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Saturday, 24 March 2018

MORE FAKE ANTISEMITISM Alan Bull, Labour candidate in Peterborough suspended as a result of malicious allegations of anti-Semitism

It’s time for Jennie Formby to find Witchfinder General Sam Matthews a real job 

I learnt yesterday that Alan Bull has been suspended by Sam Matthews, Blairite detreitus left after the departure of McNicol, Oldknow, Stolliday and co.  Alan has been blocked from standing for Labour in the forthcoming local elections in Peterborough because of the malicious allegations of two  far-Right Labour councillors, Richard Ferris & Matthew Mahabadi..

The Real Target is Corbyn
What makes the allegations particularly heinous are the wholly malicious manner in which they have been made, including the photoshopping of social media posts in order to make out that Alan is a holocaust denier.  He has been subject to vicious and vitriolic abuse from the trolls of Labour Against AntiSemitism @LabourAgainstAS, most of whom aren’t even in the Labour Party.

Alan Bull has been under investigation by the Labour party since July  2017  as a result of these complaints, which involve doctored facebook posts being sent to Labour's Eastern region.  Mr Bull was asked a number of questions about these posts and he responded in full in November 2017.
Sam Matthews standard letter of suspension
 Since then Alan has not been given any information about the progress of the investigation. Many people have written supporting letters in his defence. At the local Labour Campaign Forum meeting in November, although these doctored posts were circulated, Alan’s candidature was nonetheless ratified and was selected as candidate for Stanground South.

Having failed to derail his nomination through Labour's democratic procedures the Right have instead used the tried and trusted methods of McCarthyism - false and wounding allegations.
Cllr. Richard Ferris - the race hate baiter
Cllr. Mahabadi - Ferris's partner in crime
A complaint was made  to the Eastern Region in November 2017 about the fact that these doctored posts, which were subject to investigation, had apparently been leaked to the press by Labour members. No action was taken against those who were responsible.
Cllr. Richard Ferris's malicious and baiting tweets - for which he should be suspended
Ferris's vicious racist tweets
An article about Mr Bull was published in the Peterborough Telegraph in February 2018. The two councillors who made the malicious allegations, Richard Ferris and Matthew Mahabadi, not happy with the investigation, took it upon themselves to launch a smear campaign against Alan. They have continually fed the press with leaked information.
It isn't anti-semitism that Ferris is opposed to but the Palestinians

Ferris and Mahabadi arrived at a full council meeting on 7th March in Peterborough wearing red T shirts with the slogan “Labour against anti Semitism” at the moment when Alan Bull arrived as a guest to the meeting. They have now launched a twitter page called “ Labour councillors against anti-Semitism” which is almost entirely devoted to defaming Alan and where doctored Facebook posts have been posted naming him publicly as an anti-Semite and a bigot.

This behaviour is not only grossly detrimental to the party but also detrimental to Mr Bulls’s chances of winning the seat for Labour. Mr Ferris, as can be seen in one of the screen shots, when Mr Bull advertised a canvassing session commented “We don’t canvass for deluded bigots, ta very much
Another key target is Chris Williamson MP - one of the PLP's most committed socialists

As the Secretary of Alan’s CLP wrote in her letter:

‘This behaviour by two councillors from our own party is totally unacceptable  and should be dealt with as a matter of urgency. We have elections in 7 weeks’ time,  and Mr Bull like many others is working hard for his campaign, and is being hounded and smeared in this disgraceful way. They are bringing the party into disrepute as well as making slanderous and libellous comments about a fellow member and candidate... I sincerely hope that these individuals will be disciplined as a matter of urgency before they cause any more damage.’

The next meeting of the Disputes Committee is in 4 weeks time. It is clear that this sudden decision is intended to prevent a socialist candidate standing for election.  Even if as we expect Alan is cleared of any wrongdoing then the suspension will have served its purpose.  These most recent public smears and false allegations made against Alan by these two far right Labour councillors will have served their purpose and Sam Matthews is a willing partner to this deception.
The background to this story in Alan Bull’s own words is this:

In June 2015 I had 5000 Facebook friends, many of whom enjoyed discussing a wide range of controversial subjects that didn’t appear in the mainstream media. My habit then, as now is as follows - friends send me posts they think are of interest. I repost mostly without comment to discover what other friends have to say about the article/MEM. When a friend comments, I cut and paste this-complete with their name, and paste above the article before reposting. This stimulates more comments and we all get a better understanding of the subject as a result. The most controversial article I posted privately to friends only, 2 years ago, was a documentary, with the controversial title, “Red cross confirm holocaust is a hoax”. The more accurate and considerably less shocking sub heading of this title was excluded by the screenshotter for maximum impact. As were ALL of the 46 comments, including a short exchange I had with a Jewish friend who commented, “Can I ask the intent of this article, are you denying the holocaust”? To which I replied, “Not at all, just posting for discussion and debate, as usual, best wishes, Alan”. These comments were seen by at least two independent witnesses before the post disappeared from my inbox, two days laterI was ratified last November.

