Palestinians take the Irish Road to FreedomThe parallels between the Partition of Ireland in 1920 and Palestine are many. The establishment of Ulster, a Protestant State for a Protestant People, as Lord Brookborough, later Unionist Prime Minister remarked, and the establishment of the Palestine Mandate are remarkable, not least because it goes so often unremarked. Republicans have always supported the Palestinians just as the Unionists have identified with Israel.
When I was in Northern Ireland in the early 1980's, during the Hunger Strike I met, along with others in a Labour Party delegation, the leader of the Ulster Defence Association, Andy Tyrie and his main political spokesperson John MacMichael, later assassinated by the IRA. The UDS made its admiration for Israel very clear, even as the NF - who whom they were linked - purported to oppose Israel. Today of course all fascists openly identify with Israel as the number one opponent of 'Islam'.
Britain’s very presence in Ireland was a consequence of the Plantation of the 15th and 16th centuries. Not only is Ireland England’s oldest colony but it was the test bed for other colonial experiments, not least the very British art of massacre. In 1920, after the East Uprising and having unleashed the thugs and criminals of the Black and Tans, the Lloyd George government made a proposal to Sinn Fein, which in 1918 had overwhelmingly won elections in the whole of Ireland on the basis of independence for Ireland, that either they accept Partition or face an intensified civil war. Michael Collins went down in the hall of infamy for having accepted and there followed a civil war in Ireland.
Likewise in 1920 at San Remo, the major imperial powers carved up the Middle East and Palestine was established as a proto-Zionist settler state. Common to both countries was the Colonial Secretary, Winston Churchill, an ardent Zionist, Unionist and colonial diehard, who resigned from the Shadow Cabinet in 1931 over its support for the Government of India Act. Churchill’s abiding passion in politics was the need to preserve the British Empire and he saw that as one of his major goals between 1939-49. He never forgave General Wavell for what he saw as the surrender of India under his Viceroyship. Both Palestine and Ireland in their own way were settler-colonial states, though in Ireland Partition was occasioned by the desire to keep the areas of major British investment in British hands, in particular the dockyards, ship building and heavy engineering factories of Belfast.
As Sir Ronald Storres, the first Military Govenor of Jerusalem wrote in his auto-biography of a Jewish settlement in Palestine: “It will form for England,” he said, “a little loyal Jewish Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism.” Today we see prominent Palestinians adopting the traditional weapon of the weak – the hunger strike. As many will recall, the hunger strike has been used repeatedly in Ireland against British intransigence and the Hunger Strikes of 1980 led to the death of 10 Irish prisoners and the eclipse of the SDLP, the ‘moderate’ nationalist party, as Bobby Sands was elected as a member of the British Parliament. So too in Palestine and we can see how Israel’s close collaborator, ‘Prime Minister’ Salam Fayyad, has been forced to give his support. And like the British, the Zionist state is stupid enough to let Palestinian prisoners die in order to preserve their right to torture them.
Thus, inevitably, Palestinian politics is increasingly taking up political and civil rights issues, of basic human dignity, as they oppose an occupation which accords no rights to the vanquished.
One of the great scandals of Israel's occupation is its use of 'administrative detention' to hold indefinitely some 7,000+ Palestinian prisoners. In Ireland this was called Internment and was another of Britain's historical mistakes. It may yet come to rebound on the 'only democracy in the Middle East' too.
After over 50 days of hunger strike against what he terms humiliating Shin Bet interrogation techniques, Khader Adnan's health is deteriorating.
By Amira Hass
Khader Adnan has already broken a Palestinian record for the longest solo hunger strike. Yesterday he passed his 50th day as a hunger striker, protesting what he regards as humiliating practices exercised by Shin Bet security service interrogators. Posters displayed at support rallies have above his portrait the statement: “Dignity above food”, a statement repeated in a Facebook page titled “We are all Sheikh Khader Adnan.”
On January 8, 22 days after he was detained in his home in Arabeh in the northern West Bank, a four-month administrative arrest order was issued against him, owing to his “activity as a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which threatens the region's security.” Last Thursday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad met with the hunger striker's father in Ramallah, and declared that the entire Palestinian people expresses solidarity with Adnan. A member of Adnan's organization warned about possible consequences, should he perish.
Khader Adnan has already broken a Palestinian record for the longest solo hunger strike.
On the night of December 17, masked soldiers raided his home, aiming their rifles at family members, elderly parents, a pregnant wife and two daughters. This account was provided in an affidavit submitted to an attorney engaged by the Physicians for Human Rights NGO. Adnan testified that his hands were tied behind his back, and that he was thrown onto the floor of an army jeep; during the journey in the vehicle, he says, soldiers kicked and slapped him. The jeep reached the Mevo Dotan settlement, where (he says ) he was held for several hours outside, in the cold, with his cuffed hands swelling. His lower lip was cut and bleeding.
