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Jerusalem police arrest Palestinian activist in his Hebrew U dorm

Khalil Gharra has been taking part in daily vigils in support of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. After arresting him in the middle of the night, police fail to present any evidence against him, and he is released without bail. 

Shortly after midnight on Sunday, armed plainclothes policemen entered Khalil Gharra’s room in the dorms at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The detectives waved a warrant at Gharra and another friend who happened to be there. They searched his room, confiscated a couple of laptops and threw Gharra in a cell at the infamous Russian Compound in Jerusalem.

This wasn’t the first time Gharra – who is active in the Balad party’s branch at the University – was harassed by the police. Last year he was put on trial following a protest he took part in; he was acquitted of all charges. According to his lawyer, attorney Alaa Mahajna, police made it clear to Gharra that they would meet again.

Gharra spent the night in the Russian Compound and was brought before a judge shortly before lunch on Monday. He was accused of threats and incitement. According to attorney Mahajna, the pretext for the arrest was a Facebook status in which Gharra criticized Palestinians from his village who serve in the police. But police failed to even produce that evidence (the status was written in September) despite confiscating Gharra’s computer; the prosecution had trouble establishing charges against him.

Lacking any reason to continue detaining him, the police agreed to release Gharra if he deposited NIS 5,000 ($1,500) of his own money as bail, on top of third party bail. Gharra refused. The judge released him without bail or any restricting conditions. He was sent home in the early afternoon.

I spoke to attorney Mahajna, who said he thinks the real reason for the arrest is Gharra’s political activity. Balad has been maintaining a small daily vigil at the university in support of the hunger striking Palestinians prisoners and the students have been subject to threats and harassment, including from law enforcement representatives.

I know of many students who have been arrested in protests, it even happened to me in my first year at Tel Aviv University, but I never heard of a case in which the police knocked on the door of a Jewish student in the middle of the night. In general, when investigations regarding speech – incitement and so on – take place, activists are simply asked to report to the police station.

Police actions against Arab political activists within Israel take place on various levels, from restrictions on protests on campuses all the way to the attempts to ban Palestinian Knesset members from running in elections. In recent years, Balad has been the target of most of these attempts. Balad advocates a liberal, “state of all its citizens” model, which many Israelis see as a form of political subversion.

Law enforcement actions against political activists are most common during military operations. During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, more than 700 Israeli citizens who protested the military campaign were arrested, including many Arab political figures and some 250 minors.

Realted:
Supreme Court allows Palestinian MK Zoabi to participate in elections

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Palestinan

      Israel is an ideal democracy ,the Israeli way.Zionist thugs will remind us of whats happening in Syria to justify whatever happens in Palestine.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      This article exhibits one reason I prefer some other term than “Palestinian” to describe Israeli citizens. Because my initial thought was how could a Palestinian – from the PA – be attending Hebrew U in Jerusalem?

      Reply to Comment
      • DAR

        Maybe we should just ask Khalil what term *he* would prefer, and use that.

        Reply to Comment
        • Palestinan

          To eliminate any confusion Palestinian48 can be used.

          Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            No matter how hard you are trying to make up a new ethnicity, you are Arabs and you remain such till the end of the days.

            Reply to Comment
          • Jan

            No matter how hard you are trying to make up a new ethnicity, you are Jews and you remain such till the end of the days.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            No shit.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinan

            You are right , we are Palestinian Arabs.Just like Shimon Peres is a Polish European.I dont understand why these facts tease you …

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            The irony is Palestinian as an ethnicity isn’t very clear, they are not ethnically Arabs per se because their Arabness derives from culture and linguistics. Ethnically, they are most likely a mixture of Canaanites, Israelites, Jebusites, Philistines, Anatolian and Lydian Greeks, Hebrews, Nabateans, European Crusaders, Arabs, etc.
            Most if not all genetic research that has gone in the area found that overwhelmingly the majority have roots going back to the ancient inhabitants of the land.
            Actually, the people who are more likely Arab as in ethnically Arabs are Bedouins.

            Historically, the inhabitants haven’t been completely expelled from the land and actually Palestinians were hellenized before the Arab conquest of 7th century. They then adopted the Arab culture and language. Which is why palestinians are considered ‘arabs’ linguistically and culturally, but not necessarily ethnically.
            The myth that the inhabitant Palestinian population came from the Arabian peninsula is a myth perpetrated to justify the expulsion of the inhabitant population.

            You can call them as you may, but there’s no denying that the Palestinians have strong roots dating to ancient times and to their ancient ancestors.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            But again, there is a huge, huge misconception about Arabism in general. The general misconception is being an ‘Arab’ means you are genetically and ethnically an Arab while in general it means you are either linguistically an Arab (mother tongue is Arabic), culturally an Arab or Arab in geneologically an Arab. Most of the people outside the Gulf are linguistically and culturally Arabs, but their ethnicity is very diverse and different. Which by the way, is why you never see the word ‘Arab’ under any consensus because it is not an ethnicity per se and very very diverse.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >The general misconception is being an ‘Arab’ means you are genetically and ethnically an Arab while in general it means you are either linguistically an Arab (mother tongue is Arabic), culturally an Arab or Arab in geneologically an Arab

            Bullshit.

