Bread, hunger and detention [UPDATED]
|The caption reads "Palestinian resistance fighters of Islamic Jihad".|
Source: A pro-PIJ article entitled "Islamic Jihad
armed wing: no chance of truce" on a Palestinian Arab site
In the normal course, you don't see yourself or your young children as being the targets of anyone. That's how we were too until August 2001. Since that tragic summer, we have tried to learn what's possible to learn about terrorists and in particular about Islamists since it's they who, in their proliferating organizations, armies and 'fronts', are at war with us and with everyone on our street, in our city and throughout the world wherever Jews happen to be. It's been quite an education.
One of the toughest parts of getting a grip on how this hate-driven war of the terrorists works is the part where you try to understand the role of politicians and thought leaders. Hardly a day goes by that does not present us with some quotation or action said or done by some prominent individual that leaves us scratching our heads in wonder at their sanity or ours. Often, not always, the truly puzzling stances come from someone high up in some European government or seat of learning. Today is one of those days.
Al Ahram, the Egyptian newsagency, quoting an AFP story, is reporting today that the EU's foreign policy chief Baroness Catherine Ashton is "following with great concern" the fate of a Palestinian Arab called Adnan, who declared a hunger strike in December from his prison cell in Israel. She is asking the Israeli government to "do all it can to preserve the health of Mr Adnan in its continuing handling of this case." [See UPDATE note below]
Al-Ahram's story, echoed in papers and online news and comment sites around the world today, says the hunger striking Palestinian Arab is being held "without being charged". This part is untrue. Adnan is being held under administrative detention, a legal strategy used by democratic countries including theUnited States and Ms Ashton's British homeland - when they have to. Why this is so is beyond a brief blog entry, but there are powerful reasons to do it when lives are endangered. Few countries have as much need for taking this step as Israel, confronted as we are by non-uniformed armies of fanatical and extremely-well-armed combatants ready to slaughter children, and to do it happily. An October 2008 article in an online journal published by the US Navy's Center for Homeland Defense and Security compares how the United States, Britain, and Israel detain and deal with their terrorist suspects, an exponentially growing need. It says
"The goals of administrative detention are not arrest, trial, conviction, and punishment but rather prevention. Although difficulty in convicting a person in ordinary criminal proceedings is not a reason for employing administrative detention, if evidence is classified and cannot be disclosed, administrative detention becomes an option... Israel’s detention laws provide for judicial review and considerably more due process for its detainees than America’s enemy combatant policy..."but in Israel's robustly democratic environment, this does not give it a free pass. Israel's courts are frequently asked to intervene in specific administrative detention cases. Our open and transparent legal system does a decent job of protecting human rights, even of the people seeking (literally) to slaughter us.
Ms Ashton's intervention seems to be based on the idea that this Adnan is some kind of innocent caught up in the machinery of a brutal Israel throwing around its weight and trampling simple people under the boots of its forces. You hear echoes of that in the statements of the notoriously prejudiced Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories. He told Al-Ahram today that while Israel has somehow "linked" this Adnan to Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization, Falk says Adnan
"should be characterised as a "thinker" as opposed to an "activist", as no proof has been provided linking him to the group."The same willful ignorance is on show in a shabby piece of advocacy in yesterday's The Independentcalled "Khader Adnan: The West Bank's Bobby Sands" which compares the Palestinian Arab to an IRA hunger striker in a British prison. His photogenic young child is depicted in photos all over the web today (like this and this) yearning for her absent father while standing at the fence of an Israeli prison. (Not so many published pictures of other members of his family - this notable image is an exception.) Some feverish online sites say he is "starving for freedom and dignity" and that "his only weapon is his empty stomach" and that he's "dying2live". In other places this week (and we're deliberately avoiding linking to them), he's compared with Gandhi.
What tendentious rubbish.
Here are some of the things that a reasonable person, using only Arab sources, can know about Khader Adnan, aka Sheikh Adnan Khodr aka Khader Adnan Mohammad Musa.
- "one of Islamic Jihad leaders" [the WAFA Palestinian news agency]
- "one of the main leaders of the Palestinian militant movement Islamic Jihad" [Al Arabiya]
- "Sheikh Adnan Khodr, the political leader of Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine" [Uruknet, two days ago]
Even in the barbaric ranks of Palestinian Arab terrorists, Islamic Jihad (or PIJ) is in a class of its own. Some of its thirty-plus bombing attacks and other terrorist outrages against Jews and Israelis are listedhere. PIJ also opposes moderate Arab governments that "have been tainted by Western secularism and has carried out attacks in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt" [source]. A dossier by the Council on Foreign Relationssays PIJ
"violently opposes the existence of Israel... Iran funds most of the PIJ budget... Unlike Fatah or Hamas does not participate in the political process… PIJ advocates the destruction of Israel through violent means; it approaches the Arab-Israeli conflict as an ideological war, not a territorial dispute."We don't claim to understand how the terrorists and their advocates manage to continue to manipulate the goodwill and sense of fairness of badly informed people. We also don't really know what to do about this. The one thing we can say, and we ask that our friends help us to get this message out to the world, is that being wrong on issues like the Adnan matter - like the politicians and the opinion-shapers that are being quoted all over the infosphere this weekend - exacts a terrible price from all of us.
UPDATE Sunday 19-Feb-12:
The European Union and the masses of deeply concerned protestors, twitterers and hand-wringers seem to have woken up late to this Adnan's proclivity for hunger striking. It's been pointed out to us that a year and a half ago, he performed another hunger strike whendetained by the Palestinian Authority (see this press release from that time, issued by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights). Sadly, we suspect knowing this would make him even more Gandhi-like in their eyes. But understanding what this Adnan actually stands for, Gandhi, the heroic exponent of satyagraha, would be turning in his grave.