Systematic discrimination exposed in Raja Eghbarieh’s trial: Detention until the end of proceedings – for Arabs only!

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(The following report was published in “Mondoweiss”. A Hebrew version is available in “Haifa Ha-Hofshit” and “Local Call”.)

The remand hearing in the trial of Raja Eghbarieh, former secretary-general of Abnaa al-Balad movement, who is accused of “incitement to terrorism” following publications on Facebook, has become a fascinating legal battle that raises fundamental questions about the policy of the Israeli police and prosecution regarding the freedom of expression of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

(Call for international solidarity with Raja Eghbarieh in English and Spanish)

Raja Eghbarieh in Haifa court 7 Oct 2018

Raja Eghbarieh entering the court in the remand hearing on October 7, 2018

Eghbarieh was arrested on September 11 from his home in Umm Al-Fahm and charged with incitement and identification with a terrorist organization in the Haifa Magistrates Court. The indictment relates to 10 publications that appeared on his personal Facebook page between July 2017 and July 2018. On October 2, Judge Maria Pikus Bogdanov held a hearing on the prosecution’s request to keep Eghbarieh in detention until the end of the legal proceedings against him. The defense lawyers objected forcefully and the prosecutor could not answer many of their arguments. Finally, the judge ordered the prosecution to respond in writing and set an additional hearing for Sunday, October 7.

The hearing took place in the large hall on the “minus 2” basement floor, next to the detention cells, where remand hearings routinely takes place every day. The hall was crowded. Since the prosecution’s representatives have already submitted their arguments in writing, we first heard the defense team, headed by Attorney Hassan Jabareen, the founder and director of Adalah, and including also Attorneys Omar Khamaisi from “The Al-Mizan Center for Human Rights” and Rabea Eghbariah and Afnan Khalifa from Adalah, responding to the prosecution’s arguments that we did not hear. The judge, who read them, apparently didn’t find answers to the questions she had asked the prosecutor at the previous hearing. After the defense finished, she once again tried to extract answers from the prosecutor, so that we finally understood what he could not answer.

Systematic discrimination in enforcement policy

The most important and fundamental issue raised by the defense was the discrimination in the prosecution’s policy regarding the filing of applications for detention until the end of proceedings in cases of incitement. In the previous session, the defense presented a large number of cases in which Jewish defendants were accused of incitement to violence against Arabs or calls to harm soldiers (against the background of the evacuation of illegal outposts). In all these cases, the prosecution did not even request the detention of the defendants until the end of the proceedings. Finally, the judge asked the prosecutor whether he could point to even one case in which the prosecution requested the detention of a Jewish defendant in incitement until the end of proceedings.

Vigil in front of Haifa Court 7 Oct 2018 a

“Free Raja Eghbarieh!” protest vigil before the remand hearing, in front of the Haifa court, October 7, 2018

 

In the written answers submitted to the court, the prosecution mentioned one case in which a Jew who was charged with incitement was arrested until the end of proceedings. Adalah’s team, however, examined the facts, and Attorney Jabareen explained to the court that in this case, the charge of incitement was only a small part of what was attributed to the defendant, which included actual rioting and damage to property. The decision to detain him until the end of proceedings was explicitly based on his dangerousness as someone who caused actual damage, and not the theoretical danger stemming from the incitement.

The obvious conclusion from the State’s response, Jabareen stressed, from their failure to present even one case in which the detention of a Jewish defendant for incitement was requested, is that the claim of discrimination is now clearly and positively proved.

Never mind what is really written – it is incitement anyway

In the previous session, the defense presented a series of objections to the translation of the publications as they appear in the indictment in Hebrew. Since both the judge and the prosecution representative do not know Arabic, the judge requested the prosecutor to examine the matter. The prosecution’s response to those objections, which covers most of the seven pages of the document they submitted, can be summed up in four words: “It does not matter.” According to them, if the translation is correct or not, in any case it is incitement. In one specific case, regarding a post about the funerals of three young men from Umm Al-Fahm who killed two Israeli policemen in the Al-Aqsa compound and were later killed, the prosecution said it did not matter if the post said that “the martyr must be respected” or “we have to convey condolence to the families” – it is incitement anyway.

Attorney Jabareen stressed that the wording of the posts is the crux of the indictment, and in the absence of a reliable translation, the entire validity of the indictment is undermined. The judge, for her part, said that despite the defense’s reservations about the translation, some of the publications in the indictment appear to her as severe. But she didn’t accept the prosecution’s claim that “it does not matter” and asked the prosecutor whether the prosecution had examined the defense’s claims regarding the misleading translation. The prosecutor didn’t know what to answer and was requested to find out. After some time he came back with an answer. According to him, the translation was not reexamined following the defense’s arguments, since re-translation is an act of investigation and “you don’t carry out investigation operations after the filing of an indictment.”

Only one of the ten posts mentioned in the indictment can be seen, according to the quotes mentioned in the indictment, as direct support for violence. It is a video from the funeral of the three young men from Umm Al-Fahm, which Eghbarieh shared on the anniversary of their death. According to the prosecution, a song is playing in the background that includes the words “Spread bullets in the doors of Al-Aqsa”. Eghbarieh didn’t photograph and didn’t edit the video but only shared it like many others. He said he had never heard those words mentioned in the background. The judge asked the prosecutor whether there is a full transcription of the background song as part of the evidence. He could not answer. Finally the defense pulled a rabbit out of the hat. The volunteer lawyer Afnan Khalifa, who is working on the case in the Adalah team, found a memo from an Arab policeman who watched the video, describing “a background song whose words are hard to understand.”

Dangerous for the purpose of detention

The reasoning behind the prosecution’s request to extend the detention of Eghbarieh until the end of the proceedings is his claimed “dangerousness”. The danger, according to the prosecution, is that he might publish more “inciting” posts. According to them, the only way to prevent this is to hold him in custody and there is no need to even examine alternatives to full detention. The prosecution is used to the common practice where the very mention of the word “terrorism” in the indictment leads us to the fast track to unlimited detention without the need for lengthy arguments. The defense’s great battle in this case is to block the spread of the practice of automatic detention until the end of proceedings, so that it will not take over also the domain of “offenses” which are mainly about freedom of expression.

Waiting fro remand hearing - Lawyer Afnan with family members

Raja Eghbarieh’s supporters gather in the entrance to the courtroom. On the front: Lawyer Afnan Khalifa updating family members.

The defense attacked the police’s claim of “dangerousness” by using the behavior of the police during the investigation. They stressed the fact that since the investigation began in February 2018, and for months when the posts were public and known to the police, it took no action to remove the alleged “danger”, and postponed the detention of Eghbarieh until September 9. The judge asked for explanations on this matter, but in its written response the prosecution related to this issue by mere four and a half vague lines out of 7 pages. The judge asked the prosecutor again whether he could provide explanations, and he answered that “Madam knows, this is how the system works.”

Finally, the judge ordered the examination of the “alternative to detention” that the defense offers. The defense insisted that in her opinion there was no justification for detention until the end of proceedings, nor for an alternative to detention, but finally offered four members from Eghbarieh’s family who could “supervise” him under house arrest. From their interrogation in court we learned of a new procedure – to require the custodians to deposit their cell phones with the police before they appear for the job… this in addition to the house being cut off from any connection to the network.

On the way, we heard again about the health problems Eghbarieh, who is 66, suffers from. The Israel Prison Service refused to provide him with a blood pressure medication that he regularly took and gave him an inappropriate replacement drug that caused him to be hospitalized for one day.

Prior to the hearing itself, a protest vigil was held in front of the court building with the participation of about fifty Palestinian activists from all the local Arab parties demanding the release of Eghbarieh. They claimed that his arrest was part of a campaign of political persecutions intended to dangerously farther limit the freedom of expression and organization of Palestinian citizens of Israel as a whole.

Finally, after all the “victories” in proving the discrimination in the enforcement policy, exposing the clumsiness and contempt of the prosecution with regard to the translation and lack of explanations about the delays in the interrogation, it seemed that the greatest relief that could be hoped from this court was the extension of detention until the end of the proceedings, that might be substituted with house arrest under severe limitations. In any event, the judge postponed the decision for next Monday and sent Eghbarieh to another week in detention.

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Raja Eghbarieh’s trial: Solidarity and legal struggle to avoid detention until the end of proceedings

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(A somewhat shorter version of this article appeared today in “+972”. A Hebrew version appeared in “Local Call” and “Haifa Ha-Hofshit”)

Raja Eghbarieh, former secretary-general of the Abnaa al-Balad movement, was arrested from his home in Umm Al-Fahm on September 11, the second day of the Jewish New Year holiday. On Thursday, September 20, he was indicted in the Haifa magistrates court of “incitement to terror” and “identification with a terrorist organization”, based on 10 different posts on his personal Facebook page. Together with the indictment the prosecution filed a request for an unlimited remand of his detention – “until the end of the legal proceedings”. On Tuesday, October 2, the first day after Sukkot, the remand request was heard.

Raja in Haifa court 2 Oct 2018 - Free Raja English Arabic

Comrade Raja Eghbarieh in the Haifa court, October 2, 2018

In the political “dead” season, when most activists are preoccupied with the local elections, Eghbarieh’s detention and trial was a reminder for the Arab society of the continuing attack on free speech and space for political activity and a series of solidarity actions were organized. On Saturday, September 29, a wide range of political activists from all the Arab parties and movements participated in protest vigils that were called by “The High Follow-Up Committee for Arab citizens of Israel” in Umm al-Fahm, Nazareth and Sakhnin. On Monday, October 1, the Arab Palestinian population commemorated the martyrs of the October 2000 intifada by a general strike and a central demonstration in the town of Jatt in the triangle. But just as that demonstration finished, some of the activists rushed to another protest rally in the center of Shfa’amer for the release of Eghbarieh and against political persecution. More solidarity actions were held in the West Bank, Gaza and several European cities. (Call for international solidarity is here.)

