Shin Bet’s Cult of Secrecy Continues, Arab NGO Director Arrested Under Gag Order in Dead of Night
The Israeli Shin Bet continue riding roughshod over the rights of the nation’s citizens. In the past few months, it was Anat Kamm and Uri Blau who were subjected to gag orders (specifically Kamm) and her name couldn’t be spoken publicly in the media. We broke that gag order with the help of brave Israelis and Palestinian media like Maan. Now the Shin Bet has come once again in the dead of night breaking down doors, ransacking homes and carting away human rights activists (a citizen of Israel in this case) all in the supposed name of national security and the cult of secrecy. No one in the Israeli media can breathe a word about this man or his arrest. He has simply become a national persona non grata.
Below is part of a joint statement released by Israeli Palestinian human rights NGOs announcing the arrest and protesting it:
[Ramallah, 6 May 2010] This morning at 3:10 a.m., Israeli Security Agency (ISA) agents accompanied by Israeli police raided Ameer Makhoul’s family home in Haifa and arrested him. Mr. Makhoul is a human rights defender and serves as the general director of Ittijah – The Union of Arab Community-Based Associations and as the Chairman of the Public Committee for the Defense of Political Freedom in the framework of the High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens of Israel.
The 16 ISA agents and police officers immediately separated Mr. Makhoul from his family, including wife Janan and daughters Hind, 17 and Huda, 12, and conducted an extensive search of the home. According to Janan, the police confiscated items including documents, maps, the family’s four mobile phones, Ameer and Janan’s laptops, the hard drives from the girls’ two desktop computers, a camera and a small tape recorder containing un-transcribed oral histories Janan collects as part of her work. At one point during the police search, Janan says, one officer violently restrained her, twisting her arm and pushing her when she attempted to leave the home’s living room to observe the confiscations. The security forces also refused to identify themselves and showed her a warrant authorizing Mr. Makhoul’s arrest only after she repeatedly insisted. The order was signed on 23 April 2010 and cited unsubstantiated “security” reasons as the grounds for Mr. Makhoul’s arrest.
Meanwhile, approximately 40 minutes after their arrival, a group of the security forces left with Mr. Makhoul in custody. At around the same time, the Israeli authorities raided the Ittijah office and confiscated documents and the hard drives from all of the organization’s computers.
A hearing in Mr. Makhoul’s case was held at the Petah Tikva interrogation center later this morning, and his detention was extended for six days. Reports also indicate that Mr. Makhoul has been banned from meeting with an attorney for at least two days.
This arrest comes shortly after Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai signed an administrative order prohibiting Mr. Makhoul from exiting the country for a two month period. In the order, which was signed on 21 April and is based on Article 6 of the 1948 emergency regulations, Yishai states, “I have reached the conviction that the exit of Ameer Makhoul from the country poses a serious threat to the security of the state, and therefore I issue this order to prevent him from leaving the country until the 21st of June, 2010”.
[UPDATE: I have discovered an Israeli website which is reporting this story and, if I’m correct, appears to be breaking the gag order (unless I’m misunderstanding the nature of it). Rehavia Berman in Youpost is reporting that the Interior Ministry order mentioned in the above paragraph was designed to prevent Makhoul from attending a conference on the Status of Women and Advancement of Democracy being held in Jordan. The Shin Bet persuaded the minister on the basis of secret information that Makhoul’s attendance at this event would endanger the security of the State.
When the police entered the victim’s home the family demanded that they identify themselves, which they were required to do by law. They refused. They also refused to reveal the arrest warrant until Makhoul’s wife demanded it a number of times. The warrant noted that he was wanted for unspecified security reasons.
A final editorial note in the article makes this brave, defiant statement to the security apparatus:
Youpost’s editors categorically reject this attempt by the security forces to treat Israeli citizens as they are used to treating residents of the Occupied Territories. We are publishing the news of his arrest and want him to be charged and brought up for speedy, fair trial which preserves the rights of the accused under the law. Conversely, if the authorities are not prepared to conduct themselves in this manner, then we demand that it free Mr. Makhoul and cancel the order restricting his movement. ]
Imagine a democracy in which they can prevent a citizen of the country from consulting their own attorney for two days and detain you for six days under charges no more specific than suspicion of posing a security threat? And what security threat does Makhoul pose? I’ll tell what his threat is: he defends the rights of the Israeli Palestinian minority. And that appears to be a potent threat in the eyes of Israel’s security goons.
