Today, is the first night of Passover when many Jews and non-Jews enjoy a seder and tell the story of our liberation from bondage in Egypt. There are 60,000 African refugees in Israel, many of whom arrived via Egypt, as our ancestors did. They too fled persecution and deprivation in their home countries. They too hoped for a new start in a free nation that would treat them fairly and decently. Alas, their hopes have been dashed. Many have been confined to internment camps like Holot. Others have been pressured into accepting “voluntary deportation” to African countries like Rwanda and Uganda, where they have no legal status or protections. They are essentially dumped as human refuse, in return for which Israel offers these countries advanced weapons, technology and other forms of aid.
This treatment at the hands of the “Jewish state,” which forgets its own Biblical origins, is shameful. I hope you will talk about their plight tonight at your seders.
Additionally, there is another individual who is held in a form of bondage by the Israeli national security state tonight. He is a citizen of Israel, though not Jewish. That is, Israeli-Palestinian journalist and political activist, Majd Kayyal. He was arrested by the secret police last weekend for unspecified ‘dangerous acts’ against the interests of the state which included meeting anonymous ‘enemy agents’ and participating in public events hosted by Israel’s “enemies.”
Kayyal is being held incommunicado with no access to his attorney. The evidence against him is secret. A fellow Israeli-Palestinian judge is the one who extended this judicial travesty in examining his case and extending his custody, so that he may be tortured by security forces to extract whatever damaging admissions they may force him to make.
Kayyal is held in conditions even worse than the slavery in which the Israelites were held. He is a citizen of the state who cannot obtain the rights it owes him. His predicament isn’t known to Israelis since in their wisdom the security state prohibits it.
I’d like to thank AP State Department reporter Matt Lee for posing questions about two Palestinians held by Israel in today’s State press conference. This is how Jen Psaki responded to his query about Kayyal:
LEE: …This is not an American citizen, but it’s a journalist —
MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: — Majd Kayyal. I don’t know if I’m pronouncing the name right. He was arrested over the weekend. Are you aware of this case?
MS. PSAKI: We have seen the reports, but – that he’s being held incommunicado detention, but we have not been able to confirm these reports. We’re continuing to seek more information.
QUESTION: Is this – recognizing that you don’t have an interest because he is not an American citizen, do you – is this the kind of thing that you – that causes you concern, these types of arrests, or is this something —
MS. PSAKI: Certainly, reports of journalists being arrested certainly cause concern, but we don’t have any confirmation of that specific case, so we’re just looking for more information.
QUESTION: Do you know if you have asked the Israelis about it?
MS. PSAKI: I’d have to check on that. I believe we were exploring through all avenues we have, but I don’t want to speak out of turn, so let me check back with our team
So you can see the extraordinary level of concern and interest displayed by the U.S. State Department in the face of Israeli violations of its own democratic principles that protect freedom of the press.
Happy Passover! Remember those still in bondage. This year they are slaves, next year may they be free.