I don’t promise not to send more today, but just wanted to give you some pleasure as a start for a new day, first off with Amira Hass’s report on Yonatan Shapira.
I searched some of the more prominent newspapers in English (e.g., Guardian, NY Times, etc.) and found one additional item of interest but not about Yonatan Shapira being called in by the Shabak. Brave man, and, additionally, intelligent. Nice combination. I would imagine we’ll have many more such reports in the ensuing period, especially after the law against urging to practice bds is passed.
While searching the world’s press in English, I did come onto one other item of interest–Palestinian children having a day at the sea.
I recall so well when, 5 years ago a 3-year old Palestinian girl was to have a kidney-transplant at Hadassah hospital in Israel. The appointments at the hospital prior to the surgery enabled her family to have entry permits. We (spouse and I) used the opportunity to bring our friends to the beach several times. The child, Lina, who had never seen the ocean, was terrified the first time. But with succeeding times, she, like her older brother Iyad, learned to enjoy the waves when accompanied into the water by her mother or father.
Now we are back to ‘normal.’ Only her mother is given a permit to accompany Lina on her periodic visits to Hadassah hospital for checkups so that we can no longer bring the entire family for a day of fun at the beach. Well, perhaps things will change before the children become adults, and we shall again enjoy fun together at the sea, now with Lina and Iyad’s younger sister Liani, who is almost the age that Lina was when the transplant occurred. Perhaps. Meanwhile, spouse and I occasionally visit them–also enjoyable, but hardly the same for the children as a day at the beach.
Haaretz Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Conscientious objector Yonatan Shapira questioned by Shin Bet
Non-active Israel Air Force pilot who authored the “pilots’ letter” of 2003, signed by 27 IAF pilots who said they would refuse to fly over the occupied territories.
By Amira Hass
Tags: Israel news IAF Shin Bet
The Shin Bet security service on Sunday questioned a conscientious objector about his activity in an Israeli group that supports sanctions against Israel as part of its struggle against the occupation.
Yonatan Shapira, 38, a non-active Israel Air Force pilot who authored the “pilots’ letter” of 2003, signed by 27 IAF pilots who said they would refuse to fly over the occupied territories, said he was instructed not to disclose any details from the interview.
Shapira told the agent he publishes everything regarding his anti-occupation activity and intended to publish this interview as well as any future ones in full detail, he told Haaretz.
He said he received the impression that this troubled his interrogator, who asked for the piece of paper he was writing on because it was “a recording device and is not legal.”
Shapira gave her the paper but after leaving the building wrote down the questions from memory. The agent reminded Shapira the Knesset was expected shortly to outlaw calls for sanctions against Israel, he said.
He said the Shin Bet called him on Sunday at noon, while he was visiting friends in Tel Aviv.
“The caller said she was from the Shin Bet and that she wanted to talk to me,” he said. “I asked what it was about and she said it wasn’t for the phone. I said if anyone was listening to us it was only them, but she insisted we meet and that it was not an interrogation.”
Attorney Gaby Lasky advised Shapira to ask at the interview whether he was considered a suspect and told him he did not have to say anything because such a meeting constituted a political interrogation even if the Shin Bet called it a conversation.
Shapira consulted with Yonatan Polak, who has been summoned many times for Shin Bet interrogations about his activity in the popular committees against the separation fence.
Polak told Haaretz that many of the Israeli participants in demonstrations against the separation barrier have been called in by the Shin Bet for questioning.
Shapira’s meeting with the agent took place in the rear building of the police station on Dizengoff Street, not far from his friends’ place. A security guard conducted a body search (“quite an intimate one”, Shapira wrote on Facebook ), explaining he was checking to make sure Shapira wasn’t hiding any recording devices.
The agent said something along the lines of “we wanted to meet you because recently we see you’ve been very active,” Shapira said. He asked whether he was suspected of anything and she said he wasn’t, that this was not an investigation and that she “only wanted to talk.”
Almost immediately, Shapira related, she began talking about his activity in Global BDS Movement: Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions for Palestine, which supports measures against Israel. She asked what he did exactly, whether it was a Palestinian organization and what he knew about it and its activities.
Shapira said he told her that everything she asked was public knowledge, available on the Internet and in the press. He said he would be happy to deliver a public lecture about BDS to the Shin Bet and the police but would not conduct a political discussion in a Shin Bet interrogation room.
The agent asked if he knew the protests he took part in were illegal, in light of the Israel Defense Forces having declared the area a closed military area on Friday.
When he did not reply, she talked about the graffiti slogans, “Liberate all ghettos” and “Free Gaza and Palestine,” spray-painted by Israeli and pro-Palestinian activists on a remnant of the Warsaw Ghetto last week.
She asked Shapira, who was one of the activists, whether the graffiti was his idea, whether it had anything to do with BDS and whether he did not understand that he “crossed a line and hurt many people’s feelings” with his action.
