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What the Adnan affair tells us about the occupation

The Khader Adnan hunger strike affair showed the true face of all of the Israelis involved in the occupation, from its enablers in the courts to the Israeli mob.

Khader Adnan became a Palestinian national hero two days ago, and rightly so. He brought the Netanyahu government, as well as the Israeli apparatus of darkness (as Uri Avneri called it in the 1950s) to its knees. In a hastily-convened hearing in the High Court of Justice (HCJ), the prosecution offered Adnan’s lawyers a classic saving-face deal:

Adnan will be discharged on April 17 at the latest, the same day his administrative detention was to end, and possibly earlier. Adnan’s release is conditioned on no new evidence found against him – as if there was any prior evidence. The Prime Minister’s Office was the first to report the deal, so it may well have been cooked there, once Netanyahu understood what a colossal Hasbara (public relations) disaster Adnan’s death would be.

This deal is reminiscent of the military trial described by David Grossman in his 1987, “The Yellow Wind”: the counsel for the defense proves that the indictment against his client is groundless, and the judge – who, says Grossman, must prevent the system from being embarrassed, or it may collapse – convicts the defendant of a felony he was not charged with, and sentences him to the same number of days he already spent incarcerated. The government cannot just discharge Adnan: its honor would be besmirched. It therefore insists on releasing him on the date it set for the end of his detention.

Aside from Adnan, no one comes out of this looking good. The HCJ, which didn’t find time in its busy schedule for Adnan’s hearing, suddenly found the time for an emergency session on Tuesday – presumably in order to confirm an already agreed-upon deal. It has demonstrated, in its first decision, striking indifference to the lives and the human rights of a Palestinian administrative detainee; and in the second, just how much he is a tool of the Zionist regime and its security apparatus. Keep that in mind, when next some Justice makes the claim about how the court is committed to human rights. These disappear upon entrance to the apparatus’ dungeons.

The prosecution also comes out badly. The slave of the apparatus, which rarely if ever has any qualms about representing any sort of injustice in the courts, was forced to admit – by its very acquiescence to this deal – that it had no evidence against Adnan. Had it any, it would have pressed for an indictment. It has nothing to show, not even in the military courts, a system so corrupt it would be insulting to marsupials to call it a kangaroo court.

The apparatus comes out particularly poorly. Adnan has provided final proof that the occupation has decayed the minds of the occupiers, who are incapable of collecting evidence against people who have no rights to protect them against such collection; whose houses are open wide to any armed goon; whose phones may be eavesdropped on without a warrant; whose computers may be confiscated without consulting a judge,; and who are in practice susceptible to torture without penalty; no Israeli court ever found that a Palestinian was tortured by the ISA. Even so, all the apparatus can do is detain them without trial, hoping the torture of endless incarceration – which is the essence of administrative detention – will break the spirit of the detainee.

BTselem noted that while Israel kept 219 administrative detainees in January 2011, at the end of January 2012 their number rose to 309, almost a 50% rise. Twenty six percent of the detainees were held for six months to a year, 28.5% more than a year but less than two, 16 of them were held between two years and four and a half years, and one was held for more than five. That is, his administrative detention was prolonged no less than nine (!) times. International law permits the use of administrative as a last, desperate measure; a country that routinely holds hundreds of people in such detention cannot make that argument.

The Prime Minister’s Office claimed on Twitter that Adnan would be discharged “because his detention will end soon, not because he is innocent.” But of course Adnan is innocent: every person who was not convicted is innocent. That’s what the word means. This is the principle that the presumption of innocence is all about. Adnan was not only not convicted, he was not even charged.

