Amnesty International released a statement today threatening to make Ameer Makhoul a prisoner of conscience unless Israel stopped its harassment of him:
Amnesty International has called on the Israeli authorities to end their harassment of a human rights activist whose week-long detention by the Israeli authorities was extended today.
…”Ameer Makhoul is a key human rights defender, well-known for his civil society activism on behalf of the Palestinian citizens of Israel,” said Philip Luther, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
“His arrest and continued detention smacks of pure harassment, designed to hinder his human rights work. If this is the case, we would regard him as a prisoner of conscience call for his immediate and unconditional release.”
This is precisely the type of outside pressure which may get the bullies in the Shin Bet to back off. The other type of pressure is exposing as much of the so-called secret evidence that is still under wraps. I welcome any sources coming forward with tips or credible information about what is still under seal in this case. As I noted earlier today, Haaretz apparently inadvertently broke the gag by revealing that at least one of the “forbidden” contacts Makhoul and Said had was with Hassan Jaja, who the S.B. strangely claims is a Hezbollah agent despite the fact that he lives in Amman and has no affiliation with the group. So much for the S.B. creating a credible narrative for Makhoul’s alleged spying.
An Ittijah staff member told Ynetnews how the Shin Bet develops and administers its list of forbidden contacts. And it’s a wonder of authoritarian caprice:
Ittijah (the Union of Arab Community-Based Associations) – an umbrella group for Arab NGOs in Israel which Makhoul heads – explained Monday that as part of his job description the writer met with many officials…
“Ittijah holds a list composed by the State of Israel, of which organizations are permitted for contact and which constitute breaking the law,” said Wakim Salame, a member of the organization’s managing committee.
She said it was “absurd”, however, that at times Israel lit upon an organization head whose views were not in line with the state’s, and suddenly changed his status to “hostile”.
“Suddenly, when you meet him at a convention, it becomes a meeting with a foreign agent and espionage. From time to time it changes. Once it was the PLO and then the Popular Front – now it’s a trend to say an agent from Hezbollah,” she said.
“The conferences he attends around the world are not like the Israeli ghetto,” said Jafar Farah, who heads the Mossawa Center, an Israeli-Arab NGO. “There are also Iranian, Lebanese, and Iraqi lobbyists present there. Naturally conversations are started and even friendships. No one checks whether the people we speak to are on some Israeli blacklist.”
Apparently, what Israeli Palestinians need to do is carry this list of forbidden interlocutors with them whenever they leave the country and before they so much as nod hello to anyone they should consult the list to determine their status. That is, if they even know the name of the individual to whom they’re waving. Otherwise, nodding hello can become a costly act of human concourse.
Today, the Israeli court approved Makhoul’s incarceration for another five days prolonging the prohibition from consulting his attorney (national security suspects can be denied counsel for up to 21 days under Israeli law). At today’s demonstration of Jews and Palestinian Israelis outside the court, Ynetnews quoted this disgruntled passerby who was nettled by any expression of solidarity between Jews and Arabs:
“I don’t have a problem with the Arabs, it is their right to protest, but what bothers me is that Jews are protesting with them. They should be locked in a dungeon for life,” one bystander said.
This is ‘democracy’ Israel-style.