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Palestinian activist given house arrest for a Facebook status

In the latest case of Israeli police detaining Palestinian activists for social media activity, a Lod man is placed under house arrest and has equipment confiscated for openly opposing the enlistment of Christian Arabs on his Facebook page.

Israel Police placed Lod resident and Palestinian citizen of Israel Ghassan Munair, 44, under house arrest this week for posting a Facebook status that decried the government’s attempts to enlist Christian Arabs into the Israeli army.

A youth sits near a cross overlooking the surrounding countryside in the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit in northern Israel, April 21, 2014. Iqrit's original inhabitants were forcibly evacuated in the Nakba of 1948. Though the Israeli high court granted the residents, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right to return to their homes in 1951, the military destroyed the village and has since prevented their return. Only the village's church and cemetery remained intact, and are still used by village residents while they campaign for a full return.

A youth sits near a cross overlooking the surrounding countryside in the displaced Palestinian village of Iqrit in northern Israel, April 21, 2014. Iqrit’s original inhabitants were forcibly evacuated in the Nakba of 1948. Though the Israeli high court granted the residents, who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right to return to their homes in 1951, the military destroyed the village and has since prevented their return.

According to Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Munair was summoned to the local police station, where he was interrogated for a Facebook status deemed by the police to be “threatening.” Munair allegedly posted a photo of Greek Orthodox Father Gabriel Nadaf – a spiritual leader among the Christian population in Israel, and a proponent of Christian enlistment in the Israeli Defense Forces – alongside Finance Minister Yair Lapid, with the following caption:

For the sake of freedom of speech and transparency
The faces and names of the “honorable” who appear
in the following photos are the same ones who want to enlist your sons
against your people – remember this

During the interrogation, which focused mainly on his ideological stances vis-a-vis the issue of enlistment of Christian citizens, Munair was told that he was detained due to the threatening nature of his status. Police said he could be released to house arrest for five days, under the condition that he gives the police his iPad, computer and smartphone.

Adalah filed an appeal against the conditions of Munair’s release in a Nazareth court on Monday. According to Attorney Fady Khoury, the decision to detain Munair “is illegal, as is the decision to release him under the conditions.” Khoury further stated that Munair’s post did not include any threats, and was nothing more than expressing an opinion.

Munair’s detention is just the latest in what appears to be a crackdown on Palestinians expressing dissent on the Internet.

In February, a Palestinian resident of occupied East Jerusalem was summoned by Israeli police for describing the city’s mayor, Nir Barkat, as the “mayor of the occupation.”  In late 2013, Palestinian citizen of Israel, Razi Nabulsi, was arrested for statuses discussing the occupation and racist laws affecting Arab citizens of Israel. His offense? Writing a Facebook status that read: “One day the nightmare will be over.” Just a few weeks later, police rounded up 25 Palestinian social media activists in East Jerusalem.

Related:
Israeli police lock up Haifa activist for Facebook statuses
An invitation to Israel’s thought police: Haul me in

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    COMMENTS

    1. Haifawi

      is there a link to the status? I want to repost it. We can see if Jews are treated differently 😉

      Reply to Comment
      • Khalil

        I always believed Israel was a country of democracy.

        I don’t like what they are doing atm.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Khaled Khalid

      What sentence would they give me with all my “abusive” posts on facebook about Israeli brutality.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Danny

      So now it’s a crime to post your opinions about Israel on facebook. So much for the only democracy in the Middle East (TM).

      John Kerry is being chewed out for saying the truth about Israel. Poor guy doesn’t know when to shut up. Before we know it, he’ll even tell the truth about Bibi (as if we didn’t know it already) – that he’s a pathological liar and a manipulator who has done everything in his power to sabotage peace efforts going back to 1996.

      Israel’s number one enemy is not Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran. Israel’s greatest enemy is the TRUTH.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Rab

      Sounds like a threat to me.

      “The faces and names of the “honorable” who appear in the following photos are the same ones who want to enlist your sons against your people – remember this”

      Since the people to whom he’s referring aren’t politicians who could be affected by the memory of someone who might see this Facebook update, what does Munair mean when he asks them to remember this? Is that, as Adalah claims, merely “expressing an opinion?” Perhaps. But it would seem that a prudent police force would at least investigate and take steps to ensure that asking people to remember the betrayal of their leaders is nothing more than a request for them to mark something in their journals, and not something more sinister.

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        This is probably one of the most paranoid comments I’ve seen from you thus far on this website. So, expressing a negative opinion about a public figure who advocates for things you find objectionable, on social media, is the same as issuing a fatwa on him?

        And no, I and most of the reality-based community do not think there is any need for the police to remind people the difference between an angry facebook comment about somebody and a call to hurt or kill that person. The very fact that you think the two are the same says very disturbing things about your worldview.

