Don't visit Gaza by sea. In May 2010,
nine Mavi Marmara activists died trying. Anyone planning Gaza, West
Bank, or East Jerusalem trips be warned.
Interdictions, beatings, arrests, interrogations, detentions,
deportations, or even death may follow. Israel's indeed dangerous.
Arrivals supporting Palestinian rights risk harshness. Don't come
wearing jerseys or bearing signs saying solidarity with Palestine.
Don't say you plan West Bank East Jerusalem, and/or Gaza visits.
Worse is admitting you'll help build schools, plant trees, or repair
Don't suggest you plan protesting against illegal settlement
construction. If asked, don't tell. Any one or combination of these
may result in close encounters with security forces leaving lasting
impressions and realization that avoiding trouble requires staying
On April 14, Danish activist Andreas Ias learned the hard way.
Jordan Valley Brigade deputy commander Lt. Colonel Shalom Eisner
rifle-butted him in the face. Hospitalization followed. His offense
was peacefully participating in a Palestinian demonstration.
He and others were singing songs calling for Palestine's liberation.
The incident was videotaped. On April 16, Andreas said IDF claims
about protester violence were "a complete lie....If I thought this
would happen I would have protected myself. It came out of nowhere"
for no reason. It was unprovoked.
Two female activists were also injured. Others were assaulted and
shoved to the ground. Rarely do investigations and punishment follow
similar incidents. Practically never for IDF officers, especially
Eisner was about to be promoted. He was transferred to a staff
position. Israel said it's for two years. Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
wants the dust to settle and headlines to disappear. So does
Netanyahu and other officials.
Eisner wants to lay low for a while. He's not even apologetic. He
said he "does not accept this as a moral failure in any way." Why
should he? It's official Israeli policy.
He'll be back but more circumspect not to get caught on videotape.
His offense wasn't assaulting Andreas. It was showing up on You Tube
for the whole world to watch.
These type incidents are commonplace. Most occur out of sight and
mind. Only aggrieved Palestinians and supporters know them.
Headlines and videos don't tell others.
On April 17, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Israel's leaders incite
the public against peace activists," saying:
Following the Eisner/Andreas incident, "the officer was widely
criticized by the public - not for using excessive force, but for
granting human rights groups a photo op serving their interests."
Damage control required Gantz and other Israeli officials to say and
do something. "Such reactions are necessary, but certainly not
Beating up on nonviolent peace activists can't "be swept aside" with
denunciations or transfers. Criminal offenses require punishment.
They also demand policy changes. What's almost daily routine must
They don't because Netanyahu, other officials, and top military
officers call activists "anarchists," "provocateurs," and "terror
supporters." Palestinians are called worse. Doing so sanctions
Haaretz said Netanyahu and other officials "should memorize the
verdict Jerusalem Magistrate Judge Haim Li-Ran" rendered recently
regarding Sheikh Jarrah solidarity activists in Jerusalem, saying:
"The right to demonstrate or express an opinion is deeply rooted in
the foundations of democratic government....Thousands of human being
have paid and are paying with their lives on this alter."
Protesting is a human right. International law permits it. Article
21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
"The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions
may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed
in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic
society in the interests of national security or public safety,
public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or
morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
Article 22 affirms "the right to freedom of association with
others...." In democratic societies, no restrictions are permitted
"in the interests of national security or public safety...."
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and
regardless of frontiers."
Article 20(1) says:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
Everyone has the right to do it without getting rifle-butted or
On April 18, Haaretz writer Zvi Bar'el headlined, "World nations
should issue a travel warning to Israel," saying:
Eisner's assault on Andreas "was spectacular." Someone whose life
was threatened might react that way. Doing it unprovoked was
intolerable. It resembled a Serengeti "kill scene." Eisner was
predator, Andreas the prey.
"When a country behaves as if it is a nature preserve where the
species living in it feel they are in danger of extinction," its
policies go off the rails.
Tourists visiting actual nature preserves know restrictions they
must observe. Israel calls itself civilized. In fact, it's a
"dangerous preserve and responsible nations should have issued a
travel warning for this country long ago, or at least published a
detailed guide of what is permitted or forbidden to do here."
Forewarned is forearmed, perhaps not to come. Anyone visiting
"Somalia, Afghanistan, Algeria, Chechnya or Sudan, or merely to go
on a safari, knows what" to bring, wear, say, go, and not go.
Israel once welcomed visitors hospitably. "But when it grew fat and
expanded its living space," it decided who can come, who can't,
what's permitted, what's not, and what to expect from a nation
mindless of international standards by enforcing its own.
"This is how Israel is turning itself into an enclave of nationalist
fundamentalism in which the covenant between its citizens (the
Jewish ones, of course) is not based on equality or shared values
but on the ceaseless marking of its borders with the outside world."
"This is an enclave which (feeds on alleged) threat(s)...." It
thrives on them. It provides pretexts for challenging anyone for any
reason or none at all. Those believing sovereign Palestine is
justified and presents no threat pose "existential danger" enough to
get "whacked in the face," whether he's Danish, Palestinian,
Israeli, or any one else.
Come at your own risk. Human rights activists beware. Israel's a
jungle, a wild nature preserve. Step out of line and get eaten alive
or at least see an M16 close up enough to know it's dangerous
without being fired.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to
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