All Palestinian prisoners need is dry bread, a glass of water– and a bullet to the head

Israel/Palestine
on 5 Comments

Sometimes you just can’t believe it. These words don’t come from the rabble in the streets of Tel-Aviv or Jerusalem. They come straight from the mouths of Israel’s leaders in a Knesset committee meeting.

Last month, the Israeli Knesset’s Internal Affairs Committee discussed the matter of the suspended Palestinian prisoner hunger strike, and whether there indeed was a negotiation between the Israeli Prison Services (IPS) and the prisoners. The Palestinians were claiming there was a successful negotiation, whilst Israeli officials were claiming nothing happened.

And it goes like this:

MK Oren Hazan (Likud) said,

”If we were to do the right thing, every terrorist would get a bullet to the head. There is enough room underground.”

In response, MK Osama Sa`adi (Joint List) said,

”One can utter such things in the committee? He is inciting to murder.”

MK Hazan:

”I am referring to organized executions.”

Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud) said he was shocked by the hunger-strikers` ”silly demands” and pleased that the IPS did not negotiate with them.

”Most democratic countries do not treat terrorists as well as we do,” he said. “A terrorist should sit in jail and get dry bread and a glass of water. It is rude to demand studies. Those who want to wage a hunger strike, let them wage a hunger strike. You don’t want to eat, don`t eat. It was important for me to hear that the State did not move from its initial position, and no one threatens us with strikes”, Amsalem said.

Do you get that? Let’s just analyze this slowly. First of all, there’s a huge generalization at play here, that all these prisoners are ‘terrorists’, as a basis for the rest. This is the typical Israeli escape from humanity: if they are all dehumanized, they should be grateful for whatever they get – even that we let them live at all. The irony is, that hundreds of these prisoners are in fact prisoners because they are not ‘terrorists’ – they are imprisoned under the infamous ‘administrative detention’ that allows the security forces to incarcerate people without charge, on the basis of ‘secret evidence’ which they will never see, for renewable periods of 6 months, often renewed at the very last moment. This can go on for many years. The longest so far has been 8 years. 

In the past, there have been many hunger strikes precisely by such administrative detainees protesting this practice on its own. It is notable that whilst abolishing of this practice has been a demand of the prisoners, it has not even appeared on the list of alleged concessions. Now, if Israel indeed had a clear case of ‘terrorism’ against a Palestinian person, it wouldn’t need the administrative detention, now would it? Israel is otherwise happy to parade ‘terrorists’ in court. So let’s put that one aside.

Now, what is MK Hazan saying? That ‘they’ (they’re all terrorists anyway), should simply be executed. This point leans on a point made earlier by the chairman of the committee, MK Amsalem, who said that

“in other democratic countries, such as the United States, not only do murderers not get any visits, they are executed.”

So now they are all murderers and terrorists, and Israel could still be ‘democratic’ whilst executing them. But Amsalem was quick to point out that Israel was better than that:

“In Israel there is no death penalty, which I am against. If a prisoner`s basic human right is violated, then he should turn to the High Court. They did not have cell phones before either, so how are the conditions worse?”

That’s weird, because the prisoners did not demand mobile phones, only installment of public phones. Amsalem obviously didn’t read the list. He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. What does he really care anyway.

So back to MK Hazan. When MK Sa’adi pointed out to him that this was incitement to murder, he was quick to adjust: “I’m referring to organized executions”. Ah, organized.

But why organize? Israeli extrajudicial executions have received blessing from a wide spectrum of leadership, especially since October 2015. Last month, the Israeli police demonstrated to 5th graders how it’s done. Two weeks ago we witnessed another extrajudicial execution, this time not with the bullet to the head as in the Elor Azarya case, but rather by the method of letting the teenage Palestinian girl bleed slowly whilst writhing in pain, surrounded by Israeli soldiers and others who deny her medical attention, whilst shouting “I hope you die, daughter of a whore”, “f—k you,” “die, suffer, you kahba (whore in Moroccan).” As Gideon Levy noted, “They wouldn’t behave like that around a dying dog.”

