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Israeli Intellectuals Call for End to Administrative Detention, Freedom for Samer Issawi

Last night, I had the misfortune of telling you that some of Israel’s self-styled liberal intellectual elite had published a letter to Samer Issawi on his death bed, calling for him to end his hunger strike because he should be happy for Israel to send him into exile. It also suggested that his death would cause an unseemly amount of mess for Israel and ruin their (the signatories) efforts at forging a just solution to the conflict.

Tonight, I hear from Israeli that an entirely different group of Israeli public intellectuals have published an entirely different sort of letter (English translation, Tal Nitzan). Instead of presumptuously writing to Issawi as if he somehow is the cause of his own predicament, they wrote to the Chief Jailer himself, Bibi Netanyahu. They called for an end to the oppressive policy of administrative detention under which Issawi is held, along with thousands of others.

They also call for the immediate release of Issawi himself (unlike the letter from the “gentle souls” yesterday).

I note several commenters who flailed in their attempt to justify Issawi’s rearrest by noting the alleged violent acts in which he’d participated–all the while forgetting that Israel’s release of Issawi in the Shalit exchange gave Israel no right to rearrest him.

Further, the letter notes that the hunger strike is a return to the tradition of non-violent resistance represented by Gandhi. Therefore, any Israeli like Gershon Gorenberg and others who’ve written swill, wondering where’s the “Palestinian Gandhi” should be welcoming this effort and joining their voices to this letter. I note that Gorenberg isn’t among the signatories.

Among the signers of today’s letter are novelists, poets, actors, filmmakers, journalists and other artists, including Israel Prize winners Shimon Zandbank and Nili Mirsky, Yehoshua Sobol, Nisim Calderon, Tal Nitzan, Aharon Shabtai, Alona Kimchi, Nir Baram, Akiva Eldar, Sefi Rachlevski, Einat Weizman and Dana Olmert.

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Sol Salbe April 14, 2013, 11:07 PM

    I spent an hour this morning going through the 36 names to make sure that people can use the English rendition correctly: [Everyone is welcome to use this list]
    1) Prof Shimon Sandbank, Israel Prize laureate
    2) Prof Nili Mirsky, Israel Prize laureate
    3) Prof Nissim Calderon
    4) Prof Yair Garbuz
    5) Prof Moshe Ron
    6) Yehoshua Sobol, playwright
    7) Tal Nitzan, a poet and editor
    8 ) Aharon Shabtai, poet
    9) Lea Aini, author
    10) Tsibi Geva, artist
    11) Esty G Haim, author
    12) Eli Hirsch, poet and editor
    13) Alona Kimhi, author
    14) Nir Baram, author
    15) Maya Arad, author
    16) Akiva Eldar, journalist
    17) Dr Dana Amir, poet and lecturer
    18) Meir Goldberg, songauthor
    19) Sefi Rachlevsky, author
    20) Einat Weizman, actress
    21) Shimon Adaf, author
    22) Dror Burstein, author and editor
    23) Zepel Yeshurun, filmmaker
    24) Shira Stav, poet and lecturer
    25) Tali Latowicki, poet and lecturer
    26) Dr Michal Ben-Naftali, Author
    27) Yossi Sukari, Author
    28) Saray Gutman, editor and publisher
    29) Jonathan Nadav, editor and publisher
    30) Liat Kaplan, poet
    31) Anna Herman, poet
    32) Dr Oded Wolkstein, lecturer and translator
    33) Ruth Gwily, Artist
    34) Dori Manor, poet and translator
    35) Dr Dana Olmert, editor and lecturer
    36) Nir Ratzkovsky, translator

    • Richard Silverstein April 14, 2013, 11:08 PM

      I only received the Hebrew version. Is the English available online or in any format?

  • Daniel April 15, 2013, 2:11 AM

    These men and women should be commended and credited for defending the Israeli intelligentsia’s honour, which had been discarded in the cess pit of colonialism by Oz, Yehoshua et al.

  • Deïr Yassin April 15, 2013, 2:13 PM

    I’m happy to see that Aharon Shabtai, the husband of late Tanya Reinhart, is on the list. Not that I doubted he would sign such a letter.
    “And when it’s all over
    My dear, dear reader
    On which benches will we have to sit
    Those of us who shouted ‘Death to the Arabs’
    And those who claimed they ‘didn’t know’ ”
    Aharon Shabtai: Nostalgia (2002)

    Nir Baram made a very courageous speech at the International Writers’ Festival in Jerusalemn in 2010 including:
    “Under cover of the victims’ cloak that history has admittedly sewn for us Jews, we are witness to the systematic violation of the rights of non-Jews in the State of Israel and the Occupied Territories”
    Since then the organizers require speakers to submit their speeches for prior review.

  • Ira Glunts April 15, 2013, 3:59 PM

    I thought you might want to write about this. Check out the comments.

    link to nrg.co.il

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2013, 10:16 PM

      Thanks Ira. Will get to this tomorrow. The Marathon bombing bumped it for today.

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