My provocative question to the panel at “Israel tortures Palestinian children” event.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Mohammed Abu al Reesh, Bernard Regan at SOAS last night.

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Mohammed Abu al Reesh, Bernard Regan at SOAS last night.

Last night I asked a provocative question. At SOAS Palestine Society’s Palestinian Child Prisoners: How the Israeli military criminalises a generation I asked Mohammed Abu al Reesh and Ayed Abu Eqtaish what they would like to say to the family of Asher Palmer and his son, one year old Yonatan, both killed when a rock thrown by a Palestinian smashed through the windscreen of the car in which Asher was driving his little boy.

I know it was a “provocative question” because Bernard Regan, who was chairing the meeting, prefaced my question by instructing his audience not to respond to questioners “even if the question seems provocative” but to leave it to the panel to respond.

My “provocative question” was in response to Abu al Reesh, an ex-rock-thrower-turned-journalist, who is on a UK wide tour speaking about his time in Israeli prisons, and Abu Eqtaish, who works for Defence For Children International Palestine Section.

Mohammed Abu al Reesh now works for Al Quds newspaper, but when he was 15 years old he was approached by an Israeli army jeep during a curfew. He claims he was beaten up and so threw stones at the jeep in response. He said he was then arrested at 3am in the night, handcuffed, placed in a military vehicle under the feet of Israeli soldiers and taken away.

He alleged that during his first interrogation he was punched, slapped and threatened with sexual harassment by means of using a stick. During transfers between detention centres he was tied by his arms to the roof of the vehicle.

On reaching Atzion detention centre near Hebron, he continued, he was pushed down the stairs and was put in a small cell with 12 people in it. The cell, he said, had a bad smell and dirty mattresses and inmates were only allowed to go to the toilet once a day and had to use plastic bottles to pee in for the remainder of the day. Food, he said, was little and of poor quality consisting mainly of food left uneaten by Israeli soldiers.

Eventually he reached a plea bargain and spent 28 months in Damon prison near Haifa and by the end of his prison term he said he had skin problems and was weak physically. The good news, he said, was that he could sit his High School exams while in prison and scored a mark of 72. Two weeks after his release he enrolled at Al Quds University where he studied journalism for four years.

Within a year of leaving university he was working for Al Quds newspaper where he covers the arrest of children. And now he’s here on a UK wide speaking tour.

Next, Ayed Abu Eqtaish claimed that Israeli interrogators use psychological torture techniques on children in order to try to extract proper confessions. These include lengthy spells of solitary confinement after which a child will become “eager for human contact” and, therefore, more likely to confess. They also include, he said, threats of sexual abuse, threats to throw the child out of a window and threats made against members of the child’s family.

Abu Eqtaish said there is no point complaining because the Israeli authorities always close any case they open on the basis that there is “no cooperation from the child or the family”. He said that 60% of prosecutions are for stone throwing and there is a 99.74% conviction rate overall.

I was barracked from the moment I entered the lecture theatre to the moment I left it, with one woman screaming “Why is he here?”

I wasn’t barracked by students though. You see, despite it being a student society event there were hardly any students in the 70 strong audience, which seemed to consist mainly of teachers who were members of the NUT.

Bernard Regan, who chaired the event, is Trade Union Officer for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a leading figure in the Socialist Teachers Alliance.

Kirri Tunks, who also spoke, belongs to the East London Teachers Association. She was there last night to urge people to sign a pledge ensuring “the rights of Palestinian children”. I was there, yes, but at least I’m a SOAS alumnus, and a proud one.

A father had even brought his young son, who could not have been more than 10 years old. The young boy heard a woman in the audience make the allegation that when she had recently visited Hebron stones had been thrown at her by Israeli “settlers” while some of her friends had “faeces and urine thrown at them”.