On Tuesday, October 2, Judge Maria Pikus Bogdanov heard the request to extend the detention of Eghbarieh until the end of legal proceedings. The outcome of this hearing can be decisive for the entire case, as legal proceedings can take years. When the defendant is in detention during the trial, he is under pressure to agree to a “plea bargain” rather than to conduct a protracted legal battle over his innocence, which might result in detention for longer time than the sentence itself. (Actually the natural response of the court is to sentence the accused at least for the period that he has already spent in prison.) House arrest can also paralyze the life of the defendant and take a high price from those who are certified to be his custodians, who must be confined to him for a long time, and, if the defendant is convicted, the time spent under house arrest is not considered part of the punishment.

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Vigil in front of the Haifa court before the remand hearing – October 2, 2018

The Follow-Up Committee called for a protest vigil in front of the Haifa court before the remand hearing – and about 100 Palestinian activists responded to the call, including prominent leaders from Balad (three Knesset members) and the Islamic Movement. At the appointed time the slogans were folded and the activists entered the court building – but it turned out that the hearing took place in a rather small room and most of the supporters remained waiting for hours in the corridor. The court’s guards, aided by the dark uniformed policemen of the “anti-riot” unit, were not satisfied with just “maintaining order,” but forbade other supporters to enter the courtroom instead of those who left, and at one point even cleared the corridor of the audience and prevented anyone from approaching the area.

In the courtroom itself, a reinforced team of lawyers stood up to try to prevent the detention from being extended indefinitely. The team was led by Attorney Hassan Jabareen, founder and head of the Adalah Center, accompanied by Attorney Rabea Eghbariah of Adalah, Attorney Omar Khamaisi of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and lawyers Hussein Abu Hussein, Afnan Khalifa and Ahmad Khalefa. Due to the importance of the discussion, they decided to “go the full length,” while taking the risk of exposing the line of defense even before the beginning of the trial, and discussed in detail each of the ten publications that are mentioned in the indictment. They objected to the translation that was supplied by the prosecution and stressed the explanations given by Eghbarieh in his interrogation. Their main claim was that all the publications do not call for violence, but constitute a legitimate expression of political analysis and opinions, and therefore the indictment itself is baseless.

Raja vigin Manara Ramallah 2 Oct 2018

Free Raja Eghbarieh vigil in Ramallah on October 2, 2018

In some cases, the defense attorneys pointed out specific words that were added, under the guise of translation, into the Hebrew version, but did not exist in the Arab source – in order to add “aggressive” tone. In other cases they presented an alternative translation of the same texts – which gives them different meaning. The defense attorneys also noted that the prosecution is bringing the texts in the indictment in Hebrew without specifying who translated them. They complained that the evidence doesn’t include the testimony of an expert on the translation. The prosecutor and the judge do not know Arabic, and finally the judge requested the prosecutor to bring written comments to the claims regarding the misleading translation.

In the context of the explanations of the legitimacy of the publications, it is worth noting the discussion about one publication, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of George Habash, the founder of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and one of the most prominent and influential figures in the history of the Arab left in general. Attorney Jabareen mentioned that the publication focuses on Habash’s activity to establish a research center, rather than any violent activity, and wondered how such a publication could be interpreted as identification with a terrorist organization. He noted that Eghbarieh himself, along with other leaders of the Palestinian citizens of Israel, has appealed in the past to the Israeli “High Court of Justice”, demanding the right to hold a memorial conference for Habash in Nazareth. The request was denied on the grounds of “fear of violence,” but it was not claimed that holding of a memorial service for Habash is by itself illegal.

The first posts that are mentioned in the indictment relate to the attack from July 2017 by three armed Palestinians from Umm Al-Fahm who killed two Israeli policemen near the Al-Aqsa mosques in occupied East Jerusalem, before being killed themselves. The indictment brings long translations of the posts in Hebrew but doesn’t specify what specifically is, in their view, “illegal” in each post. While the posts don’t express support for the armed attack, it seems that the very use of the word martyrs (“shuhada” in Arabic), the analysis of their motives and their expression of grief at their death is regarded as unlawful.

Another post in the indictment is a picture from the commemoration at the first anniversary to the killing of Bassel Al-A’araj, who was shot by Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. Al-A’araj was well known as an independent activist and an ideologue of the youth protest movements in the West Bank. The indictment claims he was a member of the PFLP and performed terrorist attacks at the order of Hezbollah.

Another issue that was emphasized by the defense was the fact that the investigation against Eghbarieh was conducted for many months (apparently from February 2018) and that this meant that his publications were available on the Internet and accessible to all for months (some even more than a year), and that the police were aware of them long before they arrested the defendant. Moreover, the police issued an arrest warrant against Eghbarieh on August 7, 2018, but arrested him only more than a month later, on September 11. The police did nothing to warn Eghbarieh or remove the publications, neither following their appearance nor even after his arrest. The prosecution now claims that his release, even under restrictive conditions, constitutes a “danger to the public” because he might publish other publications.

At the end of its arguments, the defense brought a long list of cases in which Jewish defendants were accused of incitement to violence against Arabs and even of incitement to harm IDF soldiers against the background of the evacuation of settlements that the state recognized as illegal. In those cases there were direct and explicit calls for violent action, which did not exist in the publications attributed to Eghbarieh. In some cases the prosecution even showed a direct connection between the incitement and violent acts that followed. Nevertheless, in all the cases brought by the defense, the state did not request detention until the end of legal proceedings.

Public meeting Vigil Gaza 2 Oct 2018 b

Solidarity with Raja Eghbarieh – Gaza – October 2, 2018

At the end of the hearing, the judge seemed to take the defense arguments seriously, and asked the prosecutor harsh questions. The prosecutor did not know Arabic and couldn’t relate to questions about the translation. He also did not know how to explain why the police waited so long between the time they became aware of the publications and until they decided to act against them. With regard to the claim of discrimination in enforcement and the avoidance of the arrest of Jews who are accused of incitement, he tried to argue that this is a completely different clause in the law and that there is no place for comparison – but the judge didn’t seem to be convinced by his argument. Finally the judge sent him to consult and reply in writing by Thursday. Another hearing on the remand request was scheduled for Sunday, October 7, at 14:00.

Before the meeting ended, Attorney Jabareen managed to complain that since the arrest of Eghbarieh three weeks ago, the Israel Prison Service has prevented his family from entering clothes for him to change. The judge wrote down a decision instructing the Israel Prison Service to allow it. There is a stinking smell in the Israeli “justice” system, and apparently it is not just the prisoners’ clothes.

For more information on solidarity activities, see the Facebook page “Free Raja Eghbarieh“.

Llamada a la solidaridad internacional: ¡Libertad a Raja Eghbarieh!

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(This call is also available in English)

El 11 de septiembre de 2018,  Raja Eghbarieh fue arrestado desde su casa en Umm Al-Fahm, en 1948 Palestina. Su detención fue dos veces renovada y la fiscalía israelí anunció que lo imputarían el jueves 20 de septiembre. Según las audiencias durante la prisión preventiva, todos los “delitos” del camarada Eghbarieh son sus mensajes en su página de Facebook, que según la acusación israelí contienen “incitación a la violencia”. El camarada Eghbarieh explicó en el tribunal que todos sus mensajes son una expresión de una resistencia política legítima a la ocupación israelí y a los crímenes de guerra. La fiscalía declaró que solicitarán su detención por un período ilimitado hasta el final del juicio.

El camarada Eghbarieh es un miembro veterano del movimiento palestino de izquierda, Abnaa Al-Balad (“Hijos de la  tierra”). Fue el primer secretario general del movimiento y sigue siendo uno de sus principales líderes.

El arresto y la condena de Raja Eghbarieh es parte de un modalidad  de agresión  continua del estado sionista contra la libertad de expresión y la organización de los árabes palestinos, también aquellos que formalmente tienen la ciudadanía israelí. Mientras que los activistas son interrogados y arrestados regularmente, en los últimos años vemos un intento orquestado de erradicar el marco de las organizaciones políticas y los movimientos sociales árabes. Comenzó con el Movimiento Islámico, declarado fuera de la ley en noviembre de 2015. Muchos de sus miembros  fueron arrestados y sentenciados a prisión por delitos tales como organizar oraciones en la mezquita Al-Aqsa. Esta modalidad continúa con el ataque a la Alianza Democrática Nacional (Balad), ya que muchos de sus activistas fueron interrogados y hay una demanda constante entre los partidos sionistas para evitar que participe en las elecciones de la Knesset (parlamento israelí).

El movimiento Abnaa Al-Balad, que representa una línea más de izquierda y radical , boicoteó las elecciones a la Knesset, siendo perseguido muchas veces, y sus líderes y activistas fueron víctimas de arrestos y detención administrativa. Ahora la detención del camarada Eghbarieh apuntaría al derecho de expresar posiciones nacionales palestinas en Internet.

