Latest on Ameer Makhoul, Secret Arrest, Gag Order, and Silence of Israeli Press
Those of you who followed this blog during the thick of the Anat Kamm-Uri Blau case, noted a critical juncture at which the weight of the secret gag order charade became too heavy. After the Israeli media itself began obliquely ridiculing the Shin Bet for maintaining a secret that the whole world knew, including many Israelis among them, the gag collapsed like a house of cards.
We have come near to that in the case of Ameer Makhoul, director of the Israeli Palestinian community activist NGO, Ittijah, who was arrested in the dead of night at his Haifa apartment a few days ago after a team of 20 police and security agents ransacked his premises and stole cell phones, documents, computers and maps, including the research project of his teenage daughter. The charge was…well, there was no charge: the police carried a warrant which they initially refused to show the victim in defiance of police procedure. All it said was the Shin Bet had “secret information” justifying his arrest for “security reasons.” That’s it. And he was forbidden to consult his lawyer for two entire days.
The critical break in the assault on Makhoul may’ve come with an initial article in yesterday’s Haaretz (and one today in Ynet) which reported a mysterious rally held the day after Makhoul’s arrest by Israeli Palestinians in order to denounce the persecution meted out to community activists by the security services. Seventh Eye, the blog specializing in media criticism, wrote an account of the Israeli media’s dereliction of duty in covering the Makhoul case:
Israeli Arab Groups: Israel Is Persecuting Us read a headline on page 10 of Haaretz facing the obituaries. “Steps taken reminiscent of dark dictatorships,” read one prominent line quoted from the announcement of the meeting. The story itself speaks of an “emergency gathering” last Thursday night sponsored by tens of organizations from every part of the spectrum of the Arab community, despite the fact that the initiative for the meeting came only on the day of the event itself.
Why did the officials of these NGOs gather so urgently for such a meeting? What united every facet of the Arab community? Haaretz doesn’t say anything about this directly. Because the control of the state over information reaching the public doesn’t include the internet itself, citizens interested in learning the details of what is done by the ruling authorities in their name, may surf websites not bound by gag orders.
Among newspapers that are not Haaretz, there isn’t even an indirect reference to this event.
This situation has now changed in that Ynet, as I noted above, today published a similar piece to Haaretz, though Yediot was more explicit in noting there was a reason it couldn’t publish all the facts of the case. It also referred to this blog’s efforts to uncover the story and bring it to the attention of the Israeli and international audience:
Anat Kam II? Another affair freely discussed in blogs, websites around world, but in Israel press is muzzled. Arab rights groups: Gag order further evidence of police persecution of Arab community.
Again the whole world knows – but nobody tells us: A new security affair…has caused a storm in the Arab community of Israel. And just like in the Anat Kam case, in this case too the press is muzzled – even as the case gets extensive mention in blogs and website [sic] around the world.
Blogger Richard Silverstein in the website “Tikun Olam”, one of the first to write about the Anat Kam case, has already noted this new affair. In Facebook a protest group has already been set up…
Today, Haaretz also published a new story which reported on the protest planned for Haifa on Monday night and jointly sponsored by the left-wing political parties, Balad and Hadash. Haaretz was even more timid than Ynet though in its refusal to use the “G” word or more explicitly refer to those sources which have broken the gag:
Members of Arab advocacy groups, including Adallah, Mossawa and I’lam Media Center, are angry that they can’t provide details about the circumstances or the reasons for the protest, even though some information has been reported by journalists and bloggers in the United States and Europe, as well as by the Arab press in countries including Israel.
As I noted earlier, I learned another lesson from the Kamm-Blau affair, which featured a Facebook group that disseminated information rapidly and efficiently to its members. I created a group on behalf of Makhoul which after three days has nearly 2,000 members. I’ve learned an enormous amount from the links posted on the Wall there. I’ve also discovered valuable news sources including this one, which mourns the death of Israeli democracy through sharp satire. The post, by well-known Israeli political blogger, “Tom,” features three black and white outlines of images which it asks children to color in as if it was a drawing contest. Here are the sets of text accompanying each image:
Where Has the Arab Disappeared? Where Has Ameer Disappeared?
