|Israel Resource Review
||10th January, 2008
Israeli Police Arrest People for Distributing Fatah Briefing Paper to the White House Press Corps
Israeli Police Campaign to Silence Voice of Opposition
4 Shevat 5768, 11 January 08 09:35by Hana Levi Julian and Baruch Gordon(IsraelNN.com) Three people were taken into custody and their literature confiscated as they were handing it out to foreign journalists outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday night. The Dan Panorama is where most of the journalists who are covering the Bush visit are lodging.
Plans to distribute the material to foreign journalists were put into place last week as a joint project of the Center for Near East Policy Research and the National Council of Young Israel, a Jewish American organization with chapters in every state. "A number of activists with several organizations were working on assisting the Center to distribute this crucial information to the foreign media," said activist Suzy Dym in an exclusive interview with Israel National News.
English-speaking volunteers came Wednesday evening to speak with visiting journalists outside their hotel, and present them with views and materials opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel.
Volunteer Yosef Hartuv gave a Fox TV cameraman a booklet presenting the majority view in Israel which opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Fox cameraman is seen in the picture below holding the literature as he carried on a 20-minute conversation with him. According to Hartuv, the cameraman said, "This is very interesting. I'll get this stuff to my producer."
The literature handed out was a booklet authored by Arlene Kushner entitled, "Fatah as 'Moderate': A Hard Look Post-Annapolis," published by the Center for Near East Policy Research at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem. The booklet may be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
According to eye-witnesses, Police Superintendant Chaim Moshe approached the cameraman and confiscated the booklet from him. Officer Moshe then told the volunteers that they were not allowed to stand there and talk with the journalists.
In the picture below, Superintendant Chaim Moshe can be seen holding the confiscated booklet in his hands and telling volunteer Susie Dym that she must leave the premises.
"One policeman said we can't stand in front of the hotel, that we should go to the corner, so that's what I did," related Jeff Daube, another volunteer at the site.
Daube wrote what happened next in a blog post:
"Approximately 20 minutes later, a policeman comes down to the corner where I had been standing and taps me on the shoulder asks me for my teudat zehut [ID card] and tells me to come with him. He then told me to get into the police car with Yehudit Dassberg and Susie Dym, two colleagues who were there for the same purpose. They did not tell me at the time why I was being taken in but Susie told me in the car that they found the material either seditious or contain incitement -- I am not sure which. Later it became apparent that they claimed we were creating a public nuisance. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Hear Daube interviewed on IsraelNationalRadio.com.
Dym was not willing to be taken in for questioning: "I told them that I cannot agree to be detained because I need to talk to these foreign reporters, that that's what I came to Jerusalem for." "Then you are arrested," responded the police officer, "for distributing seditious (treasonous) material."
Dym said Police Superintendent Chaim Moshe told her if she didn't "come along quietly" that they would use "considerable force" against her.
At the Russian Compound, Dym was formally arrested while the other two were detained.%ad%
Approximately one hour later, all three were released, their personal belongings were returned -- minus the booklets -- and the charge against Dym was dropped. "They haven't really charged us yet, but they still could," she emphasized. "We like to hope that in a democracy that doesn't happen, but we know it does."
Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Israel National News on Thursday that the three volunteers were released "after it became clear there was no security threat involved and there was no incitement with the materials they had."
Rosenfeld said the booklets were confiscated in order to be "examined" but was unable to explain why the materials were not returned once it had been determined they were harmless. "That's something I have to look into," he said. When pressed for a response as to why the detainees were released without their literature, he reiterated the police were examining the materials at the time, adding, "It takes time to read through a 27-page booklet in English."
The real concern, said Dym, is the lack of information reaching public figures in American Jewish organizations about Fatah's continued involvement with terrorism against Israel.
"Our real hope is that public figures and organizations will take this very seriously," she said. "We pray we won't be abandoned by the American Jewish community on this issue."
Daube concludes his blog post about the arrest with his personal feelings:
"I am struck by the police's total arbitrary and capricious behavior in this incident. After having read and heard about these types of police actions, and now having experienced it first-hand, I can only say that I am saddened by the fact that the police force of the Jewish State employs tactics which are unethical in the extreme and still has the gall to call itself a democratic country where the rule of law prevails. Granted at 60 years old, the country may still be young, relatively speaking, but it still has a long way to go before it reaches minimum standards of respect for a citizen's civil rights -- even a brand new citizen".
Here is how HaAretz covered the story:
Police last night detained three right-wing activists in Jerusalem who were distributing a report to foreign journalists disputing the concept that Fatah is a moderate organization. The English-language report by Arlene Kushner and David Bedein cites examples of Fatah members involved in terror, quotes Palestinian Authority textbooks and provides maps the report's authors claim illustrate long-standing Fatah plans to conquer all of Israel. Susie Dym, the head of the Cities of Israel organization, said the leaflets were confiscated due to claims they constituted incitement. Dym, Kushner and Bedein were released unconditionally after a short while but the pamphlets were not returned. (Nadav Shragai)
DAVID BEDEIN and ARLENE KUSHNER ARE N O T IN CUSTODY AND WERE NOT ARRESTED.