La solidaridad internacional es urgente y es la forma más importante de defensa del escaso margen de actividad política para los palestinos en Palestina de 1948, que se suponía que disfrutarían de “la única democracia en el Medio Oriente”. Los políticos israelíes y la opinión pública están abandonando cualquier apariencia de democracia, ya que todos los partidos sionistas compiten para promover el concepto colonialista de un estado “solo judío”. La opinión pública árabe es vista con desprecio por las autoridades israelíes.

El hecho de que Israel puede realizar todos éstos crímenes, se debe al apoyo constante de las potencias occidentales, que le suministran armas, dinero, acceso preferencial a los mercados e impunidad legal. Todos estos privilegios se otorgan en base a la mentira de que Israel es una democracia.

Para las organizaciones de izquierda y los demócratas sinceros, hay una razón especial para defender y apoyar a Abnaa Al-Balad. Este movimiento nunca se retiró del llamado palestino original para el establecimiento de un estado democrático secular en toda Palestina, para todos sus habitantes y como un marco para permitir el regreso de todos los refugiados palestinos. El ataque a Abnaa Al-Balad demuestra que el estado sionista, con todo su poderío militar, siente temor ante la sola idea de una solución democrática en Palestina.

¡Libertad a Raja Eghbarieh!

¡Fuera las manos de Abnaa Al-Balad!

¡Libertad para el pueblo palestino!

Raja Eghbarieh poster - Spanish & Arabic

Call for international solidarity: Free Raja Eghbarieh!

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(This call was also published in Spanish)

On September 11, 2018, Raja Eghbarieh was arrested from his home in Umm Al-Fahm, in 1948 Palestine. His detention was remanded twice and the Israeli prosecution announced that they will file indictment against him on Thursday, September 20. According to the remand hearings, all of comrade Eghbarieh “offences” are his posts on his Facebook page, which the Israeli prosecution claims contain “incitement”. Comrade Eghbarieh explained in court that all his posts are an expression of a legitimate political resistance to Israeli occupation and war crimes. The prosecution declared that they will request his detention for an unlimited period until the end of the trial.

Comrade Eghbarieh is a veteran member of the left Palestinian movement, Abnaa Al-Balad (“Sons of the Country”). He was the movement’s first general secretary and is still one of its main leaders.

The arrest and sentencing of Raja Eghbarieh is part of a pattern of a continuing onslaught by the Zionist state against the freedom of expression and organization of the Arab Palestinians, also those that formally carry Israeli citizenship. While activists are interrogated and arrested on regular basis, we witness in the last years an orchestrated attempt to root out the framework of political organizations and social movements. It started with the Islamic Movement, which was outlawed in November 2015. Many of its members were arrested and sentenced to prison terms for such offences like organizing prayers in Al-Aqsa mosque. It continues with the Attack on the National Democratic Alliance (Balad), many of its activists were interrogated and there is a constant demand between Zionist parties to prevent it from participating in the Knesset elections. Abnaa Al-Balad, representing the line of the radical left and boycotting the Knesset, was persecuted many times before, and its leaders and activists were victims to arrests and administrative detention. Now the detention of comrade Eghbarieh seems to target the very right to express Palestinian national positions on the internet.

Demo in front of Hadera Court - Free Raje - Sunday 16 Sept 2018

Part of the vigil in front of the Hadera court at the time of the remand hearing, September 16

International solidarity is urgently required and is the most important form of defense of what little that was left of the thin margin for political activity for the Palestinians in 1948 Palestine, that were supposed to enjoy “the only democracy in the middle east”. Israeli politicians and public opinion are abandoning any semblance of democracy as all Zionist parties compete in promoting the colonialist concept of a “Jewish only” state. Arab public opinion is viewed with contempt by the Israeli authorities. But it is still the fact that Israel is able to perform all its crimes due to its consistent support from the western powers, which supply it with weapons, money, preferential access to markets and legal impunity. All these privileges are given based on the lie that Israel is a democracy.

For leftist organizations and sincere democrats there is a special reason to defend and support Abnaa Al-Balad. This movement never retreated from the original Palestinian call for the establishment of a secular democratic state in the whole of Palestine, for all its inhabitants and as a framework to enable the return of all Palestinian refugees. The attack on Abnaa Al-Bald proves that the Zionist state, with all its military might, is still afraid of the very idea of a democratic solution in Palestine.

Free Raja Eghbarieh!

Hands off Abnaa Al-Balad!

Freedom to the Palestinian People!

For more information on the case, comrade Eghbarieh and Abnaa Al-Balad – read here.

For solidarity news, visit the “Free Raja Eghbarieh” Facebook page.

Free Raja Eghbarieh!

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Update – September 16, 2018

The Israeli court in Hadera remanded the detention of comrade Raja Eghbarieh until Thursday, September 20, based on the declaration of the prosecution that by this date they are going to present an indictment against him.

Dozens of members of Abnaa Al-Balad and supporters from the Arab Palestinian public demonstrated in front of the Hadera court at the time of the remand hearing – condemning the detention of Eghbarieh as political persecution. They promised that all the oppressive measures by the Israeli regime will not silence the legitimate Palestinian resistance against Israeli Apartheid.

Free Raja Eghbarieh!

On Tuesday morning, September 11, while Israel was celebrating the Jewish New Year, the Israeli police raided the home of Raja Eghbarieh, one of the leaders of the Abnaa Al-Balad movement, in Umm Al-Fahm. They searched the house, confiscated documents, smartphones and computers, and carried Eghbarieh with them. On the next day he was brought before a remand judge in the Israeli court in Hadera. The police representatives clarified that they were interrogating him for his posts on Facebook. They said they have already waged a “covert investigation” for a long time and now want to carry on while he is under detention. They claimed that some of his posts consisted “incitement to violence” and “support for a terrorist organization”.

Raja Eghbarieh in Hadera court

Raja Eghbarieh in Hadera court

The defense lawyers claimed that all of Eghbarieh’s posts were, naturally, public. They said that he was already interrogated for seven hours and admitted publishing all the posts on his Facebook page. He explained during his interrogation that all his publications are legitimate expression of political opposition to Israel’s occupation and repression against the Palestinian people. They said that there is no reason to remand his detention, even if the state wants to indict him on the charges against his pronunciations.

The judge refused to accept documented evidence that the 67 years old detainee was suffering from several serious medical conditions or to consider any terms of release on bail. In the end she remanded his detention until Monday, September 17.

The Limits of Israeli Democracy

On Thursday, September 13, Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights in Israel, filed an appeal in the District Court in Haifa. Some twenty supporters and relatives of Eghbarieh, accompanied by four lawyers, gathered in the small hall of Judge Mazen Daoud.

Hassan Jabareen after Raja court appeal in Haifa

Adalah Lawyer Hassan Jabareen after his appearance in the appeal in Haifa

Attorney Hassan Jabareen, founder and general director of Adalah, presented the defense arguments. Hearing him you could easily be carried away and believe that we all live in a democracy, that the right for free speech is a sacred right, and nobody is arrested just for publishing his criticism against government policy on Facebook. The decision of the judge from Hadera was surely a mistake that contradicts both the law and the practice in the courts.

On the other side, representing the police was a uniformed officer named Barakat. To Jabareen’s claim that (almost) nobody is arrested just for posting on Facebook he answered with a long list of names and file numbers of people that were arrested for long periods before and after indictment for just that. For one of the names of his list he emphasized that the accused was a young man with no precedents, unlike Eghbarieh who is an influential political leader. Hearing the list of those arrested just for posting on Facebook, Jabareen could not stop himself but interrupted the officer: “They are all Arabs! Are there no Jews posting sharp words on Facebook?”

The Presumption of Dangerousness

The Israeli “law enforcement” apparatus maintains, in practice, a different legal system for Jews and Arabs. But most laws are formally worded in a general way – not conditional on the religion or nationality of the accused. One crucial way to sort things out is called in the legal system “the presumption of dangerousness”.

The decision whether to hold a suspect or an accused in detention can rely on any of several justifications. One of the most common of them is how “dangerous” the accused is. In the general case this supposed dangerousness should be tested on individual basis. In some cases even murderers were released on bail pending trial. But for offences “against state security” there is a blanket all-embracing “presumption of dangerousness” that allows the state to keep the accused for infinite time in prison until the end of the trial even if the supposed offence itself is very light. The long detention periods constitute a major pressure on the accused to agree to a plea bargain that in many cases will take them out of prison earlier than the trial itself could last.

One main argument of Jabareen in the appeal was that this “presumption of dangerousness” doesn’t apply for offences that are based on political expression. The judge rejected this claim.

The hearing was set for 15:00. After an hour or so of arguments, the judge said he will give his decision later on the same day. He received a CD from the police with “materials” – supposedly posts from Eghbarieh’s Facebook – to look at. It was almost 20:00 when he finally announced his decision. He rejected the main claims of the appeal, but accepted two minor claims. First, he agreed with the police that some of the interrogation steps require that the accused will be in detention – but not much of it. He agreed with the appeal that the remand judge in Hadera had to consider alternative measures to full detention, like house arrest. Based on these he shortened the detention period by one day, and it is now set till Sunday, September 16.

On Sunday the police may agree to release Eghbarieh or ask for another remand.

Who are Abnaa Al-Balad?

Abnaa Al-Balad (“Sons of the Country”) is a left political movement that is active between Palestinians in the territories that were occupied by Israel in 1948. To understand the roots of this movement one should understand the special history of those Palestinians that were left under Israeli rule after the 1948 Nakba in which most Palestinians were expelled and hundreds of towns and villages destroyed. It was a society under trauma, and for the first 18 years they lived under direct military rule.