Shapira said that he repeated his offer to discuss the issues in public and told the agent that for now she could get all the information from media interviews he had given.
When asked if the Shin Bet was bugging his phone, the agent first said she could not answer, then said, “You won’t talk about BDS, why should I tell you?” When he asked her, “If I talk, will you tell?,” she said no.
The Shin Bet said in a response that it is authorized, as part of its duty to preserve state security and democracy from terror threats, sabotage, subversion and espionage to receive and to gather information, and that Shapira was told clearly that the meeting was not an interrogation and that he was not considered a suspect.
This story is by:
“The sea belongs to everybody, not only to Israel.”
Washington Post, Tuesday, July 20, 2010; A12
Israeli group gives young Palestinians their first taste of the beach
By Janine Zacharia
Washington Post Foreign Service
Mohammed Shawasha has spent his life in a West Bank village just 37 miles from the sea, but he has never been there. So when the opportunity to spend a day on the Mediterranean coast arose for the 12-year-old Palestinian, he jumped at it. From hilltops across the landlocked West Bank, Palestinians can see the sea, but they can’t get there because of Israeli restrictions.
Entry permits to Israel are hard to come by, reserved primarily for older Palestinians wishing to pray in Jerusalem, married men with children who hold a job in Israel and those with humanitarian needs. The Gaza Strip’s beaches aren’t an option since Israel has largely prevented Palestinians from traveling between the two Palestinian territories, citing security concerns. Meanwhile, the Israel military has prohibited Jewish Israelis from traveling to West Bank cities under Palestinian control.
The restrictions have left few opportunities for Israelis and Palestinians to interact, contributing to a gulf in understanding that could present an added challenge for peace negotiators. In this climate of limited interaction, a small group of Israeli women has decided to organize beach days. Twice a week between June and August, a busload of about 50 Palestinian kids, plus adult chaperones, from the West Bank arrives at the Bat Yam beach south of Tel Aviv.
Getting there is not easy. At 6:30 on a recent morning, Ziad Sabatin, the group leader, guided his car through the streets of the village of Husan, summoning children to board the bus. Shawasha, one of the few kids in the group who knew how to swim, carried bright green flippers. “The idea is to have a day of fun without politics,” Sabatin said.
Still, the political situation was always palpable. Husan is one of five villages in the Bethlehem area sandwiched in a kind of no-man’s land between the 1967 demarcation line separating Israel from the West Bank, and a barrier Israel built to stop Palestinian attacks. Even though the village is located on the Israeli side of the wall, the bus had to cut back into the West Bank so the group could be processed at the Bethlehem checkpoint.
The group arrived at 7:30. By 8:15, the kids were still waiting to go through the first turnstile. A frustrated Palestinian woman started screaming in Hebrew at the Israeli soldier in a nearby glass cubicle: “Let me through, already. I’ve been waiting here since 7 a.m. I need to get to work!” Eventually the woman and the group from Husan were allowed to pass to the body scanners. Metal buttons on a Palestinian woman’s cloak set off the detector and she was forced to remove it, even as an American woman also set off the machine but was waved through.
“She is a tourist,” the female soldier said from behind the glass window, explaining why the American was given special treatment. “We are tourists, too,” said Ziad Sabatin’s brother, Eymad.
By 9 a.m., the group had boarded an Israeli bus bound for Bat Yam. The kids screamed with delight as the bus passed through a Jerusalem tunnel.
At 10 a.m., three hours after leaving Husan, the children arrived at the sea. About 30 volunteers greeted them with red sun caps, plastic balls and tubes of SPF-100 sunscreen.
Ayal Margolin, 27, an Israeli student who helped chaperon the trip, picked up a Frisbee and tossed it to a Palestinian boy in the shallow water.
Four years ago, Margolin was a soldier whose job was to shoo Palestinian kids away from a fence outside a Jewish settlement not far from Husan. The experience of policing Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, he said, made him consider leaving Israel. Instead, he joined Combatants for Peace, a group that promotes coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.
The beach days were begun four summers ago, the brainchild of Tzvia Shapira, who for years has traveled to Israeli checkpoints to monitor the challenges Palestinians encounter there. She conceived of the beach idea after a Palestinian acquaintance asked how far the sea was, and if she could take him there.
“I suddenly realized that the sea that I so love, they can’t go to,” Shapira said.
The first summer, Shapira, her sister and a friend arranged the permits with Israeli authorities and covered the costs themselves. This summer, they raised $13,000 via Internet contributions; by Aug. 10, when the program ends, they will have brought about 1,000 kids to the beach this summer.
“It has to be without limits,” Shapira said. “The sea belongs to everybody, not only to Israel.”
Special correspondent Samuel Sockol contributed to this report.