            There is only one way of becoming an Arab – being born to an Arab father.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Where on earth did you get that?
            if you are born to an Arab mother you are not Arab?

            I have a feeling you are confusing being a Muslim and an Arab.

            The Arab League defines an Arab is a person whose language is Arabic and lives in an Arabic-speaking country and whose culture is Arabic.
            I don’t see anything about being born to an Arab father ot anything genetic/ethnic. It goes back to what I was saing, being an Arab is generally a linguistic and cultural affiliation.

            As for the Jewish nationality… Judaism isn’t a nationality but a religion. I know many Palestinians who have a Jewish grandmother here and there, and have never seen it deny it. In fact my best friend’s two grandmothers are Jews, which means that she’s a halachic Jew, but all of her family identify as Palestinians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Mitchell Cohen

            There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of atheist or agnostic Jews who would disagree with you about Judaism being only “a religion” (including a couple of the main bloggers on this very site). You might want to step back and leave the “who is a Jew?” question to those who actually know what they are talking about.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Mitchell, I don’t think there is anything wrong in engaging a debate about ‘Who is a Jew’. I for one find the debate interesting. I don’t think there is 100% consensus ont he who is a jew debate. For one, I find it extremely preplexing how a convert to Judaism is suddenly considered a Jew in national and ethnic terms while in fact that said person probably does not have ethnic lineage to Hebrews and the Israelites. I for one am not against the discourse and debate of people’s lineage to the ancient Hebrews and Israelites. I also think it is problematic to mix religion and ethnicity in one. Surely it will be less of a headache to Jews if there was a new narrative and use of language that distinguishes Jews as religious Jews and Jews as in Semitic Jews?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >I also think it is problematic to mix religion and ethnicity in one.

            It might seem problematic, but as a matter of fact it is not.

            A Jew remains a Jew only as long as there was no certain religious violations.
            Ex. if a Jew converts to Hinduism – he stops being considered a Jew, even if he is a direct descendant of king Salomon. To became Jew once again the very same person will have to undergo giyur.

            Besides that, Torah specifically stating that new converts are the same as natural-born Jews, and bed behaviour towards Ger (he who undertook Giyur) is strictly forbidden.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            For someone who is secular and advocates a relegation of religious matters to private life, yes it is problematic. Religion for me is not fact, ethnicity however is.
            And I am well aware that this is a very heavy debated question in the Jewish community, so I’m going to take your opinion with a grain of salt.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Leen,

            >Where on earth did you get that?

            In open sources, provided by Arabs, of course.

            >if you are born to an Arab mother you are not Arab?

            Not inherently. If one is born to a Palestinian Arab mother, he’s not considered a Palestinian (see below)

            >I have a feeling you are confusing being a Muslim and an Arab.

            No, I’m not.

            >The Arab League defines an Arab is a person whose language is Arabic and lives in an Arabic-speaking country and whose culture is Arabic.

            Is there such official definition available online?

            >I don’t see anything about being born to an Arab father to anything genetic/ethnic. It goes back to what I was saing, being an Arab is generally a linguistic and cultural affiliation.

            That’s how you might see it, but some would disagree, and even stone you to death.

            “Whoever is born to a Palestinian father after that date, within Palestine or outside is a Palestinian.”
            http://www.pac-usa.org/the_palestinian_charter.htm

            “Article 5: The Palestinian personality is a permanent and genuine characteristic that does not disappear. It is transferred from fathers to sons.”
            http://www.un.int/wcm/content/site/palestine/pid/12363

            As follows from these articles, whoever born to Palestinian Arab mother is not a Palestinian Arab, simply because women are not considered worthy enough.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Well your post basically failed because once more you attributed Arabism to being Palestinian. There is no such thing that exists.

            Well you can have a look at Dwight Fletcher Reynolds, Arab folklore: a handbook. Could not find an online version as the Arab league charter makes no reference to what constitutes an Arab.

            As for the PNC, it isn’t a legal, nor ethnical explanation. Otherwise I am utterly perplexed why so many Palestinian diaspora with the last names of Smith and whatnot consider themselves Palestinian and can legally obtain Palestinian citizenship should they wish to.

            Plus currently there are discussing reforms and amendments to the charter as it is a PLO charter, not a Palestinian constitution. There is a huge difference, think of it more of a ‘manifesto’.

            Stone to death? that is a really reprehensible thing to say.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            And just for your info, I have checked the draft constitution and it has been updated, A Palestinian is referred to as

            Article (12) Palestinian nationality shall be regulated by law, without prejudice to the
            rights of anyone who legally acquired it prior to May 10, 1948 or the right of any
            Palestinian who resided in Palestine prior to this date and fled, was forced to
            immigrate, or prevented from returning thereto. This right passes on from fathers or
            mothers to their offspring. It does not cease or lapse unless voluntarily relinquished
            in the manner prescribed by law. A Palestinian cannot be deprived of his nationality.
            The acquisition and relinquishment of Palestinian nationality and the rights and
            duties of those with multiple citizenship shall be regulated by law.