The Israeli public, which now collectively moans in the comments about how they let a terrorist go and why didn’t they just let him die, has come out most despicable of all. The public does not want to know how the apparatus manages the occupied territories in his name. It can’t handle the information. It blinds itself and hardens its heart. It does not want to be informed. It didn’t want to know even back in the 1970s. So now it tries every possible excuse: the man was dangerous (which is why he will be discharged in two months), he is a terrorist (precisely what the apparatus of darkness couldn’t prove), he was the subject of classified intelligence (how do you know? Have you seen it?) – anything to avoid facing what is being done in its name. The torturers, kidnappers and gunmen could make a credible defense in years to come that they were just public emissaries, that they embody the collective will of an apathetic and terrified mob, which was willing to excuse them even for the use of children as human shields – but not of looting, something its middle-class conscience couldn’t stomach.

Khader Adnan, one may hope, broke the administrative detention system. The world is looking now. The forbearance towards Israeli crimes, born of the sense of guilt following the Holocaust, is finally running out, if forty years too late.

Update: As I finished writing this post, I was informed that a judge ordered the Prison Service to stop chaining Adnan to his bed. This decision came as a result of an appeal by two NGOs, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and Addameer, a Palestinian prisoner-support and human rights NGO. PHR considers this decision to be a precedent, and notes it has been fighting the procedure of handcuffing prisoners in hospitals for years.

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    1. Sinjim

      I don’t know if I’m as optimistic as you about Adnan having broken the administrative detention system, but he’s certainly shined a light on it and the occupation apologists are having a hard time coming up with a way to defend the practice.
      Meanwhile, Hana Shalabi, one of the administrative detainees who’d been in prison without charge for 2 years and who was released in the Shalit deal, has been rearrested (http://news.yahoo.com/israeli-troops-arrest-palestinian-woman-prisoner-174429816.html). Once again, no charges have been brought against here. She is now on her 6th day of a hunger strike.

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      Haaretz today ran a piece about two teenagers who were imprisoned for 3 months on evidence that the court eventually ruled to be totally fabricated. This is the standard of justice at work here. This is what has to be recalled every time the dupes of the system call a prisoner a “terrorist” just because he was arrested under this system.

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    3. sh

      Oh, but there’s a new, promising, if bewildering, take on the term terrorist. Haaretz is also running a piece tonight about the refusal of the USA to give Knesset Member Ben Ari a visa because he is a member of a terrorist organization. Ben Ari thinks they refer to Kach and both he and Knesset Speaker Rivlin are indignant about it. They evidently forgot that it’s banned here too. How could they, or we, possibly tell?

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    4. aristeides

      “One person’s terrorist is another person’s politician.”

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    5. AT

      Such overblown rhetoric. Adnan is hardly a hero. He is a repulsive man with a repulsive ideology who belongs to a repulsive organization. The best that can be said about him, is that unlike many of his ilk, he is also willing to risk his own life, not just send others to their deaths.

      The only heros here are the human rights lawyers and workers who have worked so hard to guarantee the rights of this repulsive man, despite the approbation of the society they live in.

      As for the “world” looking on, what world do you live in Yossi? In the US hundreds of thousands of people are held in administrative detentions with even less rights than Adnan. Pregnant prisoners and others are routinely shackled to their hospital beds (the former as they give birth). Perhaps in some European countries, maybe the Scandinavian ones, there is no such thing as administrative detention and prisoners in general are treated humanely. As for the rest of the world, that is not the case. That does not justify Israel’s behavior, but the fight to change things has to be internal to Israel. Most of Theresa of the world has no standing to criticize Israel on this issue.

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    6. “In the US hundreds of thousands of people are held in administrative detentions with even less rights than Adnan.”


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    7. Jazzy

      Its true, you cannot use a military to rule a people as reviled subjects for decades without a lot of cruel and arbitrary things happening. Too bad the people who are (justifiably) frustrated enough to write articles like this are, empirically, overwhelmingly the same people who have no pragmatism when it comes to ameliorating the conditions that give rise to abuse in the long run.

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    8. AT

      Lisa yes really! Do you know anything at all about ICE detention centers? Maybe you should educate yourself a bit about US treatment of so-called illegals before you get smarmy. Kzeiot is a summer camp compared to many of these ICe prisons.

