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Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America’

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While Richard Gere was in Israel and the occupied West Bank promoting his film “Norman,” he was recorded in an unguarded moment wandering the desolate streets of Hebron’s Old City. A dumbfounded Gere is near at a loss for words in the clip, which aired on Israel’s Channel 2 network.

Not a Palestinian in sight. Soldiers and settlers roam comparatively carefree. The roads are too quiet. All of the shops are shuttered. Gere is stunned:

“This is the thing that’s flipping me out right now,” Gere stammers to his Hebron guides, activists with the Israeli human rights group Breaking the Silence, former soldiers that now advocate against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territory, “Of everything we’ve seen for two days, the people we’ve talked to, it’s…I mean…I’m…I’m touched by that, I know that story. But this is really bizarre.”

“This is genuinely strange,” Gere adds, before telling his guides, Hebron is like the Jim Crow South:

“It’s the dead city, but who owns the city? And their [the settlers] feeling of ‘I’m protected, I can do whatever I want,’ and that sense of where the boundaries are. I mean it’s like…it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go, they could drink from that fountain, they couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t eat in that place. It was well understood. You didn’t cross it or you’d get your head beat in or lynched,” Gere said.

At one point soldiers stopped Gere and asked for his passport. He didn’t have it on him. But he’s from New York, he told them. Once the soldiers realized he is the Richard Gere–“Richard Gere, wow,” one said–the mood softens. But Gere is still visibly unsettled.

A car driven by a settler zooms by. Gere catches on, “These guys driving through. It’s a really dark energy. Wow,” he says, “it was kind of Mad Max.”

The scene that Gere had entered for the first time includes Palestinians who are made to use alleyways as the main roads are for settlers only. Palestinians cannot drive in the Old City, settlers can. There is one notorious sidewalk with a rope to segregate Palestinian and Israeli pedestrian traffic. It’s a scene many are horrified by the first time they enter. (Philip Weiss had a similar response back in 2006.)

Before Gere went to Hebron, he spoke with Haaretz in Jerusalem:

“Obviously this occupation is destroying everyone,” he says. “There’s no defense of this occupation. Settlements are such an absurd provocation and, certainly in the international sense, completely illegal – and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process.” He pauses before adding, “Just to be clear about this: I denounce violence on all sides of this. And, of course, Israelis should feel secure. But Palestinians should not feel desperate.”

Later that same trip Gere met with Palestinian former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Following the meeting Gere was asked if he would ever act in a production by a Palestinian filmmaker (“Norman” writer and director, Joseph Cedar, is Israeli). “Why not,” Gere told the Arab News, continuing: 

“My only criteria are the quality of the script and the production. Naturally I’d have to be emotionally connected, but that isn’t enough. It has to be a quality film. I won’t discriminate if it’s a Palestinian film. In fact, I’d look closer if it was a Palestinian director.”

Gere added, “I have a special place in my heart for Palestinians, and I have a special empathy for their suffering.”

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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42 Responses

  1. CHUCKMAN on March 24, 2017, 2:38 pm

    The Old South is a good comparison.

    So is Nationalist South Africa.

    Both those states were “democratic,” but with the democratic rights limited to one class of people.

    Just so, Israel.

    It is not, and can never be, a democracy in its present form.

  2. JLewisDickerson on March 24, 2017, 4:38 pm

    RE – Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America’

    MY COMMENT: If an Israeli Arab posted something like that on Facebook, the Israelis might very possibly arrest him/her for “incitement”. Fortunately for Gere, the Israelis are not yet quite crazy enough* to do something like that to him because they are not quite yet so far gone that they can’t appreciate the damage that would result from all the bad publicity.

    * At the rate things are going, five or so years from now the Israeli authorities might well be crazy enough to arrest someone like Gere for the nebulous offense of “incitement”.

  3. DaBakr on March 24, 2017, 5:00 pm

    As if this privileged white man knew what it was like to be black in the ‘deep south’ .

