We Accuse!: Press Statement by the Family of Ameer Makhoul

26 May 2010

Today is the 21st day since the arrest of Ameer Makhoul at his home in Haifa, Israel, under the cover of darkness, by the International Crimes Investigation Unit and General Security Service (GSS or Shabak) officers. The arrest was conducted in a brutal and terrifying manner. Our house was raided, its contents ransacked, and various pieces of equipment and objects of special value to us were confiscated. Violations of our fundamental rights to human dignity and privacy were committed, and physical, verbal and psychological violence were employed against us and in front of our two daughters. On this day we, Ameer’s family, announce that we are extremely worried about what is happening to him and about the conditions of his detention.

We know that Ameer has suffered and continues to suffer from acute pains in his head, his back and in both of his legs as a result of the severe torture he was subjected to, in breach of his most basic human rights. These include the rights to sleep, drink and eat, and the rights to dignity and not to be exposed to humiliating and degrading treatment. His complete isolation from the outside world, the control exercised over him by the GSS interrogators, and his interrogation for hours and days on end without sleep, while in shackles and bound by his hands and feet to a low chair in a way that did not allow him to move, causing him severe pain, from which he still continues to suffer now, all resulted in his losing his sense of time and ability to think and concentrate, and in his mental disorientation. These methods are illegal under Israeli and international law.

Until today, 26 May, the court refused to allow Ameer’s attorneys to read the medical report written by a doctor who visited him twice during the interrogation. It also refused to allow an independent doctor sent from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel to examine him, as demanded by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. These refusals raise concerns and questions about the information that the GSS, with the backing of the court, wants to conceal regarding his conditions of detention and their methods of interrogation. What, we wonder, is the GSS hiding and why is it stalling? Is it in order to hide signs of the physical and psychological violence it has inflicted on him? And why has the court given its consent to these procedures?

What particularly worries us is that Ameer continues to complain of acute pains, and his eyesight has deteriorated, which has compelled him to ask for a stronger pair of glasses. The question is how and why this severely diminished eyesight was caused during his detention, and what the methods of interrogation were that led to this deterioration and to the pains he is complaining of.

The bigger questions are: What is the Israeli security establishment trying to cover up? Why is the court colluding with the GSS and concealing the conditions of detention and methods of interrogation/torture that have been used against Ameer?

Why did the court block the publication of the details of Ameer’s affidavit as it relates to the illegal methods of interrogation used against him, and which he spoke of before his lawyers in his initial meeting with them, held after around two weeks of being banned from access to legal counsel?

We appeal to the local and international communities and to individuals to continue to act quickly to put pressure on the Israeli government and legal system to open an independent investigation into the methods used by the GSS interrogators against Ameer, and to demand the indictment of those responsible for the use of torture against him. We also call on the local and international communities to consider any indictment by the GSS to have been fabricated and extorted under torture and gained solely by obstructing democratic freedoms and human rights. These acts are invalid and illegitimate, and in flagrant violation of international law.

We call for demands on the Israeli authorities to immediately call off this trial, which is based on an investigation in which Ameer was prevented from defending himself in any genuine manner. Ameer was denied the basic human rights to which he is entitled under Israeli and international law. The independence of the judiciary and democratic freedoms were dangerously subjected to the dictates of the GSS in this case.

We greatly appreciate the community, institutional and individual solidarity with Ameer, local and international, and all efforts to defend his freedom. We are aware of the importance of the role played by all political movements and political parties in challenging the circumstances of Ameer’s arrest, and this attack against the Arab public and its leadership, and on democratic freedom and human rights. We are also aware that the clear strategic choice of the Arab public in Israel has been and continues to be the that of unyielding and legitimate political struggle.

The fact is that Ameer Makhoul does not belong to any specific political party. Rather, he reserves for himself an independent position, which is a clear indication that the main target of this attack is the Arab Palestinian public and their leadership, their rights and freedoms. Defending the freedom of Ameer and his rights as a detainee, and rejecting incitement against Arab citizens in light of his detention, are not an individual or class issue, but a national, democratic mission.

The real indictment is against the GSS and the Israeli establishment, which are trampling on democratic freedoms and human rights and resorting to illegal methods of interrogation and torture.

Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 32 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. potsherd says:

    The victims cry out, the world turns away.

  2. Chaos4700 says:

    And Witty considers this perfectly legal execution of “Jewish self-determination.”

