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Arrests without charge of American beating victim’s relatives in Jerusalem leave State Dep’t ‘deeply concerned’

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Yesterday Max Blumenthal reported on Israel’s arrest in East Jerusalem of relatives of Tariq Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian-American boy who was beaten in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The arrests came up during yesterday’s State Department briefing, by Jen Psaki, who said the U.S. was “deeply concerned” about the detention of family members without charge.

This dialogue begins at about 56:00

Matt Lee: And lastly, are you aware of reports that family members of the boy who was killed, the Palestinian teenager who was killed and apparently set on fire, who was the cousin of the American citizen who was beaten up, that they have been detained by Israelis? And if you are aware, do you have anything to say about this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, we are aware. Our Consulate General in Jerusalem has been following this incident closely. We understand that several family members were arrested without charges and placed in detention. As you know, by – as you know, we were shocked by the treatment of Tariq and strongly condemned any excessive use of force. We are deeply concerned about this latest development and reports and are closely tracking them on the ground.

QUESTION: Can I ask: What is the cause of your deep concern about these detentions?

MS. PSAKI: The arrests of family members without charges and the placement of them in detention, and certainly the backdrop here is of the treatment of their family member.

QUESTION: But – no, no. But have you – I mean, it is possible, is it not, that the Israelis have good reason to arrest these people. Right?

MS. PSAKI: Well, there were no charges filed.

QUESTION: Okay. So that’s the reason for your – have you made your deep concern clear directly to the Israelis?

MS. PSAKI: That is a good question. I’m happy to check on that. I know there – I believe we have, but let me make absolutely sure.

QUESTION: But not at the – it didn’t come up in the conversation between Secretary Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu, right? It would be —

MS. PSAKI: Let me double-check for you, Matt, and just make sure.

QUESTION: Do you know – and do you have any details about when this happened?

MS. PSAKI: It was over the last couple of days. I don’t have a specific day for you, but we can get that as well.

QUESTION: Do you have a specific number of how many members of the family?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t have more information, but we can ascertain to get that.

QUESTION: All right. And then —


QUESTION: — hold on a second – then can I ask: Why has the U.S. taken such – the Consulate General taken such a particular interest in this? Are any of them Americans? I – the cousin was, clearly, but is there some kind of U.S. – other than your – just your basic interest in human rights and rule of law, due process, et cetera, is there some kind of special American interest in this family?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not aware, though I can check on this with the group of questions that any of them are American citizens. We’ll check. But obviously we were deeply shocked by the treatment of their young family member. And certainly we’ve taken an interest in —

QUESTION: The one who was an American?

MS. PSAKI: Correct.


MS. PSAKI: We’ve taken an interest in this case and certainly the treatment of family members would be of interest to our team on the ground.

QUESTION: So is it a – so the interest lies in the fact that these are relatives of the American citizen who was beaten up, or the interest lies because these are relatives of the Palestinian teenager who was killed?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I don’t want to pick one or the other. I think, Matt, that obviously we’ve seen the suffering that this family has gone through. Many of our officials have been able to get to know the family members, and certainly we’ve taken an interest.

QUESTION: See, I mean – following on that very point, I mean, most Palestinians that are arrested by the Israelis are arrested without charges. In fact, they languish year after year under administrative detention for a very, very long time. So why this particular case?

MS. PSAKI: I think I just answered that question, Said. Do you have another question?

QUESTION: I have plenty, but —

MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

QUESTION: — I think I’ll refrain.

The briefing was also interesting for discussion of Turkish P.M. Erdogan’s statement that Israel is conducting “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. And a reporter asking whether the killings of 300 Palestinians, many of them civilians, isn’t a genocide. At 1 hour in.

QUESTION: And today, Prime Minister Erdogan, while talking about the situation in Gaza, he said that Israel is applying state terror as well as undertaking a genocide in Gaza, is his quote. Do you have any view on – would you agree to this?

MS. PSAKI: Well, certainly, we believe his statements are offensive and wrong, and of course, this kind of provocative rhetoric is unhelpful and distracts from urgent efforts to bring about a ceasefire.

QUESTION: Is there a figure that would constitute a genocide? Is there a figure? How many people have to die before something can be termed a genocide – civilians?

MS. PSAKI: There’s a range of definitions, Said, but I don’t have any more information available for you.

QUESTION: Okay. Is the death of 300 Palestinians thus far in Gaza, most of them civilians, does that constitute a genocide in your view?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t believe we’ve called it that. It’s horrific that there have been losses of that many civilian lives.

QUESTION: But independent of the circumstances that are ongoing, would the death of, let’s say, 200 civilians or 150 civilians constitute genocide?

MS. PSAKI: I appreciate your line of questioning. I’m sure we can connect you with an expert on this particular issue, Said.