    There are no comparisons to the situation in the I/p because the conflict is not racial, religious or cultural. Is it nationalistic? Yes. But only Jewish nationalism Is condemned. Palestinian nationalism Is championed. Is it tribal? Oh yes. It’s tribal. And is it a war of ideas or a war to the death? Ask yourselves that. It seems like the Palestinians (or maybe both Israeli and Palestinian have opted for the latter)
    So many on the far left (and here) have such pseudo intellectual disdain for tribalism and nationalism but only condemn it when it’s Jewish. They act as if the movement for ethnic identity and cultural prominence in the US is anything different then a way of preserving the institutions of one’s tribe. Tribalism is akin to Neanderthal. Ok. Come live in the ME anywhere but Israel and start preaching that line. And if I read that argument that all off the above is ok except that it is all taking place on ‘stolen’ land I’ll just be reminded that MW changed their tagline’ war of ideas ‘ because it’s really a war to the death that the far left advocates for. In a twisted and roundabout way, but absolutely to the death of Israel and Zionism. All of us from the center left to the far right understand this. However, I am not saying that incremental changes at a snail’s pace (irritating as this may be) won’t edge the conflict more towards a resolution, temporary or based on milestones. I would say at this point it’s still 50-50

    Palestinian supporters of the far left love to make analogies to support their delusions. Palestinians have suffered like:

    American first nations people.
    Worse then Jews under Nazis (that may have been also said by both erdogan and Abbas)
    The Jews of Europe during ww2
    Syrians during their present state of constant war.

    And etc.

    Gere and Roger should hook up if they already havn’t

    • annie on March 24, 2017, 7:44 pm

      no comparisons to the situation in the I/p because the conflict is not racial, religious or cultural. Is it nationalistic? Yes.

      for your edification: nationalism

      Nationalism is — oriented towards developing and maintaining a national identity based on shared characteristics such as culture, language, race, religion, political goals or a belief in a common ancestry.[1][2]

      the rest of your commentary was equally as non sensical, w/ the usual inflammatory accusations thrown in as per your standard.

      • GodWPalestine on March 24, 2017, 10:00 pm

        Thank you Annie for your time reading and educating the few ignorant out there!
        Some people were born blind in the heart and brain.

      • Misterioso on March 25, 2017, 10:53 am



      • YoniFalic on March 25, 2017, 1:04 pm

        Mondoweiss readers might find worthwhile to watch Ilan Pappe’s discussion at around 7 hours 30 min into the video.

        Pappe has not achieved the level of understanding that my colleagues and I are trying to bring to the US and world public, but he makes a useful distinction between between nationalism and settler colonialism.

        In his place I would have said white racist genocidal European settler invader colonialism instead of simply settler colonialism, and I as JD-PhD would have pointed out that the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal put mere propagandization for ideologies like German Nazism or Zionism in the category of international capital crime.

    • lyn117 on March 24, 2017, 9:01 pm

      Jewish nationalism is condemned because it promotes invasion of Palestine as well as mass murder and expulsion of the non-Jewish people of Palestine on top of special privileges for Jews. “Aryan” nationalism or nazism wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t promote invasion of “non-Aryan” countries and mass murder and expulsion of “non-Aryan” people of Europe or Germany, or special privileges for “Aryans” in Germany.

      Palestinian nationalism has historically promoted equal rights regardless of creed.

    • oldgeezer on March 25, 2017, 12:13 am


      I slightly disagree with lyn117. I don’t think the difference is really all that material.

      Jewish nationalism has been realized in the form of Israel. Perhaps not all of the criminal desire for Eretz Israel.

      Palestinian nationalism has not been realized.

      Palestinian nationalism has been conditioned by an oppressor upon accepting terms favourable to them. The oppressor goes berzerk at the mere thought of Palestinian nationalism

      Israeli/Jewish nationalism may upset some Palestinians and supporters but that is not relevant as it exists.

      Palestinian nationalism cannot deny Israeli/Jewish nationalism no matter how much they wish to. Israeli/Jewish nationalism has denied Palestinian nationalism for well over a half century.

