Category Archives: Israel’s Human Rights Abuses

Former Mossad Chief: For the first time, I fear for the future of Zionism (Haaretz)


The nation of Israel is galloping blindly toward Bar Kochba’s war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was 2,000 years of exile.

By Shabtai Shavit

Haaretz — Nov. 24, 2014

From the beginning of Zionism in the late 19th century, the Jewish nation in the Land of Israel has been growing stronger in terms of demography and territory, despite the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. We have succeeded in doing so because we have acted with wisdom and stratagem rather than engaging in a foolish attempt to convince our foes that we were in the right.

Today, for the first time since I began forming my own opinions, I am truly concerned about the future of the Zionist project. I am concerned about the critical mass of the threats against us on the one hand, and the government’s blindness and political and strategic paralysis on the other. Although the State of Israel is dependent upon the United States, the relationship between the two countries has reached an unprecedented low point. Europe, our biggest market, has grown tired of us and is heading toward imposing sanctions on us. For China, Israel is an attractive high-tech project, and we are selling them our national assets for the sake of profit. Russia is gradually turning against us and supporting and assisting our enemies.

Anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel have reached dimensions unknown since before World War II. Our public diplomacy and public relations have failed dismally, while those of the Palestinians have garnered many important accomplishments in the world. University campuses in the West, particularly in the U.S., are hothouses for the future leadership of their countries.

We are losing the fight for support for Israel in the academic world. An increasing number of Jewish students are turning away from Israel. The global BDS movement (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel, which works for Israel’s delegitimization, has grown, and quite a few Jews are members.

In this age of asymmetrical warfare we are not using all our force, and this has a detrimental effect on our deterrent power.

The debate over the price of Milky pudding snacks and its centrality in public discourse demonstrate an erosion of the solidarity that is a necessary condition for our continued existence here. Israelis’ rush to acquire a foreign passport, based as it is on the yearning for foreign citizenship, indicates that people’s feeling of security has begun to crack.

I am concerned that for the first time, I am seeing haughtiness and arrogance, together with more than a bit of the messianic thinking that rushes to turn the conflict into a holy war. If this has been, so far, a local political conflict that two small nations have been waging over a small and defined piece of territory, major forces in the religious Zionist movement are foolishly doing everything they can to turn it into the most horrific of wars, in which the entire Muslim world will stand against us.

I also see, to the same extent, detachment and lack of understanding of international processes and their significance for us. This right wing, in its blindness and stupidity, is pushing the nation of Israel into the dishonorable position of “the nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9).

I am concerned because I see history repeating itself. The nation of Israel is galloping blindly in a time tunnel to the age of Bar Kochba and his war on the Roman Empire. The result of that conflict was several centuries of national existence in the Land of Israel followed by 2,000 years of exile.

I am concerned because as I understand matters, exile is truly frightening only to the state’s secular sector, whose world view is located on the political center and left. That is the sane and liberal sector that knows that for it, exile symbolizes the destruction of the Jewish people. The Haredi sector lives in Israel only for reasons of convenience. In terms of territory, Israel and Brooklyn are the same to them; they will continue living as Jews in exile, and wait patiently for the arrival of the Messiah.

The religious Zionist movement, by comparison, believes the Jews are “God’s chosen.” This movement, which sanctifies territory beyond any other value, is prepared to sacrifice everything, even at the price of failure and danger to the Third Commonwealth. If destruction should take place, they will explain it in terms of faith, saying that we failed because “We sinned against God.” Therefore, they will say, it is not the end of the world. We will go into exile, preserve our Judaism and wait patiently for the next opportunity.

I recall Menachem Begin, one of the fathers of the vision of Greater Israel. He fought all his life for the fulfillment of that dream. And then, when the gate opened for peace with Egypt, the greatest of our enemies, he gave up Sinai – Egyptian territory three times larger than Israel’s territory inside the Green Line – for the sake of peace. In other words, some values are more sacred than land. Peace, which is the life and soul of true democracy, is more important than land.

I am concerned that large segments of the nation of Israel have forgotten, or put aside, the original vision of Zionism: to establish a Jewish and democratic state for the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. No borders were defined in that vision, and the current defiant policy is working against it.

What can and ought to be done? We need to create an Archimedean lever that will stop the current deterioration and reverse today’s reality at once. I propose creating that lever by using the Arab League’s proposal from 2002, which was partly created by Saudi Arabia. The government must make a decision that the proposal will be the basis of talks with the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The government should do three things as preparation for this announcement: 1) It should define a future negotiating strategy for itself, together with its position on each of the topics included in the Arab League’s proposal. 2) It should open a secret channel of dialogue with the United States to examine the idea, and agree in advance concerning our red lines and about the input that the U.S. will be willing to invest in such a process. 3) It should open a secret American-Israeli channel of dialogue with Saudi Arabia in order to reach agreements with it in advance on the boundaries of the topics that will be raised in the talks and coordinate expectations. Once the secret processes are completed, Israel will announce publicly that it is willing to begin talks on the basis of the Arab League’s document.