      As for US treatment of hunger strikers here is just one story:


      Let’s not get started on how there are tens of thousands of prisoners in solitary confinement which is torture by any definition – and I am talking about regular prisons not ICE prisons.

      I am not saying US mistreatment of its prison population justifies anything Israel does. I am just saying certainly the US and most other Western countries have no right to criticize Israel on this. And it bothers the crap out of me that Western rights activists are so worried about Adnan but don,t give one hoot about the horrific human rights abuses taking place a couple miles from their homes.

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    9. AT

      Anyone who wants to educate themselves on the horrific abuses of administration detention in the US against “illegal” immigrants should spend a bit of time on this site:

      Many if not most “illegals” are Mexicans and their are striking parallels between the US treatment of Mexicans and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Well actually, US treats illegals worse. In fact nearly half the US territory is on stolen Mexican land and the fact that land is stolen goes a long way to explaining US treatment of its “illegals”

      You should also google solitary watch to learn about torture in US prisons. at least the Israeli Supreme Court banned private prisonsas inherently a human rights violation. In the Us nearly half of ICE detention camps are privately run and about 16% of prisons with that number rising.

      Educate yourself people! Israel is not the only “Wester!” country with a troubled human rights record, and actually is far from the worse. In fact, USA is #1.

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    10. You linked to an article about one prisoner who was convicted in a court of law of first degree murder. That is not hundreds of thousands. An he is not an illegal, as you claim.

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    11. Steve

      It is amazing and really disgusting seeing the extreme left worship an Islamic Jihad terrorist organization member, all because he went on a hunger strike and was detained for a while.

      Something’s really wrong here.

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    12. AT, as Lisa noted, you do not provide credible evidence for your incredible claim. But even if you had, this wouldn’t have cleared Israel of a wrong, merely that the US is more deeply in the wrong.

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    13. sh

      @AT – “I am just saying certainly certainly the US and most other Western countries have no right to criticize Israel on this.”
      Which other western countries that use indefinitely renewable administrative detention without bringing the suspect before a criminal court were you talking about?

      @Steve, I recommend you read this for a bit of perspective on why it matters not what organization Adnan is affiliated with; and the dilemma the result of his hunger strike might pose for him: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1330038478/

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    14. Adam Young Bennion

      YOSSI: I’ve stayed away from this site, unable to tolerate the arrogance & condescension so rife; READING YOUR ARTICLE like a breath of fresh air to me — I’ll come back looking for more, pitying the company & arguments frontliners must endure!

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    15. AT

      Wow the authors on this site obviously don’t read.
      Firstly, Lisa, I specifically said the article I gave refer to a regular prisoner. Those held in ICE administrative detention are treated worse. As for resources, I gave in my second post a link. But since you were too lazy too look in depth yourselves, here is a specific link:


      Also if you read more, you will see since they are supposedly in US illegally, they have no rights of habeas corpus, they have no right to legal representation, their families are not informed of where they are or even if they are in detention. Moreover, children are often forcibly separated from their parents who are subsequently deported and then put in foster care.

      I could go on and on, but obviously Lisa and Yossi are apparently more interested in painting Israel as the worst country on the planet rather than caring about human rights abuses in Israel and the rest of the world.

      SH – the UK for one. France for another. I could go on….

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    16. AT

      Two last comments:

      1. The 380,000 number in the linked article was from 2009. The situation is more acute now as the Obama administration has significantly increased detentions and deportations.
      2. Most administrative detention in Western countries is around immigration not political dissent, which is why many progressives tend to ignore it. These people are labeled “illegals” so people salve their conscience by saying they are “getting what they deserve.” Even if the laws that make these immigrants “illegal” are correct and proper (which they usually aren’t) it does not justify the removal of all rights and protections from these poor people, and the torturous conditions they are subjected to. Moreover, the detention system goes hand in hand, that is aids and abets a system of slavery and human trafficking. These immigrants serve as the slaves of the western world, and administrative dentition is a tool of this system of enslavement.