These comments were removed, to create the impression that I, in some way agreed with the article in an attempt to misrepresent my intention and have me suspended from the party. 

Other articles claiming I was anti-Semitic included supporting a petition to reinstate Ken Livingstone and another article which was actually written by one of my Jewish friends!

I have one chance to have this appalling  decision overturned, and prevent the local party appointing their own candidate to replace me. But I need your URGENT help.

I NEED YOU to write urgently to your CLP secretary TODAY! To express your opposition to me being suspended, and your insistence that the individuals responsible for making this internal matter public are sanctioned.  Also to bombard Jenny Formby @Jenieunite
The LAAS trolls instruct Matthews to suspend Alan Bull
Euan Phillips, Chair of Tonbridge CLP and Emma Picken of Lewisham West are the main trolls involved in LAAS
LAAS has 'serious concerns' that Jennie Formby won't continue the witchhunt - lets hope so
The real target of LAAS is Corbyn himself - the Palestine Live FB group is an excuse - and it in fact contains virtually no antisemitic material anyway
Alan Bull’s offence is not having ever said he is a holocaust denier but that he distributed a Holocaust denial article for discussion.  Since when are topics such as Holocaust denial ‘forbidden’ by the ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ thought police?  These people have one goal only.  To smear anyone like Alan who is a Palestine solidarity supporter, if necessary by doctoring screen prints.  Their purpose is to deflect attention from things like Israel’s deportation of 40,000 Black African refugees or the comments this week by Israel’s Chief Rabbi that Black people are monkeys.  Their outrage over racism is entirely selective.
It's in Israel that you get the real White Supremacist racism and bigotry - Ferris, Matthews and Mahabdi's purpose is to distract from the real racism
Alan’s case

