Tag Archives: adalah

Employee of alleged PFLP terrorist is panellist at Amnesty International.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty. on Wednesday night.

Rachel Strouma, Rina Rosenberg, Neil Sammonds, Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk at Amnesty on Wednesday night.

So what is the logical response when you are Amnesty International’s crisis manager for Syria and there has been a recent chemical attack on his own civilians by President Assad at Khan Sheikhoun followed by 100 Syrian civilians killed by a suicide bomber as residents of the villages of Fuaa and Kafrya were being taken to safety?

Well, if you are Kristyan Benedict you arrange a meeting at Amnesty about human rights in Israel!

Benedict, Amnesty’s crisis manager for Syria, is notorious for comparing Israel to Islamic state, making a sick joke at the expense of three Jewish MPs on twitter and for threatening me when I questioned, at one of his events, an obviously doctored photo of a Palestinian boy with a Star of David allegedly carved into his arm by an Israeli soldier.

On Wednesday 19th April at Amnesty in London he assembled a panel of four human rights activists:

Rachel Strouma – Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.
Rina Rosenberg – Adalah, which is based in Israel.
Neil Sammonds – Medical Aid for Palestinians.
Nada Kiswanson van Hoydonk – Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah.

The event was called In Pursuit of Accountability – Israeli and Palestinian NGOs working together for human rights.

Rosenberg spent her 15 minutes citing the hundreds of complaints made against the Israeli army by Adalah and other NGOs and the Israeli army’s lack of response. For example, 500 complaints were made againt the army after the 2014 war relating to 360 different incidents. The apparent result was just one indictment for looting.

Then Strouma spent hers detailing examples of maltreatment and torture of Palestinian prisoners and the lack of trust that Palestinians have in the Israeli judicial system. She concentrated mainly on the apparent three days spent by Palestinian prisoners in vans as they are transported to court from prisons and back.

She claimed that one Palestinian admitted to a crime he didn’t commit rather than spend three days in a van.

van Hoydonk works for Al Haq. The General Director of Al Haq, which is based in Ramallah, is Shawan Jabarin who was and allegedly still is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian which is responsible for hijackings and assassinations within Israel and around the world.

van Hoydonk spent her 15 minutes updating us on the International Criminal Court’s preliminary investigation into war crimes during the 2014 war.

During the Q&A I asked van Hoydonk whether considering her boss was, and possibly still is, a member of the PFLP, a proscribed terrorist group responsible for the murder of many innocent civilians, she really considers her own organisation, Al Haq, a human rights organisation?

Sadly, she refused to answer as you can see below (from 1 minute 25 seconds). Neil Sammonds stepped in on her behalf to explain that this was an event to address the problems in the Israeli justice system but there will be other fora to explore Palestinian issues:

The issue of the 1000 Palestinian prisoner hunger strikers was also brought up during the Q&A. Rosenberg referred to them as “political prisoners”. So while Adalah is trying to bring prosecutions against Israel soldiers it cannot even admit to Palestinian terrorists being anything more than “political prisoners”.

After the event the audience and panel members were invited to drinks and nibbles by Amnesty which is ironic considering the issues of hunger strikes, torture, murder and intentional destruction that had just been discussed and alleged.

It takes all sorts.

Arab Israeli lecturer visits London, condemns “Judaisation” of Israel.

Imagine if a member of the English Defence League, or anyone else for that matter, came to the School of Oriental and African Studies in London to talk about the “Islamisation” of England or Europe or any place in the world. Do you think there’d be a riot?

SOAS would have barred such an invitation long before.

However, a discussion about “Judaisation” under the guise of academia is encouraged and applauded judging by last night’s audience at the Centre for Palestine Studies, which is based at SOAS, where the Arab Israeli (or Palestinian Israeli) lecturer Dr Thabet Abu Rass spoke on the topic of The Bedouin in the Naqab (Negev): The invisible Palestinians and the Prawer Plan.

I lost count how many times Dr Rass used “Judaisation” or “Judaising” to accuse Israel of nefariously attempting to make Israeli places like the Galilee, Nazareth and the Negev majority Jewish areas to the detriment of Israel’s Arab citizens already living there.