I have no doubt that the United States and Saudi Arabia, each for its own reasons, will respond positively to the Israeli initiative, and the initiative will be the lever that leads to a dramatic change in the situation. With all the criticism I have for the Oslo process, it cannot be denied that for the first time in the conflict’s history, immediately after the Oslo Accords were signed, almost every Arab country started talking with us, opened its gates to us and began engaging in unprecedented cooperative ventures in economic and other fields.

Although I am not so naïve as to think that such a process will bring the longed-for peace, I am certain that this kind of process, long and fatiguing as it will be, could yield confidence-building measures at first and, later on, security agreements that both sides in the conflict will be willing to live with. The progress of the talks will, of course, be conditional upon calm in the security sphere, which both sides will be committed to maintaining. It may happen that as things progress, both sides will agree to look into mutual compromises that will promote the idea of coexisting alongside one another. If mutual trust should develop – and the chances of that happening under American and Saudi Arabian auspices are fairly high – it will be possible to begin talks for the conflict’s full resolution as well.

An initiative of this kind requires true and courageous leadership, which is hard to identify at the moment. But if the prime minister should internalize the severity of the mass of threats against us at this time, the folly of the current policy, the fact that this policy’s creators are significant elements in the religious Zionist movement and on the far right, and its devastating results – up to the destruction of the Zionist vision – then perhaps he will find the courage and determination to carry out the proposed action.

I wrote the above statements because I feel that I owe them to my parents, who devoted their lives to the fulfillment of Zionism; to my children, my grandchildren and to the nation of Israel, which I served for decades.

The author is a former director general of the Mossad.  SOURCE

The Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: Unsettling Exceptionalisms

Syracuse University Press recently published a book by Dr. Magid Shihade entitled: “Not Just a Soccer Game: Colonialism and Conflict among Palestinians in Israel - See more at:
Syracuse University Press recently published a book by Dr. Magid Shihade entitled: “Not Just a Soccer Game: Colonialism and Conflict among Palestinians in Israel – See more at:

The US Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel: Unsettling Exceptionalisms