Alan was asked, during the course of his investigation, a series of questions about the posts, mainly - whether he thinks that “some people might find them offensive and/or anti-semitic” His answers are below.  Questions asked of him are in bold.
      I don’t doubt that you are able to appreciate that in a broad party like Labour anything is likely to cause offence to others who chose to take a different view.
    Personally I find it offensive that doctored Facebook posts with my name on them were handed out to everyone at a recent LCF meeting by the regional colleague who introduced the material with statements like, “this is definitely anti-semitic”, before any serious analysis of the evidence had taken place.
    I am a lifelong anti-racist and opposes all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, and I draw a sharp distinction between anti-semitism and anti-zionism, the latter which as an internationalist I support.
    I am concerned that the party appears to have started this investigation without identifying any objective anti-semitic content.
    Baroness Chakrabarti in her Report of June 2016 wrote, regarding the Party’s complaints procedure that:“It is also important that the procedures explain that those in respect of whom allegations have been made are clearly informed of the allegation(s) made against them, their factual basis and the identity of the complainant”. This has not happened.
    I am entitled to see the exact allegations that have been made, the name of his accuser, when and in what context they were made.
    The articles were not posted with intent to offend anybody. Rather they were reposted to friends, (not the public), to encourage discussion and debate as I have done with many other posts on a wide range of subjects.
    Articles were reposted inspired by the idea of Machloket (Torah Debate), and in the same spirit. Because I post articles does not mean I agree with them.
    I am now aware that I should restrict posting on FB to party political matters only – something I have become aware of since becoming actively involved in the Labour party. I am sorry for any offence that may have unintentionally been caused.
    I am also aware that my Facebook account has been hacked so that posts intended for friends only have been seen by the public and this has been done with deliberate intent to find materials with which to discredit my  membership.
   The same intent was apparent when the doctored facebook posts were leaked to the local press after the LCF meeting on 9th November from inside the Labour party which would not only discredit me but also the Labour party itself.
Other Points to support Alan’s case
    A.    Question - Do you think these posts are offensive to some people or could be seen as anti-semitic?
Shami Chakrabarti's point was that "even offensive language on its own is only antisemitic if it is coupled with antisemitic intent ".
     The sharing of posts in itself does not show an anti-Semitic intent. It may be upsetting or offensive to some, in varying degrees. It is possible to disagree with the content of these posts.  Posting something by itself cannot be an action deserving sanction.
     In any event the people who hacked into his account were clearly looking for something to be offended by.
 Noone can be in control of the offence that others take. The party asked him to speculate on the inner feelings of others and he was in no position to comment on that. In any event, giving offence is the essence of free speech.  If no one was offended then all speech would be anodyne.  Offence itself is not and should not be a disciplinary offence.
 A Recent email from Alex Hall . secretary of LCF, 1st December gave information about the use of social media as a Labour Member and “Tom Watson’s code of conduct”. This information had not been sent to members at any point  - and now this information was being distributed to candidates.  How can a member be held responsible under these rules if they have not been given them?
 There must be no more Labour Party kangaroo courts. The Labour Party should adopt Trade Union best practice on discipline of members. Natural justice: not procedural unfairness based on prejudice. Moshé Machover must be the last to suffer this injustice. (recently  summarily expelled and then re-instated)
“The  issue of weaponisation and false and malicious accusations of anti-Semitism which are hurled at those who dare to speak against the Zionist project of colonisation and its Israeli settler colonial state needs to be addressed and this vicious weapon thrown on the scrap-heap” as happened in the case of Moshe Machover  December 2017
1.      At the LCF meeting of 9th November 2017
2.      Procedural rules appear to have been broken as the screenshot facebook posts from Alan were taken out of context, doctored and then presented to attendees as evidence” before any investigation had taken place or defence given.
3.      Teddy Ryan, the Labour Party Regional Representative, produced confidential papers relating to Alan Bull that he had photocopied which he handed round the meeting. These were supposed to assist the delegates with their decision on ratification of Mr Bull as candidate for Stanground South.
4.      Teddy Ryan, also made several judgements on what he saw in front of him as “evidence of anti-Semitism”, even though the investigation in the case had not been concluded.  Some of the evidence presented to members of the LCF included “doctored” facebook posts which were intended to be prejudicial.
5.      It should not be necessary to point out that opposition to the Zionism or the Israeli government has no relation whatsoever to anti-Semitism, just as opposition to the British government has no relation to anti-British sentiment. Clearly Ryan believes anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are one and the same.
6.      Under the new rules for investigations, accusations against a member must be assessed by the investigating officer before it is progressed or used in any way. That assessment and initial investigation had not taken place? It was therefore entirely inappropriate for the accusations of anti-semitism to have been spread around in the manner that it was during the meeting by the Labour Party Regional Officer Teddy Ryan.
7.      The subjective issue of evidence “bringing the labour party into disrepute” should be balanced against the very strong likelihood that a fellow member of the Labour Party actively  trawled the Alan Bull’s Facebook to find posts which would discredit him as a candidate. This action, and the fact that the posts were presented in a distorted and manipulated manner, could equally be seen as bringing the party into disrepute.  Nothing in the behaviour of Alan Bull, a hard working activist, has been brought into question before this time.
8.    The above allegations are particularly disturbing since the Labour Party in Peterborough is on the verge of making a major breakthrough in Council elections and it would appear that one or more people are seeking to prevent that.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Arundel and the Swanborough Lake walk

The Beauties of the Sussex Countryside
Arundel is one of my favourite towns in Sussex.  The River Arun runs through it and it has a Roman Catholic cathedral in it as well as a medieval castle owned by the Duke of Norfolk, which costs an arm and a leg to visit!  When I used to teach German language students we always went to Hever Castle in Kent, the home of Anne Bolyn.

When I first arrived in Brighton and went to Arundel, I visited a strange  museum which is long gone.  It had on display all sorts of strange things like babies with 2 heads, hands with 6 fingers and other curiosities.  I can’t remember a great deal about it now since it has been gone at least 25 years.
We sometimes go to Arundel for a day out and it has some nice restaurants and walks.  One particular favourite is around Swanborough Lake which is to the South-East of Arundel castle.  I thought I would share some of the photographs with you as I haven’t done a scenic post for a long time!

Tony Greenstein

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Ahed Tamimi – Palestinian girl 17 receives 8 months for slapping armed soldier

Elor Azaria, who murdered an unconscious wounded Palestinian is released also after 8 months


Ahed Tamimi was yesterday sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for slapping a soldier who entered the grounds of her house. Ahed Tamimi, who has become a heroine of the Palestinian resistance, was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier who entered the grounds of her house. She was perfectly entitled under International Law to resist a soldier from Israel's Occupation.  But of course under the military dictatorship that Palestinians live under Ahed was guilty since Israel pays no heed to international law.

