In the words of Ahmed Tibi, a member of Ta’al and the Joint List in the Knesset, Israel is a democratic state for Jews but a Jewish state for Arabs. Perhaps this should be corrected to acknowledge that for Jewish opponents of Zionism Israel is also becoming less democratic.
Last Friday 18th May, in response to Israel’s premeditated murder of over 60 Palestinians in Gaza, Israeli Palestinians held a small demonstration in the city of Haifa.
Instead of protecting the demonstration from the usual right-wing thugs, Israeli police launched a savage attack on it and the democratic rights of Arab citizens of Israel, thus demonstrating that equality between Jew and Arab in Israel is purely theoretical.
The Times of Israel report Activists say police broke knee of Arab-Israeli arrested at protest in Haifa quotes Ayman Odeh condemning not only the “brutal dispersal” of the demonstration but the police conduct during a demonstration of some 200 people on Monday against the move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A number of MKs from the Joint List took part, including Odeh.
“The wild attack on us by police in Jerusalem and the attack and arrest of the demonstrators in Haifa, over claims that raising the Palestinian flag constitutes incitement, is untrue and also illegal.”
According to reports in the Hebrew-language media, Odeh confronted police officers on Saturday outside the Bnai Zion Medical Center where Farah was being treated, calling one of them a “zero.”
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli also condemned the Friday incident, calling Farah “a partner in the struggle for equality and peace.” In a tweet, the opposition lawmaker said his treatment at the hands of police was “frightening,” and vowed she would demand an explanation from Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan next week.
19 demonstrators were arrested and one, Jafah Farah, had his knee broken by the Police in custody. There can be no doubt about this since he was filmed walking when being arrested. Jafah is the CEO of the Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel.
The UN Human Rights Council last Friday also called for an Inquiry into the shootings, which Israel rejected calling the Council biased etc. No doubt they were also anti-Semitic. The EU also made a mild call for an investigation into the arrests in Haifa, a call instantly rejected by Gilad Erdan, the Public Security Minister and an arch hawk. Erdan it was who described Yaqoub Abu al-Qiyan , a maths teacher who was murdered in January 2017 by Police, in the Bedouin village of Umm al Hiran in the Negev, as a ‘terrorist’. Police had been protecting bulldozers which had been sent in to demolish the village to make way for a new Jewish town when they opened fire on his car, which then rolled into the police line killing one member. Even the subsequent Shin Bet inquiry couldn’t substantiate the false claim of Erdan and the Police.
|Jafar Farah being led away under arrest - he had no difficulty walking whilst under arrest|
The EU also called on Israel to cancel the deportation order on the Director of Human Rights Watch in Israel, Omar Shakir. His ‘crime’ was having supported BDS as a student. Only in the ‘democratic’ State of Israel do people get deported because of their ideological views. As representative of HRW stated“Compiling dossiers on and deporting human rights defenders is a page out of the Russian or Egyptian security services’ playbook.”
None of this stopped Israel’s fascist Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beteinu, from attacking the head of the Joint List in the Knesset, the third largest bloc, which represents Israeli Arabs. ‘Every day that Ayman Odeh is not in prison is a failure of law enforcement,” Apparently Odeh, who the Police fired a rubber bullet at during the demolition of Umm al-Hiran in January 2017, had cursed the Police watching over Jafar in the hospital. In the minds of this racist thug (only in Israel can someone found guilty of assaulting a child – a Jewish child no less in the settlements - become a senior government minister) beating someone up and breaking their leg in custody is far less serious than cursing the police who carried out this act.
The greater significance of what happened in Haifa is that it shows that Israeli ‘democracy’ for its Arab citizens is non-existent. Israel is a security state and when military actions are undertaken against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, there is a consensus from the Zionist right to left, Likud to Yesh Atid and the Israeli Labour Party that you don’t query the Israeli military. Anyone who disturbs that consensus can expect to be violently dealt with. Gilad Erdan proclaimed, of course that Israel was ‘"the only democracy in the Middle East (and) does not need moralistic warning calls from a biased and obsessive body like the EU."
In a democracy of course the Police do not violently attack demonstrations, beating up the participants and then breaking their legs, to say nothing of keeping those detained in handcuffs over night. However Israel is a democracy of a special kind.