By Sunaina Maira and Magid Shihade on July 16, 2012 0 Comments

On July 1, 2011, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), sent a letter to several scholars at US universities, inviting them to join a historic delegation to Palestine. The letter began:
We invite you to join a delegation that the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) is planning for a trip to Palestine in winter 2012. As you know, solidarity work on the question of Palestine has a long and rich history among academics and cultural workers in the U.S. Our campaign responded to the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott during the brutal assaults on Gaza in 2009 and has been trying to garner support from scholars and cultural workers in the U.S.. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement has been growing rapidly, as the discourse on Palestine shifts in the mainstream public sphere and colleges begin to call for divestment for Israel.
We believe the call to stand on the boycott picket line with Palestinians is a crucial part of our work as academics and activists working for social justice, and against occupation, apartheid, incarceration, warfare, and colonization. As the brutality against the indigenous population of occupied Palestine continues unabated, our mobilization around the boycott becomes even more urgent. In addition to the list of endorsers we have been able to gather (now exceeding 500), we have been a part of several campaigns in the U.S., both related to the academic and cultural boycott, BDS in general, and solidarity campaigns with other communities and movements (see our website for reports and newsletter).
The delegation was one of the most visible campaigns organized by USACBI, which was launched in response to the call for solidarity from Palestinian scholars, intellectuals, and activists. The Palestinian Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) was established in 2004, but it took five years and the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, including the destruction of Palestinian schools and universities, for US scholars to officially call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. There had been several attempts to mobilize around academic boycott during the preceding years, but the massive and well-orchestrated campaigns of censorship and intimidation of those who dared to criticize the Israeli state made the heavy silence around the Palestine question a difficult one to rupture, including for academics. Scholars who challenged Israeli policies and propaganda lost tenure, in some cases, or had to fight to defend themselves against attacks and defamation, often by off-campus groups. The red herring of allegations of anti-Semitism was unleashed indiscriminately so that many scholars, and also artists, simply censored themselves.
This climate began to shift slowly after the horrific violence–including chemical weapons such as white phosphorus–that rained down on hundreds of thousands Palestinians trapped in the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip in winter 2008-09. Operation Cast Lead was one of many wars, and many massacres, that the Israeli settler colonial regime had inflicted in plain sight on its Palestinian subjects, but this 21st century settler colonialism and apartheid was finally becoming more difficult to evade in the U.S., even within the academic portals of the state that funded and legitimized Israel’s military occupation, wars, and racist policies. The Freedom Flotilla that attempted to break the siege of Gaza and Israel’s murder of international aid activists on board the Mavi Marmara in 2009 further fueled global outrage, including among U.S. scholars, about Israel’s exceptional impunity. A small group of scholars who belonged to a network called California Scholars for Academic Freedom began a conversation about organizing an academic and cultural boycott campaign in early 2009, which expanded to include other academics across the nation. The campaign began with a call to academics and cultural workers to endorse the principles of PACBI and to implement an academic and cultural boycott until Israel complied with:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
Yet, despite Israel’s brutal assaults and violations of international human rights law, launching USACBI was not an easy task. In addition to the usual trump card of anti-Semitism that was hurled at the boycott movement, organizers were met with resistance from scholars who thought that it was not the “right moment” to talk about boycott (when is the right time to challenge apartheid and settler colonialism? how many people must be slaughtered or subjected to living death? Among other questions one could ask). Some detractors acknowledged, implicitly, the difficulty of challenging the dominant consensus in the U.S. academy, even as it was slowly crumbling, and it is very likely many were afraid to publicly support the boycott for fear of reprisals and backlash. Other academics argued that it was more “strategic” to focus on divestment, given that such campaigns had already emerged on U.S. campuses, and had been successful at colleges such as Hampshire.
Academic and cultural boycott is one prong of the larger BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, so clearly all tactics and methods can be used simultaneously. Boycott is a tactic that, in essence, acknowledges that all else has failed to stop the targeted state’s violence and violations of human rights and international law, and that international pressure and withdrawal of support from an oppressive regime is the only tool left. Other critics of the boycott asked: why not China [or X repressive regime]? Apart from the fact that there is regular criticism of China’s human rights violations in the US academy and media, and no US scholar has been attacked for criticizing China, let alone denied tenure, the answer is simple: the US does not send billions of dollars of aid and technologies of death to China to aid in colonial and racist policies–nor does it lends its complete diplomatic, economic, and military support to any state other than Israel.
Then, of course, there was the argument about academic boycott as somehow curtailing academic freedom (an argument also used by the AAUP in officially opposing the academic boycott, in the case of Israel). The question USACBI asked in response was: Whose academic freedom? When Palestinian scholars and students face restrictions on movement that block their access to higher education; racial segregation that curtails their mobility and travel for research, conferences, and education abroad; and military violence, illegal detention, and torture, as do all other Palestinians, can there then be “academic freedom” in Palestine-Israel? USACBI insists that it is the academic freedom and the right to education of Palestinian subjects that needs to be foregrounded, but also their right to live a livable life, their right to freedom and the inalienable rights accorded to all humanity. It must be noted here, too, that USACBI, like PACBI, is an institutional boycott and not boycott of individuals, so it does not oppose the freedom of individual scholars to travel to Israel, do research, or engage in conversation or collaboration with Israeli scholars. But the rationale for a boycott of collaboration with and sponsorship from Israeli academic institutions is that these institutions have consistently supported the Israeli state through providing research for its occupation and military apparatus and through general agreement with its policies of displacement and annihilation of Palestinians. Those (few) Israeli scholars who oppose this collusion and these policies, in fact, support the boycott and some have even left Israel. Of course, no such counter-arguments are made when discussing the boycott of the apartheid regime in South Africa. Thus, it is Israel that continues to be treated as an exceptional case–boycotting Israel is taking a stand against the exceptionalism of Israel in the U.S. academy and public sphere.
In this context, many U.S. (and Israeli) scholars have understood that the academy is a key site of contestation over the legitimacy of the Israeli state as a presumably democratic member of the Western family of nations. In fact, as the BDS movement expanded, Zionist think tanks described the boycott as a “strategic threat” to Israel, while others claimed that the academic boycott would only be an “existential” threat if it was endorsed by 500 endorsers. Well, 500 academics eventually signed on in support of USACBI by the spring of 2011, and as the tide of public opinion about Israel-Palestine has begun to shift in the US, so has it slowly shifted in the academy–though not without vicious reprisals by pro-Israel scholars and groups.
Yet, beyond the issue of numbers of signatories to USACBI, it was apparent that there needed to be a shift in the politics of solidarity within the US academy. USACBI had been founded against the grain of censorship and silencing, but many of its endorsers and supporters still struggled with campaigns of defamation and harassment that were relentless, tiring, and diversionary–all intended effects. In 2011, Kēhaulani Kauanui, an indigenous studies scholar and member of USACBI’s Advisory Board, suggested organizing a delegation of scholars to Palestine to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinian scholars and cultural workers, and to bring back a greater knowledge of the struggles in Palestine still missing within the U.S. academy and in the cultural arena. USACBI decided that this would be an important project, politically and also intellectually, that would hopefully help to push further the shift in conversation about Palestine-Israel that was unfolding in U.S. universities, and in particular, to highlight the role of scholars working on issues of colonialism, imperialism, racial statecraft, labor, and feminism.
