Monday, April 27, 2009

Police staging political theater

As Jewish Peace News reported last September, Israel's Attorney General instructed police to investigate New Profile, a feminist movement working to demilitarize society and state in Israel. Among many other activities, New Profile creates safe spaces for young people to explore their views and feelings regarding military service-including their misgivings-and provides them with information regarding their legal rights as candidates for conscription. As the allegations would have it, however, the movement has actively incited young women and men to resist military service and has guided some of them in obtaining exemptions through fraudulent means.

On the morning of April 26th, Israel's police produced a hyperbolic piece of political theater. As if faced with a dangerous, violent organized crime "family", the police—as their press release put it—"raided" the homes of several New Profile activists in different parts of Israel.

As Ofra Lyth of New Profile noted, it was by no coincidence that the "raid" was staged just before Israel observes the annual day of remembrance for dead soldiers. Its timing exploited the ritual emotions of memorial day to deepen the demonization of the activists and movement it targeted, excluding them from legitimate membership in the community and making them (us) fair game.

Below are:
1) A press release issued by New Profile;
2) A Ynet report on the investigation;
3) An open letter from Eldad Kisch, life-partner of Annelien Kisch, one of the activists detained for interrogation;
4) A call to action from Jewish Voice for Peace with suggestions of what to do and a link through which you can contact the Attorney General.

Despite this stepped-up persecution of oppositional activism, all of us are well aware that Jewish activists are still more privileged and less endangered than our Palestinian friends, both within the borders of Israel and in the occupied territories. They are subject to such tactics and worse, continuously. However, as the rabid right, now officially instated in government in Israel, sets out to prove its mettle, your individual action—from anywhere in the world—is vital for denouncing and stopping its anti-democratic, orchestrated suppression of dissent.

Rela Mazali


26 April 2009

New Profile Movement: Harsh Police Attack on Freedom of Expression

The Police Detained Political Activists from Ramat Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Beer Sheva

• "One who believed that criminal cases due to political activism are conjured up "only" for Arab citizens discovers that s/he is also liable to be detained due to the expression of opinions concerning the failures of the society and rule in Israel."
• Amongst the detainees – a 70 year old ceramic artist, the daughter of a family of "Righteous among the Nations" from Holland, a grandmother to six Israeli grandchildren

This morning the Israeli police descended upon the homes of political activists, members of the feminist movement New Profile, which acts for the civil-ization of society in Israel and against the undue influence of the military on life in the country.

The police demanded that the activists turn over the computers located in their homes, and among other things took the computers of partners of the detainees and in one case also the computer of a fourth grade pupil, the daughter of one of those interrogated. The computers of family members were returned after the activists were released on bail.

Amongst those interrogated: Analeen Kish, aged 70, a ceramics artist, daughter of a family of the the "Righteous among the Nations" who converted to Judaism after her marriage to Holocaust survivor Dr. Eldad Kish, active in organizations of Dutch Holocaust survivors in Israel. The pair have six grandchildren; Miriam Hadar, age 51, an editor and translator, mother of two, married to professor of psychology Uri Hadar. The two women were born in Holland and continue to hold Dutch citizenship.

Additionally detained for interrogation were Amir Givol, a resident of Jerusalem, Sergei Sandler, a resident of Beer Sheva, and Roni Barkan, a resident of Tel Aviv. The computers of all those interrogated were taken by the police, who presented search warrants.

All five were interrogated in the Ramat Hachiyal station in the Yarkon Region of the police. At the conclusion of the interrogation they were released on bail and under limitng conditions, and all were told that during the next 30 days they are forbidden to contact other members of the movement.

The New Profile Movement expressed rage over the interrogation and the demand to not have contact with other members, which means a partial paralysis of the activities of this important organization in civil society in Israel.

Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, who is representing New Profile, said that the investigation of the police is focusing on the website of New Profile, which has links to other sites on the internet. Ben Nathan added that the New Profile Movement is a recognized non-profit association which acts openly and publicly, in accordance with the law, and the use of a criminal investigation in this context is invalid and exaggerated, and stands in opposition to freedom of expression.

New Profile is a feminist movement established ten years ago. The movement has been warning for years of the exaggerated and destructive influence of Israeli militarism on civilian life, and provides legal aid and social support to young people desiring not to do military service, both for political and personal reasons.

The New Profile Movement noted today: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."

For interviews:
Dr. Diana Dolev, telephone: 052 872 8300 Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, telephone: 052 358 9775

For further details:
Ofra Leith, telephone: 050 552 4372
Eilat Maoz, Coordinator of the Women's Coalition for Peace, telephone: 050 857 5729


Six arrested for promoting draft-dodging

Police detain suspects, one of them a 70-year-old woman, seize computers used to upload material to website encouraging draft-dodging Avi Cohen

Six suspects, one of them a 70-year old woman, were detained for questioning and released Sunday on suspicion that they preached in favor of dodging the IDF's draft. Police say more suspects have been located and will be detained.