  3. annie says:

    phil, i just finished emailing you about Ameer Makhoul’s torture as reported at helena cobban’s. this just drives me crazy.

    i am also concerned about the new legislation being pushed thru to inable israel to revoke citizenship based on conviction of terrorism. why are they pushing this thru now and is this a test case for getting rid of prominent israeli palestinians?

    thank you Janan Abdu and Issam Makhoul, you are in my prayers as is Ameer .

  4. VR says:

    This is the beginning of what I have been talking about, and of which no one has said boo. It always starts this way –

    WHAT IS GOING ON?

    This is an article written by Jonathan Cook, it is factually accurate. The only process remaining after reading the the facts is interpreting what they mean in the schema of of the colonial settler state of Israel. What is obvious is that the 20% Palestinian population is a mere veneer to “democratic” respectability – this can be seen not only by these facts, but by what is done to Palestinians within the Occupied Territories and elsewhere (Gaza, diaspora).

    When all of the facts are in because of the ethnic cleansing processes going on inside of the OT and Gaza, and because to the 60 plus years of denial of the right of return of Palestinians, the obvious reason for relegating the Palestinians inside of Israel to a mere footnote are plans for expulsion by the Zionist entity that will have little affect on how Israel functions by what they have been relegated too. The expulsion has been repeatedly threatened, even the Palestinians inside of the Israeli government have been harassed and in some cases expelled being made into “criminal” refugees – essentially I am not talking about common discrimination. So even though there are obvious parallels to South African Apartheid inside of Israel (above sign), it is much worse, and points to obvious incremental plans for future ethnic cleansing, combined with Gaza and the OT, which will dwarf the historic Nakba (in the sense of the past act, because the Nakba has never ceased).

    • VR says:

      “The fact is that Ameer Makhoul does not belong to any specific political party. Rather, he reserves for himself an independent position, which is a clear indication that the main target of this attack is the Arab Palestinian public and their leadership, their rights and freedoms. Defending the freedom of Ameer and his rights as a detainee, and rejecting incitement against Arab citizens in light of his detention, are not an individual or class issue, but a national, democratic mission.”

      How long has this silly bifurcation been going on about “inside and outside” of Israel, as if we are dealing with two totally different entities? Even though I greatly appreciate, as an example, the Carter book which helped to break some ice in discussing “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” repeatedly accentuated the difference between what takes place inside of Israel as opposed to what happens outside of it.

      However, it is not only done with Israel, it is done with all so-called democracies, that act like devils supposedly outside the domestic arena and like some group of angels inside the domestic arena. Like the two, foreign policy and domestic policy are never going to meet and like one will not affect the other – it is simply amazing.

      When Carter went to Brandeis he made sure this above point was pressed, well – is it holding up? I gave this observation at this time –

      “Than he says that he is talking about the “conditions inside the Occupied Territories” but not inside of Israel. Pardon me, is it not the same people who make decisions Inside of Israel, that make the decisions of what takes place in the Occupied Territories? Or are we talking about two different groups of people? Don’t they reside in Tel Aviv? With the mantle of statehood one’s leadership is always open to criticism, without being constantly branded anti-semitic.

      If we were going to arrest those who made those horrific decisions inside the Occupied Territories would we arrest the alter ego’s of those rulers in Tel Aviv and let their good sides go free? Simply laughable, we have the two faces of Janus here. This is an unwarranted dichotomy, simply a sleight of hand – it strains the bonds of credulity beyond all reason.”

      SO HAPPY TOGETHER

      Now if you want to read the article, look at what is going on today, and you can tell me I am prescient. However this has nothing to do with prescience, it has everything to do with looking at plain reality, “objectively” accessing what is taking place, and projecting what will eventually take place if the present course is allowed to continue with impunity.

      • Avi says:

        Ameer Makhoul will be subjected to torture, including beatings and a psychological process to break him down, mentally. I have read, and watched videotaped testimonies, of several “suspects” who were released from Shin Bet custody back to their families as vegetables. Perfectly healthy, productive and able members of society were transformed into walking vegetables, barely able to communicate with the outside world and needing assistance to dress, eat and shower.

        Now, if Makhoul can’t be made to make a false confession through torture, his family will be threatened both financially and psychologically.

