Arrested for Post Zionism (II)

Posted: April 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Eamonn McDonagh wrote a response on Z-Word’s blog to my post regarding the arrest of two ISM activists a couple of weeks ago. Ariadna Jove Marti and Bridgette Chappell were arrested by the army in area A, which is supposed to be under Palestinian control, and charged in Israeli court with being part of the International Solidarity Movement, “an organization that supports an ideology that is anti-Zionist, pro-Palestinian and universally revolutionary.”

McDonagh writes:

“…the arrest of the two conflict tourists… does seem to have been ill advised. They were inside Area A when they were nabbed and Israel really shouldn’t be sticking its nose in there without a powerfully good reason.

However, I have a couple of points to make about what Noam Sheizaf, the blog’s author, has to say about the matter. He’s very upset that they are being accused of being critical of Zionism and supporting the Palestinians and concludes that there can be no justification for expelling them on the basis of their political views. And just what are those critical views? Well you can read those of Ariadna Jove Martí, one of the two arrested, here [in Spanish]. It’s all you might imagine; Israel is an apartheid state, it is founded on a systematic plan of ethnic cleansing, the IDF was founded on the base of the Haganah, a terrorist organization and plenty more besides. Oh, and she refuses to use Hebrew place names.

Has she the right to hold such views and express them. Absolutely. The crunch question is this, does Israel have an obligation to let her enter its territory (I’m presuming she came to the West Bank through it) with the purpose of propounding those views either in Israel or the Palestinian territories? I would say that it is under no such obligation.  I would go further and say that it be would extremely foolish to continue to allow foreigners to abuse tourist visas to carry out activities other than tourism.”

I think Eamonn McDonagh is missing the point here. Israel has the right to refuse visa to anyone, and it does so in the case of pro-Palestinian activists on a regular basis. The question here is what makes a cause for an arrest once you are in Israel (remember – an army unit was sent to pick them up!). I don’t think that speaking against the IDF or against the government should serve as such a cause. We should be very careful before we turn words into criminal offenses.

I must also add some context here. There is an effort in Israel right now to make any criticism of Zionism illegitimate, and sometimes illegal, by citizens and none-citizens alike: The new Nakba Law would make it illegal for Arab-Israelis to mark the disaster that happened to them in 1948; funds were withdrawn from the Israeli film Lipstikka because it was labeled as pro-Palestinian; last week one of the organizers of the Sheikh Jerrah (Jerusalem) protest was picked up in his home (he was released without charges the day after); and here is something I just saw on the morning news: a 17 years old kid was arrested for burning a flag in his own home.  These are all examples from recent months, and there are more of them.

Again, the arrest of Ariadna Marti and Bridgette Chappell is important, because it deals with what makes a criminal offense in my country. I think those who hold democracy dear should object to it – even if they don’t agree with anything the ISM activists say or do.

And one last point: if the Palestinian really have their own autonomy in the West Bank – like Israelis say when being charged with Apartheid – isn’t it for them to decide who enters and stays in their towns?

4 Comments on “Arrested for Post Zionism (II)”

  1. 1 Noam said at 5:24 am on April 1st, 2010:

    Have to love McDonagh’s “assumption” that the two women came through Israel to get into the West Bank.

    You ‘assume’ they came through Israel? What other option is there?

    So much for Palestinian autonomy and the attempt to decontextualize the arrest.

  2. 2 Eamonn McDonagh said at 5:43 am on April 1st, 2010:

    To the Noam who writes the blog: thanks for the response.

  3. 3 Ben said at 6:39 am on April 2nd, 2010:

    More enlightened visa policy:

    “Israeli authorities on Thursday deported three Swedish citizens who arrived in the country earlier that day in a delegation of seven young people with Jewish and Palestinian roots.

    Two of the three women were born in Sweden to Palestinian parents. The third was born in Syria, but immigrated to Sweden at a young age and has never been in either the Occupied Palestinian Territories or in Israel before.

    The three were put on a plane back to Sweden after eight hours of questioning at Ben Gurion Airport, by a number of different interrogators whose identities and positions were never clarified.

    Four of the Jewish participants in the delegation – two of whom hold dual Israeli and Swedish citizenship – were permitted entry.

    One of them, Tigren Feiler, was asked to sign a declaration that he would not enter Palestinian territory, and was told to leave collateral of NIS 5,000 with airport authorities. Upon his exit from the country, the money will be returned to the bank account of his grandmother, who lives in Kibbutz Yad Hannah.”

  4. 4 Meyrick Kirby said at 8:48 am on April 2nd, 2010:

    I suppose the question is, does McDonagh think protesters should be denied entry to the West Bank from Jordan?