One has to ask the question,  if “Islamisation” is considered offensive then why is “Judaisation” considered not offensive?

Meanwhile, one has to strongly doubt whether the Bedouin will be happy to be considered Palestinian by both Dr Rass and the Centre for Palestine Studies. The Bedouin seem to have a completely different culture, history and relationship with Israel than the Palestinians do. But Dr Rass described the Bedouin last night as “part of the Palestinian people”.

Dr Rass is Adalah’s director of their Negev office, while Adalah styles itself  as “The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel”.

Dr Rass, who obtained a PhD in Geography and Regional Development from the University of Arizona, also lectures at Ben Gurion University and Sapir College but last night he started off by saying of those he teaches: “Some of my students are the most extreme settlers from Hebron.”

He continued that “Israel’s Arab minority is under attack”, that Avigdor Lieberman is attempting to “Judaise the Galilee” and that “the state of Israel is trying to increase its Jewishness”.

Dr Rass claimed there is “no free market of land in Israel” and that “93% of Israel is defined as state land” which, he said, was comparable to China, Cuba and North Korea.

Dr Rass then put the natural Bedouin growth rate at 4% and said there was only one group higher than this in the world.

Cue…pregnant…pause…

There then came derogatory laughter from the audience before some of them called out “ultra-orthodox Jews!” Sometimes, you do get a sense of total disparagement of Jewish people and for those few seconds I felt it.

Dr Rass mainly concentrated on the Bedouin town of Al-Araqib in the Negev, near Be’er Sheva, with its 300 residents. He accused Israel of demolishing its homes 49 times since July 2010 and described how Israel uproots Al-Araqib’s crops every spring.

And he described how a Bedouin village called Umm Al-Hiran was removed by Israel, soon to be replaced by a Jewish town called Hiran.

Dr Rass claimed Israel is trying to forcibly displace the Negev Bedouin and then confine them to just 1% of the Negev’s total area. He described this as “the severest attack of land confiscation since 1948”.

Dr Rass blames this, of course, on that policy of “Judaisation”. He continued that there was a “discourse of fear” in Israel which binds Israelis together. He said that when things were quiet with Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah it is “the Bedouin who become the enemy”. Such a “politics of fear”, he said, pushes Israel to the right.

He tried to make the case that the Bedouin had legal and historic rights to the Negev. He produced an old Bedouin voting card and a photocopied Arabic land certificate from 1941. He also produced an aerial photo from 1945 of the Negev showing its fertility presumably to emphasise the quality of the land he was accusing Israel of stealing.

His parting shot at Israel was “for the first time since 1948 Israel is closing places to the Bedouin. From Be’er Sheva to Ashkelon the Bedouin cannot own land. Israel is closing areas off on an ethnic basis. Israel is going to destroy Bedouin unrecognised towns and build Jewish settlements. It is going to criminalise the Bedouin for sitting on their ancestral lands. Israel is not an apartheid state, but it is creeping apartheid“.

As I understand it, Israel is not closing anything off “on an ethnic basis”. The Bedouin can apply to purchase property in any of the new Negev developments.

Chairing this Centre for Palestine Studies’ latest anti-Israel hatefest under the guise of academia was Sharri Plonski. Two years ago, while studying at SOAS, Plonski chaired a SOAS Israel Society event Is BDS working? Now she’s a SOAS lecturer.

Meanwhile, Adalah is being advised on the situation of the Bedouin by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which calls for a racist boycott of Israel leading to Israel’s eventual obliteration. Adalah is also supported by Christian Aid in this project. Once again we see hard-earned charity funds wasted on projects primarily aimed at demonising Israel.

If you really wish to know the truth about the Prawer Plan see here and watch the clip below. You won’t be surprised to learn that Adalah and Dr Rass have misrepresented the Bedouin cause.

Many Bedouin are in favour of Prawer. The plan should improve their lives immeasurably, allowing them to live in far more advantageous locations with proper mains supplies and schools, while also benefiting financially from the move. Consultations are still taking place, though, and nothing has been set in stone yet.

The Bedouin might even, finally, be allowed to enjoy all the benefits of a full life in Israel that Dr Thabet Abu Rass has taken advantage of himself. He said that he has recently visited the British Foreign Office, the White House and Congress.

