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Shin Bet Gags Reporting on Secret Arrest of Israeli-Palestinian Journalist-Activist

majd kayyal gag order

Judicial gag order prohibiting coverage of Majd Kayyal case

Yesterday, I reported that the Israeli secret police had arrested Israeli-Palestinian journalist and political activist, Majd Kayyal.  A judge extended his remand by a week to next Sunday so that the security apparatus could work wonders on his willingness to cooperate with their “interrogation technique.”

The court transcript notes the judge’s name as Ziyad Falah.  He is a Druze and former military prosecutor.  No surprise there.  Israeli Jews consider Druze to be the “good Arabs.”  They serve in the IDF, unlike most other Palestinian citizens.  This judge appears happy to approve the security apparatus’ dirty work and to do so as an Israeli Palestinian citizen.  Though I should be fair and say that there are many Druze who object to such servility to, and collaboration with the power elite.

Kayyal has been refused access to his lawyer, who works for Adalah, the NGO whose website he edits.

I reported that there likely was a gag order prohibiting Israeli media from reporting the story.  Abir Kopty confirmed this in a tweet in Arabic.  My Israeli source has provided me a copy of the gag order which I display here.  I’m proud to report that the o139 blog has broken the gag.  The Israeli author is a brave man.

Electronic Intifada has also obtained a copy of the charge sheet and translated it, also featuring photos of Kayyal’s arrest and his Beirut conference appearance (an event which undoubtedly angered the security goons).  EI inadvertently hasn’t linked to my own reporting of the story, which preceded theirs.

Some Israelis will say: what did Kayyal expect?  Lebanon is an enemy country.  Visit it and you’re breaking the law.  Except there’s one small problem with that: it’s not true.  Yes, it is illegal to visit Syria or Lebanon, technically.  But if you’re a Jewish journalist you’re fine.  Lisa Goldman visited Lebanon and aired footage on Israeli TV, thereby endangering the unknowing Lebanese whom she interviewed.  They threatened her with prosecution, but somehow never did.  Another Israeli journalist also reported from Lebanon and wasn’t prosecuted.

Kol Yisrael reports that Israeli Druze also complain that they are not allowed to make religious pilgrimages to their holy sites outside Israel.  The chief Druze religious leader appealed in recent days to Shimon Peres to intervene on behalf of priests who’ve been arrested for such pilgrimages to Syria or Lebanon.  Israeli Jews from Arab countries, on the other hand, are allowed to make “under the radar” return visits to their homelands to explore their ‘roots.’

The Shin Bet are extremely sensitive to Israeli Palestinians who express their solidarity too strongly with Arab nationalist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas or even Syria.  This was how Ameer Makhoul got a nine-year jail sentence and Azmi Bishara was driven into exile.  You may be an Israeli-Palestinian as long as you meekly accept your second-class lot in life.  But once you express support for a one-state solution or solidarity with Gaza, as Kayyal did by joining the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2011, you become an enemy of the state.

Let’s remember we’re talking about the Only Democracy in the Middle East, where all citizens are created equal and treated so–unless you’re Palestinian.

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{ 18 comments… add one }
  • Nonsense April 14, 2014, 2:33 AM

    Lisa Goldman Visited Lebanon with her Canadian passport.
    She wasn’t prosecuted not because she’s a jew, but because she holds a foreign passport with which she could travel to lebanon without braking the Israeli law.
    Your attempt to display the state of Israel as a racist place, has no leg to stand on.

    • Richard Silverstein April 14, 2014, 2:37 AM

      @ Nonsense: You didn’t even bother reading the post to which I linked which stated very clearly that Lisa Goldman was threatened by the Israeli police with prosecution. You seem to have forgotten or omitted that fact. An Israeli citizen, which she is, cannot visit an enemy country no matter what passport they use. At least that’s what the law states. Unless you’re Jewish, then you can get away with pretty much anything.

