Tag Archives: dissent

Dissent despite repressive silencing in Israel

Photo by Keren Manor/Activestills.org:Protest against the killing of civilians in Gaza, Jaffa, Israel, 1/22/2009.Relevant items by the independent information service,  Jewish Peace News, will now be cross-posted at Muzzlewatch. Go here to subscribe to JPN’s news service.

1) Alert from the Alternative Information Center (AIC) on the detention of AIC worker Mohammed Abu Humus;
2) Interview in the Guardian with Sharon Shalev
3) Report on Gathering to Mourn and Protest in Jaffa

Up to and also after Israel announced its unilateral cease fire, just in time to make sure that U.S. inaugural celebrations could go ahead unmarred, people all over Israel were vehemently expressing their outrage at the government’s (equally unilateral) blanket destruction of Gaza. Despite repeated claims that a huge majority supported government and military actions, protests were a visible presence in the public sphere all over the country. In fact, the repressive measures taken by state authorities, clearly intended to stifle public opposition, seemed to belie the alleged wall-to-wall support described by media and identified in polls. Police resorted to arrests on an unprecedented scale to intimidate, stem and silence dissent. Among many others (most of them Palestinian citizens of Israel), the police arrested Nir Oren, co-chair of the Bereaved Families Forum and such (by her own account; see: http://meretzusa.blogspot.com/2009/01/peace-activist-leah-shakdiel-under.html)
“wishy-washy … middle of the road” figures as Leah Shakdiel, an orthodox feminist pedagogue and Israel’s first female member of a local Religious Council.

An intensified version of Shakdiel’s comments on her own arrest is applicable to the overall treatment, by Israeli authorities and media, of acts and statements of opposition to the “war”: “The police these dark days are apparently instructed to play an active role in boosting public morale and national unity, [i.e.: forcefully stifling opposition, R.M.] so they jumped into our midst literally and grabbed six of us on Wednesday into their cars … Worrisome is the silence of the press on all this in a country where there is freedom of the press, i.e. it is self imposed censorship. Many journalists called, were there at the watch, took pictures and interviewed, telephoned later, promised to come to the court, and nada, not a word, no coverage published.”

Some of the milder intimidation tactics included strobe lights shown from low-flying police helicopters into a Saturday night protest I attended (January 17 2009), when many thousands marched from southern Tel-Aviv through the heart of Jaffa beating drums and chanting. On the ground, a power cut shut off Jaffa streetlights as police motorcycles bulldozed their way back and forth through the middle of the crowd.

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