      If you can’t see why it is the Jewish/Israeli nationalism is the one condemned then you are simply a lost cause.

      One is the oppressor. One is the oppresse. Israel/Jewish nationalism is not the oppressed.

      Get your boots off of their necks. You have no right to have them there in the first place. Vile criminal racists the lot of you.

      • captADKer on March 25, 2017, 11:41 am

        shalhevet pass

      • YoniFalic on March 25, 2017, 12:52 pm

        There are different sorts of nationalism.

        In civic or voluntary nationalism the state belongs to the citizens — to wit: French, US, or UK nationalism.

        In organic nationalism citizens are no more than cells in the organic body of the nation, which is congruent with the state — moderate fascists tended to conceive of the state in this way.

        In völkisch organic nationalism citizens are no more than cells in the organic body of the nation, which is congruent with the state and identified with a specific ethnonational group or Volk — German Nazi (Hitlerist) and Zio nationalism correspond to this form of nationalism.

      • Mooser on March 25, 2017, 5:27 pm

        “shalhevet pass”


      • DaBakr on March 28, 2017, 1:49 am


        ” no right” and yet here we are. Over 50yrs of offering land for peace and an end to the conflict some of which were accepted and three offers which were rejected by Arafat(who had Palestinian interests at heart while stealing billions from them as do the men he mentored)

        Funny how so many far lefty mw commenters think zionists are blind and lost causes,(among so many other things). Maybe your just pissed it’s not your cause. There are about 23% Arabs Bedouin, Druze, etc., living here whose necks are completely free to pursue lives or careers they want

        And I understand that the entity known as YF is on a mission to parse the definition of nationalism until she distills Jewish nationalism down to something evil and fake while Palestinian nationalism Is heroic. To say this is expected is more then an understatement

      • Mooser on March 28, 2017, 12:16 pm

        “until she distills Jewish nationalism down to something evil and fake while Palestinian nationalism Is heroic.”

        Ummm, “DaBakr”, when disparate people from all over the world have to go thousands of miles, still suck money out of the places they left, and expel, murder and steal from the people there to find their “nationalism”, why, yes, it does look pretty phony and contrived and evil compared to people who are just sitting there, trying to live.

        Oh, and speaking of Jewish nationalism, “DaBakr” there’s one thing I am very sure of. Only an avowed anti-semite would ever try to claim I was part of the same ‘nation’ as you.

      • talknic on March 28, 2017, 12:36 pm

        @ DaBakr March 28, 2017, 1:49 am

        ” Over 50yrs of offering land for peace and an end to the conflict some of which were accepted “

        Nonsense. Israel has only ever offered to swap non-Israeli territory acquired by war for non-Israeli territory acquired by war so Israel can keep non-Israeli territory acquired by war

        “and three offers which were rejected by Arafat”

        If you think the thief offering you a tyre from your own car in order to keep the rest of your car is a good deal, you’re quite an idiot.

        “(who had Palestinian interests at heart while stealing billions from them as do the men he mentored)”

        The final IMF audit tells us you’re full of ZioSh*te

        From the NY Times (SUBSCRIPTION REQUIRED)
        “In total, the Fund estimates, the amounts diverted from the official budget from 1995 until 2000, when the diversions stopped, may have exceeded $898m. IMF officials say $799m was returned to the PA, with the difference accounted for by investment losses………the bulk of the money diverted from the budget – including all the Swiss bank accounts – was either given back or invested in companies that became part of the PIF, an assertion backed by the IMF”
        Since becoming transparent, Palestinian funds have been frozen. Shrewd, yes. Devious, yes. Clever, yes. A thief? Accusations are not evidence. ZioMorons have no evidence

        “There are about 23% Arabs Bedouin, Druze, etc., living here whose necks are completely free to pursue lives or careers they want”

        More ZioSh*te. By 1950 some 500,000 Arab Jews became Israeli citizens. Israel’s Arab population was in excess of 50%.

