Sunday, May 31, 2009

An update on New Profile investigation and a request for further support

Here is an update regarding the criminalization of New Profile, putting it in the context of larger steps
by Israeli authorities to suppress freedom of expression.
Support given so far is highly appreciated, but more is needed! -- See below.

Racheli Gai

An update on our investigation and further recommended action

An update on our investigation and further recommended action

Dear Friends and Supporters,

So many have stepped forward to back New Profile during this time. We would like to thank you warmly. This has been deeply meaningful for us. In a truly amazing show of support, you have sent over 5,000 letters to Israel's Attorney General, protesting the criminalization of New Profile, via the Jewish Voice for Peace website. You have, moreover, taken many other actions, as suggested on our website.

We are writing to let you know that your voice is getting through, apparently penetrating the indifference of Israeli authorities. The Israeli Human Rights and Foreign Relations Dept. has sent many of you a formal answer, indicating that they cannot afford to ignore the massive mobilization of New Profile supporters worldwide, and exposing their need to save face

We are writing to ask you to keep up your meaningful work; please stay with us and write the government again (see proposed sample letter below) that you are not convinced by their façade of human rights and legalese. (You can once again do this either through Jewish Voice for Peace or independently, to one of the addresses listed on our website).

An escalating abuse of state power

New Profile is not an isolated case. Eleven New Profile activists were detained or summoned by police for interrogation on trumped up suspicions of incitement and assisting in the obtainment of fraudulent exemptions from the military. For a full month they remained under restrictions and four activists' computers were held by the police. A court case, and even prison sentences, may be in the offing (Check our website soon for ongoing updates).

All of this, however, is part and parcel of the sharply increased scapegoating, intimidation and harassment of Israeli citizens, and especially Palestinian citizens of Israel, who dare to voice opposing opinions. The Association of Civil Rights in Israel notes an escalation of harassment and violence against Left Wing activists by Israeli government authorities and the police since Israel's military incursion into Gaza in December 2008, in an apparent, systematic attempt to silence dissent and stifle political discourse.

Here is a short list of some of the victims and incidents:
1 Samih Jabarin (41) – from Yaffa (Jaffa), is being held under strict house arrest at his parents' home in the city of Um Al Fahim. He is charged with assaulting Chief of the Northern Border Patrol, during a demonstration on no evidence other than the officer's own statement. Jabarin, who is barred from his creative work, his studies, and his normal living environment, also serves as a blatant warning to other activists (see petition in his support).
2 Anarchists Against the Wall - Members of this organization also experience ongoing attempts to oppress their activities against Israel's occupation of Palestine and its inhuman separation wall. Now, more and more, the Israeli military is targeting Israeli citizens, too, in addition to Palestinian and international protesters against the wall with lethal shootings, violent attacks, arrests and detention.
3 Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, is preparing a detailed report (soon to be featured on their website) on police violence against Arab university students who protested Israel's attack on Gaza, violence which was expressly allowed and aided by university authorities. Four of these students, Palestinian citizens of Israel, whom Adalah lawyers are representing, are currently facing charges and trials.
4 Adalah also reports the ongoing detention of some ten activists from the town of Shefamr, in northern Israel, all detained following the attack against Gaza, on suspicion of stone-throwing and/or disturbing the peace.
5 Ezra Nawi, an activist known for his work in South Mt. Hebron, West Bank, is accused of having assaulted a police officer during a demonstration to prevent the demolition of yet another Palestinian home. His ongoing work in the area has brought the plight of the Palestinians into the spotlight and his arrest is an attempt by authorities to silence him.
6 At a demonstration on April 30th, protesting the politicized investigation of New Profile, organized by the Coalition of Women for Peace, Tel Aviv police injured one of the women demonstrating and held eight demonstrators overnight, in a move that the court declared unjustified.

This is just part of the accumulating evidence of Israeli authorities' systematic deployment of police and the military to stifle protest and paralyze civil activism, while terrorizing Palestinian civil society in particular. The repressive, undemocratic state revealed by such practices cannot be hidden by legalistic phrases or respectable-looking letter heads. It is very far from the democracy that Israel claims to be.

Thank you for helping us let Israeli authorities know that their abuses of state power are visible and shameful, while their formalistic claims are unconvincing.


Rela Mazali and Ruth Hiller,
New Profile

Sample letter

Here is a sample letter to use if you wish:

Dear Mr. Assaf Radzyner , Adv.,

Thank you for responding to my protest against the criminal investigation of New Profile. Despite the explanation offered in this response, it has come to my knowledge that the attempted criminalization of New Profile is merely one case in a process of sharply increased scapegoating, intimidation and harassment of Israeli citizens who dare to voice opposing opinions. I have recently learned of accumulating evidence of Israeli authorities' systematic deployment of police and the military to stifle protest and paralyze civil activism. The repressive, undemocratic state revealed by such practices cannot be hidden by legalistic phrases or respectable-looking letter heads.

Some of the cases that have come to my knowledge include: the imprisonment of Samih Jabarin, police brutality against Anarchists Against the Wall and the Coalition of Women for Peace, the trial against Ezra Nawi and various measures of repression taken against university students, especially Palestinian Israeli citizens, by university authorities and by the police (in Haifa and elsewhere).

I would like to voice my strong protest against this escalating abuse of state power.


Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Rebecca Vilkomerson
Alistair Welchman
Jewish Peace News archive and blog:
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1 comment:

Marshalldoc said...

Can you give us an e-mail link to which we can send the letter?