With a room full of teachers, Abu Eqtaish who works for an organisation dedicated to child welfare and Abu al Reesh who has been able to make something positive out of his teenage rock-throwing and imprisonment I was hoping, although not expecting, that someone might have at least a word of sympathy for the family of one year old Yonatan Palmer, who now lies in his tiny grave because of another Palestinian rock-thrower.

And so I asked Abu al Reesh  and Abu Eqtaish my “provocative question”. This was Abu Eqtaish’s whole and sole response:

“This question should be directed to the Israeli government who broke international law by bringing 500,000 illegal settlers into occupied Palestinian territories. Their existence in the occupied territories is illegal, so the family of the child should sue the Israeli government for what was done against them.”

As for Mohammed Abu al Reesh, ex-rock-thrower-turned-journalist, he remained silent and just gave a long, chilling stare.

I’m still trying to work out which of these two responses is more despicable.

35 responses to “My provocative question to the panel at “Israel tortures Palestinian children” event.

  1. As always Richard, well done for tackling these creeps and calling them out. We all know their is no human feeling from these people – the blinkers are on and staying there.

  2. starofdavidscotland

    I had a very similar experience. We MUST confront Jewhate liars at every turn They don’t like FACTS

  3. Richard, oy! I can’t think of a more unpleasant mission than the missions you take on. The journalist of course knows the truth, just as the Hamas PM knows the truth (and therefore sent his grand-daughter to the Zionist enemy for medical treatment). And my guess is that the wildly pro-Palestinian factions in the west either know the truth or don’t want to because it’s so comfy being anti-Zionist. This way they can just hate the Jews, especially that Jew who comes to ask provocative questions. But we, and the forces of Good, Decency and Kindness in the world, love you 🙂

    • Leonie, I agree. These people know the truth and ignore it. Richard Millett, I salute you. Please watch your back near these horrid people!

  4. Not provocative, but totally irrelevant. And it’s only the settlers in the occupied territories who claim that the poor Palmers were killed by stone-throwers. Other evidence suggests it was just another road accident.

  5. Despicable comment . Go play with your friends at JSF

  6. I applaud your bravery in entering a room filled with hate fuelled disgusting people. It is so important to face them down and tell the truth. Evil needs an organisation, good honest people generally just get on with it.

  7. Mere presence of Jews in Judea Samaria is thus a criminal offence deserving death penalty, according to the guy. Fortunately, Israel does not apply the same rule to Arabs living in Israel.
    That shows the total lack of morals of the Pals and their supporters. If confirmation was needed.

  8. well done Richard

  9. Well, just be coincidence, I saw today on Twitter that a well-known Israeli leftie had this to say when he sustained a head injury from a rock thrown by a Palestinian:
    “Daniel Seidemann‏@DanielSeidemann
    Was bound to happen, & today it did. Got hit in the head by a rock when in E. Jerusalem. Got off easy: minor head trauma, a few stitiches.”

    Of course, if a Palestinian had been hurt like this by a rock thrown by a settler, it might be on tomorrow’s NYT front page…

    One of his comrades tweeted this in response:
    “Mira Bar-Hillel ‏@mirabarhillel 2h
    @DanielSeidemann It’s the IDF bullets you need to watch out for… but a cycling helmet could be a good idea.”

    • Looks like a dialogue from Latma TV. LOL!

    • Both daniel seidemann‏ and mira bar-hillel should get hit in the head by rocks thrown by their savage pals. It might wake them up, but somehow I don’t think it would.

  10. I worked with Danny 30 years ago on a Ramah camp. He is an extremely personable highly intelligent “self-hating” Jew. I wish him a full and speedy recovery that he may quickly return to his important life task of ratting out his brethren.

    In short, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke.

