|Israel Resource Review
||13th September, 2006
Children Challenge The System
Fifteen-year old Tirtza Sariel from the Jewish community of Elon Moreh has been held in the Russian Compound, a maximum security prison, for almost two months. The charge: throwing olives at Arabs. In order to protest her arrest and imprisonment she refused to sign court documents; Judge Uri Ben Dor held her in contempt and ruled to keep her in prison until the end of proceedings, which may take many months.
Such incidents have become more frequent in Israel as the government seeks to stamp out opposition to its policies of destroying Jewish communities.
During the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and Northern Shomron a year ago, many children were beaten, abused and imprisoned for non-violent civil disobedience.
A few weeks ago two 15-year-old girls, Oriah Shirel and Iska Federman, were finally released from Neve Tirza, a maximum security prison in Israel where they had been kept for two months. Their crime: participating in a demonstration in a neighborhood of Hebron where they live.
Oriya was not charged with any violence or attempted violence; Iska was charged with throwing stones, but there was no proof.
Oriah and Iska had come to protest the Israeli government's decision to rebuild a wall abutting the Jewish neighborhood of Avraham Avinu and a playground. On the other side of the wall is an Arab home from which Jews have been attacked; a few years ago, one-year-old Shalhevet Pass was killed by an Arab sniper.
When initially brought to court, the girls protested their arrest and the proceedings. They declared that they did not recognize the legitimacy of the court and what they call a system of injustice which plagues Israel and has become especially evident in Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron – Hebron in particular.
Judge Ben-Dor ordered the girls held in prison until the end of their trials, in November, despite an unusual prosecution request to speed up the process.
Even if convicted of all charges against them, the girls would not have been given a prison sentence, and certainly not one of such length, and not under harsh conditions. It is clear that the court was punishing these girls for what they believe, not for what they've done.
Recently, in anticipation of the government's unilateral withdrawal from Yehuda and Shomron, scores of "activists," most with families, have been jailed and/or given orders preventing them from living in the areas to be evacuated. No charges and no trials.
Jewish residents of Hebron and Northern Shomron allege police discrimination against them for many years. A report issued more than a decade ago documenting systematic abuse by the police in Hebron was ignored by the government and the media.
A few months ago, arbitrarily and without justification, the government ordered Jews to vacate a building in Hebron's Avraham Avinu neighborhood which had been legally purchased from Arabs.
Other buildings in the area built by Arabs in the 1950's on land owned by Jews have been slated by the government for evacuation. This too has been a source of contention.
Police claim that Jews harass and provoke their Arab neighbors; local Arabs are often arrested for attacks and potential attacks.
Several activists in Hebron's Jewish community have been held in administrative detention and under house arrest for long periods of time – without charges or trials.
Violations of civil (and human) rights are serious issues, especially when children are involved. But not only Israeli courts are at fault. The main public organization dedicated to helping children, The National Council for the Child (www.children.org.il), directed by Professor Yitzhak Kadman refused to get involved. Professor Kadman said he thought the girls preferred to remain in prison.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (www.acri.org.il) also refused to get involved.
Where are the professionals – lawyers and social workers? And our rabbis?
Newly elected Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich, chairwoman of the Knesset's Committee for Child Rights, came out strongly against the court's decision but no action was taken. Prominent legal experts have also questioned the reasonableness and legality of the court's decision, but nothing can be done since there is no mechanism to challenge the court's decisions.
The Supreme Court, specifically Justices Aaron Barak, Ayala Procaccia and Dorit Benish, have supported lower court decisions to imprison and restrict those who oppose government policies, some without charges or trials. In some cases, young people who demonstrate against government policies are held in jail for months on minor charges before the case is dropped.
How can an enlightened society like Israel imprison children (or anyone else) for an allegedly misdemeanor offense, or for what they believe?
The only organization that provides immediate legal assistance to Jews who are arrested is Honenu (www.honenu.org.il), a tiny non-profit crisis-response group led by Shmuel ("Zangy") Medad. On call day and night, Zangy is usually the only resource available to Jews as Israel's civil rights organizations seem paralyzed and the courts violates basic norms of democracy and justice.
Civil Rights for Jews in Yesha (www.zechuyot.org), directed by Mrs. Orit Struk, works with Knesset members and documents police brutality; their reports have led to judicial and disciplinary actions against violent policemen.
