FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Israel’s Disappeared

At first it seemed bizarre. Israel slapped a blanket gag order to prevent media coverage of the May 6 arrest of Ameer Makhoul, a prominent Palestinian citizen of Israel who heads Ittijah, a coalition of 64 major civil society organizations. Yet in no time at all the news had shot round the world, and Facebook pages were up calling for his freedom and for a demonstration in Haifa to demand his release.

So is there a point to such gag orders? It turns out there is. Unlike Makhoul’s case, the news about some arrestees remains unknown for weeks. As people mobilized for Makhoul, reports began to surface about another Palestinian citizen of Israel, Omar Said, who was arrested on April 25 on his way to Jordan.

Said holds a PhD from Israel’s Technion, and his innovative work at the Antaki Center for Herbal Medicine was featured in Haaretz in 2007. Legal sources affirmed that there was also a gag order against media coverage of his case and that, like Makhoul, he has not yet been allowed to see a lawyer.

Then of course there is the now famous case of Anat Kamm, the journalist who was held secretly under house arrest for more than three months earlier this year, accused of having leaked Israeli military documents concerning the premeditated killing of Palestinians in the occupied territories.

How many more are there? So wonders Didi Remez, an Israeli Jewish human rights advocate who blogs at Coteret. How many indeed? As Remez notes, Makhoul’s prominence may now draw attention to a much more widespread phenomenon. Writing about the Kamm case, The Jerusalem Post reported that the Israeli police ask the courts for a gag order about 100 times a year.

Although Israel on Monday lifted the gag orders against both Makhoul and Said, the question of “how many more” is now posed with urgency, given the Israeli state’s growing crackdown on its citizens — crackdowns that are enthusiastically supported by the settler movement as it remorselessly colonizes Palestinian land.

The Israeli Palestinian community is clearly at risk. Israel has now accused Makhoul and Said of spying for Hizbullah — similar accusations drove former Knesset member and community leader Azmi Bishara into self-imposed exile to avoid ending up in prison. Still. the community is determined to stand its ground. “We won’t be silent,” Ynet quoted Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights, and others as saying, but will struggle against “the ‘legal’ persecution by the Israeli government against the Arab sector.”

But Jewish human rights advocates are at risk too. Israeli rightwing groups have targeted both Naomi Chazan, head of the New Israel Fund, along with Adalah in the same billboard campaign.

One outcome of the crackdown may be growing Israeli Palestinian and Jewish collaboration in defence of basic rights and freedoms: Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel together protested the Makhoul gag order to the Supreme Court. As Moshe Yaroni wrote in Zeek, a progressive American Jewish online magazine, “The erosion of rights is a dynamic that threatens every Israeli,” And, he predicted, “Israel is moving toward a very frightening future; a future where most Jews will no longer be able to support Israel.”

Frightening is the word that best describes the state of a person completely cut off from his world, without recourse or rights. The soft-spoken, steel-willed Makhoul has played a major role in defending Palestinian rights and identity in Israel — indeed, Ittijah’s member groups have doubled over the past few years. Makhoul’s dedication has now landed him in jail. His wife, feminist scholar Janan Abdu, writes bravely on her Facebook page, “No prison in the world can absorb a whole nation.” But the family must be frantic with worry — as must other community activists. Who will be next?

Not many countries claiming to be democracies “disappear” their own citizens and deny them due process. Ironically the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sets democracy as a condition of membership, just welcomed Israel into its midst. By so doing, the OECD sent a terrible signal that state power trumps human rights. Further, by not holding Israel accountable for its ongoing violations in the occupied Palestinian territories, its member states risk rendering themselves complicit in its crimes.

Ever since its attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, Israel has mounted a major public relations campaign to counter popular outrage and the growing boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement calling on it to uphold international law. It accuses its critics of anti-Semitism — even the fast-growing Jewish communities working for equality and justice. Wouldn’t it be easier to admit that maybe, just maybe, Israel is doing something wrong? And that until it respects equality, justice and freedom at home and abroad, it will not secure the legitimacy it craves?

NADIA HIJAB is a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:
August 20, 2018
Carl Boggs
The Road to Disaster?
James Munson
“Not With a Bomb, But a Whimper” … Then More Bombs.
Jonathan Cook
Corbyn’s Labour Party is Being Made to Fail –By Design
Robert Fisk
A US Trade War With Turkey Over a Pastor? Don’t Believe It
Howard Lisnoff
The Mass Media’s Outrage at Trump: Why the Surprise?
Faisal Khan
A British Muslim’s Perspective on the Burkha Debate
Andrew Kahn
Inhumanity Above the Clouds
Dan Glazebrook
Trump’s New Financial War on the Global South
George Wuerthner
Why the Gallatin Range Deserves Protection
Ted Rall
Is Trump a Brand-New Weird Existential Threat? No.
Sheldon Richman
For the Love of Reason
Susie Day
Why Pundits Scare Me
Dean Baker
Does France’s Economy Need to Be Renewed?
Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail