No, this story does not come from the Occupied Territories, where residents are under a 43-year military rule and where wee-hour arrest raids are a routine occurrence. This comes from right inside Israel.
Dr. Omar Sa’id, A Palestinian citizen of Israel and resident of Kafr Kana near Nazareth, was arrested by Israel’s secret police (known in English as Shin Bet and in Israel as Shabaak) two weeks ago. He is still in custody without access to a lawyer. Per Shin Bet request, the courts issued a gag order, with which the Israeli MSM complied. The Hebrew blogosphere has learned of the story a few days ago and ignores the gag. The gag was partially lifted Monday.
This joins the better-known story of Ameer Makhoul, director of the Ittijah human rights group. The Shin Bet raided his Haifa home in the wee hours of May 6, kidnapped him, wreaked havoc and confiscated the family’s computers. He, too, is held incommunicado. That story, as well, has been gagged and the Israeli MSM doggedly obeys.Only on Monday, after a blogosphere frenzy led by the indomitable Richard Silverstein, did the Israeli press release oblique stories. A few hours later, shortly before a demonstration against the arrest took place in Haifa, the court partially lifted the gag and admitted that the two arrests are related.
More about the Arrested Men
Dr. Omar Sa’id, A Palestinian citizen of Israel and resident of Kafr Kana near Nazareth, is a pharmacologist and entreprenur, co-founder and CEO of Antaki Center for Herbal Medicine. On April 25, en route to Jordan, he was arrested by Shin Bet. After interrogation he was transferred to police custody, where he is still held without access to a lawyer.
Ameer Makhoulis director of the Ittijah organization, a coalition of Israeli-Palestinian civil society groups. Apparently he is also the brother of current Knesset Member Issam Makhoul(who survived a right-wing assassination attempt in 2004). Ameer Makhoul has been recently involved with the boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) movement, attempting to bring an end to the Occupation via nonviolent means.
2010: A Slew of Israeli Spook Scandals
What’s up with Israel’s Secret Empire this year – and how much lower can Israel’s “Free press” sink? In January, the Mossad liquidates Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh in Dubai.As world media place Mossad atop the suspect list, the Israeli media, that doggy-watch-dog of our “only democracy”, celebrates the feat. But – without saying Mossad did it. Only “the foreign press reports…”, a common refrain in Israeli MSM whenever they really want to gossip about something, but don’t want to get in trouble with the Secret Empire. So they sucked up to the immaculate execution and speculated wildly (and optimistically) about the great benefits to Israel and its fabled “deterrence power” that this assassination had restored.
A few days pass, and the Dubai police rolls out pictures of 11 suspects, all with ties to Israel, and places them on the Interpol list. Friendly governments learn their passports have been forged. Israeli dual citizens learn their personal passports have been abused, placing them under direct threat of revenge. Then another 15 pictures released, with additional damaging details. The media celebration in Israel turns into a scapegoat-seeking and CYA exercise (“whose fault is this? We said it was a sloppy job from the start” etc.) Yet, I’ve heard several credible reports that on Purim this year, the most popular costume among Israeli teens and college gals was “Gail”, the assassin-assistant whose pretty passport picture circulated around the world.
This brings us to March, when a new spook affair surfaces: rumors circulate in the Israeli blogosphere that Anat Kamm,a young journalist, is under house arrest with a gag order. I hear about it from fellow Seattelite and fellow progressive I-P blogger Richard Silverstein, who calls to seek my advice. He explains that Kamm is being indicted for stealing secret documents during her military service, and passing some of them after her discharge to an Israeli investigative journalist (for no payment). Silverstein feels she is a whistleblower who is being framed as a traitor via the way the Secret Empire treats her, including the gag order. The Israeli MSM obey the gag order; progressive bloggers post about it here and there, but here’s the catch: Kamm herself contacts them personally asking them to respect the order! The bloggers initially oblige, and one by one remove the story.
At this point (mid-March) Richard feels that 1. Contrary to the perceptions of Kamm and her lawyer, respecting the gag actually makes her court prospects worse not better, and 2. The story itself – and the question whether Kamm is a whistleblower or a traitor – is a public issue, and the public should know about it. He calls me asking for my advice. Given that most of the details were total news to me, and that I was packing up to go to Israel on a Bar-Mitzva-laden visit, I couldn’t do much more than mumble lamely.
Fortunately, Richard did what his heart told him, which was the right thing: he went out with the story and ultimately led to the gag’s implosion within a few weeks, even inside Israel. Right now, Kamm’s prospects still seem dim; the Shin Bet successfully framed her as a “traitor”, even though the documents she leaked were of the whistleblower kind: they showed how the IDF in the West Bank pissed all over Israel’s High Court ruling and continued to assassinate Palestinian targets even when a bloodless arrest was possible. The Israeli MSM, which towards the end of the gag complained loudly about it even as they obeyed, immediately turned to collaborate with the framing of Kamm, rather than open a debate about the true scandal. To be precise, the electronic media collaborated, while the printed press was split with two right-wing tabloids inciting against her, against the journalist (Uri Blau, arguably Israel’s top investigative journalist with a special knack for embarrassing the “security” Establishment) and even against his newspaper Haaretz, and with the centrist tabloid Yediot taking a more ambivalent stand.
Blau himself is now in London; the Shin Bet will arrest him if he lands in Israel, an arrest that would violate a deal they struck with him and Kamm during the latter’s interrogation. Many speculate that Kamm herself was really the small fry, and that neutralizing the perennial scandal-finder Blau was the main goal.
Anyway, in the aftermath of the Kamm story, one unanimous conclusion in the Israeli MSM conventional-wisdom was that gag orders on arrests have proven futile and only an idiot would try them again.
Well, whadayaknow. A few weeks pass by, and not one, but two simultaneous arrests (not house arrest, real arrest) and gag orders. And not against a young person who prima facie did engage in wrongdoing (making illegal copies of secret documents) – but of well-known figures, an economic leader and a civic leader of the Palestinian-Israeli public. And the media obey yet again.
What is this? A deliberate campaign by Shin Bet, to prove that indeed Israel is an Apartheid police state as its worst critics claim? I thought we Jews were supposed to be smart. I mean, forget for a second the human-rights, democracy and free-press teeny details. In many ways, it’s DAH STUPID that is scary here. What part of “Rebrand Israel” do these arrests fall under? And more importantly: Who the crap runs Israel nowadays?
The Secret Empire that Snuggles Israel
Israel is a pretty tiny nation, with a h-u-g-e secret apparatus: