Last night, I had the misfortune of telling you that some of Israel’s self-styled liberal intellectual elite had published a letter to Samer Issawi on his death bed, calling for him to end his hunger strike because he should be happy for Israel to send him into exile. It also suggested that his death would cause an unseemly amount of mess for Israel and ruin their (the signatories) efforts at forging a just solution to the conflict.
Tonight, I hear from Israeli that an entirely different group of Israeli public intellectuals have published an entirely different sort of letter (English translation, Tal Nitzan). Instead of presumptuously writing to Issawi as if he somehow is the cause of his own predicament, they wrote to the Chief Jailer himself, Bibi Netanyahu. They called for an end to the oppressive policy of administrative detention under which Issawi is held, along with thousands of others.
They also call for the immediate release of Issawi himself (unlike the letter from the “gentle souls” yesterday).
I note several commenters who flailed in their attempt to justify Issawi’s rearrest by noting the alleged violent acts in which he’d participated–all the while forgetting that Israel’s release of Issawi in the Shalit exchange gave Israel no right to rearrest him.
Further, the letter notes that the hunger strike is a return to the tradition of non-violent resistance represented by Gandhi. Therefore, any Israeli like Gershon Gorenberg and others who’ve written swill, wondering where’s the “Palestinian Gandhi” should be welcoming this effort and joining their voices to this letter. I note that Gorenberg isn’t among the signatories.
Among the signers of today’s letter are novelists, poets, actors, filmmakers, journalists and other artists, including Israel Prize winners Shimon Zandbank and Nili Mirsky, Yehoshua Sobol, Nisim Calderon, Tal Nitzan, Aharon Shabtai, Alona Kimchi, Nir Baram, Akiva Eldar, Sefi Rachlevski, Einat Weizman and Dana Olmert.
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.