You can help. Contact Honenu and Zechuyot. And fax Judge Uri Ben Dor at 011-972-2-670-6572 and Prof Yitzhak Kadman (National Council for the Child) at 011-972-2-679-0606, with CC to MK Shelly Yacimovich at 011-972-2-6753721, the Ministry of Justice at 011-972-2-646 6722 and the Supreme Court at 011-972-2-675 9648.
Moshe Dann, formerly an assistant professor of History (CUNY), is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.
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Commentary: the Palestinian "National Unity" Government
PA President Abbas (Fatah) and PA Prime Minister Haniyeh (Hamas) on Monday announced that Hamas and Fatah are going to be forming a national unity government
The first step towards formation of this new government was accomplished today when Hamas ministers handed in their resignations. Now Haniyeh must do the same, after which Abbas must ask someone (presumably Haniyeh) to form a new government, which will include fewer Hamas ministers: now members of Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine will also hold portfolios.
The main purpose of this political realignment is to give a new veneer of respectability to the PA, so that the international community, which had been boycotting Hamas, would resume foreign aid funding. And indeed, as the EU is already re-examining its position with regard to aid, it seems this goal may be achieved.
This new unity government, however, will be predicated upon a lie, a lie with which much of the world will cooperate. The international community had stipulated certain basic positions of Hamas, one of which is the recognition of the State of Israel. Hamas has not recognized Israel, but the fiction is being advanced that such recognition is "implied" in certain positions it is now taking. The unity government is being based on the Prisoners' Document, which calls for a Palestinian state within pre-'67 lines -- Gaza, Judea-Samaria, and east Jerusalem. Well, goes the logic, if Hamas agrees to a state in that area, then obviously, without saying so, it is tacitly agreeing to a state of Israel in the area remaining.
No, no, and no! The Prisoners' Document is not advocating a two-state solution. It is, rather, right in line with what I described yesterday of the PLO "Strategy of Stages." The acquisition of a Palestinian state in the above-mentioned areas would be a prelude to destroying Israel later. There is no recognition of Israel's right to exist or legitimacy.
Please, do not be taken in by this. You will be reading a great deal about how Hamas is moderating. Do not believe it. The more the world insists on being self-deluded in this regard because of some perverse compulsion to advance Palestinian interests, the worse for us.
Hamas issued a statement yesterday: "The political program of the unity government does not contain any explicit or implicit recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. Nor does it include any concession on Hamas's principles and positions. Hamas will continue to abide by its own program, especially regarding the resistance [terrorism] and the refusal to recognize Israel."
Shortly after the announcement was made about the unity government, 18 Hamas members who were part of the PA government and had been arrested for membership in Hamas after Gilad Shalit's kidnapping, were released on bail by a military court.
Khaled Abu Toameh (who usually gets it right), writing in today's Jerusalem Post, reports that a PA official stated that "President Abbas received assurances from Israel, the US and other European countries that the Hamas leaders would be freed after the [unity government] agreement." In my book, if this is accurate, it makes the Olmert government complicit in advancing the notion that the unity government will represent increasing moderation.
And there's more: according to this official, this is merely the first step in a process that will lead to the release of Shalit. The entire deal, according to this report, requires the release by Israel of 800 Palestinian prisoners as a "good will gesture" at the beginning of Ramadan. This business of a "good will gesture" -- which has been pulled before -- could make one gag, it is so transparent. Perish the thought that there should be a prisoner swap. Israel wouldn't do that. They will simply get Shalit back, and then, coincidentally, express the desire to show good will to this new moderate government by releasing 800 prisoners. Let's watch this closely.
Abbas has expressed a great willingness to renew negotiations with Israel under the Road Map. And Olmert, G-d help us, has already expressed desire to go this route. This is a dangerous time for Israel. The international pressure will go thus: Look how the PA has extended effort to moderate, now what concessions will you make? And still we are without a government that has either the will or the strength to stand against this. Quite the contrary. Still there is no readiness to face the fact that the Palestinians, who are committed to our destruction, simply cannot be a "peace partner" for us.
All of this is exceedingly relevant to what I wrote yesterday, and so I return to this thesis:
Dr. Martin Sherman, who lectures on political science at Tel Aviv University, is academic director of The Jerusalem Summit, a think tank here in Jerusalem. He has written extensively on the notion of voluntary emigration of Arabs from Judea-Samaria, with Israeli assistance.
His main points:
The paradigm that has been in vogue for solving the Palestinian problem -- via a political solution and the notion of "land for peace" -- has failed and brought only misery to individual Palestinians living within PA controlled areas.
