Jonathan Ofir — Mondoweiss June 13, 2017
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.”
”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.