Israel’s red line: real democracy

Jonathan Cook writes:

The recent arrest of two respected public figures from Israel’s Palestinian Arab minority in night-time raids on their homes by the Shin Bet secret police – brought to light this week when a gag order was partially lifted – has sent shock waves through the community.

The arrests are not the first of their kind. The Shin Bet has been hounding and imprisoning politicians and intellectuals from the country’s Palestinian minority, a fifth of the population, since the birth of the Jewish state more than six decades ago. Currently, two MPs from Arab political parties, as well as the leader of the popular Islamic Movement, are facing trials.

But the detention of Amir Makhoul and Omar Sayid is seen differently — as the gathering storm clouds in a political climate already fiercely hostile to its Palestinian citizens.

Mohammed Zeidan, the head of the Human Rights Association in Nazareth, said: “We are used to our political leaders being persecuted but now the Shin Bet is turning its sights on the leaders of Palestinian civil society in Israel, and that’s a dangerous development.”

Mr Makhoul and Mr Sayid are not accused of the usual public order offenses, nor have they simply violated chauvinistic legislation that criminalizes Palestinian citizens’ visits to neighboring Arab states. Both are facing the much more serious charge of espionage, on behalf of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Mr Makhoul, who appears to be the chief object of the Shin Bet’s interest, is the head of Ittijah, an umbrella organization coordinating the activities of Palestinian human rights groups in Israel. More specifically, he has become the leading voice inside Israel backing the growing international campaign for boycott, sanctions, and divestment against Israel.

On Wednesday, the courts approved an extension of Mr Makhoul’s remand. He was not allowed to be present and was denied the right to a lawyer until at least next Monday, 12 days since his arrest. He is reportedly being interrogated around the clock.

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3 thoughts on “Israel’s red line: real democracy

  1. DE Teodoru

    The ex-Soviet mentors of the current Netanyahu Cabinet have taken over after finally nesting themselves in the infrastructure of the Zionazis. I can only imagine the despair of Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals seeing the real Zionist dream disappear into a bad copy of a nightmare past that its elders knew as the Nazi and Soviet experiences. The essential tragedy is that America is allowing itself to be identified with this horror in its passive worry over where the “Jewish vote” will go this November—a vote that increasingly frowns at the Israeli and Obama trampling of the Jewish Ethic for the sake of a made-in-violence Greater Israel. This leaves the outlet for the popular American backlash to come only as the street so when American rage expresses as an American Krystalnacht, all the moral pleadings will clearly fall on deaf ears. Israel will not only be unable and unwilling to harbor the American Jewish victims of its abuse of America’s friendship but will be cut off from the lifeline that keeps it alive, its mendacious self-congratulations for its “cool” economy notwithstanding. It is oh so sad for ALL concerned!

  2. Eugenid

    Gideon Levy tells us that:
    “Most people here are appalled at the notion that anybody beyond Israel’s borders would think to boycott their country, products or universities. Boycotts, after all, are viewed in Israel as illegitimate. Anyone who calls for such a step is perceived as an anti-Semite and Israel-hater who is undermining the state’s very right to exist. In Israel itself, those who call for a boycott are branded as traitors and heretics. The notion that a boycott, limited as it may be, is likely to convince Israel to change its ways – and for its own benefit – is not tolerated here.”

    Such insolence is totally unacceptable– Israel’s Fifth Column thinking nothing of intervening into the CONSTITUTIONAL right of Americans to free speech AND boycott. Everything is done MAFIA-STYLE and justified on the basis of irrational slander supposedly liberating Israel from any restriction on interference with the rights of others using a logic nothing short of deranged! Time has come for the Attorney General to INVESTIGATE Israel’s interference with our civil liberties as Americans.

    Obama should demand that Israel meet our basic standards of democracy domestically if it is to expect any assistance from us. Israel is of absolutely NO STRATEGIC VALUE TO THE UNITED STATES– IT IS A ONE-WAY DRAIN ON OUR DWINDELLING RESOURCES. Therefore, America’s position on Israel should be akin to that toward any other nations we help on purely humanitarian grounds. Given our separation between Church and State, Israel has absolutely no justification for making demands on America other than appeal to kindness and should act within normative limits– or else….Above all, the despicable spectacle of Rahm Emanuel gathering American rabbis to reassure them that Obama’s policies were mis-stated should be investigated. Obama’s Chief of Cabinet and Dennis Ross (both of muddled patriotic orientation as Rahm ran to join the Israeli army and neither ever served in the US Army!)– meeting with rabbis as if all were a cabal of Israeli officials instead of AMERICAN clergy– to assure them that the President is a fool who can’t get his Middle East policies straight, suggests that nobody at that meeting can be said to be pro-America, but for Israel first.

    Is that what our blood and treasure flowed to Israel’s defense for, to engorge a fascist regime that insists it must act as a totalitarian thug or it will die?

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