    • Sarcasm aside Daniel , your comment opens up an interesting topic
      What does the Talmud say regarding wishing a speedy recovery to a Jewish enemy of our people . Do we still have rachmunas and wish it nevertheless less , or do we omit a Refia Shelamah
      I ask that as I have been to Brighton recently and encountered Greenstein still pressing the Israel destruct button but appearing desperately ill which I heard from others was the case . I’ve had numerous run ins with him . He has worked tirelessly for most of his life for the destruction of the Jewish state which means his fellow Jew . I could not bring myself to wish him our traditional recovery prayer , possibly even wishing him instead in the heat of the moment something which might expedite his demise . Does that damn me or is it understandable . Would really appreciate an opinion

  11. Hi Harvey,

    There is a Midrash that tells of how the angels were celebrating when they saw Egypt and his army drowning in the sea. G-d admonished them. “The labor of my hands is drowning in the sea and you are singing songs?!”

    These were a nation that had enslaved, persecuted and murdered the Jewish People, but G-d mourned their demise. It is also the reason why during most of the festival of Passover we are not allowed to sing the full Hallel – a song of joy that praises G-d. As Jews we pray for the end of evil, not of evil people. For them we pray that they return to their true selves.

    I wish Tony Greenstein a full and speedy recovery and a long life. If he were my brother, I would immediately forget anything he had ever said or done and do anything I could to help him. He is my brother and yours too.

    • As we say, several times, during Neilah: “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

    • As I recall it is obligatory for all to hear parsha zocha, and for very good reason.
      The problem is that Jews rehabilitate their enemies in the mistaken belief that they will receive gratitude, when, as we have seen, the opposite is true.

      • Believe me Tosca I did the IDF course on distinguishing between friend and foe more than 30 years ago, but I still remember its main points. Left wing Jews were not among the latter.

        Regarding “parsha zocha” (sic); if you’re referring to Parshat Zachor, you’e quite right. So, if you find come up proof that Tony Greenstein is of the seed of Amalek or if you can persuade G-d to replace the term “Amalek” with “Anyone with whom Tosca disagrees”, give us a bell,

      • Pseudo-religious Jews didn’t create Israel and fortunately, Israel can resist to their most foolish theories.
        Antisemitic Jews (not “self-hating”) are a known phenomenon. Wishing them well is nuttery. I just don’t care what happen to them, as I didn’t care what happened to Arafat.

      • Tosca – I think you mean “attempt to rehabilitate their enemies”. Leave out the words “attempt to” (which imply failure”) and you are left with a successful rehabilitation. If the rehabilitation is successful, gratitude will indeed be the result.

    • I wish for tony greenstein what he wishes for Israel.

  12. Yup Shimona. You took the words from my mouth.

    There is a story of a famous Torah sage who was informed next to whom he would sit in the world to come. He received a name and address and set out to meet this man.

    On reaching the man’s village he was shocked to meet an incredibly obese creature whose only interest in life appeared to be in stuffing his face with food. He reasoned, “What was my evil that I must spend eternity with a wicked man like this?” Finally, in desperation he asked the man why he was so fat.

    “Well,” he replied “that’s a long story. Many years ago when I was just a boy I was walking with my father from synagogue and we were set upon by anti-Semites. I ran and hid, but they caught my father and tied him to a tree. Then they decided to burn him to death. My father was a small thin man and I watched as they lit the flames. The fire lasted a few minutes only and he was a tiny pile of ashes.

    And on that day I determined that I would eat and eat. I’d become fatter and fatter. I would be the fattest Jew in the world. And one day when those anti-Semites come for me my flame won’t be small. It will be a great and enormous fire and the whole world will see its light and see that a Jew is burning”

    The sage looked into the skies and prayed to G-d, “May it be your will that I might sit beside that righteous Jew in heaven!”

    The point is that I don’t know what Tony Greenstein has done in his life for whom. I know that her believes in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and the Workers’ Revolution and these seem to us to be hopelessly outdated and even absurd, but it’s hard to believe that they are not inspired by an, albeit misguided, wish to repair the world. He also tries to help the unemployed of Brighton and I doubt that this is motivated by greed or evil either.

