The media are filled with reports about a protest strike by Palestinian Arab prisoners and their friends. What’s it about?
Two terms keep coming up in almost every report: the strikers are “unjustly imprisoned” and it’s a “battle for freedom and dignity.” But this is not about justice or dignity. Those key terms ought to mean something but as happens so often, they have been hijacked in the name of a vicious war and turned on their heads.
Some of the talking heads say/scream/shout that this is about administrative detention. But fewer (much fewer) than 1% of the Arab prisoners hunger-striking in Israeli prisons are administrative detainees. Reliable statistics we have seen say there are between five and ten such individuals among the 1,500 to 2,000 hunger strikers.
The two who began hunger-striking in March are men called Bilal Diab and Tha’er Halahlah who are administrative detainees, held so far for nine months and 22 months respectively. Their petition came before the High Court of Justice on Monday and was heard and rejected.
The court pointed to the ongoing ties of the petitioners to terrorist funding and terrorism and that they are a clear and immediate security risk to Israeli citizens. It added (which is also significant) that the Israel Prison Service is meeting or exceeding the standards required by international law regarding prisoner treatment already.
Diab and Halahlah are in fact leaders in Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The angry voices are demanding that we think of them as unjustly shunted off to prison for the equivalent of failing to pay for a television license. The media and the ranks of ‘activist’ NGOs are currently filled with such voices.
Of the other strikers, almost all were charged, tried and convicted for the most serious offences you can think of. Hundreds are in prison for murder. Quite a number of them are unrepentant multiple murderers.
We are tracking the online news photographs (there are many) being pumped out by the wire services to enhance the global impact of this protest. We ourselves have more than the usual amount of familiarity with some of the names and faces.
When we look past the sad-faced mothers and the photogenic children in the foreground, what we see (and most others don’t notice) is people like Abdullah Barghouti in the posters at the back. This places the whole affair into a different perspective.
That particular prisoner made the bomb that stole our daughter’s life from us. He has never denied the charges against him. On the contrary, like so many jihadists, he was proud of them before he went to prison; he remains proud of them now.
He says publicly – on U.S. television, for instance – that he will kill more Jews when he gets the chance. More than that: he regrets that the bombings he carried out did not kill more Jews. In his own unforgettable words, “I feel bad because the number is only 66”.
Prisoners like Barghouti, and not some mythical jaywalkers capriciously locked up administratively by the vindictive Zionist entity, are the cause for whom the Palestinian Arab protestors and their many supporters are out there shouting and burning tires. The evidence is there in front of your eyes.
And if you ask: which editor would want to be seen fanning the flames of protest in support of a convicted psychopath like Barghouti serving 67 life terms, then a partial answer is: maybe the editors at UPI, APF, Daily Star – Lebanon, Scoop New Zealand and numerous others.
What would you say to the people demonstrating for rights, justice and dignity for Abdullah Barghouti and the hundreds of other convicted murderous thugs?
Is theirs the cause that gets you up every morning?
Is the shortage of cable movie channels in their [prison] lives something that gets your adrenaline going?
The writer is a lawyer who made aliyah from Australia and lives in Jerusalem with his family. His daughter, Malki, was murdered in the horrific Sbarro terror attack.