One of the reasons why the Anat Kamm affair resonated so much within Israel was that an Israeli Jew was arrested in secret and slapped with a gag order. They do this sort of thing fairly regularly with Israeli Palestinians and there is much less uproar. That may be the case with Makhoul as well. But there is no possible way the authorities can come with any legitimate violation or crime on Ittijah’s part, whereas with Kamm she had leaked classified IDF documents.
This is an assault on the civil society/human rights movement in Israel. It is also no accident that Ittijah is a grantee of the New Israel Fund, which itself has been under full frontal assault by the uber-Zionist Im Tirtzu movement and the intellectual thugs like Gerald Steinberg of NGO Monitor. Though perhaps the Shin Bet cannot yet arrest Naomi Chazan for posing a security threat, they sure can do this to NIF’s Israeli-Palestinian grantees.
A year or so ago, the security service announced that henceforth they would view any Israeli Palestinian nationalist activism, even organizing that was purely legal and non-violent, as a grave threat to the Jewish state. This arrest falls squarely within such a repressive agenda.
Israel’s supporters, especially those among liberal Zionists who pride themselves on supporting the Only Democracy in the Middle East, should realize there is now precious little democracy left to support. It is time to speak out for the Israel you believe in. Either you support a national security state dictated by the Shin Bet. Or you support a real democracy. If the latter then you must denounce in no uncertain terms this thuggery. It doesn’t matter that the victim is Israeli Palestinian. If you don’t support him, you turn your back on the democratic principles on which David Ben Gurion based Israel’s Declaration of Independence, which made no distinction between Israel’s ethnic or religious groups in awarding rights.
I call upon all of us to express our disgust to the Israeli embassy in Washington and to your local Israeli consulate. If the past is any guide, the government isn’t concerned as much about protest outside Israel. But if we can do in this case what we did in Kamm’s case, which is to bring the matter to the attention of the Israeli media, bloggers and common citizens, they themselves will hopefully raise a cry for transparency and an end to the odious gag order.
I’ve created a Free Ameer Makhoul Facebook group which you may join. If you speak Arabic, there is also an Arabic group.
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- Another civil rights NGO arrest, another gag order (judaismwithoutborders.org)
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30 thoughts on “Shin Bet’s Cult of Secrecy Continues, Arab NGO Director Arrested Under Gag Order in Dead of Night – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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i support his right to consult with an atty.
he also should not be held without charge for any longer than any other citizen of israel
I want to join those who call to release Ameer Makhoul who was detained for his opposition to the repression of the Palestinian nation by the racist Zionist state, the twin sister of the Apartheid state.
As long as Israel exists the Palestinians will be oppressed. This is in the class nature of a settler colonialist society. One has to choose between the right of self determination of the Palestinians oppressed nation and the imperialist settler society and I and my friend have chosen the side of the oppressed. The only solution is a working class revolution by the supper exploited workers of the region that will create a Palestinian workers state, from the river to the sea in the framework of the socialist federation of the Middle East.
Oy, the INternational Socialist League! We need you like we need a hole in the head.
What a nice thought…how generous. Not! But when you enable the illegal occupation like you usually do, those are mere words designed only to make “you” look good, when in fact you’ve been an enabler all along of precisely this kind of repression.
כל הכבוד לשב”כ שמונע מערבים אויבי ישראל להרוס את מדינת היהודים
Thanks again for more racism courtesy of a reader of either the Jerusalem Post or Yediot:
RE: “the 1948 emergency regulations”
MY COMMENT: A police state is a police state!
The irony is that these regulations were set in 1945 by the British Mandate government because…. of a Jewish terror wave.
The Jewish leaders then said the British are acting worse than the Nazis.
Then 1948 they turned around, kept the regulations in place and have been using them ever since against the Arabs, without batting an eyelash.
ישראל היא מדינת היהודים ולא מדינה של ערבים
מקומם של הערבים ב-22 מדינות ערב
Some racism deserves to see the light of day:
Great article, right up to that bit about Ben Gurion. Do you believe for a second that he gave a hoot about Democracy? And that right after citing the 1948 ’emergency’ regulations.
Marc Trius, formerly of Haifa Israel
Thanks for taking the lead on this story too!
Seems like my tax money in action. as the Hebrew saying goes, i hope the convoy keeps going and the dogs can keep barking – – that’s you doing the self righteous barking in this case Mr. Silverstein.
by the way great performance on this forum http://www.fresh.co.il/vBulletin/showthread.php?t=510579&highlight=%E4%EE%E5%F1%E3 – got uncomfortable by some sound arguments? Looks like you’re good only with those who are far away enough not to know exactly what is going on.
I’ve got a blog to write. It would take all my time responding to the obtuseness from the Israelis in the Fresh thread. But if any Hebrew speakers here want to take these Know Nothings on be my guest.