    He has written some very silly things about Israel and Zionism too, though I doubt anyone would argue that he’s actually harmed her in any way – “Not for want of trying”, you might say, so I’ll judge him by the results of his actions instead. In fact, you know what, maybe I won’t judge him at all. For that he has a Maker who doesn’t need me to do his job for him.

    However, if He asks me if I prefer a healthy Tony Greenstein fighting his terrible battle against the State of Israel (though few of us here even know that he exists) or a sick and weak Tony Unable to do so, I’ll take the former any day.

    Get well soon and G-d bless you, my “foe”, my brother!

    • The Torah sage you mention was, I believe, none other than the Ba’al Shem Tov and the story is told in the Israeli musical “Once there was a Hassid” (“Ish Hassid Haya” – איש חסיד היה), in the song: “The Ba’al Shem Tov’s neighbour”. Somewhat off-topic but a great song and very moving, none the less.

  13. Firstly, I should distinguish between Danny Seidemann and Tony Greenstein. My original comment was regarding the former and then Harvey asked my opinion regarding the latter.

    I have not spoken to Danny in many years and he was briefly my boss, not my friend. He immigrated to Israel as a Zionist does 40 years ago, served as a major in the IDF and brought up a family in Jerusalem. His views have always been Left – based among other reasons on his belief in the demographic infeasibility of maintaining Israeli control of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem because of his doubts as to the likelihood of any more great immigrations of Diaspora Jews. I do believe in such a possibility and for this and many other reasons categorically disagree with him.

    However, I have no doubt as to the virtuousness of his intentions and while I believe that the peace deal he wishes could be potentially disastrous to the future of the Jewish People, he doubtlessly thinks no less fervently that my continuing “settling” of Judea and Samaria is threatening to the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish State and a democracy. Both these viewpoints are legitimate and together with many others form a dialogue that is taking place in Israeli society. The Israeli Left and Right are not enemies, but brothers who disagree and while doing so we live together, work together, love together and occasionally fight together and die together too. I pray that we should never need to fight and die together again, but believe with a perfect faith that should this G-d forbid happen, we will always be on the same side.

    Tony Greenstein is a wholly different kettle of fish. He is a Diaspora Jew whose blog attests to a deep hatred of Zionism as well as a no less terrible ignorance regarding the State of Israel today. One only has to read his latest posting which describes us Israel in a terribly dangerous state of anarchy with all of us fleeing to Germany to understand that how detestation and abhorrence can cause a not unintelligent mind to lose its capacity for logic and common sense. Tony has effectively rejected his past and his heritage by marrying a non-Jew and bringing up his children as atheists – like himself. His hatred of Judaism and Israel are irretrievably mixed up with an animosity towards his late father the “rabbi” and to read about the two of them, is to cry:

    I was pleased to hear that Danny’s head injury was only minor and note that he wrote on Twitter, “This changes nothing.” I would have expected no less. Once again, I wish Tony a similarly complete recovery and distance myself totally from the repugnant comments of those who wish him otherwise. I do not know if these commentators are Jewish or Israeli, but there is certainly nothing authentically Jewish or Israeli about the nasty things they write.

    • Again, religious Jews giving their opinions about who is authentically Israeli or not, as if an ID card wasn’t enough for that. Of course, Seidemann is entitled to his despicable ideas, but his double standards are not specially Jewish (religious) or Israeli. Israeli toddlers hurt by stones is admissible, while violence or fences to defend from it is not. Those double standards are not as antisemitic as Greenstein’s, but do not smell good anyway.

  14. “He said that 60% of prosecutions are for stone throwing and there is a 99.74% conviction rate overall.”
    The conviction rate is high because the prosecution only goes to court when the evidence is very strong and the case is based on rather more than a confession and a technical “addition”. A 51-49 chance of conviction isn’t good enough. Furthermore, most cases, in any case, end in plea bargains.

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