Weekly Child’s Drawing
Ameer Makhoul went to sleep in his home with his wife and children. Suddenly he disappeared. Along with him documents, maps, computers, his and his children’s cell phones disappeared as well. Can you help Ameer’s family find him?
Children: color in the drawing, leave just the disappeared for handling by the authorities who protect us. Send your drawings to:
Life is Here, Arabs are There
Where Has Democracy Disappeared?
Citizens of the Only Democracy in the Middle East went to sleep smug and blind, when suddenly Democracy disappeared. Some of them claimed it never existed. Can you help the citizens find Democracy? Or at least the remains of her dismembered body? Children, color in the drawing, leaving just Democracy for handling by the security forces.
During the Kamm-Blau affair I noted the power of social networking sites like Facebook to draw together hundreds and thousands of people in support of Israeli political activism and social justice. This was aided by the fact that Facebook is even more popular in Israel than here. Not only is the same the case in our new cause, I’ve noticed a new wrinkle which should alarm the Israeli security services: we’ve managed to bring together people speaking Hebrew, English and Arabic and representing Israeli Jews, Palestinians, and English speakers throughout the world, in a broad campaign to free Makhoul and end the persecution of Israel Jewish and Palestinian human rights and peace activists. This truly is an era in which security forces find it next to impossible to control the democratic impulses of the internet. We may not be able to bring Israeli-Palestinian peace, but we can do our best to fight back against some of the worst excesses of Israel’s security apparatus.
I invite you to join the Free Ameer Makhoul Facebook group and contribute the information, ideas, and thoughts you have to the movement.
38 thoughts on “Latest on Ameer Makhoul, Secret Arrest, Gag Order, and Silence of Israeli Press – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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How can you claim “a team of 20 police and security agents ransacked his premises and stole cell phones, documents, computers and maps, including the research project of his teenage daughter.”,
when one sentence later you also write “the police carried a warrant”.
Another clear case of demagogue writing, twisting of facts and misleading the public.
I bet you didn’t try riding a bus in Jerusalem a few years ago, when they were all exploding around us….
Wake up, the arabs are not innocent children being murdered by nazi jews.
Stop being a demagogue.
Do you call a piece of paper which does not specify a charge or justification for a search as a “search warrant?” I call it tissue paper passing for a legal document.
I never said that. You did. But certainly lots of Arabs are being killed, murdered however you want to call it by the IDF. You’d just prefer to look the other way.
Is there (by now) a SINGLE KEYWORD for bloggers to use to identify a text which reveals Israeli gag stuff? Is there a title,
like “Israeli Gag” which would help a Google search find ALL of this stuff? If not, maybe you can start one.
You continue your crusade against the truth…
The guy was arrested for espionage. He was an agent of Hezbollah. I assume no other country would arrest a spy? I assume every other county would rush to publicize the arrest of a spy and undermine the investigation?
Stop spreading your lies and hatred. You look pathetic.
Is an arrest the same as a conviction? Apparently in your far right Arab hating universe. For all you know, he had a cup of coffee with someone & they talked about the whether. The fact that the person w. whom he shared a cup of coffee had some affiliation w. some forbidden organization means Makhoul can be charged w. espionage. Puh-leeze. Is that what passes for justice by you?
It’s you are not only look, but are pathetic.
You should really see a shrink about that hate disorder that you have.
You believe that the more leftist you are, the more you hate the evil rightists, the smarter it’ll make you, but that’s obviously false.
You keep on denying the facts, hating everyone bringing them up and making up your own ones. Your coffee hypothesis is obviously as wrong as calling me a far right Arab hater.
You keep jumping into idiotic conclusions (that you wish to be true, in order to hate someone), you keep failing, but you just keep going anyway and never learn. The definition of pathetic.
Go see that shrink.
Don’t tell me what I believe since you don’t have a clue. But I do know that you’re not very smart. You don’t even make any substantive statements at all about anything. Talk about the definition of pathetic. You’re someone who can’t even make a coherent argument.