Indeed – would MK Amsalem’s dog, if he has one, not be treated better than how he suggests to treat the Palestinian prisoners? Dry bread and a glass of water. They should be so happy.

This is how our leaders talk, this is how they behave. Can you imagine what it is like to be a Palestinian prisoner under the control of people who share these ideologies, these notions, these values – or worse? After all, Likud is not the furthest right in Israeli politics.

I don’t know how to end this, I really don’t. I have no words.

……

Postscript: I got back to my senses, and remembered that I wanted to make a little comparison to how we treat ‘our’ terrorists – that is, the Jewish ones. Just a little example, if you will. You know, Marwan Barghouti the supposed ‘arch-terrorist’, hasn’t touched his wife for a decade and a half, as his wife Fadwa notes in her recent piece in Newsweek. On the other hand, Yigal Amir, the Jewish terrorist who murdered Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, has received conjugal visits and had a son in 2007. As Haaretz reported, his wife “paid him a conjugal visit in November 2006 after Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin ruled this did not pose a security risk.” But as the baby was born on October 28th 2007, one must kindly assume that he had several visits, since the baby must have been conceived sometime in January. The settler-outlet Israel National News cared to note that the Brit (circumcision) was to occur on November 4th, the 12th anniversary of Rabin’s death.

About Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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5 Responses

  1. JosephA
    June 14, 2017, 12:10 am

    Disturbing, yet true. Thanks as always.

  2. JLewisDickerson
    June 14, 2017, 3:11 am

    RE: “Most democratic countries do not treat terrorists as well as we do,” he said. “A terrorist should sit in jail and get dry bread and a glass of water. It is rude to demand studies. Those who want to wage a hunger strike, let them wage a hunger strike. You don’t want to eat, don`t eat.” ~ Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud)

    MY COMMENT: Hearing a Member of the Knesset (especially a committee chairman) express such an exquisitely enlightened attitude convinces me that we and the Israelis really do “share the same values”. In particular I am reminded of Maggie Thather’s England and the good, old days back in the Jim Crow South.

    [■ PHOTO: Maggie Thatcher in all of her radiant spendor ]

    SEE: “The angry letter Bernie Sanders wrote to Margaret Thatcher” | By Ishaan Tharoor | washingtonpost.com | February 19, 2016

    [EXCERPT] As the self-described socialist mayor of the city of Burlington, Vt., in the 1980s, current Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wrote a lot of letters. One of them, as a recent story in Britain’s Daily Telegraph publicized, was directed at then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    In July 1981, Sanders criticized Thatcher’s government for its treatment of a group of paramilitary prisoners in Northern Ireland. The detainees, members of the Irish Republican Army, were on hunger strike over Britain’s refusal to recognize them as de facto prisoners of war, which would accord them certain rights under the Geneva Convention.

    Thatcher was adamantly opposed to this special status, which had come into effect earlier in the 1970s when Northern Ireland’s “Troubles” flared. “Crime is crime is crime. It is not political, it is crime,” she declared.

    In May 1981, Bobby Sands, the most well-known of the hunger strikers, had died after 66 days of not eating. His death sparked an international outcry. Nine others would also perish.

    Sanders, whose constituency in New England comprised many of Irish descent, was irate.

    “We are deeply disturbed by your government’s unwillingness to stop the abuse, humiliation and degrading treatment of Irish prisoners now on hunger strikes in Northern Ireland,” he wrote.

    “We ask you to end your intransigent policy towards the prisoners before the reputation of the English people for fair play and simple decency is further damaged in the eyes of the people of Vermont and the United States.” . . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/02/19/the-angry-letter-bernie-sanders-wrote-to-margaret-thatcher/?utm_term=.dc6bb569f567

    • JLewisDickerson
      June 14, 2017, 5:57 am

      P.S. ALSO RE: “Most democratic countries do not treat terrorists as well as we do,” he said. “A terrorist should sit in jail and get dry bread and a glass of water. It is rude to demand studies. Those who want to wage a hunger strike, let them wage a hunger strike. You don’t want to eat, don`t eat.” ~ Committee Chairman MK David Amsalem (Likud)