YOur fellow citizens don’t know a thing about “what’s going on” since their security agency determines what they can & can’t know. In this case, only those outside Israel & the brave souls within who are breaking the gag know what’s going on. You wouldn’t know a thing unless you read it here. So I wonder why you are here?
But I urge you to invite them here to learn about the latest Israeli citizen to become a victim of your Shin Bet. They might learn a few things & face a few ideas they’d never encountered before. It will be uncomfortable for many of them no doubt. But it would do a few of them good.
“Youpost’s editors categorically reject this attempt by the security forces to treat Israeli citizens as they are used to treating residents of the Occupied Territories.”
Something about this sentence rings very wrong. Residents in the Occupied Territories deserve all the same rights human and legal as Israeli citizens. Right now the status is: Israelis – 1st class citizens; Israeli Arabs – 2nd class citizens; and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories – 3rd class.
“Imagine a democracy in which they can prevent a citizen of the country from consulting their own attorney for two days and detain you for six days under charges no more specific than suspicion of posing a security threat?”
–Now will you believe me that Zionism and democracy are incompatible, or is yet one more case of gross injustice not sufficient proof? But there are tons of examples. Until only recently it was mostly occupied Palestinians subjected to this repression.
As much as I’m impressed with your forceful criticism of these repressive acts of injustice; I still believe you’re in denial, and you’re wasting your time appealing to Israelis thinking they will rise up to condemn this behavior. Sure, there may be some short-lived criticism in the press but eventually the usual “complicit” apathy will reign supreme. Like it or not, this is Zionism, at it’s best…a tolerated, excusable injustice. Don’t get me wrong. I want Israel to exist but with a Constitution protecting the rights of all including the citizens of the Occupied Territories. But that’s not what Zionism is about.
So, I’ll be patient, because I’m convinced this situation is untenable, and not to address the real source of this problem now is but another injustice: delaying the inevitable and therefore allowing for further unnecessary suffering and oppression.
Ittijah is a grantee of the New Israel Fund?
Was a grantee. It supported the first Durban conference & NIF never funded them after that.
Two other Israeli bloggers pointed it out, beyond Berman: Yossi Gurvitz and Ury Breitman.
Thanks, I didn’t know about Gurvitz, but I did see Uri Breitman’s excellent piece & Idan Landau’s as well.
I recommend Gurvitz’ work in general – his blog “Friends of George” is dedicated to the documentation of the disintegration of the Israeli democracy. He had a column on the same topic (on the Nana news portal), which ran until a few years ago.
Gurvitz is a historian by training, and what makes his work so insightful is that he often highlights similar historical trends in other situations.
Full disclosure: I count Yossi Gurvitz as a dear friend.
Can you send me his email address privately. I’d like to stay in touch w. him & other progressive Israeli bloggers like him.
“A year or so ago, the security service announced that henceforth they would view any Israeli Palestinian nationalist activism……as a grave threat to the Jewish state”
what is your source for this?
Do you know what are the accusations against Ameer Makhoul? Since they can’t keep him under arrest for very long, we will know soon enough.
Would you care to guess what these accusations may be?
I believe The Only Democracy In The Middle East™ is accusing him of AWP – Activism While Palestinian.
This. It happened in 2007 actually.
I’ve written 2 blog posts about Makhoul. Why don’t you read both before asking questions. YOu’ll find the posts answer yr. questions. In short, there are no charges other than unspecificied “secret information” that touches on “nationals security reasons.” That’s it. And my 2nd post speculates on the real reasons for his arrest.
Here It Comes Again
but I can’t fucking given in…
i think many of the readers see the issue/problem reported in different eyes.
Is the issue the gag order?
is the issue the Shin Bet arresting an Arab?
is the issue being arrested with no charges so far ( or just that no one knows.. I do hope that they didnt arrest a man for having a receding hairline)?
is the issue Zionism and Democracy?
is the issue jews/israelis self-flagellation and post zionism?
i guess many of the commentators comment with an agenda and read this post in different eyes. In israel most of the attention of the media is to the gag itself.
It’s Rechavia Berman. A “c” got dropped in transcription.
Hey, mister, why don’t you bother about the human rights of Gilad Shalit? Do you think there are human beings deserving human rights more than the others? Why the twisted hand of Mrs. Janan Makhoul disturbs you more than a man held in prison for years? Maybe it is because you are just a venal beast payed for picking on Israel? Or you are one of those dumb asses thinking that if they will lick to arabs, the arabs will hate the Jews any less?
Indeed, you’ve got my dead to rights. “Licking Arabs?” Are you out of yr mind??