24 Hours in Israeli Custody: The arrest of an American activist in Palestine

dooler
Dooler Campbell protesting in Beit Ommar, near the Karmei Tsur settlement. June 23, 2012

My name is Dooler Campbell, and I am a U.S. American activist currently living and working in the West Bank. I am a graduate student at SIT (School for International Training) in Brattleboro, VT, working on my Masters in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations. I came to Palestine in the beginning of March to see firsthand what the situation was like here, in order to become a more effective advocate for justice in the region. The U.S. sends Israel billions of dollars every year, making it one of the largest recipients of U.S. aid, and I wanted to see for myself what my tax dollars were supporting here. The U.S. media rarely shows images of the conflict from the Palestinian point of view, so I wanted to help get that perspective across to the U.S. American public. I believe that if we want to see a just peace in the region, U.S. foreign policy must first change. Every U.S. citizen is linked to this conflict in some way, whether they like it or not, through our military and financial support of the occupation, so it is our responsibility as U.S. citizens to educate ourselves beyond what the mainstream media is telling us, so that we may work towards a just peace. In addition to financial and military aid, the U.S. has vetoed over 40 UN resolutions that have been critical of Israel and its policies towards Palestinians.[1]

When I first arrived in the West Bank, I was working with Palestine Solidarity Project and the Center for Freedom and Justice in Beit Ommar, an agricultural village of about 16,000 people, located about halfway between Bethlehem and Hebron. My work there consisted of writing reports and documenting arrests, military incursions and settler violence in the area, assisting farmers in tending their land, leading tours of the area, and coordinating the international volunteers.

Beit Ommar is surrounded by five Israeli settlements. Beit Ommar residences occasionally face acts of violence from the settlers, against their crops, property and against the Palestinians themselves, which go unpunished by Israeli courts. Take the story of Yousef Ikhlayl[2], for example: a seventeen year old who was killed by settlers last year while farming with his father. His father took pictures of the settlers who shot his son, but the killers were still allowed to remain free. Meanwhile, Palestinians are arrested and taken from their homes during night raids and are held for indefinite amounts of time with no charges against them[3].

The settlements, which are illegal under international law according to the 4th Geneva Convention[4], were built on privately owned Palestinian land stolen from Beit Ommar farmers, and fences have been built around some of the settlements preventing these farmers from accessing their land. Beit Ommar is under Area C, which means it is under complete Israeli civil and military control. A watchtower is situated at the entrance of the town, and the soldiers regularly harass Palestinians at the entrance, raid Palestinian homes almost nightly[5], and close the town’s market so the farmers are unable to sell their fruits and vegetables. Beit Ommar has the highest rate of arrests in the West Bank, when the vast majority of its inhabitants are just farmers trying to live their lives and work their land.

In protest of the land theft, illegal settlement construction and military violence, the Beit Ommar Popular Committee organizes weekly peaceful demonstrations every Saturday on the farmland next to the Karmei Tsur settlement, which was established in 1984. The demonstrations are not associated with any political group, and the committee does not allow stone-throwing, which is a common form of resistance at other demonstrations in the West Bank. Despite the demonstrations being completely non-violent, they are always violently suppressed by the Israeli military. I have been going to the Beit Ommar demonstrations almost every week for nearly four months, and in that time, I have been choked and grabbed by the throat four times, kicked, beaten with batons and shields, shot in the back with a teargas canister, and targeted with a concussion grenade that exploded on my ankle and left burn marks.

At the beginning of June I moved to Ramallah, where I began work for a development NGO, but I continued to participate in the weekly demonstrations in Beit Ommar. In the three months that I was living in Beit Ommar, only 3 people had been arrested from the weekly demonstration there: a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, an Israeli activist, and a member of the Beit Ommar Popular Committee. In the past month, however, they have been arresting someone every week—Israelis, Palestinians and internationals alike. The reports can be found on Palestine Solidarity Project’s website: www.palestinesolidarityproject.org. This past Saturday, I was one of three activists arrested, and one of two who were actually taken to jail. Here is the full story of my arrest:

I was arrested during the weekly demonstration in Beit Ommar, near the Karmei Tsur settlement. We were protesting the illegal settlements and the recent attacks on Gaza. As usual, the soldiers met our peaceful demonstration with violence. They mocked our chants, kicked us, beat us with their shields, and pushed us to the ground. The soldiers announced that it was a closed military zone and that they would start arresting us after 5 minutes. Younes Arar, a member of the Beit Ommar Popular Committee, told the soldiers that he was on his own land and that they should be the ones to leave. We sat down on the ground, refusing to move. A soldier came up to me specifically, looked me straight in the eyes, and told me I had two minutes to leave before he would arrest me. I stared straight back at him and told him he had two minutes to leave the Palestinian farmland. Knowing I was going to lose that challenge, I passed my camera to another activist and informed her of my legal name so they would know what to tell the lawyer.

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About five minutes later, they moved to arrest Younes. A Scottish activist and I held onto him, trying to protect him. They beat us away, and as I was trying to get to Younes again, the soldiers arrested me as well. They took me to where Younes was sitting, and the soldier who had given me my two minute warning twisted my wrist and said, “I told you two minutes” and told me to sit down.  I remained standing and he gripped my wrist even tighter and told me to sit down again. It wasn’t until Younes told me to sit that I actually did so. After all, the land we were standing on belonged to him, so I felt much more obliged to listen to Younes than to the soldier who was trying to hurt me.

They took the two of us to the other side of the fence, allowing us to finally reach the settlement we were always trying to get to in the demonstrations. Three soldiers were dragging Younes along by his shirt and his arms, although he was in no way resisting the arrest. One soldier led me towards the settlement by the arm, but he eventually dropped his hand and let me walk on my own. I asked him if this meant I could leave (because why would I voluntarily walk towards a police vehicle where they’re waiting with cuffs?), and he said no and told me I could either go along willingly or he would have to grab my arm again.