[comment deleted for comment rule violations and commenter banned]
the gag order has already been lifted in Israel. Two people were arrested for suspicion of spying for the Huzballa. Last time that happend (MK Azmi Bshara) it turned out to be true and he escaped to an another country.
The Shin Bet never proved anything regarding Azmi Bishara and he was driven into involuntary exile. He didn’t “escape.” The Shin Bet allowed him to leave. Get yr facts straight, man!
Why doesn’t he return and face a judge?
I just find out that this person is a spy and works for terrorist organisation of Hizbulla.
Is that enough for you?
Democracy need to defend itself against traitors!
Are you blind or anything?
What is wrong with you?
We all just found out that you’re a jack2*s. And that’s enough for us as far as you’re concerned.
“I just find out that this person is a spy and works for terrorist organisation of Hizbulla.”
YOU found that out?!
Please share the details with us, so that we can be convinced by your discovery.
Why do you think we should convince you otherwise?
Why do you think we should give any evidence to you?
This is a matter of homeland security and when they decide to share more info , you will know about it.
So what is the evidence then that convinced you that “this person is a spy and works for terrorist organisation of Hizbulla”? You offer no proof, and say that it is not anyone’s business to ask for proof either. Please don’t claim you have “found out” something when you haven’t.
Well, the gag order has been lifted (partially) and now we know the charges.
You know nothing other than what the Shin Bet claims w. no evidence whatsoever.
These guys are Hizbullah spies, they should be executed
I don’t think there is one single Israeli Arab that is loyal to the state of Israel…
Good to know racism is alive and well in the Jewish homeland & Only Democracy in the Middle East.
@ pabelmont, may I suggest the term JASGTM.
(Jewish Apartheid State Gone Totally Mad)
This is not really a comment but I don’t know how to contact you. When I try to access your site from my home computer I am prevented from doing so, claiming that spam has been sent from my IP number before. Do you have any idea what the problem is?
I have once before left a comment on your website but that was not spam, not abusive and not even critical. I do enjoy your site and would very much like to get access to it again.
My comment feature was not working properly on Sunday. I apologize for the inconvenience. If you have future problems pls. use the Contact link on my main page to let me know.
gag order has been lifted
No, we don’t know the charges. We have been allowed only a small and a very general glimpse into them. Like I don’t know what the weather will be in Israel in three months from now, but I can tell it will be hot.
“Espionage” is a complicated thing. It can refer to handing out sensitive security info to the guys at God’s Party (though where would Makhoul get such info?), as well as to having a cup of coffee together with a Hizbullah man somewhere in Amman and speaking with him in general terms about the Arabs in Israel (“Arabs 48,” for those who wish to call them so) and about what they think of different things. And of course, it can be yet another bluff by the Shabak (Tali Fahima, anyone?).
I’m not saying we should demand the Shabak to issue a communiquet specifying all the details of the case. I’m saying we shoud be sceptical to what the Shabak tells us, pending further information. And of course, preventing Makhoul from consulting a lawyer is a violation of basic human rights, which is unjustified regardless of the charges.
You haven’t even been offered a glimpse. You’ve been offered nothing other than what the Shin Bet has spoonfed you. If you believe the idea that these men are spies just as surely as the weather will be hot in summer, then you’re a poor excuse for reasonable fair person.
We agree on this.
You misunderstood me (and I should have probably made the comparison more detailed). “Hot” can signify different things, though it is admittedly a less complicated term than “espionage.” And sometimes, in Jerusalem, where I live, there are really nice days in August. So, I’m sure it will be over 20 degrees centigrade here in three months from now, but whether it will be around 25 or 40 degrees — well, it’s kinda difference. Similarly, I’m quite sure that the state prosecution will press espionage charges against Makhoul and Sa’id — after all the drumming of this case on their part, they would simply lose their face if they don’t. But the specific character of those charges may be anything from really serious to almost absurd (like a coffee talk with a Hizbullah man), and that’s what will make the real difference. One shouldn’t be pissed off by the mere term “espionage.”