QUESTION: I don’t believe that you appreciate his line of questioning. I think that you —

MS. PSAKI: Certainly, I always appreciate Said.

QUESTION: Can I – just back on the Prime Minister Erdogan comments, these are pretty strong and, you said, offensive and wrong comments. Do you know if the – anyone from the Administration plans to take this up with either him or with Foreign Minister Davutoglu?

MS. PSAKI: I can certainly check and see if there – if that’s already happened or if there’s a plan otherwise.

QUESTION: Because it would seem to me Turkey is a NATO ally, it’s a country that the government has some relationship with Hamas, and I’m just wondering if you think that they – the Turks, given the comments of the prime minister, have forfeited a role to play in potentially negotiating a ceasefire, if they are showing so much – if their leader is coming out with comments that you find offensive and wrong about your ally, Israel.

MS. PSAKI: No. I think our view and what we’re continuing to convey to any country in the region, including Turkey, is that the most productive role they can play is supporting the Egyptian ceasefire proposal. When there are concerns we have about comments made or actions taken, even when it is a NATO ally, we certainly don’t hesitate to make those concerns known.

QUESTION: So you would say, then, that these comments mean that Turkey or the Government of Turkey is an obstacle rather than a – is an obstacle to peace or to a ceasefire rather than an active participant?

MS. PSAKI: I think I will leave it as I stated, that they’re unhelpful, but again, there’s a role that many countries can play in the region.

QUESTION: But you don’t think that they have forfeited their interest by coming —

MS. PSAKI: No, I don’t.


QUESTION: Just one more on Prime Minister Erdogan’s strong —

MS. PSAKI: We’ll go to you next, Said. Go ahead.

QUESTION: Speaking of Prime Minister Erdogan’s strong language, he also talk about there is a crusader movement – today, just a couple hours ago, he said that there’s a crusader against Islam being assembled by the West. And my question is: Does the U.S. play any kind of role in this crusade – new crusader against Islam – was stated by the prime minister again?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not even sure what that’s a reference to or what he meant by those comments, so —

QUESTION: Reference is again Gaza. What’s happening in Gaza according to Prime Minister Erdogan is a new crusader movement against Islam.

MS. PSAKI: I think it’s safe to say that is not an effort the U.S. is undergoing. No.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask you, just to follow up on – back when – before this latest flare-up, whether what Israel is doing today is – falls under collective punishment.

MS. PSAKI: I think —

QUESTION: Would you agree that it falls under collective punishment?

MS. PSAKI: The President of the United States just spoke to this, Said. I don’t think I have anything more to add to it.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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35 Responses

  1. The Hasbara Buster on July 19, 2014, 2:00 pm

    HUGE win for the Palestinian solidarity movement: Jen Psaki didn’t answer “I am not aware of that, Matt, so I don’t have any comment to make. Next?”.

    • theskeptic on July 20, 2014, 9:46 am

      What “genocide” would this be? Erdogan has actually been a key figure in bringing peace with Kurds. In fact, the Palestinians would desparately like to have the same status in Israel that Turkush Kurds have.

  2. DaBakr on July 19, 2014, 2:17 pm

    reporter: “is there a figure that would constitute a genocide”

    Ask Erdogan about the ‘genocide’ he has committed against the Kurds. How many 1000s has he killed?

    • amigo on July 19, 2014, 2:58 pm

      da bakr , you ask him.Report back in three months.

      • just on July 19, 2014, 4:36 pm


      • Citizen on July 19, 2014, 5:57 pm

        @ amigo
        Also, nice if DaBakr could report simultaneously on how Israel has compensated the Turks and the the Turkish American who Israel murdered on that relief boat to Gaza? Not much in the American news on the subject. Americans want to know, and, after all, we give Israel more free stuff and cash than we give any other country by far, and our politicians are always telling us Israel is our greatest ally, even though we have no mutual defense pact with Israel.

      • crone on July 19, 2014, 11:14 pm

        Exactly Citizen…

        and I’m sure you noticed how she scolded Turkey, a NATO ally, for criticising Israel, who is NOT an ally ~ at least on paper anywhere.

      • Kay24 on July 19, 2014, 6:33 pm

        That is too soon, make it an year.

    • Marnie on July 19, 2014, 3:11 pm

      That’s not the point of this discussion. It’s more helpful to stick with the topic at hand which is Israel/Palestine and not Turkey.

      • Marnie on July 20, 2014, 8:01 am

        Oh my God I was working without tools when I made this comment! I’m sorry!

    • Penfold on July 19, 2014, 4:09 pm

      “Ask Erdogan about the ‘genocide’ he has committed against the Kurds. How many 1000s has he killed?”

      So your line of reasoning is that as long as one country does something it becomes acceptable for other countries to do it?