We were particularly interested in bringing scholars of color and indigenous academics to Palestine, and in fostering a circuit of conversation and collaboration linking these academics and fields to scholars and universities in Palestine. In fact, the USACBI delegation was preceded and followed by a delegation of feminist and indigenous scholars and one comprised of queer scholars, respectively; there is a new paradigm that has emerged that focuses on the colonial and racist nature of the Israeli regime and the need for anticolonial, antiracist, and queer solidarity, specifically. The delegation was thus designed to contribute to a paradigmatic shift that has been taking place in approaches to Israel-Palestine (euphemistically described as a “conflict”), framing it as a problem of settler colonialism and Western, racist modernity.
In response to our invitation to visit Palestine in January 2012, nearly all of the scholars we contacted immediately agreed. A few had to cancel later due to personal reasons, but we were quite stunned by the unwavering commitment of these scholars to the project and the willingness to invest time, energy, and resources to take this trip to Palestine, all for the first time. The delegation was primarily coordinated by Sunaina Maira of USACBI, Rana Barakat and Lisa Taraki of PACBI, and Magid Shihade at Birzeit University in Palestine. The goal of the delegation was not to engage in political tourism to observe the occupation, or “occu-tourism” as it is derisively described, but to meet as many Palestinians as possible engaged in various forms of political and intellectual work and to see different sites of the settler colonial regime and the mechanism of control it inflicts on the native population.
During the six days the delegation spent in Palestine, they met with activists working on the ground such as Jamal Jum’a from Stop the Wall, Sam Bahour from The Right to Entry, Zacharia Odeh from the Jerusalem Civic Coalition, Anan Quzmar from The Right to Education campaign at Birzeit, and Fajr Harb and other young activists working to challenge Israeli limitations on Palestinians’ lives through direct action, such as the Freedom Riders’ campaign. This was a short trip but the scholars were able to travel to Ramallah, Birzeit, East Jerusalem, Bethlehem, al-Khalil (Hebron), and Haifa, as well as refugee camps such as A’ida in Bethlehem. They participated in two seminars with Palestinian scholars, one a public event in Ramallah organized by Muwatin (The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy) and the other in Haifa by Mada Al-Carmel, both research institutions run by Palestinian academics. The delegation also met scholars and administrators at Birzeit University, including the president of Birzeit University, Khalil Hindi; these proved to be important conversations where the participants learned about one another’s research and political work and discussed their experiences as academics working under different conditions.
For example, the meeting at Mada al-Carmel with Palestinian academics, who are citizens of the state of Israel, raised several crucial issues about the academic boycott, some of which also reflect the mood among Palestinians in the West Bank about the utility of this tactic. Some scholars in Haifa suggested a more radical (we would say more accurate) framework for the boycott, emphasizing the need to use the paradigm of settler colonialism and to frame all resistance in relation to the origins of the Israeli settler colonial state in 1948, not just the occupation beginning in 1967. This framework is implicit in the three principles of PACBI and the BDS movement, mentioned above, but scholars in “1948 Palestine” have insisted on the need to foreground settler colonialism and the apartheid nature of the state in discussions of the Palestine question, while the boycott has been framed around rights enshrined in international law. It is not widely known that Palestinians in Israel have suffered a long history of “invisible” occupation, walls, and checkpoints, and also of exclusion from fellow Palestinians as well as from Arab societies given the restrictions on travel posed by their Israeli citizenship. This liminal position, deliberately created by the Israeli settler colonial regime, has meant that they no longer have the economic, academic, cultural, and political ties with Arab societies, for example, with Lebanon and Syria, that they enjoyed prior to 1948. Since the creation of the state that was built on the destruction of their own society, they have lived with the paradox of being “present absentees” in the eyes (and according to the policies) of the state as well as the larger Palestinian and Arab national movement. The meeting in Haifa ended with the hope that the boycott movement would move toward a framework that takes into account the historical structure of the Israeli settler colonial state as embedded in Zionist ideology and practices in Palestine since the early years of the 20th century, and contribute to the growing conversation between Palestinian scholars and academics elsewhere working on settler colonialisms.
The delegation had a glimpse into the everyday difficulties that Palestinians confront, such as restrictions on freedom of movement, enclosure, and interrogation as they traveled through Israeli checkpoints at Qalandia and Bethlehem and saw what it means to live encaged by the Wall. They also met with Palestinians who have suffered from Israeli house demolitions and settler violence and aggression in neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in Jerusalem. In Haifa, they talked to Palestinians who are Israeli citizens but do not have full citizenship, and live with the daily paradox of being citizens of a state that was built on the destruction of their own society, and continue to be treated with contempt and racism by the Israeli establishment, facing multiple forms of discrimination, repression, and exclusion.
The reflections of individual delegation members in their own essays in this volume will shed much more light on their encounters with Palestine and Palestinians, but there are two points we would like to highlight here. One of the themes that emerged from conversations with scholars and local Palestinians was the common experiences of colonialism, imperialism, and racism linking lives and struggles in the U.S. and Israeli regimes. Another was that for some members of the delegation, conditions in Palestine seemed much worse than what they had imagined, and worse than what had occurred under South Africa’s apartheid regime. It is important not to dwell on comparing suffering and parsing its classification, but the delegation was able to see that the Palestine issue is not about deprivation or even poverty as such, but about a modern, racist system of control that is bent on choking the lives of people simply because they are Palestinian–and non-Jews. The presence of Palestinians and natives disturbs the settler colonial structure within the territories colonized in 1948 as well as in 1967. In brief, Palestinian life unsettles the settlers.
Our hope is that scholars from the U.S., and elsewhere, who work in different fields and are engaged in various progressive political movements will continue to travel to Palestine. The issue is not just of witnessing and travel per se but of generating and expanding a political and intellectual space in the U.S. academy and highlighting the racist and dangerous realities of the latest settler colonial technologies in Palestine as implemented by Zionists and Jewish Israelis. These racial and colonial technologies continue to be supported by states in different parts of the West, as well as in the global South, and at this moment they receive  greatest support and legitimation by an older, Western settler colony and empire–the United States. Like many states in the West, the U.S. sees Israel, as does the Israeli establishment, as a Western front in the “non-modern East.” Regimes of racial supremacy have had many victims since the rise of Western colonial modernity, of whom Palestinian natives are just some of the most recent. It is in Palestine that this convergence and collusion of colonial and imperial forces is currently situated. And so it is in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle that one can hope for a growing coalition of resistance so that a different future is possible, not only for Palestinians but for every victim of Western racist modernity, and for those who pay its price even at the center of the declining western Empire–the United States.
USACBI wishes to thank the many individuals and organizations who supported the delegation in various ways and made this trip possible, especially Muwatin (The Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy), for their generous financial support; Zacharia Odeh of the Jerusalem Civic Coalition for arranging travel to Jerusalem and around the West Bank; Morgan Cooper of The Palestinian Writing Workshop for her generous support and able assistance; Dany at the Royal Court Suites Hotel; and the restaurants  (La Vie, Sangria, and Azure) in Ramallah who provided delectable meals.
Top image: Courtesy of the Palestine Poster Project. Artist: Yousef Katalo (2009).