As we approached the settlement, my wrists were tied with zip-ties. They tied Younes’s hands as well, and blindfolded him before they started to hit him on his face and his neck. They were holding my arms again, and it was difficult to watch their treatment of Younes without being able to do anything. I asked  why they were hitting him. He was clearly not a threat, and he was already blindfolded with his hands tied. He fully cooperated with the arrest, so what reason did they have to be violent against him?? The soldiers ignored me and did not respond. They sat us down on the ground in the settlement and brought a third activist, a German citizen, who they had also arrested. Settlers who had been watching the demonstration (it’s their weekend entertainment to watch the soldiers beating the demonstrators) brought the soldiers Coca-Cola and other refreshments. The soldiers offered us water, which I only accepted after I was sure that Younes was getting some as well. I had already seen that they were treating him worse than the internationals and I did not want to exploit that situation.

After about an hour or so, we were taken to the Hebron police station for interrogations. The police station was actually just a bunch of trailers grouped together. The three of us were not allowed to talk to each other on the way there. When we arrived, they asked us for identification. The German activist and I did not have our passports with us, so we were allowed to make calls to try to find someone to bring them to us. His passport was in Beit Ommar, so he had no trouble getting ahold of it, and he was released shortly thereafter. I haven’t seen him since, so I don’t know how or why he was released so quickly. My passport, however, was in Ramallah, locked in my apartment. It took a couple of hours to coordinate, and for some reason involved 5 or 6 people, but eventually my passport was recovered, and as soon as it was, the police said they didn’t need it anymore. They changed their minds and decided the copy of my passport that I had with me was enough to process me.

I was allowed to speak with my lawyer (which the activists in Beit Ommar organized for me) for 2 minutes on the phone before my interrogation started. The interrogation was recorded, and the officer opened by saying I was in a closed military zone and that I had interfered with the soldiers’ work by grabbing onto Younes when they were trying to arrest him. Taking my lawyer’s advice, I stated my case but refused to answer any questions beyond that. I told him I did not see the map of the closed military zone, which the soldiers are required to show before making an arrest, and that I did not interfere with soldiers’ work, and I told him about the soldiers’ violence against me. The officer continued to ask me questions about who organized the demonstrations, who were the leaders, what was I doing in Israel, what was my purpose at the demonstration, etc etc, but I maintained my right to remain silent, which he then informed me would be used against me. One of the questions he asked was whether I had permission to be there. I thought, “well, yes, I had permission from the Palestinian owners of the land,” but knowing that’s not what he meant, I kept that to myself and re-asserted my right to silence. A summary or transcript or something was printed out in Hebrew, and I was asked to sign it. Not knowing what I was signing exactly, I added in English that I did not understand Hebrew before I put my name down.

The most interesting part about my interrogation was that the officer himself was Arab. I was talking to someone on the phone in Arabic, still trying to get ahold of my passport at this point, and he started correcting my Arabic. He asked me where I learned Arabic and I told him I didn’t want to answer any more of his questions. He asked if I learned it in Ramallah, and I said no. Beit Ommar? No. In the States? No. So where? I don’t want to tell you. Then I asked him where he learned Arabic. “It’s my language! I’m Arab. But I’m not Muslim.” “Well, obviously,” I responded. “Why obviously?” “Because if you were Muslim, you would be on this side of the desk.” I added, “3an jad, 3eib 3alek” (“shame on you”), and he said, “why? It’s only a job. I could be a doctor in a hospital or have any other job.” But it’s not just a job! He’s a police officer working in a settlement in the West Bank. He’s protecting illegal settlements and working with soldiers to violently suppress peaceful demonstrations. Another officer pitched in and said, “she just doesn’t understand why someone who speaks Arabic would want to work as an Israeli police officer.” I said yeah, that was pretty much it.

At some point, the Arab officer added that it was much better that I was being arrested in Israel, because they’re not violent here like they are in the States. I said, “Excuse me?? Do you want to see the bruises on my arms and legs from where the soldiers were hitting me and kicking me?? When all I was doing was holding a sign that said ‘Stop the killing in Gaza’! They were hitting Younes in the face while he was blindfolded! I’ve been choked and dragged around by the throat by soldiers four separate times!! You call that non-violent??” The officer had no response to this.

After the interrogation, they took my fingerprints and handprints and took my picture. With the excuse that I “refused to cooperate” with the investigation, they cuffed my ankles and wrists (they did the same to Younes), and they took Younes and me to Moskobiyya prison, located on the Russian compound in West Jerusalem. Younes informed me that it used to be known for its severe torture practices, and that many prisoners have died here in the past. I selfishly felt glad that Younes was taken to prison with me. I’ve never been arrested before and I don’t understand Hebrew, so his presence did a lot to boost my strength and courage. He joked on the way to the prison that he was finally being allowed into Jerusalem.

Inside the prison, they removed the cuffs from my ankles and wrists, took my fingerprint and picture again, and took all of my belongings—my wallet and its contents, cell phone, keys, earrings, nose ring, bandana, belt, and shoelaces. I was then taken into a small private room by a female guard and told to take off all of my clothes. I tried to leave my underwear on, but she said I needed to remove everything. She wanted to make sure I didn’t have a knife, she told me.

I was allowed to put my clothes back on and was taken to another room for a health check. They recorded my height and weight and asked me questions about my physical and psychological health, about any past suicide attempts, if I thought I might be pregnant, when my last period was, if I’m on any medications, etc. I told them I was definitely not pregnant, that that would be physically impossible. They then gave me a cup to pee in and led me to the bathroom. I thought maybe they were doing a drug test or checking for further health concerns, but when I brought the cup back they put a pregnancy test stick in the cup of urine. I told them they didn’t need to do that, I already told them I was 100% sure there was no way I could be pregnant. At this point, the guard who performed the strip search starting making sexual comments, which she had also done during the strip search. I was furious that they would not just leave it alone and take my word that I knew for certain that I could not possibly be pregnant. Beyond that, my sex life is none of their business, and I became increasingly uncomfortable when their questions started going in that direction.