    • Danaa on March 25, 2017, 2:48 am

      the gazans suffer every bit like the jews of the warsaw Ghetto did, and then some. Yes, israel has not liquidated Gaza – yet. But they would if they could. Ask any israeli and they’ll tell you exactly – in their own oh so culturally uplifted Tikun-Olanish words – just what they would like to do to gaza and gazans.

      Followed by what they’d like to do to palestinians in the west bank, palestinian Israelis and, of course, their own “left”.

    • CigarGod on March 25, 2017, 11:04 am

      Straight from the playbook.
      1. Claim inability to “compare” based in incorrect definition.
      2. Immediately compare based on incorrect definition (nationalistic).
      3. Attempt to change conversation by pointing “over there” where there are only Arabs/Palestinians in the example.
      4. Simply declare Palestinians don’t have the same nobility of cause that other oppressed have.
      5. Use a 60’s definition of “hook up” for a 2017 world.

    • Lillian Rosengarten on March 25, 2017, 11:34 am

      A disgraceful response Da Bakr to an awakening that brings the truth about Zionist Genocide while Gere was bearing witness. We need all the help we can get to expose the crimes Zionism has perpetrated.

      Yes there is much world suffering but we are talking here about the crimes against Palestine.

    • Mooser on March 25, 2017, 2:01 pm

      “Palestinian supporters of the far left love to make analogies to support their delusions. Palestinians have suffered like…”

      And then “DaBakr” gives a list.

      Of course, “DaBakr” wants you to know that in every case he mentions, the oppressor, the genocidal or the apartheid nation who did these things suffered no consequences, and in every case the oppression, genocide and or apartheid proved to be a positive step on the way to a secure future for that nation.

    • eljay on March 25, 2017, 3:43 pm

      || DaBakr: … There are no comparisons to the situation in the I/p because the conflict is not racial, religious or cultural. … ||

      Zionism and the “Jewish State” project are religion-based colonialism and supremacism. This may be a completely unique brand of evil, but it’s hardly something to brag about.

    • talknic on March 25, 2017, 7:56 pm

      Watching a ZioPuppet unload is funny

      @ DaBakr March 24, 2017, 5:00 pm

      “As if this privileged white man knew what it was like to be black in the ‘deep south’”

      I get what you’re trying to say. Americas laws were changed by only black men? WOW!!! I wonder if all those white guys knew?

      Seems there’s no end to the fool you’ll make of yourself in trying to justify the unjustifiable

      “There are no comparisons to the situation in the I/p because the conflict is not racial, religious or cultural. Is it nationalistic? Yes. But only Jewish nationalism Is condemned. Palestinian nationalism Is championed. “

      The Palestinians didn’t decide to invade in 1897, it was the the Zionist Federation decided to colonize Palestine.

      Jews could have immigrated and achieved legitimate citizenship and bought real estate and settled from at least the Roman era until 00:01 May 15th 1948. Few did. Even Herzl in his life time could have. He didn’t bother.

      Now Israelis, be they Jewish or non-Jewish are prohibited by the Laws Israel obliged itself to by becoming a state, from illegally settling in non-Israeli territories.

      Go take your pathetic whining to the Zionist Federation for preventing Israeli from settling anywhere in the Jewish People’s alleged Historic Homeland by demanding a separate state and then proclaiming that state within the borders outlined in UNGA res 181

      “So many on the far left (and here) have such pseudo intellectual disdain for tribalism and nationalism but only condemn it when it’s Jewish”

      What Israel is doing is illegal you amazingly stupid Zionist moron.

  4. Boris on March 25, 2017, 1:44 am

    To a hammer everything is a nail. Movies, “Mad Max”, “Cabaret”…

    Dick Gere to Israelis – “you have to act fast!”

    • Mooser on March 25, 2017, 2:04 pm

      “Dick Gere to Israelis – “you have to act fast!”

      Yup, they do. But Israel is paralyzed by its own intransigence, the occupation and the settlements.
      Good luck on any fast moves Israel has to make.