      BTW, she used the Canadian passport not because it would protect her on her return to Israel, but because it allowed her to enter Lebanon under false pretences. If they’d known she was Israeli they would’ve sent her back immediately.

      BTW, care to offer us your bona fides in matters of Israeli law? It appears you ought to brush up your Shakespeare and Israeli penal code.

      The fake e mail address associated with your comment is “stopthenonsense.” It should instead read: “stop making sense.”

      • Nonsense April 14, 2014, 3:07 AM

        1. By reading the court transcript in AI – he was charged with:
        1.1 An unlawful exit to an Arab country.
        1.2 An illegal contact with a foreign agent.

        since he was arrested while crossing back from Jordan it’s safe to assume that he traveled to Jordan and from there to Beirut.

        Do you know who did he meet with ? how long was he abroad ? where did he stay ?

        With respect to LG, Israel has no authority over one deeds preformed with a foreign passport. Many Israeli journalists travel to Arab countries, always while using a foreign passport. Ron Ben-Ishai visited Iraq, Syria & Lebanon (he holds a French citizenship) Eldad Beck visited Iran (with a German passport) etc.

        • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 2:09 AM

          @ Nonsense: Israel certainly has authority over its citizens and regularly threatens to prosecute Israeli journalists (including Ben Ishai) for visiting Arab countries using foreign passports. But it never prosecutes Jewish journalists & does prosecute Palestinian journalists who are citizens. Any Google search will support what I say. You’re done in this thread. After repeating yourself unconvincingly you’re done. If you choose to comment in other threads, you may. Not in this one.

          • Shoshana April 16, 2014, 3:30 AM

            [comment deleted: attempts at snark that try to pass for wit are a comment violation. Comments that have no substance or don't relate directly to the post violate the rules]

      • Oui April 14, 2014, 3:51 AM

        Mondoweiss on StopTheNonsense:
        “Scholars are tasked with providing substance to points of view derived from available evidence; that these scholars deploy innuendo, assumption, and slander to raise an argument in defense of Israel speaks to the irrational loyalty fostered by the rituals of Zionism.

        … Enough with the nonsense: boycott of Israeli academic institutions isn’t about “the Jews.” It’s about the racism Zionists visit on Palestinians in the name of the Jewish people, using the imprimatur of cultural autonomy to justify settler colonization.”

  • Nonsense April 14, 2014, 3:09 AM

    P.S
    The judge who approved the Arrest & GAG is an Israeli-Arab or what you call Israeli-Palestinian.
    I guess he’s a ISN.

  • Gal April 14, 2014, 7:45 AM

    Ameer Makhoul and Azmi Bishara were charged with espionage, not for being nationalists. Bishara got a chance to flee because of the fear of riot over his trail.
    Let’s wait and see if Kayyal will also be charged with espionage. Many Israeli-Druze in syria (by the way some get permission to study there) and many Israeli-Arabs in Jordan are approached by the intelligence units of syrian army and hizbollah. it goes without saying. some of them decides to cooperate…

    • Oui April 14, 2014, 9:08 AM

      “Solidarity tastes different inside prison” by Ameer Makhoul

      The system is structurally and politically Shabak-oriented, not justice-oriented. My human dignity, basic human rights and constitutional rights are suffering from basic violations. I still have no permit to meet my lawyers without being recorded. The ruling of the three judges is to justify the decision of the attorney general of Israel and the Shabak to ban free meeting with my lawyers in prison. The judges insist that such a meeting should be done through the glass separation wall and through a telephone in order to ensure recording of the whole conversation.


      I am doing a lot of efforts to bring hope and steadfastness to freedom prisoners. It is one of my missions inside prison. I have to keep in contact with Ittijah and the community and all solidarity movements, groups and persons, but most of all I have to correspond intensively as much as possible with my daughters Hind and Huda, who have become mature fighters for freedom, justice and dignity and mostly bringing back the happiness of life which was highjacked on 6 May at 2:30am. My wife Janan is leading in a heroic way the whole campaign as well as facing huge tasks at home.

