Over the last couple of weeks, three dozen leaders and activists of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA, AKA Tajamu or Balad) were arrested by the Israeli racist police. Below is a post that I published in Hebrew in “Haifa Ha-Hofshit” on September 24, at the height of the persecutions campaign. Yesterday, Sunday, October 2, the last of the detainees, local council member Murad Hadad from Shefa’amer, was transferred to house detention.
Cause and effect
John and Jack made the same traffic violation. Rich John was treated gently by the police and the court, had a good lawyer and finally got off with paying a fine. Unfortunately Jack is poor, he couldn’t afford proper legal defense and the police and courts treated him with impatience and suspicion. Finally, he finds himself in jail. It would be wrong to say that he is in jail because of a traffic violation. Jack is in prison because he is poor.
Why NDA members were arrested?
On Sunday, September 18, 2016, in a pre-dawn semi-military operation, police raided the homes of 23 members of “Al-Tagamu Al-Watani Al-Dimokrati” (NDA) in Arab towns and villages from the Naqab desert in the south through the Triangle and up to the Galilee in the north. They arrested “suspects” and confiscated equipment. The detainees included national leaders, key activists and a number of lawyers and accountants that handle the affairs of the party. On Wednesday another 13 key activist were arrested in similar pre-dawn raids.
On Sunday afternoon the first 23 detainees were brought for a remand hearing, some of them in Haifa and the rest in Rishon Le-Zion, the seat of “investigating unit”, Lahav 433. After waiting for hours in the corridors of the Haifa court I succeeded to attend the remand hearings of my friend Awad Abed Al-Fattah, The NDA’s Chairman, and several other detainees. It turned out that the accusations are about donations allegedly brought from abroad to finance the party’s activities. The prosecution claimed that the donations were not registered properly, in violation of regulations concerning party financing. There were no claims of corruption or personal gains.
Whoever follows Israeli news knows that all parties in Israel regularly face similar charges, and other much more serious concerning blatant corruption, on much larger scale. Particularly there are charges of corruption, accepting multi-million dollars in unreported transfers from foreign tycoons, against the main Zionist parties, Likud and “The Zionist Camp”. We never heard about nightly raids and mass arrests against leaders and members of these parties.
The only reasonable explanation for the detention of the Tajamu members is that they were arrested because they are Arabs. If you want to be more precise you can add that they were arrested because they are Palestinian Arabs who dare to criticize the racist policies of the Israeli government and demand democracy and equal rights for their people.
A Severe Accusation
In the 80s I studied at the Technion in Haifa. It happened that, by that period, a young woman from Haifa, a soldier in the Israeli army, disappeared. Some piece of cloth that might have belonged to her was found near the Technion. The “investigating team” in the racist Haifa police decided to interrogate all the Arab students at the Technion…
Invitations were sent to hundreds of Arab students to appear for questioning. Anyone who didn’t receive the invitation, or failed to appear on time for any other reason, was hunted by the police from the lectures’ halls and taken to the police headquarters in Haifa’s downtown.
Friends that were detained in this campaign told me about the following incident:
While sitting in the corridors of the Haifa police, waiting to go in for questioning, they were approached by an old Arab man, who greeted them and asked:
- And you guys, what are you detained for?
- We? Just because we are Arabs…
The old man looked at them worried and said:
- You are in trouble guys… this is a severe accusation!
One can also die from it
The Israeli government prevents the building of a hospital in Sakhnin, the main urban center in the middle of the Galilee, which is more than half an hour’s drive from the nearest hospital. As a result, if anyone in this region is wounded in a car accident, or goes through a heart attack or a stroke, his chances of staying alive decline significantly.
Whoever died due to failure to receive timely medical treatment didn’t die of a heart attack or a stroke. He died, in accordance with the political decision of the government of Israel, because he is an Arab.