As she was led away to begin her sentence she shouted 'There is no Justice Under Occupation'.  Even during her pre-trial hearings Ahed retained her sense of humour.  Asked by the Military Judge how she hit the solder she said, 'take off these handcuffs and I'll show you.'  I have written extensively on this and you may wish to refer to my previous articles:

“Stone Cold Justice“ - Israeli kidnapping, detention, torture and abuse of Palestinian children - Australian TV Broadcast

Jewish Chronicle Hits a New Low - A Vile Article Attacking 16 year old Ahed Tamimi

Ahed Tamimi’s arrest sheds a disturbing light on how children are targeted by Israel

Ahed Tamimi's lawyer: Her case is making people see the occupation again, Torture couldn’t happen to a Jewish child - 16 year old Ahed Tamimi’s Detention is Extended by Israel's Military Court

Immediately the video of Ahed standing up to the soldiers went viral, there were calls from the racist Education Minister Naftali Bennett for her to 'finish her life in prison'.

The Israeli army kidnapped Ahed in the middle of the night, video photographer accompanying them, awakening her in her house in the early hours of the morning and thus began a 3 month ordeal in which more charges were added to the bill of indictment.

She was prosecuted in a Military Court which has a 99.74% conviction rate.  In reality she is being tried by the same army that has arrested and brutalised her.  Unlike Israeli children she has no protection, access to parents, social workers etc.  She is, like in Nazi Germany, the untermenschen and is treated accordingly.
Caspit, the 'liberal' Israeli journalist called for 'a price to be exacted' against Ahed, 'in the dark, without witnesses or cameras'  He denies that he meant rape or sexual assault but, as Mandy Rice Davies said, he would wouldn't he?'
 She was subject to what amounted to calls to rape and sexually assault her by prominent Ma’ariv journalist Ben Caspit who wrote in Maariv:
 “in the case of the girls, we should exact a price at some other opportunity, in the dark, without witnesses and cameras”
Ahed caught the imagination of people world wide and Israel's hasbara propaganda machine couldn't keep up.  Instead of a Palestinian in traditional Arab garb with a headscarf, she was an engaging white teenager with blonde hair and an endearing smile.  
The kinda kid next door that people can empathise with.  

The idiot of a former Ambassador to the USA and now a government minister, Michael Oren couldn't accept this.  It was a 'fake family' she was deliberately dressed by her parents in western clothes.  Apparently there had been an investigation into the Tamimi family two years ago to establish if they were a real family!
As in South Africa under Apartheid or in the Deep South under Jim Crow the penalty for killing a Palestinian is always less than killing the herrenvolk, a Jew
But as her ordeal dragged on even the Israeli army realised that Israel has suffered massive PR damage.  Their treatment of a young Palestinian girl compared to what an Israeli child would experience is so obviously unjust that you would have to be a particularly thick Zionist to not notice.

That is why Fadi Quoran's article below is correct.  Israel's military prosecutors had originally intended to put Ahed away for years. They dug up false allegations from years ago but the scale of the international campaign has forced the bastards to back off.  In the end holding Ahed was a liability they wanted to be shot of.  All the weapons in the world were to no avail against a young girl's courage.

We should treat this as a victory and Ahed herself as a hero.  As a 17 year old girl under massive & enormous pressure she refused to answer any questions or co-operate in any way.  What a contrast between the Quisling of the Palestinian Authority  Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and Ahed Tamimi.

The case has shone a light on Israel’s Injustice System.  Hence the Israeli military judge decided, against the pleas of the family, that she would be tried in secret as befits a police state.  She and her parents were opposed to this because they wanted the light of publicity to expose these racists.

The Military Court decided that the court hearing should be held in secret not for Ahed's benefit but to save their own embarrassment.  The army were happy to video her arrest as a way of asuaging the racist Right in Israel but they didn't want the publicity that came with her continued detention.

Of course if a closed trial had  really been for her benefit then she would never have been incarcerated in the first place, still less held in pre-trial detention.  The lies just keep pouring off the Zionist PR machine.  

Israel, like all settler states, is essentially stupid.  The cries for revenge against Ahed resounded in Israel but people abroad could not understand the Biblical vengeance being exacted against a female David.  It was as if the story of David and the slingshot was being reversed with Goliath demanding his pound of flesh.

Racist murderer Elor Azaria receives the same sentence as Ahed - Palestinian life is cheap
Contrast her case with Israeli murderer Elor Azaria.  He shot a severely wounded Palestinian in the head whilst he was on the ground.  This supporter of the Jewish Nazi Kach movement was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment, which was reduced twice and he was eventually let out after serving little over 8 months.  In other words the same sentence as Ahed who is unlikely to have her sentence cut. 

You can be sure that this murderous psychopath, who was a hero before he went into prison, was treated like a hero when he was inside.  Ahed's treatment by all accounts will be nasty and violent and it is a tribute to her and the hundreds of Palestinian children that they bear it with fortitude. 