            As you can say it can pass down to fathers or mothers.

            Source is here
            http://www.pcpsr.org/domestic/2003/nbrowne.pdf

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Tresspasser is confusing “Arab” and “Muslim”

            And trying harder than usual to demonstrate how obnoxious Zionists can be.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Yeah, I’ve noticed it earlier – Palestinian Arabs have a tendency of denying Jews their national identity.

            Excellent.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinan

            Well ,as long as your “nationality” isnt misused to justify crimes and terrorism ,its none of our business.I mean who cares !

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Well ,as long as your “nationality” isnt misused to justify crimes and terrorism ,its none of our business.I mean who cares !

            Hmmm.
            I’m wondering – is it only you are such a primitive parody to a human being, or your entire tribe is. Huh?

            Our “nationality” was misused to justify crimes and terrorism in Europe mere 70 years ago but it wasn’t your business, was it?

            But you are right about one thing – no-one cares.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinan

            Only losers resort to name calling ,but never mind by now I should be used to dealing with creatures like you.

            If your religious background was misused to justify crimes and terrorism before ,it doesnt mean it can be misused again to justify crimes and terrorism against others Only racists and fascists have your logic.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            Arab:
            Well, as long as your “nationality” isn’t misused to justify crimes and terrorism, its none of our business. I mean who cares!

            Jew:
            Our “nationality” was misused to justify crimes and terrorism in Europe mere 70 years ago but it wasn’t your business, was it?

            Arab:
            If your religious background was misused to justify crimes and terrorism before, it doesn’t mean it can be misused again to justify crimes and terrorism against others.

            —————-

            I see. By your logic it is OK if anyone is persecuted on the basis of his nationality as long as it does not concern you directly.

            As I’ve said earlier – primitive.

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinan

            Zionists usually are creative when it comes to manipulation but this one is the worst.

            Obviously you support using your religious affiliation to justify terrorism and crimes.Thats what makes terrorism and racism the core of Zionism.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            Indeed, who cares? I wanted to say that about two posts up from yours but couldn’t be bothered. After all, it’s only a remark from one person here – and it’s always the same abusive person – that provoked yet another diversion from the topic in hand. Why give him the pleasure?

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Oh, and people who have denied their Hebrew and Israelite connection have come under heavy criticism from the Palestinian community, especially the Canaanists. Google it, it’s a pretty interesting debate.

            Reply to Comment
    3. aristeides

      This is a clear sign of a police state, when the courts have no power over the behavior of the cops and especially the military.

      The judge can let him go, but it can’t stop them from harrassing him over and over.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      People being imprisoned for holding certain political views – very reminiscent of the old South African apartheid regime.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Trespasser

        And also of USSR, Venezuela and Gaza Strip.

        You just can’t smell it, can you?

        Reply to Comment
    5. Tzutzik

      I just love how “progressives” get into hystrionics at the mere suggestion that American elected officials are expected to put Israel before America by Jewish Americans (which by the way is a blood libel against Jewish Americans).

      But the very same “progressives” wax lyrical about how Jews and Israelis should put Palestinian Arabs ahead of Israel.

      These “progressives” have no problems with Arab nationalism, tribalism and supremacism. They only object if Israelis are Israel firsters

      Reply to Comment
      • No, the position is that without finding a way to actualize the rights of Palestinian Bank residents, violence on all sides is inevitable. I see the Bank as the laboratroy for change in the conflict. The Occupation has altered social relations in the Bank, and from this new possibilities may emerge. Rights formation is a way of enabling that emergence. The sides cannot leave one another; the only question is what their relationship will be; this is being contested in the Bank.

        Reply to Comment
    6. aristeides

      I think tzutz is commenting on the wrong article. As well as misusing the term “blood libel.”

      Reply to Comment
    7. “Lacking any reason to continue detaining him, the police agreed to release Gharra if he deposited NIS 5,000 ($1,500) of his own money as bail, on top of third party bail. Gharra refused. The judge released him without bail or any restricting conditions.” : A small judicial victory. Aristeides, above, is not completely correct. In the US, the police may rearrest as well. Judges may generally warn them to stop after a few times, but this is an evolved condition; I would say that in 1970 the police had a rather free hand in such rearrests.

      Thank you, Noam, for your steadfast service during what may become a crucial time.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Greg Pollock – I never suggested they didn’t. The US is evolving rapidly into a police state. One difference, though, is that victims of police harrassment can often get large monetary settlements, which is more effective than simple court orders.

        Reply to Comment
        • Rights jurisprudence is on the defensive in the US,yes, such as in the recent 5-4 turn back of a challenge over opening international communications. A police State? No, hardly yet. And I think you underestimate or undervalue the role of judicial culture. I do not think release against police recommendation in isolated instances will change things markedly, but it is good to see and it show variance in judicial thought.

          I just can’t get by hating Israel unilaterally. Even an evoloved One State will have to begin with the Israeli constitution, whatever it becomes. I will make small smiles over small things.

          Reply to Comment
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