      You believe that Israel is justified in slaughtering 300 people because what the Ukrainians did it the day before?

      Believe it or not we can be repulsed by multiple actions Israels are just the topic of discussion on this forum.

    • lysias on July 19, 2014, 4:39 pm

      So you’re saying the U.S. government had no right to complain to the Germans about the Holocaust because the U.S. was guilty of genocide against the American Indians?

    • just on July 19, 2014, 4:42 pm

      This kind of whataboutery is what people like you use to justify the criminal actions of the state of Israel.

      It’s also a result of the Holocaust reverence– “nobody has suffered like the Jews”.

      I agree that the Holocaust was atrocious, filthy, inhuman.

      You cannot use the heinous actions of others to justify the actions of Israel. Never.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 19, 2014, 4:42 pm

      LOL! The Israeli concern for the Turkish Kurds is just SO touching!

      Wasn’t Mossad believed to have been behind the arrest of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan?

      And didn’t Israel have excellent relations with the Turkish military regime while it was killing tens of thousands of Kurds?

      Of course, if Erdogan were to drop the rhetoric – because sadly, that’s all it is – against Israel tomorrow, the Kurds would be forgotten just as soon as they were remembered.

    • Shingo on July 19, 2014, 5:18 pm

      Ask Erdogan about the ‘genocide’ he has committed against the Kurds. How many 1000s has he killed?

      Any time DaBakar.

      Now back to Israel. How you feeling about the genicide Israel is inflicting in Gaza?

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 19, 2014, 5:34 pm

        Plus, I doubt Erdogan has killed too many Kurds. It was the military regime – which like so many nasty right-wing regimes the world over, was close to Israel – which caused tens of thousands of Kurdish deaths. Strange how the hasbarists only started fretting over the Kurds – and started to consider recognising the Armenian genocide – when relations with Turkey started to sour following the Mavi Marmara massacre.

        But Israel was much more comfortable with the Turkish junta than with the democratic goverment of Erdogan. A bit like in Egypt, where normal service, sadly, has been resumed.

      • Kay24 on July 19, 2014, 6:38 pm

        I noticed that lately a couple of zionists gnats, were speaking up for the Kurds, in ways that made me wonder, what Israel’s game was. Suddenly they are champions for the Kurds. Knowing how insidious Israel is, it must be something criminal. Only time will tell.

      • RoHa on July 19, 2014, 7:35 pm

        The Israelis’ aim is to incite the Kurds to rebel against their governments and cause further instability in the region. And, of course, to push their “an ethnic group should have a state” ideology.

      • just on July 19, 2014, 7:38 pm

        They are following their dear leader who burst on the scene as soon as the melee escalated in Iraq declaring his fervent support for an independent Kurdish State.

        (and all the oil he can guzzle)

        “Israel’s prime minister backs Kurdish independence
        Binyamin Netanyahu claims creation of Kurdish state would aid in formation of alliance of moderate powers in Middle East

        The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has voiced support for Kurdish statehood, taking a position that appears to clash with the US preference to keep sectarian war-torn Iraq united.

        Pointing to the mayhem in Iraq, Netanyahu on Sunday called for the establishment of an independent Kurdistan as part of a broader alliance with moderate forces across the region, adding that Israel would have to maintain a long-term military presence in the West Bank even after any future peace agreement with the Palestinians.”

        n.b. I don’t think it’s up to the US or Netanyahu to decide jack about Iraq.

      • just on July 19, 2014, 7:55 pm

        PS– it is weird that Israel would give a fig for any Muslim though.

      • tear-stained uzi on July 19, 2014, 8:24 pm

        Israel has long had a strategic ‘love’ for the Kurds. If you’ll remember, it was Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds that provided neocons one of the more compelling arguments for invasion, based on scary chemical WMDs coming to America via nightmarish ‘cropduster drones’. Seymour Hersch has written extensively about Mossad running ops against Iran launched from within Kurdish-controlled territory in northern Iraq. The Kurds are happy to help out, as they know Israel will back their plays as they work to carve out an independent Kurdistan. Who loses? Israel’s regional ‘enemies’: Syria, Turkey, Iraq and, most importantly, Iran.

        Israel’s ‘love’ for the Kurds is akin to the chessmaster’s ‘love’ for a sacrificial pawn. If/when the gambit is successful, Israel’s one true Love — possessing all the Biblical lands of Eretz Yisrael — will be that much closer to being consummated.

      • Egbert on July 20, 2014, 7:28 am

        Oil. The Kurds have access to oil in their area. It is sold to Israel, presumably at below market price as a reward for all the help the Kurds have received from Israel.