Labour MPs Louise Ellman and Ian Austin Who Support Israeli Child Abuse Should be Expelled

A month ago I was expelled from the Labour Party because I called the execrable Blairite MP Louise Ellman a supporter of Israeli child abuse.  The idiot of a barrister, Thomas Ogg, said that I was shaming her.  Indeed I was and I intend to continue doing so.

To be fair to Ellman and I always try to be fair (!) she was joined by another Labour MP who should go, the detestable right-winger Ian Austin MP, the man who heckled Jeremy Corbyn in the debate on the Chilcott Report.  Let us hope that his CLP gets rid of him.

Below is a graphic of the contributions of these two supporters of Palestinian child abuse
Both these racists, Ellman and Austin believe that  Palestinian children are 'incited' to throw stones at the soldiers who occupy their homes and steal their land.  This is of course what every imperialist has argued throughout history.  The oppressed would love their oppressors but for the 'inciters'.  The real disgrace is that these 2 creatures are still members of the Labour Party
I have included a number of different reactions as this is an extremely important case.  The issue of Israel's child prisoners should be highlighted continuously.

This is Israeli justice – slapping a heavily armed soldier is equivalent to killing a wounded Palestinian

21 March 2018
Press Release - for immediate publication

Ahed Tamimi’s forced plea bargain clearly illustrates role of military juvenile court:

Protecting the occupation, not Palestinian minors
The conviction rate in Israel’s military courts in the West Bank is almost 100% - not because the military prosecution is so efficient, but because Palestinian defendants reluctantly sign plea bargains in which they plead guilty. A new report published yesterday by B’Tselem shows how the measures that Israel has showcased over the last decade as examples of its improved treatment of Palestinian minors in military courts have little to do with the protection of minors and everything to do with public relations. In fact, the function of the military juvenile court boils down to signing off on plea bargains such as the one signed today.
This afternoon, the military court at Ofer signed off on plea bargains for ‘Ahed and Nariman Tamimi. The plea bargains include eight months in prison and a fine. A new report published yesterday by B’Tselem, Minors in Jeopardy: Violation of the Rights of Palestinian Minors by Israel’s Military Courts, analyzes the changes that Israel declared over the last decade with regard to the treatment of Palestinian minors in military courts. The report reveals that while useful in Israeli propaganda, these technical changes have done nothing to improve the protection of minors’ rights.

In particular, the role of the Military Juvenile Court, whose establishment Israel views as a landmark achievement in the protection of minors’ rights in the military court system, is primarily to sign off on plea bargains already reached between the defense and the prosecution outside the courtroom. Almost all minors sign the plea bargains, having been left little choice by the military courts’ detention policy: most minors are held in custody from the time of their arrest and until they finish serving their sentence. Carrying out an evidentiary trial from within prison is fraught with difficulties, and the defendants know that if convicted, they will be sentenced to prison anyway, as no alternatives exist. Even in the extremely unlikely case that they are acquitted, the time they spent in custody throughout the trial may be just as long, or even longer, than the time they will spend in prison under a plea bargain.
‘Ahed Tamimi’s case is exceptional only in that it garnered special media attention, but it is essentially no different from hundreds of such cases every year. According to figures the Israel Prison Service (IPS) provided to B’Tselem, on 28 February 2018 the IPS had 356 Palestinian minors in custody: 95 of them were serving a prison sentence, 257 were in pre- or post- indictment detention, and four were being held in administrative detention. While Israel claims to hold dear the rights of the Palestinian minors it arrests and puts on trial, the opposite is true: the rights of these minors are routinely and systemically abused from the moment of their arrest.                     

In Israeli military courts, Palestinian minors always lose

In Israeli civilian courts, detention is always a last resort for a minor. But when it comes to Palestinian minors in Israeli military courts, prison is almost guaranteed.
By Yael Marom
Ahed Tamimi in the Ofer prison military court. December 20, 2017. (Oren Ziv/Activestills)
Israeli authorities have dedicated significant effort in recent years to highlighting the improvements allegedly made in the treatment of Palestinian minors within Israeli military courts in the West Bank.

Among the ostensible achievements are the establishment a juvenile court in the military court system, allowing for the increased involvement of parents in the military justice system, decreasing the length of time a child can be detained before being brought before a judge, and even an abandoned experiment of issuing summonses to Palestinian minors instead of sending an invading force of soldiers to arrest them in their homes in the middle of the night — the common practice today.

A report published by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem on Tuesday argues that these so-called improvements have improved very little. The juvenile military court system system, which uses the tactic of denying bail to pressure over 70 percent of juvenile defendants and their families into accepting plea bargains, has a startling conviction rate that exceeds 95 percent.