It seems that the only people against the Bedouin are Dr Rass, Adalah and anyone else who wants to stop the Bedouin from enjoying enhanced lives.

Anat Matar: “Settlers can get away with rape.”

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

The new book by Matar and Baker. A must read if you have more money than sense.

Last night Jews For Justice for Palestinians hosted Dr Anat Matar and Abeer Baker at the Indian YMCA to publicise their new book Threat: Palestinian Political Prisoners in Israel.

For Matar, a senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department at Tel Aviv University, it was a warm anti-Israel welcome back to London.

In February 2010 she spoke at SOAS where she called for an economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. However, saving her own skin, she said she didn’t want Israelis boycotted if they were “refusniks and great anti-Zionists”.

Abeer Baker, who describes herself as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, is a human rights lawyer and runs the Prisoners’ Rights Clinic at Haifa University’s Law Faculty. She received her Law degree from Haifa Uni. in 2001 and between 2001 – 2006 she worked for Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.

Matar started by saying that since 1967 a minimum of 650,000 Palestinians have been in Israeli prisons at some stage or other and for varying lengths of time, which equates to every fourth Palestinian.

She said the estimate could even be as high as a million!

Israeli prisoners, she said, are treated as normal criminals while all Palestinians are immediately classed as “security prisoners”, whatever their offence, and that the chances of parole for a “security prisoner” are much lower than that for a Jewish terrorist.

She concluded that this Palestinian mass imprisonment, which has excluded a quarter of the population from Palestinian society, has changed the way Palestinian political life is built and amounts to racial discrimination.

She mentioned that many Palestinians are captured at the regular non-violent Friday protests at the “apartheid wall”. Many are held, some are indicted and some serve long prison terms with no parole in contrast to ultra right-wing settlers.

Baker told us that Israeli prisons are similar to “the occupation”; they are not for punishment, but to exclude Palestinians from daily public life and to weaken their political struggle.

Assassination, she said, was the harshest way to do that and then comes the Israeli prison system.

Putting Palestinians behind bars was the equivalent of the “apartheid wall” and that Palestinian families spend all their time worrying about their imprisoned relation instead of engaging in the struggle against the occupation.

She also said it was a breach of the Geneva Convention for Israel to move Palestinians from the occupied territories into Israel to imprison them.

Next she recited the torture meted out by Shabak, which included, sleep deprivation, physical torture (including beating) and shackling to chairs. Palestinians were not allowed access to a lawyer for three months, the prison cells are narrow, have special lighting and the walls are too tough to lean on.

All this, she said, was intended to make Palestinian prisoners more likely to confess.

She also spoke of Palestinians never properly getting their lives back after their release as they find it hard to get a work permit and they have their movements restricted.

She claimed that the only way a Palestinian prisoner would be allowed to use a phone is if he or she renounced all allegiances to their hostile organisation. But, because they are put in the same cell as people from their own organisation it was impossible for them to do that. However, Yigal Amir is allowed to call his wife.

During the Q&A I asked how practical it was for Israel to imprison a Palestinian anywhere else but Israel and how practical it was to give a Palestinian prisoner parole, it being unlikely they would return to prison if recalled.

I suggested that racism was not at play if there was such different treatment, but that conditions on the ground may be determining factors. For example, the settlers were supportive of Israel, while the Palestinians were not.

Matar said the settlers were not supporters of Israel from they way they set fire to mosques and Baker asked me to imagine a settler and a Palestinian raping a woman: “Would you say you should pardon the settler?” she asked.

I said there was no way a settler would be pardoned for raping a woman, but Matar interrupted with:

“The settler wouldn’t even get accused of rape.”

We almost got through the evening without the obligatory Holocaust analogy. But earlier on we had been told about Palestinians having to pay for their own food in prison, so that even in prison Israel is making money out of them.

Someone then said that it reminded him of Jews sent to Auschwitz by the Nazis being forced to buy their own train tickets.

Still, these two women earn a living from Israel’s academic institutions, while being allowed to write a book and travel the world describing how evil Israel is. Not bad for such such an oppressive state.

The irony was, as ever, lost on the audience.

(For the record Matar and Baker said that they did not agree with the way Gilad Shalit is treated)