For many years – Israel has been monitoring the social media accounts of pro-Palestinian activists. The Israeli government has a long track record of arresting Palestinians indiscriminately where they can and do detain every day Palestinian citizens in military prisons for up to 6 months without charge. But now they’re actually telling activists they will be arrested for posting content deemed to be “anti-Israel.”
Last week, Mahmoud Asila from the Old City of al-Quds, was arrested for merely posting a picture on Facebook that claimed he was in support of the attacks carried out by the Palestinians against the Israeli forces occurring in the West Bank. Israel called this thought crime “incitement”.
Asila claims that he did, in fact, make the post but he was just voicing his freedom of speech online.
This is drawing plenty of criticism from human rights groups:
“The international law and the four Geneva conventions state that no government has the right to arrest people for their ideas or for what they publish on their pages. But Israel, which is not respecting any international law, will be preventing freedom of speech, especially in Jerusalem al-Quds, to keep controlling the city and humans leading the youth,” Bassem Eid, a human rights activist, told the Press TV correspondent.
But arresting Palestinians for thought crime and political dissidence is not new either. The Israeli government has arrested Palestinian journalists, raided international news offices located in Palestine, or just flat out killed them. Many of those journalists are just pointing out what the U.S. State Department described as “institutional discrimination” in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012.
The growing criticism of the Israeli government is the result of a long campaign of ethnic cleansing wherein land is taken away from Palestinians to build “Jews only” homes. When a country announces that it will be a sectarian state based on the religious values of one religion – history shows that does not end well. The new “anti-terror bill,” proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Neyanyahu last Sunday, would do the following if passed according to Ynet – one of Israel’s largest news sources:
- Anyone deemed to be a “terrorist” will be stripped of their citizenship and deported, including family members of those terrorists who claim support for them.
- Anyone displaying the Palestinian flag or other flags deemed “terroristic” will be arrested and held without bail until trial.
- If convicted of “terrorism” or “supporting terrorism” you will be denied national insurance benefits and lose your driver’s license for 10 years.
- The homes of accused terrorists’ families will be demolished within 24 hours of the terrorist act.
- Bodies of terrorists will not be delivered to their families, and will be buried in secret, without funeral rites.
- Businesses that print anything supportive of “terrorism” will be immediately shut down.
- Businesses can request a file on an employee and fire them for actions committed, even previous to their employment, that are deemed to be in support of “terrorism.”
Not only is this bill “collective punishment” for the families of those who would be accused, but there is no expectation of being found guilty in a court of law. If you’re Palestinian – you do not have the right to confront your accuser in a court of law … meanwhile – Jewish settlers living next door on illegal settlements receive all of the rights given to them under Israeli law. To the Israeli government – all of those who would resist the government’s 47 year military occupation are considered “terrorists”. The Israeli Prime Minister – Bibi Netanyahu – has called kids throwing rocks “terrorists” and helped pass a law that would give 20 years in prison to anyone found guilty of throwing rocks (but not if you’re Jewish).
Any criticism of Israel is considered anti-semitic in nature; meanwhile – in Israel any public calls for genocide of Palestinians are openly accepted and embraced. Some examples are this Facebook page calling for the murder of a Palestinian “every hour” HERE, this Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide on Facebook HERE, the blog approved in the Times of Israel called “When genocide is permissible” HERE, the statement on Facebook by the deputy speaker of the Knesset – Moshe Feiglin – to force Palestinians into concentration camps and to exterminate all of those who do not go HERE. To date – zero individuals mentioned above have even been questioned by the police for their incitement of genocide.
And on the backdrop of all of this is a bill that passed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet which would call for Israel as a state for the Jewish people and would create an even more obvious distance between the rights of Jews in Israel and everyone else. Even the Israeli President – Reuven Rivlin – has adamantly opposed it. As he told the Guardian:
“But not only is the proposed law unnecessary, it is harmful. A quarter of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and probably the most important item on the nation’s agenda should be their integration into the fabric of Israeli society and their participation in the Israeli economy. Giving them the feeling of being at home, of being equal citizens.”
The U.S. State Department took the following stance in light of this recent news:
“Israel is a Jewish and democratic state and all its citizens should enjoy equal rights. We expect Israel to stick to its democratic principles,” said Jeff Rathke, a state department spokesman.
This caused Israel’s economy minister and leader of the nationalist Jewish Home party, Mr. Naftali Bennett, to say via Israel Radio:
“I say to the Americans: we will manage the matters of the state of Israel ourselves.”
Perhaps Mr. Bennett is suggesting that the United States discontinue the economic and military aid it has been giving the country since 1948, when it first introduced its Declaration of Independence. To date, the U.S. has given Israel over 233 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation), and comprises 1/3rd of the entire annual foreign aid budget.