From the Belly of the Beast: An Inside look into the Israeli Justice System

Looking mighty dangerous from where I'm standing..

“Sorry baby, I won’t be able to make it tonight, I’m in the police van.” A sentence every Israeli pro-Palestinian activist will utter soon enough, just as I have, this Friday afternoon. Already 70 activists have been wrongfully arrested during the weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah, under the charges that we riot, conduct unlicensed demonstrations and assault officers.

Demonstrating in Israel 2010
Our day started at Al-Ma’asara village, where the army has escalated its repression of the local popular struggle [1,2]. Fortunately, this week’s demonstration was as calm as a demonstration can be, when you’re surrounded by hostile armed forces, and we were relieved that there were no incidents out of the ordinary occupation. (Unfortunately, the one week I don’t go to Bil’in, an escalation occurs, and I wasn’t there alongside my friends.) The protest was kept short and we all hopped in the cars to get to Sheikh Jarrah.

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This is what the Only Democracy in the Middle East Looks Like

This Friday, International Human Rights Day was marked for the first time in Israel. In Tel-Aviv, some 5000 people marched in a general human-rights march. It was a quiet event that was covered very favorably and widely by the press. What wasn’t being covered by the press? The second March to Sheikh Jarrah, which ended up with 24 arrests and one demonstrator in the hospital.

Putting Sheik Jarrah in Context
In 1875- Ottoman times- the Committee of the Sephardic Ethnic Group bought these lands. There was a small Jewish community living there until they gradually started fleeing, during the violence, in the area, during the 1920’s and 30’s and up until 1948. From 1948 to 1967, the land was under Jordanian control. At that time, 28 Palestinian refugee families were given lodging on this land by the Jordanian government, under the condition that they give up their UNRWA benefits and pay symbolic rent, for three years, by which time the houses will be passed under their names. The last part never happened.

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A fight for the Amazon that should inspire the world

“The uprising in the Amazon is more urgent than Iran’s”, writes Johann Hari of The Independent – “it will determine the future of the planet.” Hyperboles aside, this is truly an excellent piece of journalism. The silence and lack of solidarity from the ‘left’ in the West for the heroic struggles for survival of indigenous peoples throughout Latin America in the face of brutal political and economic repression is “shaming” indeed. “These people had nothing” writes Hari “but they stood up to the oil companies. We have everything, yet too many of us sit limp and passive, filling up our tanks with stolen oil without a thought for tomorrow. The people of the Amazon have shown they are up for the fight to save our ecosystem. Are we?” Let’s see how things shape up during this week’s G8 summit in Italy but the prospects for a revival of the faltering alter-globalisation movement seem rather bleak, according to Ben Trott. (Also, have a look at Belen’s excellent piece on recent events in Peru, if you haven’t already.)

While the world nervously watches the uprising in Iran, an even more important uprising has been passing unnoticed – yet its outcome will shape your fate, and mine.

In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, the poorest people in the world have taken on the richest people in the world to defend a part of the ecosystem none of us can live without. They had nothing but wooden spears and moral force to defeat the oil companies – and, for today, they have won.

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The Israel democracy fraud

Samieh Jabarin, Um al Fahm, February 2009
Samieh Jabbarin, Um al Fahm, February 2009

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:
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‘These colours don’t run’

From Colombian painter Francisco Boteros series depicting US abuse of Iraqi detainees.
From Colombian painter Fernando Botero's series depicting US abuse of Iraqi detainees.

Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram are well known. Less so the police detention centers where the innocents caught in the ‘war on terror’ dragnet were subjected to similar abuses. Inigo Thomas reveals:

In his remarks to the American Enterprise Institute last week, Dick Cheney said that inmates at Guantánamo should remain imprisoned on Cuba because they are too dangerous to be incarcerated in American jails. What about the Americans arrested and jailed under the terms of the war on terror? Should they be incarcerated on Cuba, or does Cheney suppose that Americans are, regardless of what they have done, inherently less dangerous than other people and therefore don’t need to be jailed at Guantánamo?

Nor – surely – can Cheney have forgotten that immediately after 9/11, hundreds of men were rounded up by the FBI and other police forces in the US and imprisoned in high security American jails: 760 in total, 184 of whom were considered especially interesting by the authorities. Just over half of them were interred at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, a former warehouse on the waterfront overlooking the harbour and the Statue of Liberty. The story was covered by the New York Times, but it was treated, mostly, as local news and carried in the ‘New York Region’ section of the paper.

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Yet Another Bogus ‘Terror’ Plot

James Cromitie after his arrest on charges of plotting terror acts.
James Cromitie after his arrest on charges of plotting terror acts.

Pop goes another ‘terror plot’. Robert Dreyfuss reports: (UPDATE: Dreyfuss follows up here)

By the now, it’s maddeningly familiar. A scary terrorist plot is announced. Then it’s revealed that the suspects are a hapless bunch of ne’er-do-wells or run-of-the-mill thugs without the slightest connection to any terrorists at all, never mind to Al Qaeda. Finally, the last piece of the puzzle: the entire plot is revealed to have been cooked up by a scummy government agent-provocateur.

I’ve seen this movie before.

In this case, the alleged perps — Onta Williams, James Cromitie, David Williams, and Laguerre Payen — were losers, ex-cons, drug addicts. Al Qaeda they’re not. Without the assistance of the agent who entrapped them, they would never have dreamed of committing political violence, nor would they have had the slightest idea about where to acquire plastic explosives or a Stinger missile. That didn’t stop prosecutors from acting as if they’d captured Osama bin Laden himself. Noted the Los Angeles Times:
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‘Work for us or we will say you are a terrorist’

Mohamed Aden, 25, who was approached by a fake postman
Mohamed Aden, 25, who was approached by a fake postman (TERI PENGILLEY)

Robert Verkaik, Law Editor for the Independent reveals ‘How MI5 blackmails British Muslims‘.

Five Muslim community workers have accused MI5 of waging a campaign of blackmail and harassment in an attempt to recruit them as informants.

The men claim they were given a choice of working for the Security Service or face detention and harassment in the UK and overseas.

They have made official complaints to the police, to the body which oversees the work of the Security Service and to their local MP Frank Dobson. Now they have decided to speak publicly about their experiences in the hope that publicity will stop similar tactics being used in the future.

Intelligence gathered by informers is crucial to stopping further terror outrages, but the men’s allegations raise concerns about the coercion of young Muslim men by the Security Service and the damage this does to the gathering of information in the future.

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