In the initial period after the Nakba the only political party that was active within this section of the Palestinian population was the Israeli Communist Party. This communist party supported the basic claims of Zionism for a “Jewish state” but wasn’t Zionist itself and took an active role in defending the daily rights of the Arab Palestinian population. The first attempt to build an Arab Nationalist party, Al-Ard movement, was crushed by Israeli oppression. Abnaa Al-Balad movement, which started in the late sixties and gradually organized from local groups into a political movement, was the first movement that succeeded to resume systematic Palestinian political struggle after the Nakba.

In the eighties Abnaa Al-Balad went through deep divisions, much of them around the issue of participation in the Israeli Knesset. Finally the movement adopted a Marxist ideology and took the position of boycott of the Knesset. In spite of constant government persecutions and internal divisions Abnaa Al-Balad succeeded to keep its position as one of the recognized political movements in the Palestinian political map within the 48 areas. It is the smallest of just four movements that have grassroots organization and participate in leading Palestinian struggles, cooperating and competing with the Islamic Movement, the Communist Party and Balad. It was never registered under the Israeli law but was not outlawed either.

Abnaa Al-Balad defines itself as a Palestinian movement, promoting national identity, relating to Palestinian and wider Arab politics and rejecting integration in Israeli politics. It can claim major success in restoring the Palestinian identity of the Arab population after the Nakba and in setting the political agenda on several issues like creating wide consensus around the right of return. In addition to boycott of the Knesset it is mostly characterized by its consistent support for the establishment of one secular democratic state in the whole of Palestine.

Who is Raja Eghbarieh?

Raja Eghbarieh is the most significant leader in the history of Abnaa Al-Balad. The movement actually started in Umm Al-Fahm in 1969 as a local club that took part in municipal elections. In the eighties, as leader of the movement’s youth, he led the opposition to the traditional leadership that wanted to take part in Israeli elections and had an important role in adopting the leftist orientation. In the beginning of the first intifada, in December 1987, after a stormy general strike within 1948 Palestine, Eghbarieh, with some 10 other leaders of the movement, was put under administrative detention for six months.  After the first national conference of the movement, in 1990, he was elected to be its first general secretary.

After the Oslo Agreement, Abnaa Al-Balad wanted to build a wider front of Oslo opponents and skeptics. Eghbarieh led the discussions and negotiations that culminated in the establishment of the “Balad” party, the election of Azmi Bishara to head it and the participation of Balad in a common list with “the democratic front” in the 1996 Knesset elections.

In 1998 Abnaa Al-Balad abandoned her partnership in Balad and struggled to rebuild its independent public presence. But it soon split into a “pragmatic” faction led by Eghbarieh and a more “hardline” faction led by Muhammad Kana’aneh. After a long process of rapprochement the movement was officially reunited in 2012 with no single major leader.

For all this period Eghbarieh was not only a political leader within his movement but also represented it in different bodies that united the 1948 Palestinians in struggle against Israeli racism and oppression, mostly the “higher follow up committee”. In this role he had made important contributions as part of the united leadership of the Palestinian masses in many crucial struggles.

Silencing Palestinian Voices

Throughout the discussion of the appeal in the Haifa court, one precedent was repeatedly mentioned. It was the trials, past and present, of the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra’ed Salah, who also happened to be from Umm Al-Fahm. The police representative didn’t shy of stressing the political aspects of the trials – in both cases, he claimed, the accused are political leaders whose words carry influence with the public. He didn’t mention any post by Eghbarieh that is calling for violence, but he stressed his positions that “oppose the state of Israel” and the fact that “he writes many posts and receive many likes and shares”.

Sheikh Raed Salah in court

Sheikh Ra’ed Salah in court – endless persecution

Not only the Islamic Movement and Abnaa Al-Balad are persecuted. In the last few years Balad is also constant target to interrogations, detentions and trials. Many speakers for Israel’s government and Zionist parties express their intention to prevent Balad from entering the Knesset again.

After the recent ratification of the Nationality Law, which officially declares Israel as an exclusive Jewish state, there was a wide call in Palestinian circles to reconsider the usefulness of Arab participation in the Knesset.

Just as the Israeli state is using its heavy hands to silence any form of Palestinian political expression, the very same repression proves to the population at large and to the world the basic claims of those very same voices: that Israel is not a democracy but a colonialist system based on Apartheid and ethnic cleaning.

 

The Political Program of the Campaign for One Democratic State in Historic Palestine

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PREAMBLE

(This program is also available in Arabic & Hebrew)

In recent years, the idea of a one democratic state in all of historic Palestine as the best solution to the conflict has re-emerged. It started gaining increased support in the public domain. It is not a new idea. The Palestinian liberation movement, before the catastrophe of 1948 (the Nakba) and after it, had adopted this vision, including the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The PLO abandoned this idea in the framework of the diplomatic negotiations at the late eighties that led to the Oslo agreement of 1993. The Palestinian leadership hoped that this agreement would enable the building of an independent Palestinian state on the territories that Israel occupied in 1967. But on the ground Israel has strengthened its colonial control, fragmenting the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza into isolated cantons, separated from one another by settlements, checkpoints, military bases and fences.

The two-state solution, which is basically an unfair solution, is clearly dead. Israel buried it deep under its colonial settlement policies in the territories that were supposed to become the independent Palestinian state. Israel has imposed a single repressive regime that extends over all the Palestinians who live in historic Palestine, including those with Israeli citizenship.

In view of these dangerous developments, and, more important, based on the values of justice, freedom and democracy, we contend that the only way to achieve justice and permanent peace is dismantling the colonial apartheid regime in historic Palestine and the establishment of a new political system based on full civil equality, and on full implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return, and the building of the required mechanisms to correct the historical grievances of the Palestinian people as a result of the Zionist colonialist project.

On this background, many activists and groups, Palestinians and Israelis, have recently initiated the revival of the one-state idea, proposing differing models of such a state, such as a bi-national state, a liberal democratic state and a socialist state. They are all united, however, in their commitment to the establishment of a single democratic state in all of historic Palestine, as an alternative to the colonial apartheid regime that Israel has imposed over the country from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. A similar regime was toppled by the joint struggle of black and white South Africans under the leadership of the ANC in 1994.

The goal of this political program, as formulated by the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), is to widen the support for this solution among the local populations, Palestinian and Israeli alike, as well as among the international public. We call on all those in the world who struggle for freedom and justice to join and support our struggle against this apartheid regime and for the establishment of a democratic state free of occupation and colonialism, based on justice and equality, which guarantees a better future for the next generations and real peace in all of historic Palestine.

 The Political Program

  1. A Single Constitutional Democracy. OneDemocratic State shall be established between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as a state belonging to all its citizens, including the Palestinian refugees. All citizens will enjoy equal rights, freedom and security. The State shall be a constitutional democracy, the authority to govern and make laws emanating from the will of the people. All its citizens shall enjoy equal rights to vote, nominate candidates for any post and take part in the country’s governance.
  2. Right of Return, of Restoration and of Reintegration into Society. The single democratic state will fully implement the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants, those who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter, whether living in exile abroad or currently living in historic Palestine, including those with Israeli citizenship. The State will aid them in returning to their country and to the places from which they were expelled. It will help them rebuild their personal lives and to be fully reintegrated into the country’s society, economy and polity. The State will do everything in its power to restore to the refugees their private and communal property and/or compensate them.
  3. Individual Rights. No State law, institution or practices shall discriminate among its citizens on the basis of ethnic identity, national or cultural belonging, or on the basis of color, gender, language, religion, political opinion, property or sexual orientation. The state will grant all its citizens the right to freedom of movement and the right to reside anywhere in the country. The state will guarantee to all the citizens equal rights in all levels and institutions and will guarantee free thought and freedom of opinion. Alongside religious marriage the State will provide civil marriage.
  4. Collective Rights. Within the framework of a single democratic state, the Constitution will also protect collective rights and the freedom of association, whether national, ethnic, religious, class or gender. Constitutional guarantees will ensure that all languages, arts and cultures can flourish and develop freely. No group or collectivity will have any privileges, nor will any group or collectivity have any control or domination over others. The Constitution will deny the Parliament the authority to enact any laws that discriminate against any community, be it ethnic, national, religious, cultural or class.
  5. Normal procedures of obtaining citizenship will be extended to those willing to immigrate to the country.
  6. Constructing a Shared Civil Society. The Stateshall nurture a vital civil society comprised of common civil institutions, in particular educational, cultural and economic.
  7. Economy and Economic Justice. Our vision seeks to achieve social and economic justice. Economic policy must address the decades of exploitation and discrimination which have sown deep socioeconomic gaps among the people living in the country. The income distribution in Israel/Palestine is more unequal than in any country in the world. A State seeking justice must develop a creative and long-term redistributive economic policy to ensure that all citizens have equal opportunity to attain education, productive employment, economic security and a dignified standard of living.
  8. Commitment to Human Rights, Justice and Peace. The Stateshall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The State will sign and ratify all international treaties on human rights and its people shall reject racism and promote social, cultural and political rights as set out in relevant United Nations covenants.
  9. Our Role in the Region. The ODS Campaign will join with all progressive forces in the Arab world struggling for democracy, social justice and egalitarian societies free from tyranny and foreign domination. The State shall seek democracy and freedom in the Middle East, so that the rights of the region’s peoples and citizens will be guaranteed and its many communities, religions, traditions and ideologies shall be respected. That should include respect for the peoples’ right to struggle for equality and freedom of thought. Achieving justice in Palestine will contribute measurably toward these goals and the aspirations of the region’s peoples.
  10. International responsibility. On a global level, the ODS Campaign views itself as a part of the democratic and progressive forces striving for an alternative global order that shall be pluralistic and sustainable, more just, egalitarian and humanistic and free of exploitation, racism, intolerance, oppression, wars, colonialism and imperialism. This new world order will be based on human dignity and respect for the people’s rights to freedom and just distribution of resources and will provide a healthy and sustainable environment.