Finally, at around 8:30 or 9pm (I was arrested at 2 and had not eaten anything since the morning), I was given a small bag of stale white bread and a small amount of jam, and another bag that contained a small towel, a toothbrush, toothpaste, 2 packets of shampoo, and a small bar of soap. Considering how I had been thrown on the ground in the dirt during the demonstration, I was glad I was going to be able to wash up a bit. As they led me down the hall towards my cell, I saw the videos from the security cameras. The monitors were set up in the hallway, and on the screens were clear views into the other cells, including the bathrooms.

I was put into a small cell that had 2 sets of bunk beds, a small metal cabinet with shelves, and a small table. There were no pillows, but plenty of blankets. There was graffiti on the walls and above the bottom bunk in both Hebrew and Arabic. A toilet and sink were separated from the rest of the room by a door (that did not latch, of course), which gave the illusion of privacy, but I knew the cameras were still watching. The shower consisted of a hole in the wall which spewed water in all directions, but it was better than nothing and at least there was hot water. I greeted my cellmate (an older Palestinian woman from Bethlehem named Nijah), ate my stale bread and jam, and nervously washed my hair and face while still partly dressed.

Before I was arrested, I had been working on a report on Palestinian women prisoners, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to interview my cellmate (after all, how else were we going to spend the time?). She seemed very nice at first, but I quickly changed my mind about her. She asked me why I was in jail, and I told her I was at a demonstration in Beit Ommar. She asked why I was demonstrating and I explained that it was because of the settlement that was built on land stolen from Beit Ommar farmers. She said, why would you do that?? At first I thought she meant why would “I”, as a foreigner, risk getting arrested for these Palestinian farmers, but then she said, in Arabic “The Jews are better than us, they’re good, better than the Arabs, all Arabs are pigs!”.  I looked at her in shock and disbelief, wondering how she could say that when she herself was Arab and she was locked in an Israeli jail. She had been there a week, and she was not allowed to go outside or have any recreation time. The cell had no windows and no natural light. She had fallen sick because of the conditions in jail, and they repeatedly refused her requests to see a doctor. Her other motive to go to the hospital was to take a decent shower, because she didn’t dare take one here with the cameras watching. Despite the mistreatment, there she was trash-talking Arabs and praising the Israelis. I replied to her in Arabic that not all people are good and not all people are bad from any group of people. We talked for a little while longer and she told me about her eight children and her poor health, and then I tried to sleep. When she thought I had fallen asleep, she called a guard over and told him everything I had said to her about participating in demonstrations, and I made up my mind not to talk to this woman anymore. I knew she had already been in there for a week, and she was sick and not allowed to contact her family, so I hoped she was only denigrating Arabs and reporting what I said to her in order to get released quickly or to otherwise improve her conditions in jail. I didn’t blame her and I wasn’t angry, but I didn’t want to humor what she was saying about Arabs and I didn’t want her to further incriminate me, so I remained quiet the rest of the time I was in jail.

The light in the cell was kept on at all times. When I tried to sleep, guards came in about once every hour telling me to stand. With no natural light in the room, I had no way of knowing what time it was. Every time they told me to stand, I hoped that I would be allowed to meet with my lawyer or that it was time for court. I asked them when my court would be, and they said they would call me when it was time. So every time they called me, I would make myself fully alert, but once I was standing, the guards would leave without saying anything more. Eventually I was brought a few more pieces of stale white bread and a thin layer of orange jam, and my cellmate was able to get us some tea. She was refusing food until they brought her to the hospital, and would accept only coffee and cigarettes.

Finally, after the seemingly endless hours of being subjected to sleep deprivation, I was finally told that they were ready to take me to court. Sleep-deprived, hungry and a bit delirious, they cuffed my ankles and wrists once more and transported me to court. This was the first time I was seeing my lawyer face to face, having only spoken to him briefly before my interrogation at the police department the day before. He filled me in briefly on what had been discussed so far—they initially wanted to deport me, but now they wanted to ban me from the West Bank for 3 months. I explained that I lived in Ramallah, and he said he would try to reduce the sentence. The entire proceeding was in Hebrew, but they supplied me with an interpreter who only translated about half of what was being said. The soldier who was speaking against me said that he had seen me many times before at the demonstrations in Beit Ommar, although I did not recognize him. I was being accused of being in a closed military zone, participating in demonstrations with “leftists” (so if it’s a right-wing demonstration, it’s ok?), interfering with soldiers’ work, refusing to cooperate with the police investigation, and accused of jumping on a soldier! I was a bit shocked at the last point.

My lawyer argued that this was my first offense, so there was no reason for them to ban me from the entire West Bank (which they referred to only as Judea-Samaria). He asked why the area was deemed a closed military zone, and the soldier responded that it was closed because the demonstrators were disturbing the peace for the residents of Karmei Tsur. My lawyer argued that a closed military zone cannot target a specific group of people. He added that there was not enough evidence to support their other accusations about interfering with the soldiers’ work, and seeing as it was my first offense, they should have only held me at the police station for a few hours and given me a warning not to attend such demonstrations. In the recent past, the court has ruled for Israeli activists arrested from the Beit Ommar demonstration that they have the right to protest and freedom of speech. In the end, it was ruled that I was not allowed within 10 kilometers of the Karmei Tsur settlement (meaning Beit Ommar) for 2 months. I was released on a bond of 2,550 shekels, and a third party had to post bond of 1,000 shekels. The whole court proceeding was finished in less than 10 minutes.