      • Basilio on July 20, 2014, 8:11 am

        Israel armed the Kurds in the 1960s and the 1970’s. It’s not completely new. If a Kurdistan emerges, the hope would be that Israel would have an ally and Iraq would be a smaller country and less of a problem.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 20, 2014, 8:45 am

        The only Kurds that Israel has been in love with for more than a few months are the Iraqi Kurds. It has been at best indifferent to Turkish Kurds – like I said, it was close to the Turkish military regime, and Mossad were supposedly instrumental in the capture of the Turkish Kurd leader Ocalan.

        The Iraqi Kurds are useful in that they can help further destablise an Arab country, Iraq, and they have oil, of course. The Turkish Kurds don’t offer the same benefits, and Turkey is way too powerful to take on anyway. I’m sure the Israelis would love to love the Iranian Kurds too, but sadly for them, and the other ‘divide and conquer’ types, most Iranian Kurds feel Iranian first, Kurdish second and have no desire for independence.

        BTW this is a good article about Iraqi-Israeli relations. They’re not quite as straightforward as some would have you believe.

    • Qualtrough on July 20, 2014, 5:06 am

      DaBakr-further to your other assignments here, please research and report back on how Israel worked assiduously to prevent the Armenian genocide from being recognized as such. I eagerly await your report.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on July 20, 2014, 8:46 am

        Didn’t Israel’s new friends, the Kurds, play a very important role in the genocide of the Armenians?

  3. Blownaway on July 19, 2014, 8:48 pm

    It’s painful to watch her dance…I love the part where he backs her into a corner Palestinans are regularly arrested and detained without charges why the sudden interest? I love Matt Lee

  4. crone on July 19, 2014, 11:44 pm

    I wonder what is going on. First IDF ransacks the family’s home… then they arrest some.

    And US is ‘interested’ in their detention? Matt has the nose of a blood hound… he asked if one of the family might be American and she (said) was unable to answer. Well, State Dept didn’t intervene to help the Palestinian-American return home sooner for medical treatment… they allowed Israel to hold him under “house arrest” of all things.

    As for Erdogan , he said today:

    “Since [Israel’s creation] in 1948, we have been witnessing this attempt at systematic genocide every day and every month,” he said. “But above all, we are witnessing this attempt at systematic genocide every Ramadan.”

    Israel vehemently protested Turkish authorities’ blatant and rude violation of diplomatic rules, including the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, during the protests, Liberman added.

    Can you imagine ~ Liberman speaking about violation of rules. Chutzpah!

    Earlier in the day at another meeting in Bursa, Erdogan accused a “new alliance of crusaders” in a speech denouncing Israel’s attacks on Gaza.

    This will be interesting.

    • Citizen on July 20, 2014, 4:17 am

      Israel’s Transportation Minister replied to Erdogan with a whattabout–you guessed, it–The Armenian Genocide?

  5. dbroncos on July 20, 2014, 12:33 am

    The UN defines Genocide this way:

    (a) Killing members of the group;
    (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
    (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
    (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
    — Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, Article 2

    It’s curious that Ms. Psaki would say with confidence that Erdogan’s genocide claims are “offensive and wrong” and then admit to being confused herself about the meaning of genocide i.e. “there’s a range of definitions”. Finally, she claims to know nothing about the subject: “I’m sure we can connect you with an expert on this particular issue, Said.”

    • Marnie on July 20, 2014, 7:59 am

      “It’s curious that Ms. Psaki would say with confidence that Erdogan’s genocide claims are “offensive and wrong” and then admit to being confused herself about the meaning of genocide i.e. “there’s a range of definitions”. Finally, she claims to know nothing about the subject: “I’m sure we can connect you with an expert on this particular issue, Said.”

      Maybe that would be the same expert that was trying to answer the question whether the Hutus murdering the Tutsis during what is now called the Rwandan genocide?

  6. W.Jones on July 20, 2014, 2:43 am

    QUESTION: I have plenty, but –

    MS. PSAKI: Go ahead.

    QUESTION: – I think I’ll refrain.


    • Egbert on July 20, 2014, 7:29 am

      Why bother when you know the answer? More bs and evasion.

  7. just on July 20, 2014, 3:20 am

    This is how it works according to the US : anyone can be guilty of genocide anywhere in the world EXCEPT ISRAEL!

    Ask anybody.

  8. michelle on July 20, 2014, 5:45 am

    is this a surprise to anyone
    these people as helpless victims exposed Israel and
    it’s supporters for all to see by way of the torture and
    murder of a child and the beating and abduction
    (can’t really call it an arrest it doesn’t follow the arrest guidelines)
    of another child
    ever wonder what would happen if any of these our leaders
    these front people actually thought/talked for themselves
    instead of parroting the words opinions and ideas formed from
    who knows where
    the best leaders true leaders thought and spoke for themselves
    G-d Bless

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