 

The Campaign for One Democratic State – political and organizational perspectives

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(The following report appeared first on Mondoweiss. Earlier versions of this report were published in Arabic and Hebrew).

[Photo credits: Pictures are courtesy of Ashraf Abdelfattah]

A New Guy on the ODS Block

Over the last year a new One Democratic State (ODS) initiative, striving to restore Palestinian rights and bring a just solution to the more than a century long bloody conflict, held a series of meetings and consultations. The initiating group is diverse, bringing together academics and activists, veterans of the struggle and members of the new youth movements, Arabs and Jews. For technical reasons the initiative is currently concentrated “within the green line” – those parts of Palestine that Israel took control of already in 1948. For the time being, the organizers distinguish the new initiative under the acronyms ODSC – standing for ODS Campaign.

The new initiative hasn’t yet even publish its initial political program, which is subject to prolonged process of consultations in an attempt to form a broad church of supporters of the ODS idea, with different political backgrounds and different views about the detailed structure of the future state. It might be a signal for the growing interest in ODS that it has already ignited some interest and lively discussion.Shefa3amer meeting 23 June 2018 1 hall

In late June the group’s steering committee held its second official meeting in Shafa’amer near Haifa, and decided to open it to the media even as basic issues were still under discussion. The fledgling movement’s 50 organizers, Arabs and Jews, adopted a political program ahead of the official launch coming this Fall. The program was adopted in Arabic but its publication was delayed until parallel Hebrew and English versions will be ready.

In the meantime, the following report about the meeting’s contents gives an initial opportunity to look in detail at the political perspectives of some of those behind this campaign, based on my notes taken during the meeting and coverage by Omar Dalasha, which first appeared on the website “Arab 48.”

The meeting dealt with a number of theoretical and political issues, as well as practical steps to place the idea of a democratic solution in the center of political discourse, and to create an alternative consciousness against the reality of partition, colonialism and ethnic cleansing.

An old new idea

Awad Abdelfattah, one of the founders of the new initiative and who previously served as general secretary of “The National Democratic Alliance” (a Palestinian party active in 1948 Palestine, AKA as “Balad”), opened the discussion. He started with the historical background and current efforts toward the proposed solution:

“This idea we present today is not new. Our initiative to revive the program is neither the first nor the only one. We are building on the intellectual heritage of the previous initiatives and on the values ​​of freedom and ethics that this solution represents. But we also begin with a critical reading of previous attempts, which failed to take off and become an influential public movement.”

Abdelfattah added, “the illusion of a two-state solution proved to be completely unrealistic, in view of the dominance of the colonial apartheid regime against our people, and with it the ideas of division and separation based on injustice were discredited. Against this background, and relying on the principles of justice, we are working to renew the discussion of the one-state solution and bring it back to the fore.”

He explained that the founders do not believe that the current moment is revolutionary, the relationship of forces are not favorable and there is no easy way to change this. On the contrary, the Palestinian people are now going through one of the most difficult periods in the history of their struggle. He said,

“We are living in a period of confusion and uncertainty, not only because of the inability to change the situation due to the skewed balance of power, but also in the absence of a vision and a lack of a clear definition of the goals of the struggle around which the Palestinian people can unite. Against this backdrop, there is a growing tendency to adopt an alternative based on the desire for freedom and a humanistic approach that can re-emphasize the components of the strength of the Palestinian struggle, based on moral dimensions, the struggle for the rights of a people suffering under a racist colonial regime, not a struggle over defining borders.”

Abdelfattah emphasized the presence of Jews who oppose the colonial apartheid regime in Palestine and believe in one state. They are a key element in the initiative’s leadership. He said that their participation enhance its credibility.

Part of the initiative’s mission is to formulate a new pattern of cooperation between Arabs and Jews in the struggle – instead of co-existence, co-resistance is needed.

What have we done so far?

Abdelfattah reviewed the activities that took place since the first preparatory meeting on April 21, 2018 (a report about this meeting is here). At that time a number of working groups were established according to topics: media, a committee for organizational affairs and youth, and a committee to promote the discussion on issues of principle.

“We held many meetings with potential Arab and Jewish activists and supporters,” he said, adding, ”By reaching out we have witnessed that many people are undergoing a process of change in their approach to the solution. We must redouble our efforts, be creative and invest more thought.”

He explained that choosing the name “campaign” instead of “movement”—although the goal is to become a movement later—stems from the need and desire to include other Palestinian and Palestinian-Jewish groups, as well as activists who support this solution,

“We maintain flexibility, openness, and acceptance of different opinions, on the condition that everyone agrees with the idea of ​​a single democratic state. We believe that the insistence on issues that need not be decided now and the attempt to create ideological consensus on both large and small issues are among the reasons that some previous movements failed to grow. We do not want to remain a small movement, without influence and torn by internal disagreements or paralyzed by stagnation and narrow mindedness.”

“This is a patriotic democratic liberation project that requires years of hard work, in which generations unite, in a determined and continuing struggle to reach a free homeland and free people who believe in justice and equality,” Abdelfattah concluded, “A more conscious, freer young generation will emerge from the joint action, with a deeper understanding of the ideas of democracy and liberation.”

A Palestinian initiative that Jews are joining

Historian Ilan Pappe, a member of the founding committee, spoke about the prospects for promoting the idea in Israeli society. At the beginning of his speech, Pappe told how he was invited on May 15 to present at the United Nations the perspective of the solution of one democratic state. The representatives of Israel, the United States and Saudi Arabia boycotted the meeting, and the Palestinian ambassador, who attended it, not only did not support the proposed solution but also attacked it, out of loyalty to the two-state solution.

This event represents the problems we encounter when the official representatives of the Palestinian people – in both the international community and the Knesset – oppose the proposed solution.

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Some of the speakers in the meeting, right to left: Ilan Pappe, Awad Abdelfattah, Mahmoud Miari, Muhammad Younis

“On this background,” Pappe continued, “there are special importance and influence to the fact that this is a Palestinian initiative to which Jews are joining. The fact that Palestinians adopt the plan of one democratic state based on equality will influence opinions on the Israeli street. Being a Palestinian initiative gives it a moral and ideological weight,” he said, continuing,

“We speak a lot about the balance of material forces, but we confront this skewed balance with the moral balance of power between the original inhabitants of the country and the settlers’ society. Creating an artificial parallelism between the two sides, as if there are peace camps on both sides, meeting in the middle of the road, doesn’t help this process. When the program of one state will appear as a new stage of the Palestinian liberation movement, it will also produce new opportunities to mobilize supporters within Jewish society.”

Pappe also discussed the difficulties in enlisting from Israeli society,

“We are talking about abolishing the preferential regime and the privileges that the Israelis enjoy at the expense of the original residents, and the settlers will not easily or voluntarily give up these privileges. For this it is necessary to change the balance of power from within, through a popular movement, as well as through external pressure, such as that applied by the boycott movement, the BDS. The success of the boycott movement is an important experience to build upon. In its beginnings many people argued that calling for a boycott would prevent dialogue and harm the opponents of the occupation in Israeli society. The experience proved the reverse – the boycott is also a form of dialogue in which Israelis are told that they must change. Even discussing the boycott, like discussing one-state, opens up many opportunities.”

Pappe also mentioned the alternative culture that develops among the younger generation – a culture that is much more open to anything that moves away from the institutional consensus and is willing to explore other possibilities,

“We started the initiative about a year ago, during which we met and talked to various people in Israeli society and witnessed a growing willingness to hear and accept the idea, even now that there is still no significant political movement working to advance this solution. In the wake of every additional publication about the movement, more people – Palestinians and Jews – are calling to join. If we succeed in forming an organized framework that will adopt the idea, that will work to abolish the regime of racial segregation, to waive the privileges and to live together on the basis of the principles of justice, the supporting circles will expand. The idea now exists and develops as an ideological stream rather than as a movement or an organized force. It is necessary to build an organized, strong and influential public movement, which can provide a framework for utilizing the potential support for the idea. This potential will expand further due to the lack of a political solution in the horizon, especially as it will become evident that the political deadlock might lead to disasters and exact new price in blood.”

The youth protest movements and the one-state

Muhammad Younis, an activist in Herak Haifa and a member of the founding committee, spoke about the political context in which current youth movements in Palestine develop and operate. He relied on the experience, among other examples, of the movements that organized the recent demonstrations in Haifa in support of the March of the Return in the Gaza Strip,

“The vast majority of young people tend to support the idea of ​​a single state rather than a two-state solution, but most have no organizational connection to this idea,” he said. “The various parties in historic Palestine failed to create a broad consensus around a unifying Palestinian national project. Palestinian youth today were born in a period dominated by the Oslo Accords and grew in the shadow of the division between Palestinian people in the two sides of the Green Line and between those in Palestine and the refugees out of the country. In addition, it is becoming ever clearer that the so called ‘peace process’ leads nowhere and that the ‘two-state solution’ failed. We grew up as a youth when everyone was talking about a two-state solution and we were educated on this idea. In view of the failure of this solution and the absence of an alternative, or the lack of proper presentation of an alternative, we are witnessing a general state of frustration from political activity.”