The military juvenile courts do not come close to conforming to international standards and conventions signed and implemented by Israel, according to the B’Tselem report. And Israel’s treatment of Palestinian minors contrasts starkly with the treatment Israeli children receive in Israel’s separate, civilian juvenile justice system.

The Israeli army prosecuted 1,046 Palestinian minors in 2014 and 2015, according to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. More than a quarter of those indictments were of children 15 and under. Already in the first two months of 2018, the army arrested 274 Palestinian minors who were thrust into the military court system, according to Palestinian human rights group Addameer.

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth during a protest against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Hebron, West Bank, December 7, 2017. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
 One of the most disturbing differences between the Israeli civilian and military juvenile justice systems is that in the Israeli system, arrest and pre-conviction detention is supposed to be a last resort; other options are to be exhausted before resorting to imprisonment. In the military system, to which Palestinian children are subjected, pre-conviction detention (denying bail) is the rule; there are virtually no alternatives to detention, and exceptions are extremely rare.

What this means is that Palestinian minor defendants are faced with the following choice: fight the charges and remain in prison for the duration of their trial or sign a plea deal and get a reduced sentence. Considering the time spent in prison awaiting trial, however, even defendants likely to be acquitted still might spend more time behind bars than if they had just signed a plea deal.

One of the testimonies collected by B’Tselem and published in the new report describes what the system looks like from the perspective of a Palestinian teenager:

Abed Sabah, a 15-year-old from the Jalazun refugee camp near Ramallah, was arrested last August. Soldiers broke into his house at 3:00 a.m. without explaining why. He was handcuffed and blindfolded. According to Abed’s testimony, soldiers beat and cursed him during the drive from his home to the military base. He was detained for several hours overnight at the base, handcuffed and tied to a wooden post outside, forbidden from going to the bathroom. The soldiers took him to a police station in the morning. In the interrogation room, he was questioned about stone-throwing and a pipe bomb. The interrogator permitted him to call his parents but not a lawyer. The interrogator never explained Abed’s rights to him, particularly his right to remain silent.

During this first interrogation, the interrogator pressured Abed to confess to the crimes of which he was accused, saying that it would help him. Abed refused. The interrogator wanted Abed to sign two documents in Hebrew, which Abed did not understand and refused to sign. Abed was then moved to the cell for minors at Ofer Prison, and then to the military court there. The entire ordeal was less than 12 hours — but 12 hours during which he was completely alone. There was no one waiting for him in court either — neither his parents nor a lawyer. Abed said he did not know what the purpose of the hearing was, and when the hearing was over, he was sent back to prison.

Two months later he was brought back to court. A lawyer told him he wanted to sign a deal that would include a sentence of two-and-a-half months — exactly the amount of time Abed had already spent in prison. And so it was. Abed’s parents paid a fine of NIS 2,000, and Abed received another five months of probation. At 7:00 p.m. that night, Abed was informed that he was being released. His brother was waiting for him outside of the prison, but the Israeli authorities instead released him at the Ben Sira checkpoint, where no one waiting. Abed said he used a waiting cab driver’s phone to call his brother, who came and took him home.

Israeli soldiers arrest a child during the weekly demonstration in Kfer Qaddum, a West bank village located east of Qalqiliya, on January 25, 2013.
So what about the improvements Israel has made? B’Tselem addresses them one by one.

Did the decision to require bringing minors before a judge sooner actually change the length of time they spend in pre-conviction detention? First of all, remand and bail hearings are not held in the new juvenile military court, so considerations of the child’s wellbeing are rarely raised — the use of detention as a first resort, as opposed to a last resort, has not changed. Secondly, seeing a judge sooner and more frequently has not led to any discernible reduction in the amount of time spent in detention or the ease with which the courts deny bail, according to the report.

Did the change allowing a greater role for defendants’ parents in the juvenile military court system lead to an improvement in advocacy for the child and their best interests? According to B’Tselem, however, the change is almost entirely symbolic, and parental involvement remains minimal. Parents do not have the right to be present during their children’s interrogation, nor does the army actually update parents on the details of their child’s detention.

The biggest problem is that none of the changes have affected the way Palestinian juveniles are arrested, interrogated, and remanded to custody without bail. As long as the system is designed to churn out confessions that lead to plea deals — and the protections for those earlier stages of custody remain unimplemented — reforms to the trial system inside the new juvenile courts will remain virtually moot. Palestinian children rarely stand trial and the merits and circumstances of their confessions are never critically reviewed by a judge.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where a longer version of this article first appeared in Hebrew. Read it here


Ahed Tamimi, 17, became hero to Palestinians after 15 December incident outside her home (AFP)

Thursday 22 March 2018 0:33 UTC

Ahed Tamimi, the teenage Palestinian girl who was filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank, accepted a plea deal on Wednesday under which she will be sentenced to eight months in prison, her lawyer said.