David Grossman: Why? Who died?

Translated by Sol Salbe on Wednesday, 29 February 2012


Last Friday Haaretz did something unusual: it placed an opinion piece on top of its front page.  But it wasn’t just  an ordinary opinion piece, it was written by one of the country foremost novelists, David Grossman. The article, like Emile Zola’s J’accuse, to which it has been compared, was a moral critique. Many who read it were very moved.  But the moral missive never appeared in English (at least to my knowledge). The English Haaretz has always been somewhat reticent in presenting Israel to the world. And of course translating Grossman is not easy, he is a master of the language and the art of writing.
I have no idea whether I have done justice to this work. But it needed to be translated. The message is too important.
*Hebrew original:
*Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia*



Why? Who died?


All said and done  it is merely a minor story about an illegal alien who stole a car, was injured in an accident, then released from hospital to have cops dump him, still injured to die the by the roadside.  What are the building blocks that lead to such an atrocity?


David Grossman


Omar Abu Jariban, a resident of the Gaza Strip, staying illegally in Israel, stole a car and was seriously injured while driving it. He was released from the Sheba Medical Centre while his treatment was still ongoing and handed over to the custody of the Rehovot Police station.  The police were unable to identify him. He himself was bewildered and confused. The Rehovot Police officers decided to get rid of him. According to Chaim Levinson’s account, they loaded him onto a police van at night accompanied by three policemen. He was still attached to a catheter, was wearing an adult nappy [diaper] and a hospital gown. Two days later he was found dead by the roadside.


It’s a minor story. We have already read some like it and others where even worse. And when it is all said and done who is the subject of this story:  an illegal infiltrator, from Rafah and a vehicle thief to boot.  And at any rate it happened as long ago as 2008, there is a statue of limitation to consider. And we have other, fresher, more immediate matters which are more relevant for us to consider. (And beside all that, they started it, we offered them everything and they refused and don’t forget the terrorism.).


Ever since I read the story,  I find it difficult  to breathe the air here:  I keep on thinking about that trip in the police van, as if some part of me  had remained there, bonded  on  permanently and impossible to be prise out.  How precisely did the incident pan out? it? What are the real, banal, tangible elements that coalesced together make up such an atrocity?


From the newspaper I gather that there were three cops there alongside Omar.  Again and again I run the video clip mentally in my head:  Was he sitting like them on the seat or was he lying on the floor of the van? Was he handcuffed or not? Did anybody talk to him? Did they offer him a drink? Did they share a laugh? Did they laugh at him? Did they poke fun at his adult nappy?  Did they laugh at his confusion or at his catheter? Did they discuss what he was capable of while still attached to the catheter or once he would be separated from it?  Did they say that he deserved what was coming? Did they kick him lightly like mates do, or maybe because the situation demanded a swift kick? Or did they just kick him for the heck of it, just because they could, and why not?