The Palestinians have enjoyed "conditions far more favorable than almost any other national independence movement since WW-II - widespread international endorsement of their cause, . . . highly sympathetic coverage by major media, and over a decade of Israeli administrations who have acknowledged (and at times even identified with) the Palestinians' declared national aspirations."
"In spite of this, the achievements of [the] Palestinian national movement have been more miserable than almost any other national independence movement . . . . the Palestinians have rejected every single viable proposal which would have afforded them a state - from the 1947 partition plan to the 2000 Barak proposals."
Thus it is helpful in understanding the Palestinians to assume they are "driven less by lack of Palestinian self-determination and more by the very existence of Jewish self-determination; less by the aspiration to establish a Palestinian state and more by the aspiration to dismantle a Jewish state."
This "reflects an agenda totally unacceptable by any international standards and thus must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy."
" . . . if the accepted version of the Palestinian narrative – i.e. a desire for Palestinian self determination and the aspiration for Palestinian statehood – cannot be reconciled with the history of Palestinian behavior, this narrative also must be branded as devoid of any legitimacy."
This is critical. Quite simply, Dr. Sherman is saying that the Palestinians say one thing -- that they want a state, but their behavior indicates they have not utilized multiple opportunities to acquire such a state and instead have focused on destruction of the State of Israel. The evidence is that the "Palestinian national narrative" is phony. We are not looking at a people whose primary longing is self-determination. And yet, the world has bought this "Palestinian national narrative," and people persist in their belief that Palestinians have a "right" to acquire such a state.
Rethinking this requires a major paradigm shift.
It is time to approach the problem at a humanitarian level, dealing only with individual Palestinian families and not with any Palestinian political entity. Dr. Sherman suggests "a generous relocation and resettlement package." He says a great deal more as well, regarding the prerequisites for such a relocation plan to work (including dismantlement of UNRWA and termination of discrimination of Palestinians by Arabs in other countries).
There is evidence that a good percentage of Palestinians would be in favor of such a plan, and, says Dr. Sherman, it would cost about 50% of what the war in Iraq is costing the U.S. Israel alone, he suggests, could accomplish this in 10 to 15 years, or it could be accomplished more speedily with contributions from the U.S. and European nations.
Serious ideas that merit serious thought. And, with what is happening here at the moment, now is a propitious time to begin to set into motion the paradigm shift that will take years to fully accomplish.
see my website www.ArlenefromIsrael.info
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NEW PALESTINIAN INITIATIVE: NO "IMPLICIT" RECOGNITION OF ISRAEL
Hamas, Fatah and other Palestinian terrorist organizations have formed a
common front to make war on the state of Israel, while orchestrating a
sophisticated PR campaign throughout the world and especially in Israel to
convey the specious notion that Hamas and Fateh have formed a "national
unity government" that "implicitly" recognizes Israel.
The joint Hamas-Fatah effort is based on what has been dubbed "the
prisoners' document" that has been organized by Palestinians in all the
factions who are serving life sentences for multiple murders.
Marwan Barghouti, the sec'y of the Fateh most associated with facilitating
the prisoner's document, is serving imprisonment for life for murdering 13
While news agencies around the world have indeed hailed the prisoner's
document as if it "implicitly" recognizes the State of Israel, media research professionals worth their salt could READ the document and discern that it makes no mention of Israel, except as an enemy.
Indeed, the prisoners document is readily available in English from
official Palestinian Authority sources at:
It stipulates in its principal clause that, "the Palestinian people has the right to establish a Palestinian state on the lands that were occupied in 1967-a state whose capital is Jerusalem-while ensuring the right of return to refugees [to the rest of Palestine] and the release of all prisoners. Hamas and Islamic Jihad must join the PLO, which is the legal and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people has the right to fight by all means, focusing the battle for the lands that were occupied since 1967, along with political activity and continued negotiations. The PLO and the president of the Palestinian Authority will be in charge of the negotiations. Any agreement that is reached will be submitted for ratification either to the Palestinian National Council or by means of a referendum."
An aide in Prime Minister Olmert's office, speaking at a briefing for the media after the weekly cabinet meeting on September 10th. 2006, said that if a Palestinian national unity government was formed on the basis of the prisoners' document that would be a catastrophic development, since
no breakthrough in the current impasse with the Palestinians would then be
possible. The prisoners' document does not meet the threshold conditions
that were set by the international community, said Olmert's aide.
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