      Your letters are needed; the taste of solidarity is different in prison than being outside. The taste reflects the great solidarity, support and empowering acts.

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 2:02 AM

      @ Gal: Makhoul was never charged with espionage. He was charged with having coffee at an Amman hotel with Hassan Jaja, which was turned into having contact with an enemy agent. NOT espionage.

      As for Bishara, yes an overweight middle aged Arab intellectual serving in the Knesset was charged with scouting locations for Hezbollah rocket targets. That’s a likely story. If you believe it I have a bridge and some beach front property in Florida to sell you.

      Bishara got a chance to flee because of the fear of riot over his trail.

      Yet another Israeli spouting opinions she makes up as she goes along. Do you have any support for this view that the secret police were afraid of Palestinian riots if they prosecuted Bishara? Even if this is true, you’re essentially saying that the security police allowed a Syrian-Hezbollah spy to flee Israel and make a life abroad where he’s free to continue his efforts to harm the “Jewish state.” Is this how justice works in Israel? If the state’s frightened enough of you or what you represent they force you into exile?

      I don’t give a flying frig what either were charged with. The secret police lie half the time & make the rest of it up as they go along. The reason they were persecuted & became victims of the security state is their POLITICAL VIEWS. Not to mention that the secret police never proved either one was guilty of anything.

      I’m terribly impressed that you’re so aware of the spy recruitment efforts of Syria and Hezbollah. If you were half as aware of the nasty recruitment efforts of you own intelligence agency exploiting sick & dying Palestinian medical patients seeking treatment inside Israel you’d be impressive. As it is you’re nothing but a hasbara hack.

  • Oui April 14, 2014, 9:09 AM
  • Shmuel April 15, 2014, 6:20 PM

    The picture you show is a standard internet form with a police request for a gag order not the court’s ruling on the matter.

    Are you sure there actually is a gag or is the press voluntarily not reporting?

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 8:37 PM

      @ Shmuel: When have you ever known the Israeli press to not report a story voluntarily?? And when have you ever known a court to refuse a police or secret police request for a gag? Abir Kopty has tweeted confirming the gag though in Arabic, which I don’t read.

  • Shmuel April 16, 2014, 4:48 AM

    For many years there was voluntary censorship by the forum of editors of major newspapers. They would be asked not to print certain stories and in exchange would be leaked interesting tidbits.
    Israeli courts will usually accept a request for a gag but often restrict it to a time limit or only to names and allow the fact of the gag’s existence be publisized

    • Richard Silverstein April 16, 2014, 6:27 PM

      Yes, the devil’s bargain you describe did exist. But I don’t think it’s existed for a number of years. The PM last tried it a yr or two ago (I think around the Ben Zygier case if I recall) & the request failed.

      As for limiting the gag, my experience is that judges almost never second-guess the security police. It is a brave, independent judge who does so, & they are rare.

      BTW, the gag will end tomorrow. My belief is that the questions of Matt Lee & reporting by me and Electronic Intifada made this happen.

  • Israel Israeli April 16, 2014, 8:54 AM

    [comment deleted: comments that are filled with hate, ignorance, racism, and fear of Palestinians will not be published here and violate the comment rules]

  • Oui April 17, 2014, 4:40 AM

    JPost: Shin Bet arrests Israeli Arab journalist for contact with Hezbollah

    Cleared for publication: The journalist Majd Kayyal, the editor of the website Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel- was arrested on Saturday for contacting a foreign Hezbollah agent, the Shin Bet announced.

    … The source said in the coming days the Shin Bet will decide if they will charge him with contacting a foreign agent, but currently it appears he will be charged with entering an enemy state.

  • Shmuel April 17, 2014, 8:06 AM

    Just released to house arrest

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