When it was all over, I was taken back to the prison (still in chains) and led back to my cell while they processed my release and my lawyer tried to find a third party guarantor for my bond. I wasn’t released for another several hours, and no more food was offered to me. I signed the release papers, which were in Hebrew, and my belongings were returned to me. My nose ring and one of my earrings were missing, but I didn’t care to stick around any longer, so I signed the last few papers, gave them my fingerprint one last time, and walked out the door without even bothering to put the laces back in my shoes.

Once I was a few blocks away, I laced up my shoes, bought some phone credit and let everyone know I was released and ok, and got on the first bus back to Ramallah. I was released just after 2pm, exactly 24 hours from the time I was arrested. As horrible as the whole situation was, it’s still nothing compared to what the Palestinians experience, and it was only for one night.  Fortunately, Younes was released on the same day as me, though he has to return to court at a future date.

This is the response of the “only true democracy in the Middle East” that the U.S. supports so unconditionally. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the Israeli courts once again worked to protect the illegal settlements rather than peaceful protestors. While I will not be able to visit Beit Ommar for two months, I will continue to work by sharing their stories, and I will take this opportunity to visit other villages in the West Bank to learn about their struggles as well. Overall, my 24 hours in Israeli custody was a learning experience which I hope I never have to repeat, and yet I have no regrets about my actions.


[1] See http://www.krysstal.com/democracy_whyusa03.html and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/UN/usvetoes.html.

[2] For more information on Yousef Ikhlayl and the similarities between his death and the death of U.S. American Trayvon Martin, see http://www.paltelegraph.com/opinions/views/10544-oregano-a-olive-oil-they-were-both-seventeen.html.

[3] For more on arrests without charges and the practice of Administrative Detention, see http://www.addameer.org/admin_detention.php.

[4] Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own population into the territories it occupies.” Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1682640.stm.

[5] For an incomplete list of arrests from Beit Ommar, see http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/category/arrest/.

About Dooler Campbell

Dooler Campbell is a graduate student at SIT (School for International Training) in Brattleboro, VT, working on a Masters in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations.
Posted in Activism, Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Occupation, On the ground reports, Reports/Video, Settlers/Colonists

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

  1. ritzl says:

    And what did our State Department do on your behalf? Nod, nod, wink, wink.

    Thanks for posting this.

    • Denis says:

      Wow, now there’s an embarrassing question, ritzl. I mean, the US Embassy in Israel only helps Jews, doesn’t it? Is this a polite way of checking Dooler’s “blood-type?” lol

      Dooler, for what it’s worth, Arlo Gutherie and many others of us busted in the US during the ’70′s anti-war hay-days would probably agree that your bust doesn’t seem to be unusual in terms of the lack of provocation on your part or the level of mis-treatment on the IDF’s. Pigs are pigs; always have been, always will be. And shoe-strings and belts will never be allowed in jail cells. As Arlo said to Officer O’B: “O’B, do you think I’m gonna’ hang myself for bein’ a litter bug?” Wonder what he would have said if Officer O’B had forced him to do a pregnancy test. . .

      One big difference today is the CCTV cameras everywhere. You were fortunate the jail had them. Back in the 70′s the cops could blacken anybody’s eye or break anybody’s nose they wanted to with impunity. Now, if they pull that crap they have to edit tapes, which editing usually shows up during the discovery phase of the lawsuit. This is the side of Big Brother that Orwell didn’t see — all those cameras aimed at the people are also aimed at BiBro.

      You have tremendous courage just for BEING in the West Bank, and those of us without the wherewithal or courage to join you admire you and your colleagues immensely.

      Please keep an eye on the bulldozers.

      • piotr says:

        American interrogators of terror suspects had no problem in mistakenly erasing all tapes. Israeli recording equipment suffers from similar malfunctions. For example, when Lt. Col. Eisner was re-enacting Samson bashing Philistines with an ass jawbone, some soldiers were suppose to immortalize the event, but the camcorder batteries went dead.

        Pregnancy test idea seems to be one of the fruits of Arab Spring: an idea borrowed from Egyptian security forces. But who knows, perhaps it is Egyptians who adopted an older Israeli idea.

      • Djinn says:

        Agree with everything you said re cops everywhere but I disagree one needs courage to go the West Bank. If you get involved politically sure that can be scary but otherwise not so much. I think the idea that its a terrifying place to visit does a massive diservice to Palestinians, it prevents people going and seeing the situation for themselves and insukts the amazing hospitality you will receive. I was surprised at how many of my friends and family seemed to think my travels indicated a death wish.

  2. seafoid says:

    Thanks Dooler. Great reportage.

    “He joked on the way to the prison that he was finally being allowed into Jerusalem” was particularly good.

    humiliation is part and parcel of Israeli occupation culture. You consort with the Untermenschen so you must be degraded.

    So you NEVER go back. That is the name of the game.
    But we are with you . And millions around the world are too .

    I wonder how it must feel as an American to know your tax is being wasted on these sociopaths.

    I think anyone who has been to the West Bank knows that Israel is very sick. The damage that the occupation is doing to Israel itself is incalculable. They can’t give up the occupation because the settlers have the country by the balls but if they don’t give up the occupation they will lose their country anyway. So they shut out all dissent and plough on regardless.

    Everyone you met- the police who arrested you, the person who drove you to Jerusalem, the guards , the judge, the prison employees- they all depend for their livelihoods on the occupation. Israel could have built a decent society with the 100bn USD YESHA has cost. Instead the money was spent on evil.

    And the reckoning will be painful. already Israeli schoolkids are falling behind on the PISA tests . It is only going to get worse.

    I think we need a Kaddish for Zionism. Get it ready before it happens.

  3. Daniel Rich says:

    Consider yourself lucky that this happened in the only democracy in the ME, otherwise you might have been treated like a…, oh, I don’t know….., like a normal human being?

  4. Citizen says:

    How would anyone get the US Congress to read this? Or any US mainstream media to talk about it?