Just to bad that Israel has already lifted the gag order, so you can’t go on for too long drawing a bad, bad, undemocratic Israel.
Too bad that the two Hisb’Allah friends Arabs are so much less ‘sexy’ than your Anat Kamm.
Tell me something: Is that fun? Have you nothing to do? Ever thought about writing against the Iranian press suppression as a change?
Glad to see you’re such an advocate of democracy, fairness & equal justice that you believe accusations even before they’ve been proven or even raised in a court of law.
First of all I guess you do support censorship since you seemingly censored already two comments by me that were rightist and critical of your site. Against censorship and censoring yourself? Double standards?
From your answer I can only understand that you don’t trust the State of Israel at all. But still, Israel is a democratic state and when it’s security agency thinks it should withhold certein informations from the public and a idenpendet court agrees to that, I see no problem with that whatsoever. The contrary: I am happy there are still some people not infected with that selfdestructing virus that has taken over your blog, and protects us from Israel’s enemies.
Do you really don’t get it that certain publications could endanger the security of Israel of its people?
Let’s say the police catches a member of a terrorist organization that have kidnapped 10 Israelis. The moment they would know that their friend is catchec (publication) they would kill all their hostages. So what’s so wrong about forbidding the press to go public with the arrest in this example case? Can you explain?
Are you suggesting Makhoul kidnapped 10 Israelis or something? If not, just get out of here with your imaginary ‘examples’. You are just trying to divert the discussion to your fantasies.
Nope, you seemingly just don’t know how you make universal arguments. Mr. Sivlerstein here on this blog seems to claim that always Israel issued some kind of gag order, it is a bad thing and a democracy should not do such things, where is the freedom of press etc. etc. A very absolutist standpoint, knowing no exceptions just a universal: ‘Gag orders are always bad.’ Maybe that’s not really the way Mr. Silverstein thinks, but this kind of spirit lives in his articles. So I challenged such an absolutist standpoint with an extreme example that would let a total argument of ‘Gag order always bad’ look silly in order to get his reaction.
I do NOT suggest that ‘nice’ Mr. Makhoul has done that, but he also can endanger Israel or Israelis in other ways that ask for a gag order.
Richard just hate the state of Israel and no matter what happen he will write hate post against it.
I never saw a post about Iran regime or Lebanon or even Hamas.
He is pure racist.
Menash, your ‘never’ apparently means something like ‘ since yesterday’. You are obviously very new here. Please search the archives.
You kidding right? Take a look at past few months posts and find one post pro Israel.
He has one side only. Against Israel.
It doesn’t matter that Palestinians educate their kids to kill Jews.
It doesn’t matter that Muslims in Eygpt or Lebanon are educated that Jews are less then dogs.
It doesn’t matter that Hizbulla TV show and happy when Israelis are being murdered.
It doesn’t matter that Iran wants to do a second holocust to the Jews.
Where are the posts about those issues?
Israel is not innocent, but what would the US do if Mexico start shooting rockets to LA everyday?
One terror action in NYC back in 2001 send the US to a war in Afganistan. Look at the mirror first!
I am not going to search the archives for you. You could learn a lot by reading through the past posts yourself.
As to the example of Mexico shooting rockets to LA: Maybe Mexico would, if 70% of their population descended from people who had been thrown out LA 60 years ago (70% of Gazans descend from people who were thrown out of Israel, did you know?), or if the US had built a wall on Mexico’s territory. Even though I (and Richard too) condemn these attacks, it is important to understand that they do have a historical background.
I do not need to look in the mirror. I am not American but most importantly: I thought (as many Americans do) that the US war on Afghanistan was wrong. Some people criticize their own country. To tell such people to look in the mirror is totally unnecessary.
I totally agree with you.
Richard motivation is driven from hate.
I’m feeling sorry about him. Hammas should recruit this guy to their troops, he might consider being a suicide bomber and kill some Israelis.
A serious violation of my comment rules. You don’t even get a warning. You’re banned.