Besides, how can someone be discharged just like that from medical treatment at the Sheba Medical Centre?  Who let him out in his condition?  What possible explanation could they put down on the discharge papers which they signed off?


And what happened when the van reached the Maccabim checkpoint [not far from Jerusalem -tr]?

I read in the newspaper that an argument ensued with the Israeli checkpoint commander, and that he refused to accept the patient. Did Omar hear the argument about him from within the van, or did they drag him out of the van and plonked  him in front of the commander, replete with catheter, nappy and hospital gown for a rapid overall assessment by the latter? And the commander said no. And yalla! We are on our way again. So they returned to van, and they kept on going. And now the guys in the van are perhaps not quite as nice before, because it is getting late and they want to get back and wonder what have they done to have deserved copping  this sand nigger and what are they going to do with him now.  If the Maccabim checkpoint rejected him, there was no way in which the Atarot checkpoint will take him. It is now pitch black outside and by the by, while traveling on Route 45, between the Ofer military base to the Atarot checkpoint, a thought or a suggestion pops up.  Perhaps someone said something and nobody argued against, or perhaps someone did argue back but the one who came up with the original suggestion carried more weight. Or perhaps there was no argument, someone said something and someone else felt that this is precisely what needs to be done, and one of them says to the driver, pull over for a moment, not here,  it’s too well lit, stop there. You, yes you, move it, get your arse into gear you piece of shit – thanks to you our van stinks;, you ruined our evening, get going! What do you mean to where?  Go there.


And what happens next? Does Omar remain steady on his feet, or are his legs unable to carry him? Do they leave him on the side of the road, or do physically take him there, and how? Do the haul him? Do they drag him deeper into the field?


You stay here! Do not follow us! Do not move!


And then they return to the car, walking a little bit more briskly, glancing behind their shoulder to ensure that he is not pursuing them. As if he already has something infectious about him. No, not his injury. Something else is already beginning to exude out of him, like bad tidings, or his court sentence. Come on, let’s get going, it’s all over.


And he, Omar Abu Jariban, what did he do then?  Did he merely stand on his own feet or did he suddenly grasp what was happening, and started running and shouting that they should take him with them? And perhaps he did not realise anything, because as we said, he was confused and bewildered, and just stood there on the road or in the field, and saw a road, and a police van driving away. So what did he do? What did he really do?  Started walking aimlessly, with some sort of a vague notion that somehow being a little further away would turn out somewhat better? Or maybe he just sat down and stared blankly in front of him and tried to figure it, but it was clearly beyond his comprehension for he was in no position to understand anything? Or perhaps he lay down and  curled up on the ground and waiting? Why? And whom did he think about? Did he have someone, somewhere, to think about?  Did the thought occur to any of those police officers, at any time during that whole night that there was someone, a man, a woman or a whole family for whom Omar was important? Someone who cared about him? Did it occur to them that it was possible, with a little bit more of an effort to locate this person and hand Omar to them?




Two days later they found his body.  But I have no idea how much time had elapsed from the moment they dumped him by the roadside until he died. Who knows when it dawned on him that this was it; that his body did not have enough strength left to save himself. And even if could have summonsed the energy, he was trapped a situation from which there was no exit, that his short life was about to end here. His brother Mohammed, said by telephone from Gaza, “They simply threw him to the dogs”. And in the newspaper it says, “Horrible as it may sound, the brother accurately described what happened.”  And I read it and the image turns into something real, and I try to wipe that image from my mind.


And in the police van, what happened there after they dumped Omar ? Did they talk among themselves? About what?  Did they fire each other up with hatred and disgust at him, to retrospectively justify what they did?   To justify what in their heart of hearts they knew stood in contrast to something.  Maybe that thing was the law (but the law, they probably imagined, they could handle).  But maybe it was contrary to something deeper, some deeply ingrained memory in them which they found themselves in, many years ago. Maybe it was moral tale or a children’s story  in which the good was good and the bad was bad.  Perhaps one of them recalled something they learnt at school — they did pass through our education system, didn’t they? Let’s say it was S Yizhar’s HaShavuy (The Captive).


Or maybe the three of them pulled out their mobile phones and spoke to the wife, the girlfriend the son. At such times you may want to talk to someone from the outside. Someone who wasn’t here who did not touch this thing.


Or maybe they kept quiet.


No, silence was perhaps a little bit too dangerous at that point. Still, something was beginning to creep up the van’s interior; a sort of a viscous dark sensation, like a terrifying sin, for which there is no forgiveness. Maybe one of them yet did suggest softly, let’s go back. We’ll tell him that we were pulling his leg. We can’t go on like this, dumping a human being.