  5. The Arab woman in the cell, the one who informed the guard of your conversation, is probably not allowed to join recreation time so people in the general population don’t recognize her.

    There’s a high probability that she’s an informer. Probably does a week in the cell – talking to new arrivals, and a week outside the prison gates – with family or whatever.

  6. “This year’s index finds the same group of countries at its head, countries such as Finland, Norway and Netherlands that respect basic freedoms. This serves as a reminder that media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom. It is worth noting the entry of Cape Verde and Namibia into the top twenty, two African countries where no attempts to obstruct the media were reported in 2011.”

    link to en.rsf.org

    If press freedom is maintained by democracies, it is fair to question whether countries without are actually democratic. Currently Istratine is either 92nd for its israeli territory or 133rd for the occupied state. Even jewish citizens living inside the green line must be troubled that they are on a par with benin and lebanon and far far below Cape Verde or Namibia. And this is the core state. Palestine is now the home of over half a million israeli’s and subject to israeli law. It is therefore part of israel — in _israel’s_ opinion. There press freedom is worse than Jordan, the Emirates, Qatar, Turkey (despite a serious fall there) . Still it is better than North Korea or Eritrea.

    The perfect slogan, we are better than Eritrea!

    • seafoid says:

      The Zochrot videos show that free speech in Israel is a joke .The country is run on the basis of an ideology. Kids are brainwashed from the moment they enter the school system. The punishment for those who do not comply is brutal. Jobs depend on army service.

      Has anyone done a survey of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have left and will never go back?

      It is very important to the bots to pass off Israel as a regular country but it is a police state.
      I’d love to get the warts and all view from someone who understands the system from the inside- eg a Ha’aretz staffer or a conscientious lawyer.

      • SimoHurtta says:

        Has anyone done a survey of the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have left and will never go back?

        The population figure of Israel is based on an ESTIMATE (provisional as the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics calls it) based on the 2008 Census.
        link to www1.cbs.gov.il
        Normal developed industrial countries have such population database systems (personal ID, voting, tax, health care etc registers), that they can give an exact figure of the population living in the country on any given day. But not poor Israel, the “bright” light of Asia and Africa.

        The real Israeli population amount, especially the amount of Jews LIVING NOW in Israel, is obviously a major state secret. Some sources estimate that even one million Israeli Jews live permanently in their “second passport” country.

      • Blake says:

        Absolutely seafoid. Funnily enough just watched this interview with Ilan Pappe where he speaks along very similar lines:

        Israel’s Ilan Pappe on Israeli Myths

  7. RE: “Beit Ommar residences occasionally face acts of violence from the settlers, against their crops, property and against the Palestinians themselves, which go unpunished by Israeli courts.” ~ Dooler Campbell

    SEE: “Fighting Settlers’ Impunity and Immunity”, by Pierre Klochendler, Inter Press Service, 12/16/11

    (excerpts) . . . Often, settler stone-throwers confronting soldiers and Palestinians face arrest and interrogation before they’re sent home with a reprimand, or to a forced ‘exile’ in Israel proper; Palestinian stone-throwers confronting Israeli settlers or soldiers face possible death, or imprisonment.
    Since the army is not responsible for enforcing the law on Israeli citizens – the police is, together with the General Security Services (or “Shin Beth”) – rioting by settlers has continued unabated. Netanyahu decided to give the army the power to arrest radical settlers.
    Moreover, Israel’s police in the West bank show signs of helplessness, even “negligence” and “incompetence”. . .
    . . . The Israeli occupation, particularly the future of wildcat settlements built by settlers without formal government approval has been a simmering issue ever since their creation during the 1990s.
    In 2005, former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Talia Sasson published a landmark report on the question.
    Commissioned by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, the report found the Israeli government guilty of “institutional lawbreaking” and of the theft of private Palestinian land to covertly establish over a hundred “illegal outposts”.
    The damning irony is that the “outposts” were a 1997 initiative by none but Sharon himself, then foreign Minister under Netanyahu, who’d urged settlers to seize hilltops in order to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
    The report recommended criminal investigation against those allegedly involved in the scheme, but it was shelved.
    Repeated injunctions have since pressed successive governments to address the issue. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to original.antiwar.com

    • P.S. RE: “the report found the Israeli government guilty of ‘institutional lawbreaking’… The report recommended criminal investigation against those allegedly involved in the scheme, but it was shelved.” ~ Klochendler (in the above-excerpted article)

      BRANDEIS ON ‘BLOWBACK’ RESULTING FROM “INSTITUTIONAL LAWBREAKING” BY GOVERNMENT: Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis elaborated in Olmstead v. United States (1928):

      “In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

      • American says:

        “If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

        That very true Dickerson. I no longer see any reason I should respect US law if my country and leaders don’t.

  8. Polly says:

    Great story Dooler – you are truly brave and tenacious.

  9. there’s a recent video towards the end of the post @ the link (says “here’s video’), from 6/18 in beit ommar. not sure if it is the one Dooler and Younes were arrested or the following week.

    link to mondoweiss.net

    • dooler says:

      That video is from 2011. The video from this arrest can be found here: link to youtu.be. And you can see at 1:28, one of the soldiers punched the German activist (who was also arrested but released after a few hours) in the head.

      This video (link to youtu.be) is from the week prior. We played a game of football with our hands tied and blindfolded in solidarity with Mahmoud Sarsak, the football player who was on hunger strike at the time for over 90 days protesting his administrative detention.

  10. radii says:

    it is the look on the faces of the IDF soldiers in the image that struck me – that disgusting smugness – they think we have the guns, we have the power, we have the money, we have America, and we are willing to do any brutal thing at any time – scream all you want … things will go our way

    • seafoid says:

      I think at its most fundamental Zionism is an audacious attempt to manufacture an alternative reality called Jewish democracy in the Levant. So far they have reengineered their history and established a state but it it keeping it going that is the difficult part.

