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Occupation magazine - Commentary
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Palestinian Population of Israel: Israeli Secret Services Promise and Deliver
By Issam Aburaya
for the Alternative Information Center (AIC)
I do not know on what basis the Israeli General Security Services (GSS) are accusing Dr. Omar Al Said (detained since 24 April 2010) and Ameer Makhoul (who was detained on 6 May 2010). The bombastic charges of espionage and contact with a foreign agent are expansive enough to also include, we learn, “political espionage.” This means that in an age of globalization and internet, every meeting or email can (if the GSS so wishes, of course) be considered espionage. I do not know how the aforementioned detentions will end and what will be the ruling of the court in these cases. However, it is impossible to ignore their wider context: the war of the GSS against the Palestinian population in Israel, its political leadership and the civil society acting within and on its behalf. We are now witness to an almost complete “security-ization,” or more accurately a “GSS-ization” of a legitimate, democratic and open political struggle. To the credit of the GSS and its Director. Yuval Diskin, it will be noted that they openly declared this war, officially and unequivocally, already four years ago. In his infamous 2007 meeting with Prime Minister Olmert, which was extensively covered by the Israeli press, Diskin characterised the Palestinian population in Israel as a “strategic threat.” Moreover, according to Diskin, the struggle for national and civil equality using democratic tools within the framework of the Israeli law is considered subversive as it challenges the central idea of the Jewish state. What is clear from this is that Diskin understands that the concepts of a Jewish state and equality are contradictory.
Diskin clarified that the activities of his organization include thwarting “subversive activities” of various bodies, “even if their actions are conducted through tools provided by democracy.” The GSS is above democracy. It perceives itself as authorized to define the meaning of a Jewish state, those who are subverting it and also to employ almost all the possible tools to neutralize them. It should be recalled that the GSS has always acted both within and outside the law. In truth, when it comes to the Palestinian population, to a large extent the GSS is the law! The disappearance of public figures and leaders such as Makhoul and Al Said in the GSS dungeons and the issuance of gag orders intended to create frightening drama and exaggeration, and the negation of the fundamental right to receive legal defence, perfectly illustrates the following fundamental fact. The Palestinian population in Israel is exposed and abandoned to the capricious power of the GSS. The GSS promised to persecute activities conducted with tools provided by democracy, and the GSS delivered.
It is important to recall what is the overall goal of the GSS war against leading figures in the Palestinian population in Israel. This goal may be summarized as training and educating for “appropriate behavior.” This is political policing par excellence. A person must be blind or willfully naive in order not to grasp this. Additionally, the Israeli political order, in which the symbolic and material state structures are designed to serve the Jewish ethnos in a de-facto bi-national reality necessarily leads to the transformation of the Arab citizens to second-class citizens. It appears that this order has lost its balance as the latter have stopped fulfilling their “required” role. In the words of Israeli racism, “the Arabs raised their heads” and the GSS, alongside the nationalistic-right wing government with its stench of fascism, began acting to return the Arabs to their “natural” place.
In short, we are witness to an attempt to impose the policies and spirit of the military government and a reenactment of the delightful days of the “good Arabs.” Thanks to this, the conclusion of Hillel Cohen in his book Good Arabs according to which the goal of the security authorities under the military government was not limited to attaining political control over the Palestinian population on the local and national level. The wider goal was “to create a feeling that the eyes and ears of the authorities are open everywhere. To create anxiety. To silence and from within this silence the “new Arab” was supposed to grow, the “Arab Israeli.” This goal is more relevant than ever.
However, the very fact that the GSS are today forced to use such direct and harsh oppression against the Palestinian population in Israel exposes their failure to attain the goals through more “quiet” means. More importantly, the detentions of Dr. Omar Al Said and Ameer Makhoul demonstrate that the uncompromising struggle for national and civil equality of the Arab citizens in their homeland is sufficiently strong and effective to disturb the sleep of the GSS and its director. The problem of the GSS, accordingly, is not with Al Said and Makhoul but with the ideals, ideas and aspirations for which they are fighting. Their detentions simply strengthen these aspirations and fuel the struggle for attaining them with no relation to the type of accusations the GSS is preparing.
Issam Aburaya is a lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Seton Hall University, United States.
Translated to English by the Alternative Information Center (AIC).
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