  5. Misterioso on March 25, 2017, 11:05 am

    Zionist’s creation of a “Jewish state” in historical Palestine, which was accomplished by the dispossession and expulsion of well over one million of its indigenous defenseless Arab inhabitants between late 1947 and the summer of 1967 through armed might, several massacres, mass rape and intimidation, remains the number one geopolitical blunder of the post WWII era.

    To state the obvious: Foreign Jews had the same right to Palestine as Irish Catholics and Mexican atheists, i.e., none whatsoever! Therein lies the root of the conflict.

  6. James Canning on March 25, 2017, 1:32 pm

    This story should be on the front page of the New York Times.

    • just on March 25, 2017, 6:36 pm

      Of course it should James, but it won’t be. It has made news in a lot of papers, though. Kudos to Gere and his Breaking the Silence escorts.

      Here’s Gideon Levy on another ‘shocking’ event~ this in Jerusalem.. :

      “Israel 2017, Now the Video

      The public outcry over footage of a violent policeman attacking a Palestinian truck driver is almost as nauseating as the video itself.

      The shock, tut-tutting and condemnation over Thursday’s video footage, in which a policeman is seen beating a Palestinian truck driver, are maddening and repulsive. Only the video itself is more repulsive. The policeman disgusts you? That’s exactly what the occupation looks like. It is as violent, ugly, brutal and loutish as the policeman; this is exactly how Israel has abused millions of people every hour, every day, for 50 years.

      It’s not just that the video reflects routine in the occupied territories: At any given moment, there are Israeli soldiers and policemen who strike Palestinians, kick, head butt, bark or swear at them, like in the video. What’s worse is that the footage reflects a far broader reality than the occupation.

      It is a situation report, an Israeli selfie. If the film “Exodus” aspired to present an Israel of the War of Independence era, the video of the violent policeman presents Israel 2017. Exodus was the dream, the policeman its fragment: watch the film and you’ll see us.

      Every Israeli has seen countless similar images in this “land of quarrels”: on the road; at the supermarket; in the hospital; on the soccer field or the parking lot … in almost every line, this is the language, the Israeli lingua franca: bullying. Why pick on the policeman? He’s typical of his homeland. He did what everyone else did, almost. He’s also the son of us all. He’s a uniformed thug – so what?

      He was already suspected of beating a civilian once before, and the police force didn’t see fit to prosecute him then. So, he acted as expected. It’s important to note the type of violence used: this is seasoned violence, almost inbred violence. The head butt is the weapon of an experienced bully; an inexperienced bully does not head butt.

      You also have to listen to his language, the jargon of Israel. “I’ll pay for that? You son-of-a-whore … get out of my sight!” he shouts at Mazen Shwiki. “I’ll screw the mothers of all of you.” That’s how they speak in Israel. Not only in the occupation, not only on the road. It’s all here: the most important value of Israeliness – not to be a sucker (“I’ll pay?”); the immediate transition from threat to action; the power, the aggressiveness, the arrogance, the coarseness. The filthy language.

      The fact that he did it in uniform makes no difference. The policemen also speak Israeli. Israel is violent because it can be. It bombs in Syria and assassinates in Gaza because it can. It’s the neighborhood bully because no one stopped it. And it is also violent within because it’s possible.

      The policeman – who goes by the so-Israeli name Moshe Cohen – is also violent because he can be. The fact that he stood opposite a crowd did not deter him. He knew and they knew that he’s the strong one and they the weak; he’s the oppressor and they’re the oppressed, so he’s allowed to. He is lord of the land and they the dust at his feet. Everyone here fulfilled their role: the helplessness and fear of the Palestinian drivers who were afraid to come to the defense of their friend against the policeman’s rage. The uniform of the occupation against the helplessness of the occupied. The pistol in its holster, pay attention to the way the cop stands and walks: this is how the owner behaves. This is how our country behaves. …

      … It’s an ugly picture, really ugly, hence the instant outcry when we witness it. More than the outcry was aimed at the policeman – he’ll quickly be forgotten, and it’s doubtful he’ll face trial – it was directed at the mirror it put up, a self-portrait of Israel 2017.