The paper says: “As a result of the police Internal Affairs investigation, negligent homicide charges were filed in March 2009 against only two of the officers who were involved in dumping and abandoning Abu Jariban.  Evidence has yet to be submitted in a trial of the pair but in the meantime, one of the two accused has been promoted.”


I know that they do not represent the police. Nor do they represent our society or the state. It’s only a handful or bad apples, or unwelcomed weeds.  But then I think about a people which has dumped a whole other nation on the side of the road and has backed the process to the hilt over 45 years, all the while having not a bad life at all, thank you.  I think about a people which has been engaging in a brilliant genius-like denial of its own responsibility for the situation. I  think of a people, which has managed to ignore the warping and distorting of its own society and the madness that the process has had on its own national values. Why should such a people get all excited over a single such Omar?

Blue Planet Project in Solidarity with LifeSource’s Call for BDS of Israel

14 March 2012

(The Maia Mural Brigade co-created this mural at a school in the besieged Gaza Strip)

(PRESS RELEASE) Blue Planet, an international civil society movement begun by the well-respected Council of Canadians, has published a [16 page] LifeSource report on The Human Right to Water in Palestine outlining Israeli violations of the human right to water and nonviolent resistance to these violations, recommending the boycott of Israel.

In this report written by local experts and grassroots activists who are a part of the Palestinian LifeSource collective, we learn that Israel has been found guilty by independent UN bodies of violations of the human right to water, but these findings have not led to any improvement in the condition of Palestinians on the ground.

In fact, Israeli violations have been increasing.  Israel is demolishing Palestinian water and sanitation infrastructure, cutting water to Palestinian communities and using military force to prevent Palestinians from drilling wells and accessing their fair share of transboundary water resources.  Israel is drilling deep wells in the West Bank in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and exploiting underground water resources from deep wells inside of Israel in violation of its commitments under Oslo.

The authors make a compelling case for boycott, divestment and sanctions as a nonviolent means to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinians human right to water and sanitation.

“It is the recommendation of this report that global citizens continue boycott, divestment and sanctions and other forms of resistance that are proving successful in building a global movement, with the aim of generating a global consensus around defying Israel’s illegal restrictions on Palestinian water and sanitation development.”

Blue Planet is a leader in the global water justice movement.  This report marks an important landmark in the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

Blue Planet is active with local organizations and activists working on grassroots struggles to protect democratic, community control of water, and building a movement to secure an international treaty on the Right to Water.  The founder of this project, Maude Barlow, served as Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

LifeSource is a Palestinian collective working at the grassroots level, both locally and internationally, to grow a popular movement for Palestinian water rights by raising public awareness of water rights violations, promoting successful strategies of non-violent resistance, and connecting popular movements locally and globally in support of Palestinian water rights.

For more information:

<p>Filling Point (by LifeSource and Pietro Bellorini) from Life Source on Vimeo.</p>

Israeli Physicians Complicit in Apartheid System of Human Rights Abuses

O.A., 25, a Palestinian from the village of al-Maasara, a day after his release by Israeli forces on 23 March 2010. He had been arrested and beaten for several hours. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

(UPDATE 20 July 2012): The PACBI is asking the  World Psychiatric Association – Transcultural Psychiatry Section (WPA-TPS) to change the location of its 1st International Conference on Cultural Psychiatry in Mediterranean Countries, which is planned to take place in Israel in November 2012.  See  World Psychiatric Association: Enabling Israeli Apartheid?  at

How do physicians treat their patients in Israel?  What if you are imprisoned in Israel for political reasons?  Would you have the right to expect fair unbiased treatment from a doctor, who was examining you after you had been put through torture?  The following report is a wake up call to the realities of what is happening today in Israel.  Medical professionals from the international community should be interested in this aspect of Israel’s system that creates very dismal outcomes for patients.  

The English translation of the 60 page report “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim – The involvement of medical professionals in torture and ill treatment in Israel”  is now available online.

The report asserts what we all know to be true, that it is a doctor’s duty to actively oppose torture they have witnessed:

 “Our experience on this matter is unequivocal: medical professionals are indeed among those working for the authorities who interact with prisoners and take .part in what goes on in the prison system and the interrogation rooms Medical professionals abandon their duty by failing to document and report torture; by passing on medical information to interrogators; returning interrogees to the custody of their interrogators when in danger of being exposed to further torture or ill-treatment; and in extreme cases, by taking an active part in the interrogation. Because of their unique social status, the presence of medical professionals in facilities where torture or ill-treatment are carried out indicates the boundary between the permissible and the impermissible; it grants ISA interrogators a stamp of approval, whether explicit or tacit, that .their conduct is acceptable Such behavior by doctors has far-reaching consequences for the victims of torture or ill-treatment: not only do medical professionals fail to serve as effective recourse for victim’s complaints of injuries inflicted upon them by their interrogators or other authorities; their conduct furthermore precludes the victim from presenting evidence which can aid in pursuing justice through various legal and administrative proceedings.” (p. 54 ‘Summary and Conclusions”)