Dozens participated in the protest, in which many were carrying Palestinian flags; head of NGO advocating for Arab citizens' rights claims police attacked him while detained
|Police gather for an attack|
Twenty-one Israeli Arabs protesting the killing of Gazans were arrested Friday in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Dozens participated in a demonstration in the city's lower commercial area. Police said those arrested were suspected of public disorder offenses. Protesters held up Palestinian flags, according to reports.
The organizers of the demonstration, a group of young activists, decided to hold it without a permit. The call to protest was spread across social networks, and its exact location was given two hours before it started. Some activists were warned prior to the protest not to participate in it, according to the organizers. One of the activists was interrogated last week after a similar protest and was sent home for a three-day house arrest.
Police said it will let the demonstration "continue and allow the public to fulfill the right to protest and free speech, in accordance to the caveats and instructions of the law, but will prevent any attempt to disrupt the public order and endanger the safety and security of the public."
One of the activists who was detained during the protest is the CEO of the Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel, Jafar Farah. Farah's relatives and Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, accused the police Saturday of breaking his leg while he was under arrest. The police said they cannot provide details about his medical condition, but that the case will be looked into.
In a video from the scene, Farah can be seen being escorted away from the protest by policemen. On Saturday, he was hospitalized in Haifa. Police said that "one of the detainees was taken to a checkup at the hospital after he claimed he was injured in his leg," and the Bnei Zion hospital in the city confirmed that Jafar was hospitalized but said that due to medical immunity, more details regarding his condition could not be disclosed.
Chairman of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh, who met the detainees at the police station said
"police forces brutally oppressed the protest without any explanation. Netanyahu's government wants to silence any voice of resistance and dissent coming from here, to silence any voice that embarrasses it and its actions. I am full of appreciation for the protesters tonight and the immense sacrifice of the detainees. No police brutality will succeed in silencing us."
MK Aida Touma-Suleiman (a member of Hadash, one of the parties making up the Joint List) also spoke up against the arrests of participants in Friday's demonstration, saying that "the attempts to scare and silence people will fail again!"
"The violence exerted on protesters was unchecked. Interrogators continued to beat up the detainees after they were arrested without any explanation or justification. As a result, some of them were injured. Jafar Farah's leg was broken. All this happened while they postponed the detainees' meeting with a lawyer and withheld medical care from them, all in order to prevent the documentation of the recklessness with which the police behaved," she said.
MK Touma-Suleiman also called for the opening of an investigative committee that would look into the police's conduct in those arrests.
Jafar Farah getting arrested at a Haifa protestHaaretz/ YouTube
In a statement released in response to the arrests, Adalah said the police dealt with the demonstration “like a war.” Adalah accused the police of closing in on the demonstrators, beating and arresting those who attempted to escape, and denying detainees from meeting with lawyers for over an hour after their arrest.
“All the detainees were handcuffed for the entire night and kept sitting on the police station floor. Many of them experienced serious bruising to their wrists. Adalah considers these arrests to be illegal, as the police violence in Haifa was unprecedented and unprovoked,” the group wrote, calling for the release of the detainees.
Around 1,000 Gazans gathered Friday around the Israel-Gaza border for the eighth weekly protest in the "March of Return." Dozens got close to the fence, burning tires and threw rocks. Israel Defense Forces responded with tear gas and occasional gunfire. 56 were wounded in the protest, 25 of which by live gunfire, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.
The UN Human Rights Council on Friday called for an international inquiry into the state of human rights in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. Jerusalem blasted the decision and the council as being biased against Israel.
European Union calls on Israel to investigate violence against Arab activist, urges Jerusalem to revoke deportation of local Human Rights Watch representativeNoa Landau
May 22, 2018 12:49 PM
The European Union condemned the Israeli police's crackdown on Israeli Arab protesters in Haifa after they demonstrated against the high death toll at the border with Gaza on the day of the dedication of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. The demand prompted the anger of Israel's police minister.
As many as 21 activists were detained by police following the march in Haifa, including the head of the Mossawa Advocacy Center Jafar Farah, who was allegedly injured after being arrested by police.
In the statement, the EU also said it was important Israel conducts "a swift investigation into circumstances surrounding events last week in Haifa which appeared to result in serious injury of Jafar Farah, Director of the NGO Mossawa, the Advocacy Centre for Arab Citizens in Israel".