Tamimi, 17, became a hero to Palestinians after the 15 December incident outside her home in the village of Nabi Saleh was streamed live on Facebook by her mother and went viral.

The soldiers had deployed during a weekly Palestinian protest in the village against Israeli policy on settlements in the West Bank, one of the most heated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tamimi was 16 at the time of the offence. Her trial began last month and she faced 12 charges, including aggravated assault.

"No justice under occupation!" Tamimi, handcuffed and shackled, shouted out to reporters at court in the Ofer military prison, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Tamimi's attorney Gaby Lasky said that under the deal approved by the court, Tamimi will plead guilty to a reduced charge sheet that includes assault and would be sentenced to eight months in jail and pay a fine of 5,000 shekels (about $1,430). The Israeli military confirmed the details of the deal.

It broke the stereotyped image of the Palestinian in the international community
- Bassem Tamimi, Ahed's father

Lasky said the jail term included the time Tamimi has spent in detention since her arrest in December.

Tamimi's family are veterans of protests against an Israeli settlement near their home. An Israeli watchtower stands at the entrance to the village and there are often soldiers in the area. Her mother, Nariman, and a cousin were also arrested. Both have accepted plea bargains, a family lawyer said.
"When the European people see my daughter, blonde and blue-eyed, they are shaken, because they saw their children in front of them. It broke the stereotyped image of the Palestinian in the international community," Tamimi's father, Bassem Tamimi told Reuters.

The images of Tamimi striking the soldier had also made an impact on Israelis, who debated whether the officer should have hit back. The army said the soldier “acted professionally” by showing restraint but right-wing politicians described his behavior as humiliating.

"The honour of Israel's army cannot be trampled" Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev said on her Facebook page after the incident. "We cannot have a situation in which soldiers are humiliated and hit and they do not act at that moment and arrest those who hurt them."

The Israeli army said in a statement after the sentence that it "will continue operating in order to preserve the security and public order in (the West Bank) and enforce the law as it pertains to anyone who harms (Israeli) soldiers and incites violence."
Ahed in court
Tamimi's trial
Tamimi's trial began on 13 February behind closed doors at the Israeli military court in the West Bank.

Lasky appealed to have the trial opened, but was rejected.

The court ordered the trial closed because Ahed was being tried as a minor, as is usual in such cases.

"When they decided to keep her trial behind closed doors, we knew that we were not going to get a fair trial," 

Lasky told AFP in describing her reasons for seeking a plea bargain.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has criticised Israeli authorities' actions in the case, while the European Union has expressed concern over Israel's detention of minors, including Ahed Tamimi.

When they decided to keep her trial behind closed doors, we knew that we were not going to get a fair trial

Gaby Lasky, Tamimi's father

"Ahed will be home in a few months, but Israel is putting this child behind bars for eight months for calling for protests and slapping a soldier, after threatening her with years in jail," 

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East division of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Tamimi's family says the 15 December incident that led to the arrests occurred in the yard of their home in Nabi Saleh, near Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Israeli military said the soldiers were in the area to prevent Palestinians from throwing stones at Israeli motorists.

The video shows the cousins approaching two soldiers and telling them to leave before shoving, kicking and slapping them.

The scuffle took place amid clashes and protests against US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Most countries consider Israeli settlements built on territory Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war to be illegal.

Israel disputes that its settlements are illegal and says their future should be determined in peace talks with the Palestinians. Negotiations collapsed in 2014 and efforts by the White House to restart them have showed little progress.

Tamimi's case drew global attention. Amnesty International called her the "Rosa Parks of Palestine", and the small courtroom was often packed with journalists, diplomats and international observers during hearings.

A group of American cultural figures, including actors Danny Glover and Rosario Dawson and novelist Alice Walker, signed a petition calling for her release and comparing her case to those of "the children of immigrants and communities of color who face police brutality in the United States".

Three reasons why Israel backed down, and Ahed Tamimi will walk free

The Israeli military was forced to give in and drop 8 of the charges against Ahed as part of a plea bargain, in which Ahed recognized in court the fact that she slapped the soldier and called for protests. In return, Ahed will get the minimum sentence of 8 months instead of spending at least 3 years in prison based on what the military prosecutor was initially seeking. Lawyers at Ofer Military Court told us we would be lucky if they offered a 2 year plea bargain. But now, Ahed will be out in July — early enough to go to her first year in college. For the next 4 months in prison, Ahed will focus on her studies and take her final year exams. Ahed’s mother, Nariman, will also be released at the same time.

