Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Israel Convicts Another Palestinian Gandhi

So what were the charges against Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the internationally-known organizer of the Bil'in protest, that stuck? Exonerated of stone-throwing and weapons possession (a charge that even John Stewart in his wildest satire could not have concocted), he was convicted for "incitement" and "organizing illegal demonstrations."

As the statement below reports, incitement is defined, under Israel military law, as "the attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order." Forget for a moment that the evidence was gathered from minors arrested in the middle of the night. Since any protest against the expropriation of land in the Occupied Territories (by Arabs; Jewish settlers, under the system of Hafradah, are not tried in military courts) can be interpreted as IPSO FACTO disturbing the public peace or public order (what public peace or public order? These protests are in Palestinian villages), the law, in effect, bans all Palestinian protest. And if you organize a non-violent protest, you can sit in jail for up to ten years.

What is an illegal protest under Israeli military law? A gathering of 11 people without a permit from the military commander. Note that Abu Rahmah was not charged or convicted with organizing a violent protest, or a protest in which stones are thrown. Just a protest.

Abdalla Abu Rahmah may sit in jail for a long time. But he will be replaced by others. And what if the Israelis track down the other Palestinians Gandhis and jail them? What if they imprisoned all of them? From every corner of Palestine hundreds, maybe thousands, would rise to take their place. Even Israelis can't jail that fast.

This is the Third Intifada, the Intifada of the Unarmed Protest. It will continue for a long, long time – at Bil'in, at Ni'lin, at Wallajeh, at many other places.

With the support of every lover of freedom.

Below follows the press release of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Bil'in's Abdallah Abu Rahmah Cleared of Stone-Throwing; Convicted of Incitement

Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rahmah from Bil'in was convicted of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations today, after an eight months long military trial, during which he was kept behind bars. He was acquitted of a stone-throwing charge and a vindictive arms-possession charge.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah's verdict was read today in a packed military court room, concluding an eight months long politically motivated show-trial. Diplomats from France, Malta, Germany, Spain and the UK, as well as a representative of the European Union were in attendance to observe the trial. Many of his friends, supporters and family members showed up to send their support.

Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements, was acquitted of two out of the four charges brought against him in the indictment - stone-throwing and a ridiculous and vindictive arms possession charge. According to the indictment, Abu Rahmah collected used tear-gas projectiles and bullet cases shot at demonstrators, with the intention of exhibiting them to show the violence used against demonstrators.  This absurd charge is a clear example of how eager the military prosecution is to use legal procedures as a tool to silence and smear unarmed dissent.

The court did, however, find Abu Rahmah guilty of two of the most draconian anti-free speech articles in military legislation: incitement, and organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations. It did so based only on testimonies of minors who were arrested in the middle of the night and denied their right to legal counsel, and despite acknowledging significant ills in their questioning.

The court was also undeterred by the fact that the prosecution failed to provide any concrete evidence implicating Abu Rahmah in any way, despite the fact that all demonstrations in Bil'in are systematically filmed by the army.

Under military law, incitement is defined as "The attempt, verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order" (section 7(a) of the Order Concerning Prohibition of Activities of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda (no.101), 1967), and carries a 10 years maximal sentence.

Abu Rahmah's case was the first time the prosecution had used the organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations since the first Intifada. Military law defines illegal assembly in a much stricter way than Israeli law does, and in practice forbids any assembly of more than 10 people without receiving a permit from the military commander.

Abu Rahmah's sentencing will take place next month, and the prosecution is expected to ask for a sentence exceeding two years.

Click here for the complete verdict (Hebrew)


Last year, on the night of International Human Right Day, Thursday December 10th, at 2am, Abdallah Abu Rahmah was arrested from his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Seven military jeeps surrounded his house, and Israeli soldiers broke the door, took Abdallah from his bed and, after briefly allowing him to say goodbye to his wife Majida and their three children — seven year-old Luma, five year-old Lian and eight month-old baby Laith — they blindfolded him and took him into custody.

Abu Rahmah did not find himself behind bars because he is a dangerous man. Abdallah, who is amongst the leaders of the Palestinian village of Bil'in, is viewed as a threat for his work in the five-year unarmed struggle to save the village's land from Israel's wall and expanding settlements.

As a member of the Popular Committee and its coordinator since it was formed in 2004, Abdallah has represented the village of Bil'in around the world. In June 2009, he attended the village's precedent-setting legal case in Montreal against two Canadian companies illegally building settlements on Bil'in's land; in December of 2008, he participated in a speaking tour in France, and on 10 December 2008, exactly a year before his arrest, Abdallah received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights, awarded by the International League for Human Rights in Berlin.

Last summer Abdallah was standing shoulder to shoulder with Nobel Peace laureates and internationally renowned human rights activists, discussing Bil'in's grassroots campaign for justice when The Elders visited his village. This summer, he may be sent to years in prison, exactly for his involvement in this campaign


Anonymous said...

when arabs were entering israel as suicide bombers....where was this gandi? why did he only show up after the wall (that was built to protect you) was built?

Israel Muse said...

Ghandi?, is this some kind of joke - Ghandi didnt accept people strapping bombs to themselves or firing rockets...

nice try though, you probably fool a lot of people with this crap...

good luck!

Jerry Haber said...

bacci40, I just hope that when you see your land stolen, and the court rules in your favore, and yet nothing happens, and when you protest, somebody will say to you, "Where were you when Barukh Goldstein massacred Arabs."