      The image is democracy and the reality is a police state. Image is brash, reality is brutal. Image is truth, reality is systematic mendacity. Image is respect, reality is contempt. Image is decency, just like you, reality is cult.
      Image is openness, reality is thought control.
      Image is peace, reality is permanent war.

      When people like Dooler Campbell get to peek behind the mask and see the face of Dorian Gray in the attic, the system can only respond by brutalising them.

      Zionism is a joke

  11. RobertB says:

    Political Prisoners in Israel/Palestine

    0 Israeli is being held prisoner by Palestinians, while 5,604 Palestinians are currently imprisoned by Israel.

    “Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, over 650,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel. This forms approximately 20% of the total Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).”

    ~~~~~~

    Dooler…I applaud your courage, commitment & your efforts in helping to expose Apartheid Israel & its brutal IDF killers

    BTW, Israeli soldiers/IDF never spend one hour in prison…NEVER… for killing a Palestinian child or for that matter, any Palestinian/Arab/Moslem/Christian regardless of age and / or gender.

    Click on link below for further details, graphs & charts:

    link to ifamericansknew.org

  12. “It wasn’t until Younes told me to sit that I actually did so.”

    Why do I find this the most disturbing thing in Dooler’s article?

  13. Kris says:

    This is a great story, Dooler. Many thanks for your work and courage. I really loved your telling the Israeli soldier that he had two minutes to get off the Palestinian land! Such an important fact cannot be stressed often enough: it is PALESTINIAN land, not “disputed territory” as our complicit media likes to call it.

  14. I was just now reading of another recent arrest in Beit Ommar, on the blog of David Hosey, who has posted on Mondoweiss previously, in an article about desecrated cemeteries.

    “If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might remember Mousa. He is one of the leaders of nonviolent resistance in the village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank. While I was living in Palestine, he got arrested for his role in organizing resistance. He was held for month after month in what’s called “administrative detention,” which means no charges need to be brought. If I remember correctly, he ended up serving a total of 14 months in administrative detention.

    And now he’s been arrested again, after being smashed in the head with a rifle butt, while trying to work his land in Beit Ommar–land that is threatened by an ever-expanding Israeli settlement.

    There is so much to be angry about here. He was on his own land, in his own village. He’s a man of peace, a man whose eyes speak peace. A kind man. He has a young child, and a wonderful wife. He lives under the constant oppression of military occupation. And I know this man. So why do I feel so numb?”

    There is a picture of Mousa, injured as he was arrested, included in David’s blog post.

    link to hoseyblog.blog.com

    Sometimes, we feel helpless, but there is always something we can do, we can write about Palestine, what is happening, share with others what is happening there, and pray, pray for Moussa, and all the others detained in prisons unlawfully in this unholy Occupation, and we can pray for David, too, who gave so much of himself to Palestine, spending three years there, and we can cry for them, too. This young man wrote some of the most moving posts about what he saw in Palestine that I have ever read.

  15. homingpigeon says:

    Dooler, it must have been disturbing to be interrogated by an Arab – though it could have been an Israeli with good Arabic who was trying to mess with your mind. Other possibilities would be a Druse or a veteran of the disbanded Israeli run “South Lebanon Army.” Do you have any further thoughts on this? Do you know Arabic well enough to place his accent?

    What I read in the story about the cellmate is that besides her being a collaborator, she had to deal with the possibility that you were also a spy sent in to check up on her. It could even be that she was innocent of collaboration, but wanted to prove to the Israelis that she was harmless, assumed you were the spy, and went through a charade of collaboration to ingratiate herself with the jailers, thinking that she was only ratting out spy who was checking on her. Weird stuff goes on in political prisons where people are messing with minds.

    • dooler says:

      The officer didn’t speak enough Arabic with me to be able to notice his accent, and I’m not sure I would have been able to place it even if he did. I asked him where his family was from and all he said was “Now they live in Tel Aviv,” which didn’t really answer my question. But I think this is one of the things that complicates the often-told story in the media of Arab vs Israeli. The truth is that there are Arabs in the Israeli army and there are Israelis who refuse to serve and instead stand with the Palestinians. But the mainstream media doesn’t know what to do with these supposed contradictions, so they overlook them in order to maintain that narrative. Maybe if we think about this in terms of Zionist oppression instead of Israeli vs Arab conflict (or Jewish vs Arab, which is even less accurate), these things might make more sense. Oppression can lead to all kinds of internalized issues as well, which may have also contributed to the woman’s comments about Arabs. It’s all just speculation at this point–whether she was a spy, thought that I was a spy, was just trying to improve her conditions and get out faster, or if she had internalized racism against Arabs. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I think you can trace it back to Zionism as the root problem.

      • hophmi says:

        “Whatever the reason, I think you can trace it back to Zionism as the root problem.”

        Or maybe it’s you who has the simplistic view that everything can be blamed on Zionism, which allows you to dismiss the happiness of an Arab who lives in Israel because all Arabs in Israel are supposed to be unhappy, or an Arab in jail who dislikes her surrounding culture, because all Palestinians are supposed to be angels.

  16. seafoid says:

    As the US has been a global hegemon for 3 generations Americans aren’t used to being messed around by foreign governments. It isn’t right to do this to anyone who is operating within the law, american or otherwise.

    Zionism is going down . It is a brutal , heartless ideology with violence and humiliation at its core. The Palestinians and the rest of the Levantines have been at the sharp end for the last 60 years but as we get closer to the endgame white people who venture into range are going to get it too. And after the beatings there will come the spin and the character assassination.

    Zionism is vile.

  17. Samuel says:

    Sorry to disturb your mutual complimenting, congratulating and praising each other, but if I read correctly the court released her and Younis immediately at the first opportunity – isn’t that called justice? What have you against the court then? You got a lawyer, translation and release even though you are a foreign citizen who has come deliberately to provoke. You could easily have been deported – but were amazingly allowed to stay – that smacks of democracy!