      Which is why we’d like to forget this policeman. Let him be kicked out, let him be under house arrest for a few days, then get out of our sight (in his words); just don’t let him be put on trial. We had enough with the Sgt. Elor Azaria manslaughter trial: deep down, we knew we were all on trial.

      A few hours after the video was broadcast, a reception was held at the home of peace activist Alice Krieger. Guest of honor was Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, the doctor from Gaza [who lost three daughters during Operation Cast Lead]. “Hatred is weakness,” the bereaved father said in Hebrew, a language that only a few are still able to understand in Israel. “Kindness, tolerance and patience are power.” In the darkness of the evening and the video footage, the doctor’s noble words reverberated as detached, ridiculous, almost hallucinatory.”

      read more:

  7. genesto on March 25, 2017, 3:36 pm

    At first, I was upset that Gere chose to go to Israel. But now I have to add him to my list of Celebrity Heroes, right below Roger Waters name.

    Needless to say, we can expect this to be the last time Gere is invited to, or even allowed into, Israel. Welcome to the Club of Existential Threats to Israel (CETI). You get to be called an anti-Semite by probably 85% of the Israeli population, and by a significant segment of US Jewry. On the other hand, you will be embraced by Arabs and Muslims worldwide, not to mention true progressives and humanitarians everywhere, as a hero. Trust me, that will make it worth it!

    We’re a rather small group right now, but growing rapidly! Once again, welcome aboard!

    • talknic on March 25, 2017, 7:34 pm

      “We’re a rather small group right now, but growing rapidly!”

      et tu genesto?

      • genesto on March 27, 2017, 12:51 pm

        Since I was part of the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, I am officially barred from visiting Israel for 10 years from that time. Little, 70-year old, pacifist me is, indeed, considered an existential threat to the great state of Israel.

        How bloody insecure is that?

  8. catalan on March 25, 2017, 4:27 pm

    “Nuremberg International Military Tribunal put mere propagandization for ideologies like German Nazism or Zionism in the category of international capital crime – ” yoni
    So basically it is the death penalty for those who propagate Zionism. Two questions which you as a JD can answer. What will be the method of execution? And are there any commenters here who can look forward to being executed? I am hoping for some extenuating circumstances for me…

    • talknic on March 25, 2017, 7:36 pm

      @ catalan

      If drowning in the crap of your own wholly holey Hasbara is execution, you’re doing a great job!

    • Mooser on March 26, 2017, 12:56 pm

      “I am hoping for some extenuating circumstances for me…”

      Oh, I don’t think you will even be charged, “catalan”. You can get off with a quick habeus corpus. Simply challenge the prosecutor to show one instance of your propaganda which actually had the intended effect.
      I don’t see how you can be charged for stuff that backfires every time.
      And let’s, shall we, not even talk about the personality you project in your comments. That alone should give you complete immunity from any charge of propagandizing for Zionism.

      Besides, as a fan of Israel, you must know about reduction in sentences. Time off for glat behavior.

  9. Elizabeth Block on March 25, 2017, 6:10 pm

    In the video there is a glimpse (I think) of a sign that says that the Old City of Hebron is forbidden to Jews. What it doesn’t say is that it wasn’t the Palestinians who forbade Jew to go there, it was the Israeli government.

  10. The JillyBeans on March 25, 2017, 6:28 pm

    Well if Hebron shocked Mr Gere, then the rest of the Occupied Territories and Gaza will make him have a fecal unload in his knickerbockers.

    It’s so sad that Americans and in particular American Jewish people don’t educate themselves of the reality of this ethnoreligioys state and their behaviors. Even as a tourist on my own at 20 years of age I felt there was something severely wrong with the country, and that was while in Israel proper.

