Israel is one of the few so-called western democracies (it isn’t western and isn’t a democracy, but that’s another matter) that can disappear its citizens, even its Jewish ones, in total secrecy. I first learned about this (it had gone on before, of course) when it arrested Anat Kamm, the Israeli security whistleblower who served years in an Israeli prison for revealing IDF murders of unarmed Palestinians. Ever since, I’ve made it one of my missions to report on other Israelis disappeared in this fashion, both Palestinian and Jewish.
A confidential source informs me the Shabak arrested Michael (“Micha”) Peretz a few days ago. Everything about the case is under gag order and Israeli media may not report it. Peretz is a greenhouse builder in his 40s who lives in Mivtachim, near Israel’s southern border with Gaza. Though it’s very possible he was arrested for plotting terror attacks against Palestinian targets, he is not reputed to be a price tag “usual suspect.” He’s not known for a history of radical anti-Palestinian extremism.
I have several work and home phone numbers for him but I haven’t been able to reach anyone at those numbers. I’ve been trying to determine where he’s imprisoned. Dirar Abusisi is being held at Shikma Prison near Ashkelon, where Mordechai Vanunu and other security prisoners were held as well. It’s possible Peretz is there.
For Israelis who value press freedom, one of the ironies is that 7th Eye, the media watchdog publication of the Israel Democracy Institute, which promotes press freedom. However, it refuses to even link to posts of mine that violate gag orders. I’ve been told by a reporter there that doing so might put them at risk of prosecution. This is typical of the spinelessness of Israeli media. The one outfit that’s supposed to report on such abuses is too weak-kneed to pick up a pen to help.
Today brought another ‘triumph’ of the Israeli national security state. The Knesset elections committee, chaired by Israeli Palestinian judge Saleem Jubran, voted to expel Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset. Officially, they banned her from running in next month’s election. But essentially it expels her. Just as 1-million Palestinians were expelled in the Nakba, now the Israeli Knesset wants to finish the work begun in 1948.
It’s worth noting that the Israeli security police in effect expelled Zoabi’s political mentor, Azmi Bishara, from Israel on trumped up security offenses. This latest insult may be seen as part of that continuum.
The testimony yesterday against her was astonishing. When she asked to testify in Arabic, a Jewish MK said he expected the next thing out of her mouth would be an explosion. An Israeli professor witnessing the meeting said the representative of the Labor Party screamed at her: “There is no Palestinian people! There is no Occupation.” It goes without saying that all the major parties, who were each represented on the election committee, voted to ban her. This included the vaunted liberal Zionists of the Zionist Camp.
עו״ד אתגר, נציג סיעת העבודה בועדת הבחירות המרכזית קורא כלפי חנין זועבי: אין עם פלסטיני! אין כיבוש!
— Uri Zaki (@urizaki) February 12, 2015
There are liberal Zionists who’ll point out that the Supreme Court will likely overrule the election committee as it has in the past. Zoabi will likely be restored to the ballot and all will be right again in Zio-world. But the real shame here is that democracy hangs by a tiny, thin thread called the Supreme Court. This Court is increasingly right-wing and chauvinist. It can no longer be counted on to uphold principles of liberal democracy. Not to mention that a State with but a single national institution upholding democratic rights is pitiable.
As if all this doesn’t add insult to injury, today Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the Corrie family’s suit against the State for murdering their daughter was dismissed. There was a time when this Court was known for its liberal rulings upholding civil rights and reining in torture (somewhat). But the current Court has its first settler-justice and it has become increasing right-wing. So this ruling is not a surprise, though it is a slap in the face of the Corrie family, which has struggled for justice since an IDF armored bulldozer murdered Rachel as she protected a Palestinian home from demolition.
It’s interesting to note that Kayla Mueller, the U.S. humanitarian aid worker killed in Syria last week also did the same humanitarian work in Gaza. She writes in her diary about the terror of sleeping out in the open anticipating the arrival of IDF bulldozers at any moment, and fearing that she might be killed by one of them in the dead of night.
Finally, in yet another insult to democracy and artistic freedom, in the past few days Bibi Netanyahu had disqualified three judges who would determine the winners of Israel’s highest national award, the Israel Prize. He disqualified one judge on the film panel and two judges on the literary panel. One of the judges was allegedly disqualified because he’s supported IDF refusers.
As a result of this meddling all the judges on both panels (including the ones Bibi had no objection to) resigned and no awards were expected to be made this year. Into this political maelstrom stepped the attorney general, who warned Netanyahu that interfering in a major national cultural competition in the midst of the election season would be construed as naked political interference, bordering on violating the law.
As a result, Bibi’s legal advisor notified the AG that Bibi was stepping away from the matter. All the judges may resume their duties.
There are liberal Zionists out there who will point to the fact that right triumphed in the end, the system worked, blah, blah. Nah, not at all. There is no system but Bibi-system. He takes what he can. What he doesn’t get now he’ll get later. Don’t you worry about that.