In these conditions different youth movements developed. Those movements were also influenced by the Arab revolutions, where the youth had a central role in their awakening and at the beginning of their path, before the regimes and external forces turned them into destructive civil wars. Those movements went through several important stages. One of their peaks was the movement against the Prawer plan to uproot the Palestinian residents of the Naqab. The youth movements also played an important role in organizing support for the hunger strikes of the Palestinian freedom prisoners. Recently we witnessed the march of return in the Gaza Strip, and how a supportive movement developed in Haifa and Ramallah. This last experience succeeded to forge unity in struggle, goals and slogans among various parts of the Palestinian people and raised it to a new level.”

Significant support for the right of return among the Jewish public

The last speaker was Eitan Bronstein Aparicio, founder of Zochrot and currently active in the “De Colonizer” organization. Both movements work among the Jewish public to promote awareness of the destroyed Palestinian villages and recognition of the rights of the refugees. He presented the results of public opinion surveys on the attitude toward the right of return initiated by “De Colonizer” and conducted by a professional survey institute. These results appeared in a book he published recently, together with Eleonor Merza-Bronstein, named “Nakba in Hebrew: a political journey.”

The first survey was conducted in March 2015. The main result surprised the survey’s initiators: More than 20 percent of the respondents, all Jewish residents of Israel, expressed support for the right of return of the Palestinian refugees. Bronstein explained that the result of 20 percent support consists of summing the number of those who chose one of two possible answers, unconditional support or support provided it doesn’t harm the current residents. The poll’s initiators wanted to ensure that the results were real and repeated it in March 2017. This time the result was even more positive – 27 percent supported the right of return, conditionally or unconditionally. Support was higher among young people and among secular Jews.

In order to be more certain that the respondents indeed understood the meaning of the right of return, De Colonizer repeated the survey once again in April 2017. This time the pollsters were required to explicitly explain to the respondents that the right of return meant that more than 7 million Palestinians could choose to exercise this right. In this poll, support for the right fell to 16.2 percent.

Bronstein noted that support for the right of return among Jews in Israel can be considered surprisingly high, since no Israeli party supports this right and in light of the official propaganda that always tries to frighten the public from the right of return and say that its implementation means the liquidation of the Jews or at least their expulsion from the country.

Bronstein concluded that the Israelis’ position toward the right of return can be changed, and for this purpose we need a will and determination to build a democratic alternative.

Open discussion

After the presentation, an open discussion took place lasting over an hour and a half.

The discussion dealt again with the 10-point political plan of the initiative, which has already been discussed and amended through several previous meetings, and this time was brought for approval. It was clarified that the program was not intended to answer all the questions, but rather to create a broad basis within which activists and organizations coming from different political traditions and from different ideologies could work together. The common denominator is the commitment to fight against all forms of oppression, overcome past residues through the return of the refugees, abolish all oppressive mechanisms, and create an open democratic society in which everyone will enjoy full rights where there is systematic action to close social gaps and create a just society.

Much of the discussion was devoted to the right form of building the movement with regard to the existing gaps—wide gaps in power and consciousness—between Palestinian Arab society and Jewish society in Israel. Many varied opinions were expressed. For most of us, just thinking about building a joint movement is a new political experience that requires redefining concepts and dealing with questions that are easy to ignore in routine political work. Finally, it was decided that these issues, like many others, required an in-depth and systematic discussion that would accompany us over the coming months and years.

Decisions and practical measures

Despite the need for further discussions, the proposed political plan was adopted for the current period as the basis to act upon and expand the movement.

We have set ourselves the goal of working toward a broad conference in the autumn, after more people and groups will join the campaign. This conference will also be an opportunity to re-discuss the political program and update it based on the contributions of new participants and accumulated experience.

The participants also decided to continue the construction of the subcommittees, to include new members and to continue organizing meetings of activists, informational lectures and community discussions.

Why the poet Dareen Tatour was convicted of incitement?

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Detailed analysis of the verdict exposes the ingrained racism of Israel’s injustice system

(The following article appeared initially in Mondoweiss. It is also available in Hebrew)

On May 3, 2018, exactly two and a half years after the indictment was filed against her, Dareen Tatour, a Palestinian poet from Reineh in the Galilee, was convicted of three counts of “incitement to violence”. For one of the three publications she was also convicted of “supporting a terrorist organization”.

Judge Adi Bambiliya-Einstein’s hall at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court was full of supporters of Tatour and representatives of the Arab and Hebrew media. The judge usually sternly and resolutely conducts the hearings. In the past she even addressed the audience directly to explain how the tiresome and lengthy procedure she is conducting is entirely intended to bring out truth and justice. But this time, just when justice was supposed to come out, she announced in advance that the verdict was long and therefore she would read only a small part of it, and that little she murmured in a low voice barely audible in the hall. Only once did she raise her voice, when she quoted a precedent-setting ruling praising the importance of free speech. Finally, when she reached her conclusions, she mentioned only the section numbers in which she convicted the defendant and hurried out of the courtroom. We had to wait for the written version of the verdict to be handed over to Attorney Gaby Lasky who explained to us the meaning of the verdict: conviction on all charges.

The plea for punishment was heard on May 31. The prosecutor sought to impose on Tatour a prison term of between 15 and 26 months, more than any other defendant who was tried for similar offenses. The sentencing is expected to be issued on July 31. In the meantime, I went back to reading the verdict in order to try to understand on what grounds Tatour was convicted, even though in all the publications of which she was accused there was neither any call for violence nor support for any organization waging armed struggle against Israel.

There is no innocent Arab

The affair of the poet Dareen Tatour began with a series of mistakes.

On October 9, 2015, at a central bus station in Afula, a woman named Israa Abed, who was holding a knife, was mistakenly suspected of intending to carry out an attack. She was shot by soldiers and security personnel. The picture of the wounded Israa lying on the floor of the station was published by Dareen Tatour as the background picture for her Facebook page. Next to her was a profile picture with the inscription “I am the next martyr” – a picture used by many activists to protest the ease with which innocent Palestinian civilians are repeatedly killed by settlers, the occupation army and the Israel Police.

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Dareen’s profile picture: I’m the next martyr. First published in July 2014 in protest of the burning alive of martyr Muhammad Abu Khdeir

A screenshot of the Facebook page with a picture of Israa Abed and the inscription “I am the next martyr” was transmitted by an anonymous source to the Nazareth police, who interpreted it as if Tatour intended to carry out an attack. In a pre-dawn semi-military operation, the police, accompanied by a Border Police force, raided Tatour’s house and arrested her without a search order or detention warrant. She was held for hours in a police car in the yard of the police station in Nazareth, while the policemen were insulting her and bragging of having caught “a terrorist”. In the first interrogation, that same morning, she was accused of “threatening to harm others and threatening the security of the state”.

The interrogators quickly understood that Tatour was not planning to carry out any attack. But, instead of releasing her and sending her home, they began a strenuous investigation of her two Facebook pages, her YouTube channel, her blog and all the material on her computer and on her phone. Given that Tatour is a poet, photographer and tireless writer, who responded in real time to many events, the fact that they did not find any statement beyond the norm is noteworthy. But what did not appear in the texts themselves was added by the interrogators with their interpretation. Finally they chose one poem and two Facebook statuses and, on November 2, 2015, filed an indictment.

An important part of the indictment and the court hearings relates to the period in which the publications appeared – early October 2015. In the indictment, the prosecution stresses that during that period “many attacks were carried out against Israeli Jewish citizens”. They claimed that Tatour’s publications should be interpreted, against this background, as a dangerous call to carry out attacks. Tatour, in her police interrogations and her testimony in the court, mentioned that at the same time many other things also happened: innocent Arab citizens were targeted; there were many restrictions preventing Muslims from praying at the Al-Aqsa mosque; there was a surge in popular Palestinian struggle. She showed in detail how her publications explicitly relate to these events and constitute a legitimate protest.

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Israa Abed just before she was shot by Israeli soldiers in the Afula central bus station. Dareen said she watched the video and was sure that Israa didn’t attack or threaten anybody.

In summing up the defense case, showing that the harm to innocent people was a tangible danger that characterized the period and justified Tatour’s warning/protest, Lasky noted that at that time many prominent Israeli officers, ministers and politicians publicly called to shoot to kill both suspects and terrorists. She continued to list two cases: the lynching of an Ethiopian citizen named Haftom Zarhum, who was mistakenly suspected of involvement in a terrorist attack at the central bus station in Be’er Sheva on October 18 and an incident on October 21, 2015, in which an ultra-Orthodox guard named Simcha Hodadatov was shot dead in Jerusalem after being mistakenly suspected by soldiers.

It is no coincidence that, according to the dominant Israeli narrative, these are the only two cases of killing innocents at a period when scores of Arab citizens were fatally shot. In these two cases, the mistake in identification was clear – the casualties were not Arabs. The concept of an innocent Arab victim is simply not recognized in “Israeli speak”. If an Arab is hurt in any circumstances, the system makes sure to prove his guilt in retrospect. The same is true of Tatour herself – who warned against this system and became a victim of it. Because she was unjustly suspected and hurt, the entire system mobilized to prove her guilt in retrospect.

Three criminalized words: Intifada, Qawem, Shahid

The entire conviction revolves around Hebrew interpretation of three Arabic words that appear in the texts published by Tatour: Intifada, Qawem and Shahid.