      Educate yourself!!!!

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    17. Sinjim

      @Lisa and @Yossi: Actually, @AT is right about the statistics. The US has an utterly awful prison industrial complex. Where he’s wrong is that he says because these crimes occur in the US or elsewhere, no American has a right to criticize Israel. Well, using that logic, though, @AT as an Israeli has no right to criticize America, which he does aplenty in the comments here, since his country does the same damn thing.
      This sort of gatekeeping is not very interesting nor clever. No one demands that activists working against poverty in Uganda, for example, first work on poverty in their own home countries. That’s a ridiculous attack to level on another person.
      If they are working on a cause that you purportedly support, it makes no sense to criticize them for it.

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    18. AT


      Reading comprehension: I said the “US and Western countries” – this is reference to Yossi’s breathless statement “the world is looking now.” I have no problem with organizations like Amnesty or HRW criticizing Israel about Adnan, since they do fight extensively against the US prison and detention madness. Similarly for individuals, all I ask is consistency .

      The fact that Lisa and Yossi are so dismissive about the horrific violations I mentioned indicates they aren’t really interested in human suffering but rather feeling good about themselves. Moreover, calling Adnan a “herp” seems to me a real detachment from human suffering – unless one thinks Israelis are sub-human.

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    19. Adam Young Bennion

      what a diversion! I live in community seriously affected by ICE, AT, & ills you mention, however it does not keep me from seeing truth in YOUR backyard! Your mention of ill-treatment of my loved-ones, however, springs from evil heart, not liberation of ANYBODY, right? You bring it up2say your beastly culture is developing good company!

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    20. Adam Young Bennion

      If ‘beastly’ just drive you crazy, sorry, it doesn’t keep me from finding kernel of beauty in ISRAELI SUPREME COURT decision that PRIVATE PRISONS are inherently against humanitarian law & governmental purpose! I plan2use that mightily, thankful4such true opinion! a rare goodfind in decades running now!

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    21. AT

      Sorry, Adam, wrong. I strongly oppose US immigration policies, slavery policies, incarceration and torture policies. I strongly oppose Israel use of administrative detention and the evils of Israel’s occupation. I also strongly oppose the war crimes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad which are NOT legitimate resistance but crimes against humanity. If you truly believe in universal human rights, then it has to apply to all people of all nations, races and creeds.

      My criticism was specific and mentioned already multiple times: I don’t think Hilary Clinton or Sarkozy or Cameron have any standing on criticizing Israel (or China or Russia for that matter) on human rights issues. Nor would I characterize Adnan himself as a hero. My subsequent criticism of Lisa only was as a result of her appalling ignorance of the US human rights disaster and her arrogant unwillingness to make the effort to learn more about it.

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    22. Lisa Goldman

      “obviously Lisa and Yossi are apparently more interested in painting Israel as the worst country on the planet rather than caring about human rights abuses in Israel and the rest of the world.”

      This magazine is about Israel-Palestine – and sometimes the immediate region. This constant ‘yes, but it’s just as bad or worse elsewhere’ is tiresome in the extreme.

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    23. Steve

      You cannot “act perfectly” when dealing with insane jihad terrorist organizations and people who support the terrorists.

      It’s unfair and dishonest to hold Israel to some insane standard that no country on Earth could live up to.

      It’s also really weird to always ignore the actions taken against Israel, and always only judge Israel’s reaction. Millions of Palestinians made their voices heard and decided that Hamas represent them. Israel recognizes what this means. Critics of Israel want to ignore it, and just put Israel’s responses under an unfair microscope.

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    24. Adam Young Bennion

      ZERO EQUIVALENCE between occupied & occupiers, ZERO! I remember only so recently photo of Israeli Defense Minister with soon-to-be-killed sniper, traveling to scene of convenient ‘terrorist’ outrage, both of them smiling, NOT traveling to such a scene as one seriously might imagine! ISRAEL LIVES FOR TERRORISM, WAS FOUNDED BY IT! we have a saying about the mote in your neighbor’s eye, first take out the beam in your own!