The findings show that Israeli medical professionals are often silent in the face of injuries and wounds which they detect or which victims who have been interrogated report to them.  In many instances they fail to fulfill their obligation as professionals to fully document physical and psychological harm experienced by the victim of torture or ill-treatment.
Doctors are obligated to do everything in their power to ensure that their patient (political  prisoner or otherwise) who has been subjected to torture or ill-treatment not be returned to a place where torture may recur.
Unfortunately, according to the evidence in the report, not only do these Israeli doctors not document or report the torture their assigned patients have suffered, they actually return the victim to the hands of the torturers, often after half heartedly treating or documenting the torture or ill-treatment – sometimes without even this.
The central document relating to the prohibition against doctors’ participation in torture or ill-treatment is the World Medical Association’sTokyo Declaration (1975), which states



1. The physician shall not countenance, condone or participate in the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading procedures, whatever the offense of which the victim of such procedures is suspected, accused or guilty, and whatever the victim’s beliefs or motives, and in all situations, including armed conflict and civil strife.


2. The physician shall not provide any premises, instruments, substances or knowledge to facilitate the practice of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or to diminish the ability of the victim to resist such treatment.


3. When providing medical assistance to detainees or prisoners who are, or who could later be, under interrogation, physicians should be particularly careful to ensure the confidentiality of all personal medical information. A breach of the Geneva Conventions shall in any case be reported by the physician to relevant authorities.


The physician shall not use nor allow to be used, as far as he or she can, medical knowledge or skills, or health information specific to individuals, to facilitate or otherwise aid any interrogation, legal or illegal, of those individuals.

4. The physician shall not be present during any procedure during which torture or any other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is used or threatened.

5. A physician must have complete clinical independence in deciding upon the care of a person for whom he or she is medically responsible. The physician’s fundamental role is to alleviate the distress of his or her fellow human beings, and no motive, whether personal, collective or political, shall prevail against this higher purpose.

6. Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician. The consequences of the refusal of nourishment shall be explained by the physician to the prisoner.

7. The World Medical Association will support, and should encourage the international community, the National Medical Associations and fellow physicians to support, the physician and his or her family in the face of threats or reprisals resulting from a refusal to condone the use of torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Documentation was obtained showing negligence on the part of the physician in the following case but the majority of violations by physicians go unreported.
J.M., born 1980, from Jenin, was arrested on 22.4.10. His affidavit testifies to widespread violence at the time of his arrest. Soldiers broke into his bedroom and began to beat him, using their guns. One of the soldiers seized his arm so violently that his shoulder was dislocated. J.M. lost consciousness and woke to find himself in a clinic; where, he did not know. According to his affidavit, he was then transferred to Kishon Detention Center, brought to the clinic there and told the doctors what had happened to him. In his medical file, under the title “Initial Absorption”, the detention center doctor noted that J.M. suffered from pain in the right shoulder. Yet there is documentation neither of his having been unconscious at this or any other clinic, nor of his claims of soldier violence.

The subject of torture in Israeli prisons is well known.  A google search yields over 23,000,000 results.  It is time for physicians of conscience to hold Israeli physicians accountable.  Women and children are not exempt from torture.  An alarming investigation by the Electronic Intifada in July of 2011 shows how Palestinian children are tortured:

Sleep-deprived and suffering from a broken leg, 16-year-old M.H. endured days of torture at the hands of Israeli soldiers and police officers, who punched him repeatedly in the face and abdomen, shoved needles into his hand and leg and threatened the Palestinian teenager with sexual abuse.

Addameer’s Sahar Francis told the EI:

“It’s very hard to say that you can reach justice in this [Israeli military court] system. And the case of M.H. (above)  is a very good example to see how the court always believes the soldiers and the police officers who collect the confessions and don’t trust what the detainees have to say,” “Most of the cases, even if you exhaust the whole procedures, wouldn’t end up in favor of the detainees,” she added. “We can say that there’s more than 95 percent of conviction at the end, whether it’s through plea bargains or exhausting the system. Most of the prisoners prefer plea bargains because they don’t trust the system. Why waste the time and put all these efforts?”
“The solution for this is ending the occupation, putting an end to the occupation, which means Israel is not allowed to arrest Palestinians and prosecute them in their military courts. And they are then supposed to release all the Palestinian political prisoners from the Israeli prisons, where they are held illegally,”
“What’s very important is to put an end to this impunity when it comes to torture of Palestinian political prisoners. This is a big demand of the Palestinian human rights NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], [and] the international community should find a way to put an end to the Israeli immunity in torture and not just in torture but all of the other violations of international law.”