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Senior Policy Researcher. Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.
"I believe it's possible -- not only possible, I believe it's going to happen, that there will be a signed peace treaty [between Israel and the PA] by the time I leave office [i.e., within a year]."
To say this is to be seriously out of touch with reality . Because it's the president of the United States saying this, and he is prepared to base policy on this expectation, it's dangerous. Certainly for us here in Israel. And I would say also for the US, as ultimately the forces of terrorism in the Middle East will be strengthened if he attempts to follow through with this vision, rather than "getting real."
This statement was made in the course of a joint Bush - Abbas press conference in Ramallah today. I would like to examine Bush's words in more detail:
First, repeatedly in the course of his comments he refers to development of a Palestinian state that is a democracy. "I've come to the conclusion that both men understand the importance to (sic) democratic states living side by side in peace."
But there is nothing remotely democratic about society within the Palestinian areas. An election does not make a democracy. There is no rule of law, no freedom of speech or press. No valuing of the rights and dignity of each human being.
The notion that all of this can be imposed on a society within a year is total nonsense.
Bush makes some very glib, naive (very Western) assumptions that are quite false: "I believe, deep in the soul of every man, woman, and child on the face of this Earth is the desire to live in a free society. And I also believe free societies yield peace. And, therefore, this notion of two states living side by side in peace is based upon the universality of freedom, and if given a chance, the Palestinian people will work for freedom."
This very commonly held assumption ignores religion and ideology and their power. The Islamic vision is not one of freedom -- which is, in a way, actually anathema to religious Muslims. Islam is about submission. (Islam in Arabic means surrender!) And radical Islam is about imposing that submission. Palestinians passionately committed to their Islam and the word of Muhammad are more concerned with driving out the Jews and controlling the land they believe is theirs than with instituting "freedoms."
To establish policy without this essential understanding is to miss the boat entirely and to generate an unstable situation.
Then Bush puts forth a false equation: That economic betterment will lead to democracy, desire for peace, etc. Bush is no socialist, surely, but at heart this is a socialist vision -- that "fixing" the world has to do simply with material betterment. Again there is a failure to grapple with ideology. The perpetrators of 9-11 were middle class. Some of the richest people in the world are Arabs who demonstrate no desire to seek after democracy. Sometimes ideology trumps economics.
The greatest misrepresentation in this regard has to do with statements of Bush's implying that Abbas is working to better the lot of the common man in the PA. "This man and his government not only works (sic) for a vision, but also works to improve the lives of the average citizens. "
About as far from the truth as you can get. What has happened is that Abbas has been pegged as "the" man to go with, and so he is being celebrated as something wonderful for his people. But Abbas is hated for his extreme corruption and his failure in recent years go reform. In the midst of abject poverty in Gaza, he had a mansion worth $1.5 million built for himself. He is so hated, that he is afraid to go out of Ramallah. And the lot of the common man in PA areas has only decreased over time.
So this is Bush's very garbled plan, as laid out in his statement: The US is going to invest in Abbas big-time, helping him get together the infrastructure for a democracy, and giving financial aid to help improve the lot of the people, and military assistance so his security forces can function properly. All of this will be done in a matter of months, and then it will be possible for Israel and the PA to sign a peace treaty.
Well. this is predicated on the assumption that Abbas really WANTS that peace treaty, really WANTS to take out terrorism, really WANTS to establish democracy, really WANTS to provide economic advancement for the people rather than for himself and his cronies. I maintain that he doesn't (about which more below). The US hasn't learned -- all of the efforts to "fix" the PA from the outside, via vast infusions of aid, have not worked until now. There is no reason to believe it will work now.
But there is another catch, and I confess to being confused as to exactly what Bush envisions here: That is the issue of what to do with Gaza, which Abbas does not remotely control.
Says Bush: " . . . Gaza is a tough situation. I don't know whether you can solve it in a year, or not. But I know this: It can't be solved unless the Prime Minister -- the President has a vision that he can lay out to the people of Gaza that says, here's your choice: Do you want those who have created chaos to run your country, or do you want those of us who negotiated a settlement with the Israelis that will lead to lasting peace?"
Heaven save us from such simplistic thinking! I return to all that I said above. The population of Gaza is radicalized. Bush is dreaming if he thinks offering them a "vision" of a peace treaty (which Hamas maintains is a sell-out that deprives the people of their rights to all the land) will turn them around.
Then there's another, cart-before-the-horse issue. I heard Olmert say yesterday that there would be no peace treaty unless terrorism in Gaza stopped and Gaza was part of the package. In other words, there can be no peace treaty to offer the people of Gaza UNTIL Gaza is already on board. Catch 22. What is the president thinking? He'd better go back to the drawing board on this one.
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