRI).

I did not follow the details and I was not interested in the subject, until the day in November 1989 when I was sent by the company to an important conference… As I presented my passport to the border police – I knew that they will arrest me and search me and I was assured that they will not find any forgotten paper… However, even though I was ready for any strange occurrence, I was surprised… I noticed how the officer’s face became pale with fear as she looked at the computer screen after typing my passport number. Within a few seconds security guards surrounded me, carried my bag and escorted me into a special search area that I did not know before.

I was observing their actions and didn’t understand. They are not looking for papers. They took the clothes from the bag one by one and sprinkled strange powder on them… They rummaged every object meticulously and carefully. Even the toothpaste – they squeezed most of it out of the tube beyond repair. There is no other explanation: They are looking for explosives!

I began to ask myself: What was the secret information that changed my status with the security services from “political dissident” that is subject to traditional search through his papers to a “dangerous terrorist” against whom you should apply all the innovations of chemical search? Does “The Comrades” know about me things that I don’t know about myself? Is it possible that “the leadership of the world revolution” has decided to move me from the political to the military wing and forgot to tell me about it, but the news arrived to the services?

* * *

One would expect that the story will end here. I would be left in ignorance and the doubt will eat me from within: “Who framed me?”… But, fortunately for me, at the same period I used to volunteer at ACRI and I had to accompany one of their lawyers to Jerusalem…

The trip from Haifa to Jerusalem is pretty long. The urgent issue that we were traveling for was probably fairly simple and didn’t require discussion nearly as long as the travel. The conversation between us switched from one subject to another. As I was looking for topics of conversation I asked the lawyer:

-         By the way, what happened with the petition to the high court against the blacklist? On my recent trip they gave me some hard time.

His reply was:

-         Well, the result is not bad at all… We did not get everything we wanted, but we agreed on a compromise that satisfies us… The court endorsed our main argument that it is not acceptable that border security will be used for political control. Of course, we can’t object that they will perform the original duty, searching for explosives!

* * *

It turns out that, on the day of my traveling, I happened to be one of the first “suspects” that came to the airport after applying the “new regime” – which turned ​​us, by a keyboard stroke, due to the “achievements” of ACRI and the “wonders” of the Israeli democracy, from “political hazard” to “terrorist danger”. That’s why the officer, when the new classification popped before her eyes, was so horrified. For this reason the security personnel took their search task so seriously.

Over time, naturally, they got used to the fact that this new classification is essentially “nonsense” (probably some of them have realized that it was political harassment) and the claimed search for explosives became fast and superficial, just as the search for papers before them…

My name was not deleted from the blacklist until 2003, after some other interesting experiences which I might tell another time.

* * *

This story was originally published in Arabic in the literary supplement of Al-Ittihad newspaper on 31.5.2013. It was later published in Hebrew on Haoketz. Today it appeared in English in Haoketz and +972.

The illustration is a gift from the artist Iris

The Story Behind this Story

As some of our good friends started “The Warsha” to bring a little bit of culture to our people in Haifa, I wanted to support them and signed up to a “creative writing” course with the writer Ala Hlehel. It came out that I hardly can build one proper sentence in Arabic, so Ala sent me to learn grammar instead. I ended in the hands of a stren Arabic teacher Mussa ‘Odeh.

One day he assigned me the task of filling a page titled “In the Airport”. At first I wanted to tell the story of a lonely Arab man from Haifa that was induced to import a Jewish bride from the US. When he met her at the airport it turned out that she was a poor black woman. As far as I know they leaved happily ever after.

But this sticky romantics was too much for my poor Arabic, so I sticked with the devil that I really know – the Israeli security octopus.

After I filled the page, and my teacher Mussa and my Arch teacher Rajaa Zoabi Omari, corrected my Arabic, I changed the title to be more dramatic. It took another month of nagging Hisham Naffa in Al-Ittihad and it became my first work of art to be published beyond my high school paper.

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