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan responded to the EU's demand, saying that "Israel, as the only democracy in the Middle East, does not need moralistic warning calls from a biased and obsessive body like the EU."
Erdan also called out what he called the "hypocritical campaign of persecution against Israel and the attempt to stain its good name. I suggest the EU not get involved in Israel's internal matters."
In the meantime, the police have questioned under caution the police officer involved in the arrest.
"The European Union continues to stand for an open and conducive environment for civil society, within Europe, in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory and around the world," the statement said.
The EU called on Israel to reverse its decision to revoke the work visa of Mr Omar Shakir, the local director of Human Rights Watch who was accused of anti-Israel activities and involvement in the BDS movement.
In a mildly worded statement issued on Tuesday, the EU says it "expects the Israeli authorities to reverse their decision, as otherwise Israel would join a very short list of countries which have barred entry to, or expelled, Human Rights Watch staff".
Omar Shakir, a U.S. citizen who previously worked for the New York-based rights group in Egypt and Syria, was given two weeks to leave the country when he was notified of the revocation of his visa on May 7. Fifteen Israeli human rights organizations immediately condemned the move at the time.
Criticizing the decision of Israel's Interior Ministry, Human Rights Watch quoted a representative of the organization as saying that “Compiling dossiers on and deporting human rights defenders is a page out of the Russian or Egyptian security services’ playbook.”
Interior Minister Arye Dery said the decision was based on a recommendation from the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which had collected information about Omar Shakir.
In March 2017, Israel passed an amendment to its Entry into Israel law, empowering the authorities to refuse entrance to those they claim to be activists in the BDS movement. Shakir, however, would be the first one to be deported rather than being denied entry to the country on the backdrop of the law.
With their anti-Arab incitement, Avigdor Lieberman and his cabinet colleagues are helping to march Israel confidently into a Judeo-nationalist futureHaaretz Editorial May 22, 2018 1:18 AM
“Every day that Ayman Odeh is not in prison is a failure of law enforcement,” Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said of the chairman of the Joint List, the third largest bloc in the Knesset. Interior Minister Gilad Erdan — who lost no haste in pronouncing Yakub Abu al-Kian, who was shot dead by police in Umm al-Hiran, a terrorist — quickly joined in. He announced that he would ask the attorney general to launch a criminal investigation against Odeh, who cursed out a police officer at the hospital where Jafar Farah, the director of Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, was being treated while under arrest in connection to a protest in Haifa.
Lieberman — whose ongoing public career is the real failure of law enforcement — and Erdan — whose right-wing street cred has suffered as a result of what has been seen as his inadequate support for Benjamin Netanyahu during the investigations of the prime minister — illustrate just how grave the situation has become in Israel, which is marching confidently into a Judeo-nationalist future. These cynical politicians know that in today’s Israel, the easiest and safest way to drum up public support is through racist incitement, which has no place in a democratic country. That is how they chose to respond to a small demonstration of Arab citizens protesting the killing at the border of the Gaza Strip.
Erdan and Lieberman simply learned a lesson in dangerous cynicism from their leader. One of Netanyahu’s great successes is in persuading the majority of Israeli Jews that the country’s Arab citizens — who account for around 20 percent of the population — are a fifth column that must not under any circumstances express solidarity with their Palestinian brethren or criticize the government.
The frequent assertions according to which the Joint List’s lawmakers should limit themselves to civil matters, such as “infrastructure and education,” constitute political suppression and outright racism couched as rationalist argument. Citizens in a democratic state may and should engage with their national identity and are permitted to criticize the government and to demonstrate against it. Israel has a duty to find ways to contain the complex relationship of Israel’s Arab citizens to the state and it must demonstrate sensitivity, particularly during moments of escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The claims regarding the behavior of Odeh, who was prevented from visiting Farah, who was injured at the demonstration, fall into that category of racism and distortion of the truth. Given the brutal suppression by police of a demonstration by minority members, focusing on Odeh’s curses creates a false symmetry in the equation of violence. Odeh and the Arabs are the victims of the state, not the other way around.
Any citizen who seeks to live in a democracy should be disturbed by the wanton, racist incitement by Israel’s leadership against the Arabs.