And ps. the land grab wall has not stopped a single suicide bomber. but it has given land to Jewish real estate developers.

Jerry Haber said...

Israel Muse,

Who is Ghandi?

Like bacci40, you delight in their (once) being Palestinian suicide bombers, because every Jewish baby who was (once) killed allows you to justify stealing more land and destroying more lives.

There is nothing your ilk hates more than unarmed protest by Palestinians. You would much rather Jews being blasted to smithereens. Because that makes you feel a little better about blasting Arabs to smithereens. (Not that you would need to.)

Frankly, I would like to see the violent folks on both side fight it out on some remote island and leave the sane people -- Israelis and Palestinians alone

Alon said...

What a pathetic straw man argument. Abdallah Abu Rahmah and the Bil'in protesters are a direct refutation of the suicide bombers you so cheaply attempt to use to justify your unethical, immoral position. The man has organized non-violent protest, as many Palestinians before him have, in order to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. What more could you ask from him? Where were YOU when the Israeli government was thumbing its nose at international law and occupying the land adjacent to Bil'in? Modi'in Illit is nothing more than an act of violence.

@Israel Muse
From Ghandi
"I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence....I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour."

You tell me, when Israel actively crushes grassroots non-violent methods of resisting the occupation, what is left? What would Ghandi say about this?

"My creed of nonviolence is an extremely active force. It has no room for cowardice or even weakness. There is hope for a violent man to be some day non-violent, but there is none for a coward. I have, therefore, said more than once....that, if we do not know how to defend ourselves, our women and our places of worship by the force of suffering, i.e., nonviolence, we must, if we are men, be at least able to defend all these by fighting."

I'm quite sure Ghandi wouldn't have been too keen on Israel's actions leading up to and after its declaration of independence ins 1948. You've chosen the wrong sort of analogy.

Peter Schwartz said...

Jerry, it seems to me the real shame will be if all those international organizations who've honored Abdallah for his work don't kick up a serious ruckus to shine a light on this.

It's very hard to see how this action helps Israel's case or cause or security in any way. You must be increasingly discouraged at the way your fellow Jews/Israelis are acting.

Eric said...

In India far more people have a picture of the man who shot Gandhi on their wall than a picture of Gandhi. Most citizens of India (and Pakistan) regard Gandhi as an impediment to independence rather than a liberator.Non violence was an important propaganda tool but only one means of resistance and not the most important one.Brutalizing those who dissent non-violently is precisely what enhances their cause. Israel has learned nothing from this history.

Y. Ben-David said...

Gandhi wasn't too keen on Jews LIVING, period. He said we should have all committed suicide in World War II. That would have fit his worldview better than having the Germans do it because that way the Germans would have remained pure, they wouldn't have blook on their hands.
He also said we that German Jews could not claim to be non-violent (in the period of Nazi persecution prior to the start of the war) because we all share a collective guilt for killing Jesus.

Gandhi was a classic British-style genteel antisemite. And the British would have left India by 1947 if Gandhi had never existed.

Anonymous said...

Hey bacci40
Give me a break !
you still refuse to get it, THAT is the trouble ! these people are desperate to get there land back from irael that is continualy being stolen from them they go to any lenght to do so including attacking back with suicide
how in the hell can justify these atrocties?
what you are doing is this:
the bully in the play ground is beating up the litle kid and you blaming the bleeding kid trying to defend himself
who are you protecting ? and why ?

this is the trouble
shame on you my friend

Anonymous said...


so while i caught gandhi's comments that the jews shouldve committed mass suicide instead of going to the gas chambers, i guess i missed where he stood by as hindus and muslims committed acts of terror against the brits....ignorant me.

i definitely remember that man of courage sitting quietly as his country was partitioned so that the muslims would have their own country...even though it never existed before...and the subsequent population exchange led to the deaths of thousands...guess if the subject of this post is like that...then he is the arab gandhi.

as for jerry's comment regarding the stealing of land...im just curious jerry, how many other parts of the torah do you deny? or maybe you believe that you and most of the jews who reside in the world are descendants of the khazars. has to be one or the other.

oh, and my family did have land stolen from us. my paternal grandfather was a homesteader in central california...if you would like to know what became of his land, watch "there will be blood"...so thank you for your blessing on allowing me to declare jihad on the corporation that stole his land...when i get tossed in jail for committing mass murder, i will be sure to call you as a witness of my innocence.

Anonymous said...

Why are these non-violent protests are so .... violent?

Just watch any youtube videos - Paleostinians march to the fence and try to cross it, place a flag, etc. They throw stones at soldiers on the other side of the fence. Soldiers respond with tear gas and rubber bullets, sometimes with live fire. And this is called "non-violence"????

Jerry Haber said...


If you prefer "unarmed" to "nonviolent" fine, but the protests are organized as non-violent.

The fact that some members throw rocks has nothing to do with the organization. If you were correct, Abu Rahmah would have been charged with that.

Read carefully.

Oh, and bacci40, the Land of Israel was given to the seed of Abraham. And if a Palestinian state arises on all of Palestine, it will still be the Land of Israel. As you know, halakha grants ownership rights in property of the Land of Israel to gentiles bizman ha-zeh. And in any event, we are talking about national sovereignty. So TRY to separate the issues of national soveignty from the halakhic status of Eretz Yisrael, which includes part of South Lebanon, not to mention TransJordan. Most rabbis do.