The next day he was taken to the Kishon detention facility, for Shin Bet questioning. In his affidavit, Adnan testifies that he was tied to a chair and positioned in an excruciatingly painful way. Throughout the interrogation, he remained tied, his hands behind his back. Adnan says that Shin Bet questioners cursed him and threatened harm to his family. Was the moment he heard his wife and daughters being cursed when he decided to launch his hunger strike? Or was it when the interrogators forcibly yanked his beard? Or was it when one of the interrogators rubbed a finger on his shoes, and then smeared Adnan's moustache? Or was it when they did not allow him to pray?
Without any advance plan, he launched the hunger strike, and kept mum. Interrogators asked questions, pressured and tempted him, but he kept quiet. For days, he was interrogated twice a day. That is, the interrogators asked questions and spoke, while Adnan kept mum. And refused to eat.
He learned that he was an administrative detainee belatedly, on January 10, and this added a new motivation to his hunger strike: The protest is also against the fact of his detention without trial. Last Wednesday a third “judicial review” session was held at the military court for administrative matters, regarding the administrative arrest order. As in the preceding session, he was wheeled in a wheelchair into the caravan where the sessions are held. Military prosecutor Lt. Tamar Lejlem asked military judge Dalia Kaufmann to “authorize the administrative arrest order for the entirety of the requested period, owing to classified information which I will submit on a unilateral basis to the court. This is a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad who is involved in organizational activity, and who was imprisoned in the past and has returned to subversive activity.”
Five attorneys were on hand to represent Adnan: Jamil Khatib, Tamar Peleg, Mahmoud Halabi, Mahmoud Hassan, Jawad Boulos and Nivin Hassan. This proliferation of attorneys bears witness to concerns about his deteriorating health and the implications.
The process of opposing administrative arrest turns into a guessing game, or a game of tag in which one side is blindfolded while the other side has a full view of events. There is no indictment, nor is there evidence to dispute. Questions posed by defense attorneys have the aim of causing the military court judge to review critically the order to deny an individual's liberty without allowing him or her to stand trial.
Peleg turned to the prosecutor, saying: “I understand, and ask for confirmation, that the questions asked during the interrogation of my client by the Shin Bet express the main suspicions pending against him, suspicions which presumably are reinforced by the classified information.”
The prosecutor rejoined: “The secret materials are more expansive than what has been disclosed.”
Peleg: “I am talking about the type of suspicions, and not their amount.”
The prosecutor: “The suspicions are the same ones featured in the classified materials. There is more expansive information and additional details that are not reflected in the Shin Bet's interrogation. The classified materials relate to a wider range of activities, activities on an organizational level that threaten the security of the region.”
The game of ping-pong continued in this fashion. As it concluded, Peleg stated: “The conclusion is that there is no intelligence information that warrants the administrative arrest, and, in particular, that the security officials do not have the option, nor do they have a desire, to put the accused on trial.”
The detained man was given the right to speak. “I will begin with what happened just a few moments ago,” Adnan told those present in the courtroom. “You went out to eat, in rooms that are surely heated and comfortable. I went off to the waiting caravan for detainees, despite my condition, and it was very cold. The doctors tell me that perhaps because of the fluctuating heat and cold, I might quickly develop cardiac problems.”
Last Tuesday he was moved from the Israel Prison Service medical facility to a private hospital in Bnei Brak. His legs and arms were cuffed to his bed. Three wardens sat in his room round the clock, smoking and chatting. Adnan initiated his hunger strike in the name of dignity, but “the insults continue,” he told the judge. He added: “when the wardens come into my room, they reach under the pillow and joke about how I might be hiding food. I have a Koran which I read, holding it with a handcuffed hand. Yesterday I prayed in a chair, with my arms and legs bound.” The judge's decision concerning the future of the administrative arrest order is pending.
The Prison Service spokesman relays: On January 17, the ethics committee for the rights of a patient (an external committee ) spoke with the detainee and concluded that he does not want to die. Thus the committee decided to respect his wishes, and not force medical treatment upon him. At the end of the hunger strike's 44th day, and following the submission of a medical report saying that his health is in genuine danger, the committee convened anew, this time with a religious figure (a Kadi ) in attendance, and the religious delegate met privately with the detainee.
“After it was made clear to the detainee that the committee is considering the forcible administration of an infusion, he agreed to be taken to a hospital for an examination, and the condition that he meets with a doctor sent by Physicians for Human Rights. On the advice of this doctor, he agreed to take potassium tablets, and he returned to the Prison Service medical facility. After he announced that he would stop drinking water, the committee decided to allow a Prison Service physician to administer intravenously salt and sugar [this has not happened].
“Last Tuesday, at the Prison Service request, the detainee was taken to the Bnei Brak hospital. There, he once again drank water, and met with Red Cross representatives and also the kadi. On Thursday, he was taken to a Jerusalem hospital. That day, the Prison Service consented to the detainee's request, and furnished unusual authorization for him to meet with family members.” So ends the Prisons Service statement.
It should be noted that as of last night, his family has still not been allowed to visit him.
According to the military spokesperson's office, following the information relayed in Adnan's affidavit to Physicians for Human rights, the military prosecution has instructed the military division of investigations to investigate the circumstances of his arrest.
By press time last night, the Shin Bet had not responded to this report.