    And using “snitches” in your cell? That’s the oldest trick in the book in all systems, democratic or not, and you fell for it hook line and sinker. All prisons shackle – it’s the rules! And the soldier letting you walk by yourself without holding your arm? that’s against the rules – had you run away the soldier would have been disciplined.

    The area is disputed – if it wasn’t there would be no conflict. You just happen to think you’re right. Others disagree. Life stopped being black and white when Eve gave Adam the fig (yes, even that’s in dispute, Christians say apple, Jews say fig. Muslims probably say some other fruit)

    • straightline says:

      All prisons shackle? Not in my country unless they show signs that they will resist! Soldier (well in my country it would have been a policeman/woman) letting you walk without holding arms – yes. Run away – surely that couldn’t happen, surrounded as she no doubt was by other soldiers. Striking arrested people is grounds for dismissal for police in my country.

      Why is the area disputed? It’s on the West Bank – only in Israel could that be disputed. Please explain the dispute?

    • OlegR says:

      Actually Jews don’t say fig.
      The correct translation from Hebrew is “The fruit of the tree of knowledge”
      nobody knows what it looked like.

      • Shmuel says:

        Actually Jews don’t say fig. The correct translation from Hebrew is “The fruit of the tree of knowledge” nobody knows what it looked like.

        You’re right about the Bible, but Jewish homiletic tradition (Midrash) presents a number of opinions regarding the specific identity of the mysterious “fruit”: citron (etrog), fig, wheat or grape.

        • OlegR says:

          That’s true.
          But like almost everything in the Midrash there is no single accepted opinion .That’s why in this particular case i prefer to adhere to the ways of the
          קראים and just read.

        • Citizen says:

          Not exactly a faustian story, eh–that one concerning the tree of knowledge? Or is it?

        • Shmuel says:

          But like almost everything in the Midrash there is no single accepted opinion

          That is the whole point of Midrash – to explore ideas and symbols without being constrained by “what really happened”. Since I presume you treat the Bible as mythology and literature rather than history, “accepted opinion” is not a particularly relevant concept.

          קראים is Karaites in English, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they have their own traditions regarding the identity of “fruit of the tree of knowledge”.

        • OlegR says:

          Citizen
          Is there some point in these questions ?
          Please do elaborate.

        • OlegR says:

          /That is the whole point of Midrash – to explore ideas and symbols without being constrained by “what really happened”./

          Not sure that the orthodox would agree with you on this assertion.

        • Shmuel says:

          Not sure that the orthodox would agree with you on this assertion.

          You’d be surprised.

        • OlegR says:

          Maybe,
          the next obvious question would be which orthodox ? :)

        • Citizen says:

          Careful, OlegR, you wouldn’t want to eat of the fruit of that tree, would you?

    • The area is disputed – if it wasn’t there would be no conflict. You just happen to think you’re right. Others disagree.

      Unfortunately, whether the area is disputed or illegally occupied is not for you to decide. It’s the United Nations, through its Security Council and the International Court of Justice, that makes the call. And both UNSC resolutions and ICJ advisory rulings are unequivocal that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank, and that its settlements there have no legal validity and are an obstacle to peace.

      You may “disagree” with international law, but it’s still the law. If you don’t like it, you’re free to ask Israel to leave the UN, or to go to live in the alternative universe where your ideas prevail.

    • dooler says:

      Believe me, I am fully aware that jail is not meant to be a picnic in the park. However, I think you missed some major points of that anecdote. I wrote about how the soldiers treated me during the arrest in conjunction with how they treated Younes. They allowed me to walk on my own, perhaps against their protocol, as you suggest, but they dragged Younes by the shirt and arms, blindfolded him, and then started hitting him on the face and neck. My privilege as a white U.S. citizen carried me a long way. I was granted far more “democratic liberties” than most Palestinians. However, I still think sleep deprivation, poor quality and quantity of food, sexual harassment and humiliation and physical abuse prior to the arrest are generally not considered democratic practices (and yes, these things also happen in the US).

      As a general rule, Israelis are processed through civilian courts and Palestinians in the West Bank are processed through military courts. Civilian law considers Israeli citizens to be minors until age 18. Under military law, Palestinians ages 16 and up are considered to be legal adults and are processed as such, which contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which maintains that a person is considered a minor until age 18.

      Under military law, Palestinians can be held under administrative detention without trial and without charges against them based on “secret evidence” that is not available to them or their lawyers. Administrative detention can last for up to six months and can be renewed indefinitely. Please see this link (link to addameer.org) for more information on administrative detention.

      My narrative is a very privileged one in this situation, no doubt about it. That’s what makes it so sad. An acquaintance of mine in Ni’lin, a small village near Ramallah that lies on the path of the separation wall, was arrested recently from his home. He was blindfolded and cuffed before soldiers started throwing rocks at him, some of which hit him in the face. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. But this isn’t about individual stories, it is about systematic oppression. The occupation, practices of the soldiers, and the Israeli courts are brutal against Palestinians. Many Palestinian prisoners are not allowed access to lawyers and most of them are beaten and tortured during their arrest, interrogations and time in jail. Again, as I said, there do not need to be any charges against them for them to receive this treatment.

      You say this situations smacks of democracy. Democracy includes freedom of speech. A democracy that involves land theft and systematic violence against an entire group of people is no democracy at all. And before anyone says that these practices exist for security reasons—a system that is concerned with the security of only one group of people at the expense of others is neither just nor secure. Parallels can also be drawn here with the US and the disproportionate numbers of people of color in US prisons. Both the US and Israel are deeply racist in their structure.

  18. ColinWright says:

    “…All prisons shackle – it’s the rules! “

    Izzat a fact? As it happens, I’ve spent a weekend in jail — and I wasn’t shackled.