        International pressure could at the very least save this man’s mental faculties, a broken leg will heal, but hopefully he won’t spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

        There have been hundreds like him before, innocent people who were considered “suspects”, and there will be hundreds more.

        The unfortunate and tragic truth is that many Jewish Israelis and supporters within the Jewish diaspora are raising their voices now not because of Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians, but because Israel has been clamping down on left-wing Jews. As a naive relative of mine said to me a few days ago, “These are bad times for democracy in Israel”. That’s when I thought to myself, “NOW? NOW is a bad period for democracy in Israel? What about ten years ago, or twenty?”

        Apparently, people only care when it touches them personally. When it’s done in their name to others, it’s …ummmm OK, especially if the victims are ay-rabs.

        • Danaa says:

          “NOW? NOW is a bad period for democracy in Israel? What about ten years ago, or twenty?”

          Or thirty? or, for that matter fifty even before ’67?

          There was always democracy for Jews in israel – well, more or less (forget about the Mizrahis for a sec). But democracy was for jews only. I honestly knew nothing of what was really happening to Arabs, even as me and friends were happily encamped along the beaches of the blue-blue Meditaranean, feeling so secure. So utterly secure in self-right and the right to self. Agonizing over atomic existential issues. But not 5 kilometers away, other stuff was going on. None of us, even the best of us, or the most daringly non-conformist (like yours truly?) ever asked a thing. What was there to ask? No wonder nowadays existentialism gives me a seriously bad after taste – and non-conformism has become a buzz word – something that sounds good to wave at cocktail parties; authentic too. Which is another word I try not to use any longer.

          Just hope I don’t run out of words one of these days (OK, that’s what’s so great about English – you can never run out of words, unlike Hebrew….)

        • Danaa says:

          darn, messed up the html again. Well, the html brackets may be gone, but the point(s) remain….hopefully.

        • Julian says:

          “There have been hundreds like him before, innocent people who were considered “suspects”, and there will be hundreds more.”

          Innocent? The man is a traitor and a spy. He’s going to be in prison for most of the rest of his life.
          link to jpost.com

        • sherbrsi says:

          Is this anything like the clown who was banned for having “ties to a terrorist”?

        • Shmuel says:

          Amazing. Charged only today, and Julian’s already come up with a verdict. In any case, Makhoul is guilty of doing whatever it was he was doing, while Palestinian.

        • eljay says:

          >> Innocent? The man is a traitor and a spy. He’s going to be in prison for most of the rest of his life.

          Prosecute him and, if he’s found guilty, imprison him. But nothing justifies torture.

  5. Ameer Makhoul and his fellow-detainee, Omar Said, have both been arrested, detained incommunicado for 3 weeks and more, almost certainly tortured, and may lose their Israeli citizenship if a newly proposed law passes in the Knesset (a mirror of the one currently going through the US Congress to cancel American citizens’ rights if they try to set off a fizzle bomb).

    Both are connected to Hassan Jaja, a Jordanian-resident landscape gardener and natural medicine advocate:
    Hassan Jaja, who is the mystery-man accused falsely of recruiting Makhoul, Omar Said and Jamal Juma’a to spy against Israel on behalf of Hezbollah, has released the transcript of his remarks at the opening of the 2007 conference his NGO sponsored in Amman on traditional Arab medicine. Omar Said also spoke at this conference about his own experience in the field of pharmacology and traditional herbal medicine. It was here, apparently, that the alleged fatal plot was hatched between Said and Jaja to betray the State of Israel. After reading Jaja’s talk …you’ll have to explain to me how likely it is that this environmental and peace activist is engaged in anything like what he’s accused of:
    link to richardsilverstein.com

    Jaja’s address, as quoted, is mostly Islamic bluff’n’blow and has nothing to do with medicinal plants

    The major Arabic medicinal plant is sage or Salvia salvatrix. Its Arabic name is Maryamiah. It works great on diarrhoea

    Jaja has the same surname as Samir Geagea. Geagea is the leader of the Lebanese Forces, the direct descendant of the Khataeb (Phalange – anyone remember Franco?). Geagea and Elie Hobeika led the massacres at Sabra and Shatila, under the benign gaze of a certain Ariel Sharon. In 1983, an Israel state inquiry named Hobeika as the man who personally directed the massacre at Sabra and Shatila. Elie Hobeika was blown up by a huge car bomb in 2001, a few days before Sharon was called to testify in a trial in Brussels.*
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    *Rafik Hariri was assassinated on 14 February 2005 when explosives equivalent to around 1000 kg of TNT were detonated as his motorcade drove past the St. George Hotel in the Lebanese capital, Beirut. Just coincidence?
    link to en.wikipedia.org

  6. Avi says:

    Start by reading the Background information on torture in Israel.