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    25. Steve


      No, hatemonger, Israel “lives” for Israel, and its people. To create tech companies, to get an education, to live and survive.

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    26. Adam Young Bennion

      SO LOST, again! ZERO REMEMBRANCE of how JACOB became ISRAEL: after the angel’s blessing, how did he approach his wronged elder twin, ESAU? remembering everything justifying his mother’s & his stealing ISAAC’s paternal blessing, taking advantage of his blindness? or did he simply look to a hoped-for-future with his flesh&blood, very generously? Israel-as-1-Tribe just head-in-the-sands history, not to mention unfulfilling, in case you’d not bloodily noticed, for anyone!

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    27. Adam Young Bennion

      GOT NEWS for you, Steve: my mother’s mother’s father’s father’s mother POLLY PECKK KNIGHT is the first Latter-Day-Saint buried in just re-established ZION, Missouri, August 1831. ISRAEL & ESTHER BENNION parented MERVYN BENNION (Israel born in Utah 1860), whose body was highest ranking sailor recovered, & heroism celebrated, at PEARL HARBOR, 7 Dec 1941, he Captain of USS West Virginia! ya don’t own either ‘israel’ nor ‘zion’; indeed, ya defames ’em, only biblically entitled to name of judah after arrogance of solomon’s son resulted in TWO KINGDOMS: ISRAEL (led by Ephraim w/10 tribes) & JUDAH (W/rump Benjamin)! HISTORY!

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    28. Adam Young Bennion

      If BARAK doesn’t live for terror, why he smiling on his way to it?

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    29. Steve

      Listen, crazed ranting is fun and all, but if you want to find people who “live for terror,” it isn’t most Israelis, most of whom are normal and educated and just want to exist. Instead, you can look at the jihadist terrorist organizations outside of Israel who literally think it’s an honor to be blown up and have dedicated their lives to trying to kill Israelis.

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    30. Adam Young Bennion

      blind & crazy: OCCUPATION = TERROR! israelis very regularly cheer 4 murder in other countries of those they are certain hate them, deserve to die, ALL WITHOUT LAW! but it so regular, it not terror, just breakfast or lunch! MEK not ‘terrorist’ because they KILL for YOU, HAMAS is terrorist (but wasn’t when FATAH ‘was’, right, & israel helped or helps both when convient, obviously)!

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    31. Steve

      It’s always fun visiting the circus

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    32. Piotr Berman

      How did Jabob approach Esau?

      Once I have seen an editorial in JP with that opening. The author recalled how Jacob starting negotiations by sending gifts, and claimed that it would be wise for GoI to show some generosity to PA before negotiations in January.

      The reactions were mixed, as usual, but the consensus of the readers was that this is an idiotic idea, if not pernicious. Someone observed that what Jacob did was OK because he did not have overwhelming advantage. That much for Scripture being a fount of morality.

      Lisa: if you can’t stand trolls, do not start a blog. I greatly appreciate that you guy get involved in discussions, but you sometimes take it too personally.

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    33. Piotr Berman

      AT makes utterly misleading comparisons. Detaining aliens who are in a country illegally does not require “presenting evidence”, it is responsibility of an alien to have a proof of being present legally. The concept that such aliens can be deported is not in question. The process can be more humane and less expensive, or less humane and more expensive, but the process itself is legitimate.

      By the way of contrast, the idea that you can designate some class of “bad people” and year after year kidnap them from their legal homes, torture or subject to degrading treatment, release, without any proof of accusation (or some extremely shoddy accusations and a lot of torture) is against the most elementary and modest norms of justice.

      And then we have absurd statement that release of Adnan Khader has nothing to do with his innocence. Of course it does not, if his detention was not based on a guilt but “being a bad person”.

      PS. Picture of a “terrorist”: http://beirut.indymedia.org/ar/2004/08/1583.shtml

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