Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children: A Play for Gaza, is due to be performed in Israel and directed by Samieh Jabbarin. Jabbarin is a Palestinian citizen of Israel political prisoner, and he will direct the play via telephone. Seldom one hears about the conditions of the Palestinians living in what is considered to be Israel. Jabbarin’s case illustrates the fraud implied by the term “Israeli democracy” or, even worse, “Jewish democracy”.
Jabbarin was imprisoned because he was demonstrating against the appointment of a notorious Jewish fascist as election observer in Um al Fahm, a Palestinian city in Israel. A petition on Jabbarin’s case demonstrates the Kafkaesque nature of what passes for “democracy” and “justice” in Israel:
Samieh Jabbarin, 41-years old, a citizen of Israel native of Um al Fahm, is a theater and film director. He was professionally and academically trained in Germany and is currently completing his Masters degree at the Theater Arts Department of Tel Aviv University. Upon his return to his native country, he settled in Jaffa and, among other things, engaged in the struggle against the current wave of attempts to evict Arab-Palestinian residents. Samieh is also active in the Abna al Balad movement and was among the organizers of last year’s Haifa conference on the Right of Return and a secular democratic state. Last December he helped organize public mourning rallies and non-violent protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.
In January 2009, Samieh was warned by the Security Services that a way will be found to punish him for this civil and political activity. The opportunity presented itself on February 10th, general election day in Israel. A group of extreme rightist fanatics announced their intention to serve as official monitors of the voting process in Um al Fahm, second largest Arab city in Israel. Samieh, a native of this town, joined residents in a protest demonstration. He was arrested along with a fellow-resident minutes after the event began. On the very next day – in unprecedented haste – detailed charges were presented at the Hadera court against him for supposedly assaulting the Chief of the Northern Border Patrol, Commander Uri Mor-Yossef.
All attempts to disprove and deny such outright deception have been in vain. The open ‘secret’ is that Israeli police video-document all demonstrations and arrests. In this case, however, no evidence was produced beyond the police officer’s own statement.
Samieh was held prisoner in Kishon Prison under harsh conditions for seventeen days, and following a legal struggle, was transferred to strict house-arrest at his parents’ home in Um al Fahm. Two family members must be with him at all times, and an electronic shackle is attached to his ankle. Officially, this ruling is in force “until the end of the legal proceedings”. These proceedings, however, have come to a strange near-halt: in sharp contrast to the speed with which it charged him, the system is in no hurry to expose the prosecution’s evidence at an open trial. The prosecution “forgot” to summon Samieh and his attorneys to the indictment last month. Consequently, another indictment has been set for April 27th and who knows how many months will elapse until the trial itself.
Thus, Samieh Jabbarin is denied access to his creative work, his studies, and his normal living environment. His fate also serves as a blatant warning to intimidate other social and political activists
This article by Aviva Lori describes Jabbarin’s case and his current house imprisonment conditions. One can further read a letter by Jabbarin about the nature of Israeli society and its political system.