    Then, work your way down the menu on the right, down to Interrogation Regime [routine]

    For a brief summary of what the tortured are subjected to, consider these Special Interrogation Methods.

    • VR says:

      There is what is known as the “elite uses of torture,” it is interesting that many move around this point but many historians never seem to come to this particular use of torture. They talk about it eliciting “unreliable” information, because the person being tortured just wants it to stop. The imprisonment is to make the target look guilty as if he/she has done something wrong. We hear about it used as a method of instilling fear in both who it is used on and the group that it is used against. However, there is a more sinister use for torture.

      The elite use of torture helps to get the confession that the “perpetrators” want to get. That is, they want you to confess what is most convenient for them, what they can use to the best of their advantage. In the use of torture against Ameer Makhoul, they probably want him to confess that there is a big broad conspiracy against Israel which is patently treasonous. They want to turn what is natural resistance to inhumane treatment, the protestation against this treatment, into a form of wish to destroy the state of Israel – or they want to make it the reason rather than to gain equal rights and a decent future.

      As an example, this is what was done a Guantanamo Bay, imprisoning all manner of people to make it look like a broad terrorist conspiracy of world wide proportions. They wanted all of the people subjected to torture to “confess” that they were all part of this massive world wide plot against the “West (they just hate our freedoms).” In fact, the war on Iraq was partially launched on confession which was elicited by torture – the main elite use of torture was used as a “proof” to launch the war, or to get what they wanted.

      • VR says:

        Oh, and lets not forget the other part they want from the forced confession – that the group is really “an extension of Hezbollah.” That somehow Ameer was “meeting” and listening to the enemy. It would not be complete without this bullshit.

        • Avi says:

          Exactly, VR. The Shin Bet chose to make an example of him. I know that you already know this, but Azmi Bishara was used in the same manner. Needless to say, this has been a common tactic since the early 50s against Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Israel is really hoping to create some kind of a collective reaction that would justify stripping every Arab of his/her citizenship, or worse.

  7. demize says:

    It is also done to intimadate the subject population at large, and more simply because the elites and their hired scum are cruel. Sadly there are few people who have the moral courage to just say NO! I will not do this. I shit onthe security services and their commanders, and the politicians. Of all countries, they’re all the same, just varying by degree and severity. I only wish there was an ultimate judgment rendered with impartiality, it would give me some comfort. I offer my prayers and best wishes to your family. I will now be sad.

  8. Torturing Anat Kam would have been more problematic I guess, her being Israeli and Jewish.

  9. Shmuel says:

    The family has chosen (probably on advice from their lawyers) to focus on his treatment, rather than the very fact of his incarceration or the political ramifications. Of course they are also most concerned with his immediate welfare, knowing that release is unlikely but, with the right pressure, his conditions may be improved. No less important however, is the fact that he has not been charged or even informed of the precise nature of the allegations against him. One of our Zionist apologists said that we must reserve judgement until the facts emerge, but the facts so far are that Israel has denied Makhoul any semblance of due process.

    • Julian says:

      “Israeli-Arab political activist was apparently recruited as spy for Hizbullah; other suspect Abdo charged with contacting enemy agent, transferring information. ..
      Makhoul was recruited as a spy for Hizbullah and transferred, via a specially-designed computer encryption system, strategic intelligence information on Israeli security services to the Lebanese guerrilla organization.”
      link to jpost.com

      Poor spy got caught. Tough luck.

      • Shmuel says:

        Finally charged. Good. Now let’s hope they are given the means to defend themselves – including access to all of the alleged evidence against them. Let us also hope that the court remembers that “confessions” alone, especially if obtained under duress, are insufficient evidence for conviction.

        • Julian says:

          link to haaretz.com

          I wonder how many Israelis were wounded and died and thanks to this spy?

        • sherbrsi says:

          “Part of the information that Makhoul transferred could be delivered by anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth [a computer program that provides satellite photographs]. But Makhoul, as an Israeli Arab, has freedom of movement and access across Israel.”

