We have received two accounts of the treatment of passengers and crew on the Jewish boat to Gaza. The first is from the American passenger on the boat, Lillian Rosengarten of New York (pictured at left among boat’s passengers in Cyprus earlier this week), a former refugee from Nazi Germany. The second is from Nurit Peled-Elhanan, an Israeli married to Rami Elhanan (second from right). Rosengarten:
I was deported and very conflicted about leaving Edith Lutz [of Germany, second from left above] behind. I felt assured when I spoke to the vice consul from the American Embassy in Tel Aviv who had brought our human rights lawyer, Smadar Ben-Natan, and another lawyer who will meet with Edith and help her as she decided to resist deportation as a very personal statement of resistance.
I was extremely happy to hear that Reuven [Moskowitz, in white shirt at center], Rami, Yonotan Shapira [right, in Crocs] and Itamar Shapira [3d from left] were allowed to go home. Such wonderful people, now cherished friends. Glyn Secker and Vish Vishvanath were also deported along with myself. For me the deportation process was humiliating. Jew against Jew is totally against the dreams of so long ago, what we imagined how our beloved Israel would evolve. That dream was for me a safe haven, a country of compassion. Tolerance for all, and a completely open society. I can imagine that Israel would have become a beacon of light for the world to follow. In this dream there would be tolerance for political difference. Now sadly, Jews have become divided against one another and it is no longer a safe haven. We from the Jewish boat were treated as traitors and people to get rid of. We were not “good Jews,” but “bad Jews to deport without being allowed to enter Israel again.” Only in Fascist regimes are people forced to think the same. I experienced humiliation when arrested. I was not physically mistreated but suffered emotionally. I suffered when the immigration person asked me if I was Jewish after I told him I was a refugee from the Nazis, the last generation to be able to tell the heinous story. He wanted me to prove that I was Jewish. How was I to do that and yes, how deeply humiliating. When I witness the Israel of today, I feel enormous pain. I was deported because of my human rights beliefs and non violent actions. In detention I no longer felt safe or cared about. I don’t even think it mattered that I am Jewish. Now I will not be allowed to return to Israel as the cycle of hate and fear goes on and on. Those of us who dreamed of a different kind of Israel can only weep.
Nurit Peled-Elhanan is the wife of Rami Elhanan, who was on the Jewish boat to Gaza. Peled-Elhanan passes along the following report:
Coming out of the police investigation, Yonatan [Shapira] looked like someone coming out of prisoners’ camp: Long pale distorted face. It was the same monstrous soldiers who attacked the Marmara. They were all after him. They beat him up, kicked him and used a taser on him. The other passengers said he was palpitating and screaming like a wounded animal but the monster wouldn’t stop. When Rami asked him for his name he said Gepeto.
Now Rami is accused of threatening a soldier because he said he would find out his name and press charges against him. Yonatan and Itamar [Shapira, Yonatan's brother], who were handcuffed and dragged and then thrown violently to another boat, are charged with assaulting the soldiers and resisting arrest. There were dozens fully armed comandos who attacked them on the boat, 4 navy war boats.
A very senior general, Amidror, head of research unit of the IDF said on the radio 2 days ago that Yonatan Shapira, an ex-pilot in the Air force is psychopath and should be locked away. I reacted to that so they interviewed me the day after. I told them this is the Russians did to Sakharov and that Yonatan is Israel’s best son and an example to Young people of what they should be as well etc.
However it seems the media are very eager to interview us along with their complete faith in what the IDF says. We were interviewed all day long, while waiting for them to come out of the investigation, by everybody, all the time, but it looks like they see us as a curiosity rather than reliable sources of information.
The whole world should support Yonatan and Itamar Shapira now because the security forces are surely after them and there are no limits to what these soldiers would do if ordered.