Word just in from Israeli peace activist, Dorothy Naor: Israeli authorities have arrested and arraigned Jeff Halper, a leader of the Free Gaza Movement journey which broke the Israeli blockade of Gaza. He was in the midst of the court hearing as Dorothy wrote her e mail two hours ago. I will update you when I hear more. This clearly ratchets up the pressure a notch against both Halper and the FGM.
As reader Fiddler pointed out, Halper is the only Israeli Jew who participated in the voyage. As such, he holds great symbolic value for the Israeli authorities, who will be eager not only to poke a finger in FGM’s eye, take Jeff down a notch or two, and also remind any like-minded Israeli of what they will face if they try those shenanigans again.
Tzipi Livni’s foreign ministry, which made the decision to allow the boats to reach Gaza, doesn’t want a flood of copy-cat actions in future. So it behooves her to go after Jeff and make an example of him. For this reason, it is important for progressive bloggers to organize on Jeff’s behalf. We must ensure that his arrest and subsequent treatment are covered, to the extent we can, by the media here in the U.S. The way to begin is by flogging the hell out of this story in the blogs.
Jeff is a U.S. citizen. Though it’s doubtful the State Department would be willing to do anything on Jeff’s behalf, that doesn’t mean we have to give them a free pass. I’d urge any interested party to visit the State Department website and contact them, asking for U.S. diplomats in Israel to intercede on Jeff’s behalf. They may not want to, but we’re paying their salary and at least can contribute our two cents about how they SHOULD be doing their job.
We can also contact the Israeli consulates and embassies in our respective communities. Call them to express concern on Jeff’s behalf.
He has done nothing wrong. It is the Israeli siege of Gaza that is not only illegal under international law, but counter-productive to resolving the issues that divide Israel and Hamas. A military order prohibiting Israelis from visiting Gaza is designed to ensure there is no threat to the Occupation; that Israelis will be shielded from it; that their journalists cannot report on it. What Jeff has done is a brilliant act of civil disobedience. One of which Henry David Thoreau would be proud. We should support him in every way we can.
An earlier Ynetnews report that Halper was released was clearly wrong.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.