The word “intifada” – shuddering – is used in various historical contexts to describe popular struggles against oppression. The judge criminalized the usage of this word by citing a ruling from Israel’s “Supreme Court” which discussed the case against the leader of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Ra’ed Salah. The judge quotes this ruling at length, coming at end to the final conclusion: “This term has become a generic name for a violent Palestinian uprising… Any reasonable person will easily see that this is how this term is perceived by everyone…” (The verdict, page 200 of the trial’s protocol). Thus, the Israeli courts claim to be the final arbiter not only of matters of Israeli law, but also on the Arabic language. Moreover, they go under our skin and claim to know what we all think and what we understand when we hear the term intifada.

Tatour used the word “qawem” (resist) in her poem and in the tag of one of her posts. Is it forbidden to oppose government policy? In her police interrogations, the trial and the verdict, the police, the prosecution and the judge acted to prove that this was not legitimate resistance. In the absence of any call for violence in the statements published by Tatour, they tried to fill the gap with the desired violence by claiming that she had published a violent video in which you can see clashes between stone throwing Palestinian youth and soldiers firing at them. They also claimed that Tatour was responsible for the possible reactions of anyone who might see her publications, not only reasonable readers.

The Arabic word “shahid”, meaning “martyr”, has a simple Hebrew translation that is parallel to it in many ways – “halal” (חלל). In both languages this word can be used both for victims of disaster, war or occupation and for those who died in other tragic circumstances. Nevertheless, the interrogators, the prosecution and the judge insisted on using the Arabic word “shahid”. They consistently attribute to this word an aggressive meaning that doesn’t exist in Arabic.

During the trial, the defense provided extensive explanations, including by the expert witness Dr. Yoni Mendel, on the customary use of the title “shahid” for victims of the occupation. The fact that a Palestinian who was killed during a violent action against the occupation is also known as Shahid refers to the fact that he was killed, not to the violent action he carried out. The same is true with the Hebrew word “halal”, as IDF casualties are called “halalim” regardless of what they did, or did not do, before their death. Contrary to this evidence, the judge finally concluded that in fact this was a word with two different translations / meanings: “innocent victim” or “a terrorist”. Much of the verdict, as we shall see below, is based on this misconception and on the argument that Tatour’s statements about “martyrs” refer to “suicide terrorists” and would be understood as such by her readers.

The video and the poem

The first factual clause in the indictment, after the introductions, is the publication of the poem “Resist My People, Resist Them“. Its translation into Hebrew, which was done by a policeman from the Nazareth police, appears in full in the indictment. In order to attribute to the poem a violent character, which is not found in the words themselves, the prosecution turned to the manner in which the poem was published: On YouTube, Tatour reads the poem’s lyrics to the background of a video showing clashes between Palestinian demonstrators and occupation soldiers in the village of Silwad in the West Bank.

Tatour explained in her testimony in court that these are typical images of the reality of the occupation to which we are all routinely exposed for decades. The prosecutor tried to escalate the violence in the video. She repeated in the indictment, during the hearings and in her summaries the claim that the video contained “violent acts, including masked individuals throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the security forces and various disturbances.” The defense in its summaries noted that, throughout the video, no Molotov cocktails can be seen.

The judge’s reference in the verdict to the content of the video characterizes the approach of many judges who spent their best years in the prosecution and still operate from the same approach. First she cites the indictment in its entirety, including the Molotov cocktails. Later, when she describes the video with her own words, she omits the Molotov cocktails without mentioning the prosecution’s mistake. Instead, she demonstrates creativity and tries to fill in the lacunae in her own language, portraying the violence in the video as particularly grave. She writes:

“A video that is entirely violent, with masked men throwing stones not only by their hands, but also by using various means that look like ropes, intended to extend the range and increase the intensity of the damage. You see burning tires, burning of an Israeli flag, throwing stones at an army jeep, IDF soldiers filmed running after a suspect and unable to catch him, a woman arguing with IDF soldiers, IDF soldiers standing in front of demonstrators, and rioting.” (The verdict, p. 186 of the trial’s protocol).

It can be understood that, by her method, a woman who argues with soldiers is also an expression of violence and rioting…

Interpretation of the poem

During the trial, it seemed that the prosecutor gradually understood that there was a problem with an indictment based on a poem. In her cross examination of defense witnesses she began to put in doubt whether it was indeed a poem. In her summaries, the prosecutor has consistently refrained from naming it by the explicit word “poem” and has consistently used alternative phrases such as “the text accompanying the video.”

The judge, on the contrary, decided to take on the task of interpreting and judging poetry heads on. She diligently and meticulously printed side by side, line by line, the two translations that were submitted to her: the translation of the policeman and the alternative translation of the professional translator, Dr. Mendel, which was provided by the defense. After a detailed comparison of the two translations, the judge concluded that there is no substantive difference between them and that she prefers to base herself on the professional translation of Dr. Mendel. But, in practice, she uses the words of Dr. Mendel, while taking them out of context, in order to attribute to the poem the opposite meaning of what was written in the expert opinion he presented to the court.

Dr. Mendel, based on extensive research he has conducted on that subject, presented to the Court the phenomenon of non-translation of words from Arabic to Hebrew, and the subsequent demonization of their meaning in the Hebrew discourse. In this context he explained the line in the poem “Follow the convoy of martyrs”. He stated that the translation given by the policeman “and follow the convoy of shahids” is a clear example of the distortion of meaning created by non-translation. In the Hebrew connotation, the term shahid was demonized and might be mistakenly understood as a “suicide bomber”. From all of Dr. Mendel’s opinion, the judge adopts only his comment related to the misinterpretation that might be given to this line in the poem by the Hebrew readers of the mistranslation. On this basis she states that the defense witness:

“explicitly noted that he does not dispute that it was written in the poem, in literal translation: “Follow the convoy of “shahids””, a phrase that can be understood as “a call by the poet to go out and attack Israelis, and thus become a shahid and join terrorist-shahids who harmed Israelis” (the verdict, p. 190 of the trial transcript).

In this way Mendel’s explicit warning of wrong translation (actually of non-translation) leading to erroneous interpretation is used as justification for adopting this misinterpretation.

In the course of the police investigations and her testimony in the court, Tatour made it clear that the martyrs that are mentioned in her poem are… the same martyrs that are explicitly mentioned in the poem itself: the children who were burned for no reason (Muhammad Abu Khdeir and Ali Dawabsha), Hadeel al-Hashlamoun who was shot at an army checkpoint in al-Khalil (Hebron) – all victims of the occupation and the settlers’ terror.

Hadeel-al-Hashlamoun-soldier-580x341

Hadeel al-Hashlamoun was shot in an army checkpoint in al-Khalil.

The judge, in her decision to interpret the line “Follow the convoy of martyrs” as incitement to violence, expands her authority from legal matters into the depths of poetry. She states that it is impossible that the martyrs mentioned in line 11 in the poem are in any way related to those innocents – as those are mentioned in a completely different place, in lines 15-26 of the poem! On the contrary, the judge decided that the martyrs are clearly “suicide bombers”, although there is no mention of such actions in the poem or in the accompanying video. But bloody terrorists are always everywhere in Israeli consciousness wherever Palestinian resistance is mentioned. Finally, although the martyrs in line 11 are not related to the victims in line 15 and on, the opposite connection clearly exists, as the judge writes:

“A reasonable person who looks into the poem will immediately understand that the words: “They burned the children without a reason and they sniped Hadeel in public” were intended to increase the incitement, to explain, motivate and justify the acts of the uprising to the settlers’ robbery, to follow the shahids, and to tear the agreement” (the verdict, p. 192 of the trial’s protocol).

התינוק-עלי-דוואבשה-עם-הוריו

Baby Ali Dawabsheh with his parents. They were all burned to death by Israeli settlers. The judge said that commemorating them in the poem could only be for incitement to violence.

After all, as is clear to every reasonable Israeli, it is impossible that a Palestinian poet would sincerely cry for the victims of her people or aspire to prevent further victims – any mention of them, of course, is only for incitement.

Finally, in the summary of the convicting decision about the poem, the judge states:

“This is a poem that includes a call to follow the convoy of “shahids”, a word associated with perpetrators of murderous attacks on ideological grounds, as well as with martyrs and victims. The connotation in the poem was clarified.” (ibid, p. 202).

Here the judge closes the circle of guilt – from the violence that does not exist in the poem itself through the stone throwing in the background clip to the inevitable conclusion… “perpetrators of murderous attacks”!

Israa Abed and the next martyr

A particularly Kafkaesque trap was the accusation in “incitement to violence” based on the publication of an image of Israa Abed lying on the floor of the central bus station in Afula after she was shot, as the background image for Tatour’s Facebook page, alongside a profile picture with the writing “I am the next martyr”. In her interrogations, Tatour recounted how she kept looking at the video showing the moment Israa was shot and was convinced that she was not going to attack anyone. Tatour and other activists used the writing “I am the next martyr” to protest against unjustified killing – from the time of the murder of the young Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem in July 2014 and the subsequent murder of Kheir Hamdan by Israeli police in Kafr Kana in November 2014. The meaning is simple – when Arabs are killed indiscriminately, each one of us can be a victim.

In practice, indeed, barely a day has passed since Israa Abed was suspected and shot, and suspicions fell on Dareen Tatour – precisely because of the publication of Israa’s picture and the protest writing. Luckily Tatour was not shot but detained. However, after it became clear that this was a false suspicion, the legal authorities began to carry out a legal “confirmation of killing”.

