What we can do

April 12, 2009

In News The Israel-Palestine Conflict What We Can Do

By Avraham Oz

Millions of Jews around the world, as well as here in Israel, celebrate today the Pessach feast, the holiday of freedom. However, no freedom is granted to thousands of Palestinian detainees kept in jail or house arrest throught this country. Here is the story of one of them, by far not an exceptional case, but one I know personally: a man of the theatre, whom I know to be one who aspires for peace, art and culture. He is on house arrest today, at the the feast of freedom. Please remember him today, as we mark the holiday of freedom, as well as his fellow political detainees. Or raise your voice.

Here is what we wrote, to awake the conscience of the citizens of Israel:

Detention as a Means to Political Sliencing:
The Case of Theater Artist Samieh Jabbarin

The house-arrest for an indefinite period of time of Jaffa-based theater artist Samieh Jabbarin signals a sharp escalation in the harassment of citizens engaged democratically and legally in expressing their political views. The case of Samieh Jabbarin exposes the close cooperation of the Israeli Security Services, police and Attorney General’s office. A crass attempt is being made to incriminate a peace-seeking social-political activist by fabricating charges of violence. Unfortunately, the courts of justice have not yet put a halt to this mode of action.

The facts:

Samieh Jabbarin, 41-years old, a citizen of Israel native of Um al Fahm, is a theater and film director. He was professionally and academically trained in Germany and is currently completing his Masters degree at the Theater Arts Department of Tel Aviv University. Upon his return to his native country, he settled in Jaffa and, among other things, engaged in the struggle against the current wave of attempts to evict Arab-Palestinian residents. Samieh is also active in the Abna al Balad movement and was among the organizers of last year’s Haifa conference on the Right of Return and a secular democratic state. Last December he helped organize public mourning rallies and non-violent protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

In January 2009, Samieh was warned by the Security Services that a way will be found to punish him for this civil and political activity. The opportunity presented itself on February 10th, general election day in Israel. A group of extreme rightist fanatics announced their intention to serve as official monitors of the voting process in Um al Fahm, second largest Arab city in Israel. Samieh, a native of this town, joined residents in a protest demonstration. He was arrested along with a fellow-resident minutes after the event began. On the very next day — in unprecedented haste — detailed charges were presented at the Hadera court against him for supposedly assaulting the Chief of the Northern Border Patrol, Commander Uri Mor-Yossef.

All attempts to disprove and deny such outright deception have been in vain. The open ‘secret’ is that Israeli police video-document all demonstrations and arrests. In this case, however, no evidence was produced beyond the police officer’s own statement.

Samieh was held prisoner in Kishon Prison under harsh conditions for seventeen days, and following a legal struggle, was transferred to strict house-arrest at his parents’ home in Um al Fahm. Two family members must be with him at all times, and an electronic shackle is attached to his ankle.

Officially, this ruling is in force “until the end of the legal proceedings”. These proceedings, however, have come to a strange near-halt: in sharp contrast to the speed with which it charged him, the system is in no hurry to expose the prosecution’s evidence at an open trial. The prosecution “forgot” to summon Samieh and his attorneys to the Indictment last month. Consequently, another the Indictment has been set for April 27th and who knows how many months will elapse until the trial itself.

Thus, Samieh Jabbarin is denied access to his creative work, his studies, and his normal living environment. His fate also serves as a blatant warning to intimidate other social and political activists.

We appeal to all who are personally committed to fundamental democratic values to raise their voice and demand an immediate end to this deplorable affair. We must expose the questionable method of false accusations and frame-ups in attempting to silence political resisters. This appeal is directed at

  • Stage, television and film artists both in Israel and abroad;
  • Journalists of the printed and electronic media
  • Persons visibly active in education and culture
  • Lawyers and other members of the justice community
  • Social and human-rights activists everywhere
  • Citizens who still care about democracy — wherever they are —

we are all called upon to act for the freedom of speech, the freedom of congregation and the freedom of non-violent political activity of Samieh Jabbarin as well as all other citizens of Israel — Jews and Arabs alike.

It is inconceivable that critical thinking and non-violent resistance be punished by incrimination of violence, arrest and massive silencing!

We are running the following petition:

If any of you who would like who would like to sign cannot read the Hebrew instructions, they go as follows:

The first three fields (obligatory):
Your full name
Your email address (will not be published on the petition)

The next two fields are not obligatory:
Telephone no
Mobile phone no

The big rectangular is for comments, if you wish to add any.

To enter your signature please click on the purple stamp:

For better days,
A. Oz

Professor Avraham Oz
Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature
University of Haifa
Email: avitaloz[at]