The fact that a child will be jailed for 8 months for slapping a soldier whose troops just shot her 15 year old cousin in the face is extreme, but in the context of the 99% conviction rate in the Israeli military court system and right-wing incitement against Ahed, this compromise by the Israeli military shows they have decided to back down in the face of growing pressure to release Ahed. In fact, they were begging Ahed’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, to accept the plea bargain. 

Below are the 3 main reasons why the Israeli military was forced to back down, and give Ahed the minimum possible sentence:

(1) Ahed refused to be coerced so there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her

Israel subjected Ahed Tamimi to intense military interrogations led by a member of Israel’s military intelligence. The interrogation tactics were meant to coerce her into admitting guilt on the 12 charges brought against her. Detained children, who are often beaten, disoriented, and afraid, end up saying anything the interrogator wants them to — but Ahed courageously maintained her right to remain silent throughout the entire interrogation.

Unable to break Ahed, the Israeli military arrested 10 other Palestinians from Nabi Saleh, 8 of them children. These children also remained steadfast and refused to allow the military to coerce them into giving false testimony to indict Ahed.

Hence, the prosecutor did not have enough evidence to indict Ahed, which made it difficult to complete here trial, especially while it was garnering significant international attention.

(2) Ahed’s case created massive global uproar from citizens to diplomats: millions around the world watched in shock as a 16 year old girl was terrorized, and Israel failed to spin the story.

After a massive right-wing Israeli campaign calling for the arrest, and sometimes even murder, of Ahed, which was followed by her arrest, Ahed quickly became a symbol of Palestinian children. 

Dozens of media networks flocked to cover her story, and in so doing shed a spotlight on the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli military courts. Over 1.75 million people around the world took action with Avaaz and demanded that Ahed and Palestinian children be released. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch joined her campaign — and news networks from the BBC to Xinhua, and from CNN to Al Jazeera reported her story.

In an effort to spin the story in Israel’s favor, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, claimed that the ‘Tamimi family were actors’, which journalists did not buy. Oren further claimed that the Knesset had a committee investigating the “authenticity” of the family, which was quietly ridiculed in diplomatic circles as a sign of Israel’s paranoia and its inability to humanize Palestinians.

In a last ditch effort to defame the Tamimi family, 15 year old Mohammad Tamimi, whose skull was shattered when a soldier shot him in his face, was arrested. Ahed slapped the soldier because she heard her cousin Mohammad was shot and in critical condition — and that story intensified global support for her case. The Israeli military interrogated Mohammad and successfully coerced him into saying he got his head injury (a third of his skull was missing and he needed surgery to replace it) from falling off of a bicycle. Major General Yoav Mordecai posted Mohammad’s “confession” on his Facebook page. However, the Tamimi family quickly released x-rays, footage, and hospital records that proved without a doubt that Mohammad was shot, forcing the military to retract.

Mohammad Tamimi — skull shattered by a bullet fired from an Israeli soldier during protests in Nabi Saleh. His injury led Ahed to confront, and slap, the soldiers firing at kids from her home’s front porch.

Diplomatically, many nations that were already worried about the ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military prisons spoke up. The EU said it was “deeply concerned” about the arrest of minors. Diplomats from around the world were mobilised to watch Ahed’s hearing, with representatives from Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, and many others attending her trial.

(3) Ahed’s arrest was supposed to deter Palestinian youth but instead it inspired them to organise

The Israeli military hoped that the arrest of Ahed would deter the youth of Nabi Saleh (Ahed’s village) and Palestinians across the region from protesting. What happened was the opposite: The youth were inspired by Ahed’s agency, and protests in Nabi Saleh and elsewhere became larger and more intense.

Youth from the villages around Nabi Saleh also joined its protests. And Palestinian students began the process of organising a #March_for_our_freedom. Fearing further upheaval, and unwilling to make Ahed a bigger hero, the Israeli military was forced to give in and drop 8 of the charges against Ahed. Instead of spending over 3 years in prison based on what they had initially pursued, she will now be out in July — early enough to go to her first year in college. The only thing she was booked for were the things in the video — slapping a soldier and calling for protests. They dropped the charge of inciting to bombings and stabbings for her and her mother, and the charge of stone throwing. For the next 4 months in prison, Ahed will focus on her studies and take her final year exam.

It is essential that we tell Ahed’s story as it is, one of steadfastness in prison and a failure by the military to break her. In court, Ahed said: “There is no justice under occupation.” She’s right, and that’s why this plea deal, as unfair as it is, was the best she could hope for and the biggest possible compromise the Israeli military, under pressure, could give. There are 356 children, all like Ahed, still in military confinement. Every year over 750 children are arrested. Let’s continue to take action until they are all free.

Check out the HUGE campaign to free Ahed and all Palestinian children here: