[A-List] A 'Police State' Celebrates
critical.montages at gmail.com
Mon Jan 19 17:03:34 MST 2009
MIDEAST: A 'Police State' Celebrates
By Nora Barrows-Friedman
JERUSALEM, Jan 19 (IPS) - The Israeli government is stepping up
efforts to suppress dissent and crush resistance in the streets.
Police have been videotaping the demonstrations and subsequently
arresting protesters in large numbers.
According to Israeli police reports, at least 763 Israeli citizens,
the majority of them Palestinian and 244 under 18 years old, have been
arrested, imprisoned or detained for participating in such
demonstrations. Most have been held and then released, but at least 30
of those arrested over the past three weeks are still being held in
Ameer Makhoul, director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community-Based
Associations in Haifa, tells IPS that these demonstrations "are part
of the uprising here inside the Green Line, to share responsibility
and to share the challenge with the people in the Gaza strip."
As an organiser of many of these solidarity demonstrations inside
Israel, Makhoul himself was arrested by the Shin Bet (the Israeli
secret service). "They called me, came to my home and held me for four
hours," he tells IPS. "They accused me of being a terrorist and
supporting terror. They said that they are watching me and monitoring
me." Israel, he said, "has become a terror state."
The Shin Bet has accused Makhoul and the hundreds of others arrested
of "being a rebel, threatening the security of the State of Israel
during war time."
Makhoul believes that such threats are being implemented by Israel's
security forces "(in order to) break our will and the spirit of our
people. But I think our spirit is much, much stronger here in Haifa
and in Gaza than the Israeli oppression."
On Jan. 15, a Haaretz-Dialog public opinion poll taken in Israel found
that 82 percent of the Israeli population believes that Israel did not
go too far in its three-week operation in Gaza, "despite pictures from
Gaza depicting massive destruction and a large number of wounded and
killed, including women and children," reports Haaretz.
At a demonstration last week in front of Kishon prison north-east of
Haifa, where some of the Palestinian demonstrators are being held,
Israeli anarchist and professor of mathematics Kobi Snitz tells IPS
that this figure is indicative of the current social climate inside
"People are made to be afraid. Virtually all Israelis, particularly
Israeli Jews, are convinced that Hamas was the one that violated the
ceasefire. This just isn't true...(But) you won't find this in the
Israeli media. There is no understanding of the level of violence used
on Gaza by the Israeli military. And the police operate under the
assumption and guidelines that every political expression now is to be
repressed and prevented."
IPS asked Snitz to describe the momentum of these daily protests
across the country. "These demonstrations happened virtually by
themselves," he says. "At this point, anybody who is not severely
indoctrinated or ignorant just feels compelled to do something every
day. It's unbearable to sit at home and not do anything."
Last Saturday night in the coastal town of Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv,
several thousand demonstrators - including Palestinians, various peace
groups, Israeli anarchists and teenaged Israeli refusniks fresh from
jail for refusing to serve in the mandatory military - marched through
the main street in the old city with flags, banners, and vociferous
determination to keep up the fight inside Israeli society against
their government's lethal operations in Gaza. Israeli security forces,
carrying weapons and video cameras, heavily flanked the protesters.
But activists say it is crucial to expand the discussion from this
current struggle for Palestinians inside the Gaza strip outward into
the larger context. "I'm here to take a stand for Gaza," Mahmood Jreri
of the acclaimed Palestinian hip-hop group DAM, based in Lydd (east of
Tel Aviv), tells IPS during the march.
"The main reason (I'm here) is to say that we are not part of what the
Israeli government is doing. The Palestinian people are fighting for
their freedom and fighting against the occupation. When Palestinians
have their freedom, then there will be peace here." (END/2009)
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