Our January 2018 employee of the month is Israel, which rose above other potential honorees on the back of key recent incidents that punctuate the injustice of the ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands and highlight the utter failure of international state actors to effectively mediate a solution. As background, it is worth recalling that Israel was recipient of the U.S. decision to locate its embassy in Jerusalem. While some have speculated that the move was prompted by the glowing orange-haired Vegas tycoon, Sheldon Adelson and his wife, major campaign supporters for Trump—a year ago Netanyahu insisted that the embassy needed to be in Jerusalem.

One reason for EOM award was the Israeli state’s publication of a BDS blacklist, barring entry to Israel for activists who have worked on the international effort to target Israel for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, as a means to exert pressure to counter the occupation of Palestinian lands. The list includes a prominent US Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Peace. The blacklist was conceived by Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who also recently praised ruling-Likud Party’s efforts to effectively annex illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank: “The time has come to express our Biblical right to the land,” he said, told a meeting of Likud’s Central Committee.

Another reason for the award was the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)’s response to protests following Trump’s Jerusalem announcement, which has frequently involved the use of live fire, as well as potentially-lethal rubber-coated steel bullets. Since the announcement, Israeli forces have shot dead 16 unarmed Palestinian protestors, including double amputee Ibrahim Abu Thurayyah; having lost his legs in a previous incident with the Israeli military, he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper on December 15th, while taking part in a protest at the border of the Gaza Strip with Israel.

The IDF response has also included the arrest of large numbers of Palestinian activists, symbolized in the detention of Ahed Tamimi within Israel’s military court system. To highlight this situation, we copy below an interview conducted by +972’s Joshua Leifer with Tamimi’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky. As Lasky notes: “The video shows the essence of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.” Lefier explains, “depending on where you stand, and perhaps who you are, watching the 16-year-old girl face down two heavily armed Israeli soldiers can reinforce either the Palestinian and Israeli narrative.” For those of you searching for more background, +972 offered additional context on the history of protests in Tamimi’s town, Nabi Saleh.

Excerpt from 972: “Ahed Tamimi’s lawyer: Her case is making people see the occupation again,” Interview by Joshua Leifer with Tamimi’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky

What does it mean that the judge is wearing the same uniform as the prosecution?

The military court is not a court of justice in the regular sense; it’s an organ of the occupation. It perpetuates the occupation. Both the judge and the prosecution are wearing the same uniform, and are part of the same system, and the defense is not.

What are some of the obstacles in a case like Ahed’s that would be different if she were being tried in a civilian court?

First, it would be much, much easier to get her released from detention. I brought to court a lot of examples of adults who were released in cases where their offenses were greater than hers. [Civilian] courts in Israel do tend to release [suspects on bail]. Her being a minor would have made things even easier in an Israeli court. Cases in military court are more difficult from the get-go much because the laws are stricter, the charges are heavier, and rights are only partially protected.

But the difficulty with Ahed’s case is not only that we’re facing a military court; it’s the fact that the video shows the essence of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Someone can see the narrative of the Palestinians in that video, and on the other side, Israelis can see the narrative of Israel in that video.

When you talk about an offense in a regular court, you can always talk about the circumstances of the incident. In this case, the circumstances are a 16-year-old girl who was born into occupation. The military court doesn’t take those things into consideration. It’s not an issue that is brought to the table. It’s a given. But if you want to see the whole picture, you have to talk about these things.

What is the case against Ahed?

The most serious charges against her are the ones regarding the video incident. She has 12 different charges in her indictment regarding five different incidents. Regarding the video, she’s charged with assault of a soldier, disrupting the work of a soldier, and incitement.

She has other charges regarding stone-throwing but they are old — one of them is almost two years old. Nobody thought to report it or arrest her or question her at the time. The evidence against her regarding all of the other incidents was produced only after she was arrested and they found old pictures of Ahed [on her mother’s Facebook].

But it was only after her arrest that soldiers were asked to come and give testimony regarding what they saw two years ago. They were presented with these pictures after she was in every newspaper or television program, and then asked if they could identify her in a photo line-up. That’s how they obtained all of the evidence against her.

What is the case against Nariman, Ahed’s mother, who was arrested hours after her daughter? Would a civilian court ever consider live-streaming on Facebook as a form of incitement?

It’s really dangerous that the prosecution is implying that live-streaming is the worst form of incitement. It would mean that a reporter doing a live report at a demonstration where someone says, “come join us in the demonstration,” would constitute incitement in the eyes of the prosecution. What the prosecution is trying to do is very dangerous for freedom of the press.

Ahed’s case has been all over the news, getting a lot attention for a case in Israeli military court. But what aren’t we hearing about? What’s not getting out to the public?

Most people don’t know that the occupier has courts that put on trial people living under occupation just because they don’t follow the rules of the occupier. The Israeli public doesn’t want to hear about the occupation, and it’s the same for the court of the occupation.

It is amazing that a 16-year-old youngster has forced everyone to have an opinion about the occupation, to have to deal with the fact that people are born into occupation, that their rights are infringed upon, and that they’re taken to prison when they’re 16 years old for offenses that don’t merit detention in Israel.

Some in the Israeli public think the soldiers behaved as they should, others say they were humiliated. It was this humiliation that brought about Ahed’s arrest. But even so, everyone now has to deal with the occupation and what it does to the soldiers and to the people who live under occupation. Even without wanting to, Ahed’s case opened a door that has been closed for a long time for most of the public in Israel.

 

 

 

 

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