Fortunately, Israa Abed herself survived the shooting. Even before the indictment was filed against Tatour, an indictment was filed against Abed, in the same court, attributing to her the possession of a knife and threats, but not assault and no intention of carrying out an attack. This did not prevent the police officers, who testified in court, from claiming that Tatour had published the picture of “the terrorist.” Even in her summaries, the prosecutor reiterated her claim that what Tatour knew at the time of the publication of the picture was that Abed “came to stab Jews”, because that was what was claimed at the time in the Israeli media. Again, the prosecution demands monopoly over everyone’s consciousness – as if Tatour must believe the lies of the Israeli media and not what she saw in the video documenting the events.

The judge, like Alexander the Great at the time, solved this Gordian knot with a sword. She removed Israa Abed from this case also, claiming that the link between the publication of her picture and the inscription “I am the next martyr” was not proven. On the other hand, she reiterated her position that Tatour uses the word “shahid” in the sense of “suicide bomber” and therefore determined that the publication of the status “I am the next martyr” in itself constitutes incitement to violence.

How was “support for a terrorist organization” added?

During the trial we spoke with lawyers who know the “rules of the game” in the Israeli legal system. Almost no one expected that Tatour would be acquitted, no matter how unfounded the charges against her. Anyone who tried to be optimistic said that the judge, in an attempt to show some balance, might acquit Tatour at least from the charge of “supporting a terrorist organization.” This accusation is based entirely on the following status, published on Facebook, as it was translated to Hebrew in the indictment:

“Allah Akbar(*) and praise his name… The Islamic Jihad movement declares in a statement the continuation of the Intifada across the West Bank… continuation means expansion… That is, to all Palestine… And we have to begin inside the Green Line… To the victory of Al-Aqsa and we declare it a general Intifada…#Resist”.

(*)The indictment – while translating this quote into Hebrew – leaves “Allahu Akbar”, meaning “God is Greater”, in Hebraized Arabic.

Apart from a minor inaccuracy in the translation (“loyalty” to al-Aqsa, not “victory”), there was no dispute about the publication itself. Tatour explained that she had copied this status from some site because of her support for the popular struggle for the right to pray in the Al-Aqsa mosque, a struggle that was expanding at that time into what she thought deserved the name intifada. She did not attach much importance to the mention of Islamic Jihad. Taking into account the prosecution’s method to attribute a violent character to any type of Palestinian struggle, it is clear how this status is interpreted as incitement to violence. But “Islamic Jihad” is only mentioned as a matter of fact as someone who called for an intifada in the West Bank, as opposed to “us” who have to wage a struggle within the Green Line. So where is the support here?

Dareen at home july 2018 photo by Yoav H 3

Dareen at home – still under house arrest, waiting the final sentencing on July 31. Using the time to write more poems.

Two experienced police interrogators who repeatedly interrogated Tatour about this short status asked her only about the call for intifada, and did not attribute to her any support to “Islamic Jihad”. Only when the interrogation material reached the State Attorney’s Office for the preparation of an indictment, somebody up there decided to convert the case into a “state security” affair by adding the clause about “support of a terrorist organization”. Among other things, the addition of this section helped to extend the detention of Tatour until the end of the legal proceedings, and hence her transfer to house arrest with electronic bracelet, her forced deportation from the area and all the abuse that she has undergone in the past three years as a “danger to state security”.

In her attempt to justify the conviction and cover for the lack of evidence in the text that Tatour published, the judge not only interprets the text, but also rewrites it in her language in a way that is fundamentally different from the original:

“The perpetrator publishes a publication in the name of a murderous terrorist organization, Islamic Jihad, a publication that is not simple but calls for an all-out intifada in all of Palestine, including the Green Line, with the organization’s name at the top of the message” (the verdict, p. 206 of the protocol).

To make this even clearer, the judge even repeats it again.

“A murderous terrorist organization declares in a declaration of a general intifada within the Green Line – and the accused supports the organization by way of distributing the declaration”. (ibid)

Not by mistake

Tatour was mistakenly suspected and the entire investigation into her case began from this mistake. But her conviction is not a mistake. She was clearly identified as a proud Palestinian Arab who resists her oppression and the oppression of her people. For this she was convicted.

Identifying and understanding the Arab, men and women, the ability to expose her or his hidden thoughts and dark intentions, is the specialty of every “reasonable” Israeli. It begins with children’s literature, when we read in the children’s adventure novels Hasamba lines like “the Egyptian officer picked up the phone viciously and smiled cruelly.”

Even if ostensibly everything the Arab does is to distort his face in pain when the Israeli soldier steps on his neck, the system will always be able to identify his hidden aggressive intentions.

 

Palestinian Queer activists in Haifa call to boycott the pride events in the city

(The following declaration was published today (June 22, 2018) on social networks. You may also read the original in Arabic.)

Palestinians and opponents of colonization in Haifa and beyond,

We call on you to boycott the pride events in our city, Haifa, for there is no pride in occupation. Our pride is in our liberation.

For many years, our city faces many projects of “co-existence” that aim to change its features. The municipality with the help of Israeli capital brutalizes our city and its neighborhoods. It demolishes houses in Wadi-al-Salib neighborhood, aiming to convert it to amusement parks and showrooms for “artists”, on the ruins of the memory of the martyrs and refugees displaced from our beloved city. The municipality strangles and suffocates what is left of Wadi al-Nisnas and al-Halisa neighborhoods and it is working to impoverish the population by cutting off vital services in those neighborhoods turning them into slums. Many other neighborhoods face the same fate resulting from policies of impoverishment and demolition.

Despite these atrocities, Haifa municipality is trying to promote the city as a city for coexistence, love, peace, pluralism and acceptance. This is not but a lie that aims to wash the blatant colonial essence of the Haifa municipality, for there is no “love” in the continuing attempts to erase and eliminate us, there is no “peace” in our impoverishment and displacement, there is no “pluralism” in our separation and restriction in our stricken neighborhoods and there is no “acceptance” in its response to our latest stand with our people in Gaza. This approach is not surprising because this was and still is and will continue to be the practices of the Zionist colonization in Palestine.

Haifa municipality, as part of the occupation government, organizes every year pride events across occupied Palestine, in a move that is called by Palestinian and international anti-colonization activists as “Pink Washing”. Through these policies, the municipality uses gay rights showing itself as the benevolent saver of the oppressed. Even though its main goal is to benefit economically – through profit from gay tourism – and politically, hoping to cover its crimes against Palestinians including Palestinian queers.

We refuse these policies, and we encourage you to not participate in the upcoming pride events, to not promote it, and to actively boycott it as a rejection of the manipulation of our destiny.

Palestinian Queer activists in Haifa

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Queer graffiti in Ramallah

Despite Police brutality, the Demonstrations in Haifa continue

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Palestinian political youth activists in Haifa call for a new demonstration under the title “From Haifa to Gaza” on Friday (1.6.2018) at 9:00 pm in the German Colony in Haifa. This demonstration calls for the end of the Israeli siege over the Gaza strip and for the implementation of the right of return for the Palestinian refugees to their houses, villages and cities. This demonstration will be held on the same day as a protest which will take place in Gaza under the slogan “From Gaza to Haifa.”

The slogans of the demonstration:

  • Break the Israeli siege over the Gaza Strip.
  • The right of return for Palestinian refugees.
  • End the fragmentation of the Palestinian people.

“In Haifa and Gaza, one struggle and one hope for liberation.”

Press Release

1 June 2018

In Haifa and Gaza, one struggle and one hope for liberation

Following the calls to demonstrate in Gaza on Friday, 1.6.2018, under the slogan “From Gaza to Haifa,” Palestinian political youth activists announced a demonstration in Haifa on the same day (at 21:00, in the German Colony). In their announcement, the organizers in Haifa emphasized the unity of the Palestinian hope and struggle for breaking the ongoing Israeli siege over the Gaza Strip and for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their houses, villages and cities.

In the call to demonstrate, the organizers highlighted the fact that Palestinians have faced Israeli crimes for decades in all parts of historic Palestine yet even so the Israeli regime has still managed to divide the aspirations of the Palestinian struggle and it’s battle against this regime. They also stated that the planned demonstration aims to break the Israeli regime attempts to separate them as Palestinian citizens of Israel from their Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza and the diaspora: “They tried to rob us as people of our right to live in the future in unity with freedom and dignity… this demonstration is a step in the path of a united struggle and a united hope for liberation.”

The organizers explained that the need for a unified struggle is essential in light of the fact that all Palestinians are subject to the Israeli policies whether as citizens of Israel or residents of the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967. They added that these policies that include home demolitions, forced displacement and destruction of villages, confiscation of water and resources, restrictions on freedom of movement, extra judicial killings, and political repression, are all deeply rooted in the Nakba (Palestinian catastrophe) of 1948. They stated: “If we know that Israeli crimes are united against all of us, why do we accept a fragmented resistance against them?”

Violent attack on the Haifa demo 18 May 2018

The Herak Gaza solidarity demonstration in downtown Haifa on Friday, May 18, was brutally suppressed

The planned demonstration in Haifa is one of a series of peaceful demonstrations that took place in the city in the last few weeks following the Israeli massacre of demonstrators in Gaza. In the last demonstration in Haifa (Friday – 18.5.2018) the Israeli police responded with excessive violence and brutal assaults toward the demonstrators and arrested 21 of them. The detainees were subjected to physical and psychological violence during their arrest and in the police station, and seven among them received medical treatments in nearby hospitals.