          There’s the problem. How come there was an Israeli Arab accessing information available to anyone with a pair of eyes and Google Earth, whilst having freedom of movement and access across Israel?

      • tree says:

        Teu said the same thing about Alfred Dreyfus.

  10. Ameer Makhoul’s arrest and treatment should be thoroughly deplored (and publicised), and I extend the deepest sympathy to him, his wife and his family for what has been done to him (and them), which seems pretty terrible to me, after my own very short prison time resulting from a local police scam, the trauma of which has lasted for years; see: link to coconutstudio.com.

    In quoting this link, I don’t mean to call on any sympathy at all for myself, who played the fool, but to try and illustrate, as Kafka did more brilliantly, the sheer horror of being accused wrongly, by forces you can’t win against.

  11. stevelaudig says:

    When you consider yourself God’s chosen people there is no limit to the inhumanity you can engage in. After all your actions are God’s will and there is no arguing with God’s will. Ask the Taliban. All of this inhumanity was very predictible and it will persist.

  12. Ameer Makhoul and Omar Said have both been connected to Hassan Jaja, a Jordanian landscape gardener.

    Apparently, this man tried to recruit both to Hizbollah, the Lebanese Shi’a organisation who kicked out the Israelis in 2000, after 22 years, from occupying Southern Lebanon (excepting a few bits, like the Shebaa Farms, that the Israelis kept for their water resources).
    link to richardsilverstein.com

    Unfortunately, Hassan Jaja shares his surname with Samir Geagea (different spelling only).

    Geagea and Elie Hobeika, together, planned and executed the Sabra/Chatila camp massacres in 1982, which was actively overseen by Ariel Sharon.
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    Geagea is the leader of the Lebanese Forces, the direct descendant of the Phalange (anybody remembers Franco?) founded by Pierre Gemayel, the goal-keeper of the Lebanese football team at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, who immediately started a Lebanese party to reflect the ideals of the Nazi party, founded by Uncle Adolph just a few years earlier.

    - Elie Hobeika was blown up by a massive car bomb on 24 January 2002, Just before Ariel Sharon was due to testify in a Belgian war crimes case.

    - Yasir Arafat died on 11 November 2004 While the exact cause of his death remains unknown and no autopsy was performed, his doctors spoke of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura and cirrhosis.

    - Ariel Sharon went into coma on 4 January 2006.

    All three, plus hundreds of others, now silent.

  13. Shmuel says:

    The Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz reports (through Adalah) that Makhoul denies all of the charges, and asserts that under interrogation he confessed to things that he did not do, under physical and psychological pressure (including shackling and sleep deprivation).

    In the same article, his brother, former MK Issam Makhoul, is also quoted as saying that Ameer was questioned for 15 hours, about six months ago, when he was warned to desist from his legal activities, “or we will frame you and make you disappear”.

    • sherbrsi says:

      The Hebrew edition of Ha’aretz reports (through Adalah) that Makhoul denies all of the charges, and asserts that under interrogation he confessed to things that he did not do, under physical and psychological pressure (including shackling and sleep deprivation).

      The English version of Ha’aretz has this to report on the issue of Makhoul’s torture:

      “The interrogation was carried out in full accordance with regulations and the law,” a Shin Bet official said, quoting court proceedings in which a judge reported asking Makhoul about his treatment. Makhoul answered that he was homesick and his back hurt – but made no claims of abuse.

      Is this kind of discrepancy common for Ha’aretz? Perhaps I’m looking too much into it, but the English version completely absolves the Shin Bet of any illegal activity or torture by allowing the official to frame it, and then adding Makhoul’s denial of abuse (which struck me as very surprising when I originally read it). It seems to me that the English version is deliberately soft on the affair, designed to be consumed by the Western media/audience.

      • Shmuel says:

        Sherbsi,

        That paragraph also appears in the Hebrew, after the statements by Ameer Makhoul and his brother. The article closes with some slimy Shin Bet propaganda about “growing extremism” among “Israeli Arabs”, although “the vast majority are law-abiding citizens”.

        The Hebrew article is significantly longer, with quotes from Sa’id’s daughter, Makhoul and Makhoul’s brother, along with extensive quotes from “senior officials in the Shin Bet”, and IDF Intelligence.

        The headlines are similar, although the front-page teasers are very different (Hebrew teaser: “Makhoul’s Brother: Confession Extracted by Torture”).