    • CigarGod on March 27, 2017, 10:17 am

      I was 16 and on my first flight to Israel for a semester in 1968. The anti-arab conversations onboard, and then an incident I witnessed upon deplanning involving an arab/Palestinian baggage handler, sensitized my sight to the injustices for the whole semester. I extended my visit to include several surrounding countries in an act of protest.

      • Mooser on March 27, 2017, 12:55 pm

        “I was 16 and on my first flight to Israel for a semester in 1968.”

        You are much, much braver than me, “CigarGod”. When I was 16 the thought of going to Israel seemed like being sentenced to transportation. Everyday would be Saturday morning and Tuesday and Thursday evening, for the rest of my life!

      • CigarGod on March 27, 2017, 10:40 pm

        I was too young to be brave.
        There were a few interesting encounters. In Egypt our bus was boarded by armed men looking for Israeli’s. All our passports were checked. They didn’t care about American Jews, so we all were allowed to proceed. It was a tense time for some. I only cared about old buildings, food and girls.

    • just on March 27, 2017, 10:22 am

      Thanks for your comment, JillyBeans. Here’s hoping that some might read and absorb the following witness report about illegal, unjust, and Apartheid Israel:

      “Separate and Unequal: Inside Israel’s Military Courts, Where the Only Defendants Are Palestinians

      The UN says Israel’s West Bank justice system, which tries Palestinians exclusively and has reported an almost 100% conviction rate, violates international law. This is what I saw. …

      It was June 2016, and the path to the small courthouses was enclosed by a metal fence topped with barbed wire. We walked through quickly to escape the 90 degree heat and waited in a lounge designed for family members and friends of the accused. A small kiosk sold pastries and candy.

      The trials themselves take place in glammed-up trailers, where military and court officials come and go, answering phones, high-fiving and greeting one another. It might have been out of place in many court rooms, but this was Israel’s military court system, a complete justice system that tries only Palestinians, and in 2010 self-reported a 99.74% conviction rate. Israeli settlers, even when committing a crime in the West Bank, are tried in civilian courts.

      In military courts, different rules apply

      Israel’s military courts differ notably from their civilian counterparts, including the types of acts considered offenses, and the lengths of punishment for an infraction. In military courts, “certain forms of political and cultural expression, association, movement and nonviolent protest, even certain traffic offenses” can be considered crimes, according to Lisa Hajjar in her Courting Conflict: The Isræli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza. 

      Under the Israeli penal code, individuals can apply for probation after serving half of their sentence. In the military courts, Palestinians must serve two-thirds of their sentence before applying. Israel has also passed laws allowing Palestinians to be held for 180 days without charges, renewable indefinitely. Over 700 Palestinians are being held without charges or trial, what a UN representative calls an “eight-year high”.  … …

      Just another day in 50 years of Israel’s military courts

      For us as visitors, it seemed like quite a dramatic day in Israel’s military court system. In reality, however, this was just an average day in the 50-year life of Israel’s military courts. Since Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in 1967, it has sentenced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in its military courts. Al Monitor reports that up to 20% of Palestinians have at one point been detained in the military justice system. 

      Though many Palestinians see it as a sham court, Israel keeps these courts running in attempt to legitimize its presence in the Palestinian Territories. The UN has repeatedly stated that the court acts in violation of international law. Military courts often lack the impartiality of civilian trials as the judge, prosecutor and translators are all members of the armed forces, rather than independent professionals hired by the state.

      Despite the criticism, Israel defends its system on the basis of self-defense. But as Susan Abulhawa stated in her novel ‘Mornings in Jenin’, “For if life had taught her anything, it was that healing and peace can begin only with acknowledgment of wrongs committed.” ”

      read much more:

  11. Brewer on March 26, 2017, 9:19 pm

    A bit off-topic but dear Richard Falk could use a little support over at:
    …..since he co-wrote the ESCWA report on Apartheid in Israel. A couple of particularly nasty trolls have taken up residence. Refuting their garbage takes time I don’t have right now and poor Richard is hard-pressed.

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