      Hunger Strike 20 Years On, Insight UTV 2003

  3. JLewisDickerson
    June 14, 2017, 5:27 am

    RE: “Let’s just analyze this slowly. First of all, there’s a huge generalization at play here, that all these prisoners are ‘terrorists’, as a basis for the rest. This is the typical Israeli escape from humanity: if they are all dehumanized, they should be grateful for whatever they get – even that we let them live at all. The irony is, that hundreds of these prisoners are in fact prisoners because they are not ‘terrorists’ – they are imprisoned under the infamous ‘administrative detention’ that allows the security forces to incarcerate people without charge, on the basis of ‘secret evidence’ which they will never see, for renewable periods of 6 months, often renewed at the very last moment. This can go on for many years. The longest so far has been 8 years. “ ~ Jonathan Ofir

    ■ FROM BRITANNICA.COM [cognitive dissonance]

    cognitive dissonance – the mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in a person is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: the person rejects, explains away, or avoids the new information, persuades himself that no conflict really exists, reconciles the differences, or resorts to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in his conception of the world and of himself. The concept, first introduced in the 1950s, has become a major point of discussion and research.

    SOURCE – http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/124498/cognitive-dissonance

    ■ FROM WIKIPEDIA AS OF 1/28/14 [Defence mechanisms]:

    [EXCERPTS] . . . In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, defense mechanisms are psychological strategies brought into play [primarily ~ J.L.D.] by the unconscious mind[4] to manipulate, deny, or distort reality in order to defend against feelings of anxiety and unacceptable impulses to maintain one’s self schema [and to minimize cognitive dissonance – J.L.D.].[5]

    These processes that manipulate, deny, or distort reality may include the following: repression, or the burying of a painful feeling or thought from one’s awareness even though it may resurface in a symbolic form;[3] identification, incorporating an object or thought into oneself;[6] and rationalization, the justification of one’s behavior and motivations by substituting “good” acceptable reasons for the motivations.[3][7] Generally, repression is considered the basis for other defense mechanisms.[3]

    Healthy persons normally use different defences throughout life. An ego defence mechanism becomes pathological only when its persistent use leads to maladaptive behaviour such that the physical or mental health of the individual is adversely affected. The purpose of ego defence mechanisms is to protect the mind/self/ego from anxiety and/or social sanctions and/or to provide a refuge from a situation with which one cannot currently cope.[8]

    Defence mechanisms are unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses [i.e., a refuge from cognitive dissonance – J.L.D.]..[9]

    . . . The list of defence mechanisms is huge and there is no theoretical consensus on the number of defence mechanisms. . .

    Vaillant’s categorization of defence mechanisms [EXCERPTS]

    ♦ Level 1: Pathological

    The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological. These six defences, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external experiences to eliminate the need to cope with reality. . .

    Delusional Projection: Delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature. . . [i.e., perceiving legitimate criticism of Israel as “Anti-Semitism” ~ J.L.D.]
    Denial: Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn’t exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality (for example, convincing oneself that all of the Palestinian/Arab prisoners in incarcerated by Israel are “terrorists”. . .
    Distortion: A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.

    ♦ Level 2: Immature

    These mechanisms are often present in adults. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. . .

    • Fantasy: Tendency to retreat into fantasy in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts. . . [i.e., the illogical belief that the interests of the U.S. and Israel are identical is a nice example of fantasy ~ J.L.D.]

    ♦ Level 3: Neurotic

    These mechanisms are considered neurotic, but fairly common in adults. Such defences have short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause long-term problems . . .

    Intellectualization: A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions . . .
    Withdrawal: Withdrawal is a more severe form of defence. It entails removing oneself from events, stimuli, interactions, etc. under the fear of being reminded of painful thoughts and feelings. . .

    ♦ Level 4: Mature

    These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered mature . . .

    • Thought suppression: The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; making it possible to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions whilst accepting them. . .

    CURRENT WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_mechanisms

  4. Citizen
    June 14, 2017, 8:19 am

    We “have the same values”–I know because all US congress critters tell me so, constantly.

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