        You haven’t got a leg to stand on here. Just read Greg Pollock’s Facebook share comment above the comment section.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Rab

      It may be paranoid, I may not have a leg on which to stand, it may not be a fatwa, you wouldn’t want to be my friend because you don’t like my “worldview,” and so on…but it seems the Israeli police thinks like I do.

      Now, it’s true that Israel goes overboard with all of its security methods. Does having a guard open every trunk when I drive into a mall there help in any way? Nope. Does every bag found in a public place require a police robot? Not these days. But you know what, at a time when there appears to be a very forceful movement to drive Arabs away from the IDF, and to challenge both Bedouin and now Christian Arab participation in this army, why shouldn’t you at the very least explore whether this is what the Munair meant? What does “remember this” mean? Who is he talking to and what do they have to remember considering the person isn’t an elected official?

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos

        “Internet trolls derive sadistic pleasure from winding people up by taking extreme or offensive positions. Rab, K9 and others do this to turn the debate against reason – remember this.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Rab

          In other words, you have no response so you resort to insults.

          Reply to Comment
          • Philos

            Oh no, not at all. I was showing you how “remember this” can be used in a sentence, not be threatening and make a point about not feeding the hasbara trolls. Toodleloo!

            Reply to Comment
          • Rab

            Then you’ve undermined your own point.

            Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        1. Gabriel Nadaf is here described as a “spiritual leader” among the Arab Christian population of Israel. Thus, while he may not be a public official, he is certainly a public FIGURE. As per journalistic morality drilled into every journalism student, it’s the PRIVATE sources whose privacy and safety you should preserve; PUBLIC figures are fair game. This certainly should go for social media as well.

        2. Your quote:

        “But you know what, at a time when there appears to be a very forceful movement to drive Arabs away from the IDF, and to challenge both Bedouin and now Christian Arab participation in this army, why shouldn’t you at the very least explore whether this is what the Munair meant? What does “remember this” mean? Who is he talking to and what do they have to remember considering the person isn’t an elected official?”

        This sounds almost word for word like it came from a movie about some dissident in an Eastern Bloc/3d World dictatorship; what the guy playing the middle-to-high ranking state security functionary says to his goons, before sending them to arrest him and throw him in a hole somewhere for “interrogation.”

        As you said, this is your mindset; that of a secret policeman. Maybe you chose the wrong career path?

        3. I’m going to make an educated guess. Maybe “Remember that” was intended to be read as follows: “The next time you hear Nadaf pontificate about something, you’ll think ‘hey, that’s the a-hole who thinks I should enlist in the IDF! From now on, I’m gonna take what he has to say with a grain of salt’.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Rab

          Being a public figure doesn’t make you fair game for the possibility of violence. If that’s what was meant by “remember this,” then a line has been crossed.

          When a supporter of the Palestinians tries to claim that I’m the undemocratic one, I laugh hysterically until tears come from my eyes. Dude, I’m the guy supporting the country where the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset is an Arab Israeli who goes around unmolested despite yelling that Israel is an apartheid state. So please spare me the lectures.

          Your final point, though speculative, is valid. That may indeed be the intent of the phrase. Then again, the only way to check is to ask him…which is what the police did.

          Reply to Comment
          • Reza Lustig

            Yes it does make you fair game. As long as Munair didn’t publish Fr. Nadaf’s home address or phone number, journalistic ethics have been preserved, and the post can’t be construed as a threat or fatwa. Israel is supposed to be a democratic state, and in democracies the legal rule of thumb is “innocent until proven guilty.”

            2. So I assume that if that MK were to be arrested and interrogated for tweeting something “threatening-sounding”, you’d be against it too? Wait, don’t answer that.

            Incidentally, I’d think a common police state tactic is to leave troublesome opposition politicians alone (for a while), while harassing and arresting their supporters.

            3. So, to you, placing someone under house arrest and confiscating their personal property for practicing their right to free speech is the same as inviting him over for a friendly chat? I’m fairly sure that the police in most democratic countries would hold off on arresting someone for posting on facebook, opting instead to do a background check (e.g. to see if he’s in their files, has ties to terrorist groups, or knows/is related to terrorists). As it is, this qualifies as politically-motivated harassment, and has no place in any country that really means it when it describes itself as “democratic.”

            Reply to Comment
    6. Rab

      1. If Nadaf is a public figure, presumably one who may be found at a particular church, say, on a Sunday, then you don’t need to publish an address, do you?

      2. You evaded my point entirely. Nice try. Hanin Zoabi got to take a ride on the Turkish Love Boat to Gaza and then yell and scream about it and she got away with it, despite clear evidence that IHH members on her ship had been planning to violently confront soldiers who would embark the ship.

      3. No, to me it’s not the same. However, what neither you nor I know is whether Munair already has a file, a history, or some other indication that the “remember this” might imply potential violence.

      4. Read this out loud: Arab Israeli deputy speaker of the Knesset. Of course it’s a democratic country. You wish it weren’t.

      Reply to Comment