    This seems to be the usual — and usually false — ‘everyone else does it too’ Hasbarites come up with.

    Why is it that all Israel supporters always lie? I mean, they really seem to gild the lily. It’s like a compulsion with them.

    • Samuel says:

      Does the fact that you, Colin, spent a weekend in prison mean you might have broken the law? Do you mean you chose to break a law (international or otherwise) thinking the law is unjust or politically orientated?
      According to Hasbarabuster you ought immediately leave your country as you don’t like its laws.

      Israel believes it has rights over the WB, right or wrong, legal or illegally, morally or immoral depending whose opinion. The UN is a lawmaker like any other, and can make bad laws and err like any lawmaker. If you disagree with any law you can demonstrate against it, even use violence against it and risk arrest and imprisonment, and then change your leaders – that’s democracy.

      There’s a major dispute, and until you recognise this you’ll never be a part of the solution but remain on the sidelines patting each other on the back, and giving each other positive feedback thinking the whole world is reading you.

  19. ColinWright says:

    “…Life stopped being black and white when Eve gave Adam the fig (yes, even that’s in dispute, Christians say apple, Jews say fig. Muslims probably say some other fruit)…”

    As I’ve noted elsewhere, that is one of the few compensations for the otherwise regrettable fact of Israel’s existence.

    Very little else in this world is black and white. Israel’s an exception. It’s nice to have something that offers moral clarity, I suppose.

    Of course, it’ll be even nicer when it goes away.

  20. OlegR says:

    Why the hell aren’t we deporting these activists right away upon the first arrest ?
    She will obviously return to demonstration get arrested again and again …
    Just a pointless waste of time and money.

    • Avi_G. says:

      OlegR says:
      July 1, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Why the hell aren’t we deporting these activists right away upon the first arrest ?

      Palestinians have been saying that after each wave of colonizers set foot in Palestine. It’s quite ironic that someone who just yesterday came from Russia is looking to deport others from the land which clearly does not belong to him/her/it.

      When Israel’s laws privilege you over the native indigenous population, the least you could do is keep quiet instead of flaunting your smugness around.

    • Citizen says:

      OlegR, Thou shalt not steal.

    • Shingo says:

      Why the hell aren’t we deporting these activists right away upon the first arrest ?

      Agreed Oleg. Why pretend not to be a fascist state?

    • mig says:

      OlegR:

      Why the hell aren’t we deporting these activists right away upon the first arrest ?
      She will obviously return to demonstration get arrested again and again …
      Just a pointless waste of time and money.

      Because Israel is wonderful westernlike-ish democrazy, where right to protest is written into the constitution.

      “Deportation of residents of occupied territory contravenes international law. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that, “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”

      • OlegR says:

        Mig
        Dooler is not a resident of the occupied territory she is not a Palestinian
        she is an American citizen.
        And the right to protest in a sovereign country is reserved first and foremost to it’s citizens not foreign activists.

        • mig says:

          OlegR:

          Dooler is not a resident of the occupied territory she is not a Palestinian
          she is an American citizen.
          And the right to protest in a sovereign country is reserved first and foremost to it’s citizens not foreign activists.

          And you can surely link that law, which says so to here, thank you ! I just checked our constitution and it doesn’t say a word that it’s limited to finnish nationals only.

        • OlegR says:

          The fact that no law says it’s forbidden does not mean it’s allowed
          in the same terms as it is allowed to the citizens.

          How fast would a bunch of lets’a say Russian nationalists (not citizens ) staging
          a demonstration in Helsinki demanding the return of all of Finland
          back into the warm embrace of mother Russia (just like during the Tzar reign)
          would have found themselves kicked out of the country?

        • mig says:

          OlegR :

          The fact that no law says it’s forbidden does not mean it’s allowed
          in the same terms as it is allowed to the citizens.

          So can we draw conclusion, that no such a law exist ? And you haven’t seen protests example G8 summits where part of participants has been foreign people ? C’mon Oleg, get real now.

          How fast would a bunch of lets’a say Russian nationalists (not citizens ) staging
          a demonstration in Helsinki demanding the return of all of Finland
          back into the warm embrace of mother Russia (just like during the Tzar reign)
          would have found themselves kicked out of the country?

          They can do it freely. Its in our constitution as a freedom of speech. Also in international human rights law btw.

      • OlegR says:

        Just for general education
        Unfortunately Israel has no constitution
        it has a number of what is called Basic Laws
        link to en.wikipedia.org

        • lysias says:

          The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany is called the “Grundgesetz” [Basic Law]. Nobody denies that it is a constitution. It is applied by the Verfassungsgericht [Constitutional Court].

        • OlegR says:

          Lysias if you want to remain in your ignorance that is your business.
          The facts are different.

        • mig says:

          OlegR:

          Just for general education
          Unfortunately Israel has no constitution
          it has a number of what is called Basic Laws

          We knew that already thx.

  21. OlegR says:

    Indeed let’s look at it Lysias

    /The instructions were issued a week after a baby carrying tuberculosis was found in the hospital. The six-week girl is currently in isolation in the hospital’s intensive care unit. The mother of the baby, a migrant from Eritrea who has active tuberculosis, is hospitalized at the Shmuel Harofeh Hospital in Be’er Yaakov.

    Hundreds of children who have come in contact with the baby, whether in the neonatal intensive care unit or in the hospital’s emergency room, were summoned to the hospital in order to get tested for tuberculosis, and are receiving antibiotics as a preemptive treatment, in accordance with the results of the tests.

    An Ichilov official said that the reason for the new instructions is purely medical and the guidelines are a response to growing concerns of tuberculosis infections. /

    Terrible racism…

  22. Thank you Oleg for all your posts. I hope you’re not having to make sacrifises when you use your so much of personal time answering these comments.