Police have been following the activities of two websites called Target 21 and New Profile, which encourage youths to dodge the mandatory draft. Officers used IP addresses to locate computers outputting information to the sites and arrived at the owners' homes Sunday morning to search the premises.

During the searches in homes located in various cities, including Ramat Hasharon and Jerusalem, officers confiscated computers and other materials related to draft-dodging. Police plan to use the material in order to charge the suspects.

A 70-year old woman who was among the suspects detained told Ynet she had no regrets. "Four policemen arrived at my home at 7 am but I wasn't home. My husband opened the door for them and they took two computers; mine and my husband's. They took some stickers and then summoned me for questioning," she said.

"I'm not nervous about this because my conscience is clear. We don't incite. Everything we do is legal, and that's what I told them during the interrogation. I'm calm. I don't know what they will claim, but you can sense a lack of democracy in the air," the woman added.

New Profile, on its part, stated that it was a public and fully legal establishment and that the interrogation violated freedom of speech.

"The militarization of Israeli society harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of speech, and political freedom. For people who thought that only Israeli-Arabs were being framed for criminal political activity, this morning was proof that none of us can be sure of the permission to express ourselves freely regarding the failings of Israel's society and regime," the statement said.

Anat Shalev contributed to this report


Is the Police State here already?

Part one.

At seven in the morning loud knocks on our door. I was barely awake, but Annelien was already in the swimming pool doing her customary 50 laps. In my innocence I thought that this was the refrigerator repair man, a little early in the day, but one has to be grateful for small favors. Our climate is not ideal for keeping the food fresh without the benefit of this technology.

Well, I was mistaken. Four strong policemen asked for Mrs Annelien Kisch. In all honesty I answered that she is not home. No explanation was forthcoming what they wanted of her. But they produced a warrant for a search in our house, in order to impound her computer, and mine too for good measure.

They asked when Annelien will be home, I told them in an hour or so. After a search of the house, not very thorough, but still, they decided that they had waited enough, and left a summons for her to come to the police station. They took our two computers, after signing a receipt.

In the meantime we heard that a friend of Annelien, a mother of two, was also rudely awakened at seven, all computers in the house were taken, including that of her 9 year old daughter. She was not allowed to take her child to school, but was directly put in the police van and taken to the police station; she was interrogated until 1 o'clock.

Annelien, a law-abiding citizen came to the police station, after finishing some things at home. The lawyer of her organization, New Profile, had been alarmed and had rushed to the police station, but she was not allowed to be present at the interrogation. At around two I was called that I could take Annelien home after signing an agreement that she would not contact her political friends for 30 days. My computer was released. I have no way of knowing whether the contents were copied or the whole thing was a farce.

Some explanations are called for. New Profile has been active in defending conscientious objectors to military service and in assisting soldiers refusing to serve in the occupied territories, legally and even paying for the upkeep of their families while they served time in jail. NP is not making any propaganda for doing these things, but will encourage youngsters to think for themselves, by pointing out what the occupation means on a day to day basis. This is not appreciated in all quarters.

Why now? An investigation has been threatened over half a year ago. Now we have a new rightist government that must show that something is done to improve the morale of the army and that they will stand by idly while young men 'shirk their duty'. I can think of some religious boys who shirk their duty, but that is acceptable.

Personally, I do not like being awakened at seven in the morning by four policemen. It makes me nervous. I feel very unhappy without my computer (not knowing that it would be returned so soon; but then I do not know very well were all the cables go to make the think work again).

I write this in haste before anything else happens.

In all honesty I must add that the policemen were polite, and the interrogation of Annelien was fair.

Otherwise a great country.

Eldad Kisch; April 26, 2009.


From: Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace []

Sent: Sun 4/26/2009 3:39 PM

Subject: What would you do if the government confiscated your computer?

Dear friend,

Let me cut down to the chase. We have just learned that a number of Israeli peace activists have had their computers confiscated, have been called for interrogations, and have only been released upon signing agreements not to contact their political friends for 30 days. We are asking you to contact the Israeli Attorney General to demand an immediate stop to this harassment.

The activists targeted are members of New Profile, a group of feminist women and men daring to suggest that Israel need not be a militarized society. They are being wrongfully accused of inciting young people--like the shministim--not to enlist in the army. The charge is not true. While New Profile does not tell youngsters not to enlist, they certainly support those who do not: pacifists, those who oppose the occupation, and others. New Profile informs them of their rights and gives them legal support when necessary. But Israel is a country that does not acknowledge the basic human right to conscientious objection.

The government's accusation against New Profile is not new. It has been out there for some time, as a source of harassment. Today's police actions tighten the screws considerably. We've seen how international pressure has helped get many shministim out of jail. Now it's time to put as much pressure so that Israeli peace activists can do their work free of intimidation.

I leave you with a note from New Profile: "These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up "only" for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel."

Sydney Levy


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