New Profile – an update on Israeli state McCarthyism, July 2009
As with our earlier (two) updates, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued and faithful support of New Profile during these critical times. During the recent months your visible show of support has been truly significant and heartening.
The ongoing attempt to delegitimize New Profile is being played out, for now, on the forms and desks of bureaucrats. There are two official scenarios already in process: 1) A petition to the High Court of Justice to revoke New Profile’s registration as a non-profit organization, which would amount to shutting off our legal channel for receiving funds; 2) The criminal investigation of New Profile for alleged incitement and assistance with obtaining fraudulent exemptions from the army. (For full background information see two previous updates – here & here.
The court case is now stalled, pending the results of the police investigation. The police, for their part, after the high drama of an orchestrated “raid”, have completed their initial interrogations and transferred the case back to the Attorney General. The computers they confiscated were returned to their owners 30 days after being impounded. Written and printed materials have not yet been returned. Further investigative work may be initiated by the police, at any given time, including additional interrogations. We can only assume that the material gathered is now being combed for alleged criminal offenses towards possible indictments.
New Profile members are working very hard both as a movement and as individuals, to resist the intentionally exhausting and dispiriting effects of waiting out the course of this laborious bureaucratic legal process. Just one of our means for doing this has been the unorthodox move of taking a series of close, candid, intimate looks back at the investigators and their practices. (For our series “Investigating the Investigation”, authored by various New Profile activists, see here.)
We would like to reiterate that police harassment of New Profile and the interrogation of eleven of our members are not isolated events. They are part of a virulent drive of state McCarthyism, a stepped-up systematic persecution of left-wing activists and voices. This drive arguably obviates the remnants of Israel’s claim to democracy and parodies its ludicrous boast to representing a single democratic beacon in the Middle East.
Among human rights organizations in Israel, Adalah for instance is still preparing a report on the recent, sharp escalation in combined state and university repression of student activists and, in particular, Palestinian citizens of Israel; the Association of Citizen’s Rights in Israel will soon be publicizing their comprehensive report on state violence against activists, left-wing groups and individuals, as well as their international supporters.
Our last update, listed, among others:
– Samih Jabarin, who still remains under house arrest months after being arrested for participating in a political demonstration in Umm al Fahm, though he has finally been allowed to return to his place of residence in Yaffa. The conditions of his house-arrest have significantly improved and while still bound to them, he will now be able to resume part of his work at the Arab-Hebrew Theater until the next court session, set for September 2009. (See: Link to the petition.)
– Anarchists Against the Wall, some of whom have recently been sentenced to prison terms. (Read more on their website.)
– Ezra Nawi, who’s sentencing has been postponed, dragging out the legal process.
This list is constantly expanding. Some of the newer instances include:
1) The recent interrogation of members of Yesh Gvul, for alleged “incitement to evade military service”, while promising “financial incentives”. This longtime refusers’ group, primarily supporting refusal to serve in the Occupied Territories, was also questioned regarding their web link to New Profile’s website. (For more information.)
2) The kidnapping by Israel’s navy, on June 30th, of the passengers and crew of “The Spirit of Humanity,” on board which the Free Gaza Movement was bringing food, medical supplies and human rights monitors towards Gaza port. Amongst the 21 passengers detained and later deported were Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. (For detailed information.)
3) The continuing refusal of Israeli state authorities to allow members of the UN investigative mission on the events of December-January 2008-9 to enter Israel. The mission, headed by world renowned jurist Richard Goldstone, has been hearing testimonies in the Gaza Strip. (For a report on the mission.)
And yet, we would also like to point out that within the overall context of political and racist persecution, each separate instance of repression represents individual state policies and specific bids for control by the state. New Profile’s criminalization and our attempted shut-down are directed, in particular, at intimidating the huge numbers of young people who fail to comply with conscription law today. The drive against us targets this popular display of mistrust and indifference, this major threat to politicians’ fear-based hold on voting constituencies and to military commanders’ uncontested control of “national security” issues.
New Profile’s criminalization follows a fault line that has long been quaking beneath the surface of Israeli society and is now visibly cracking open.
We will send out further updates as the events unfold and we’ll also turn to each of you to take concrete action when needed. We’d like to remind you, though, of our ongoing need to inform and engage more and more people and of our list “What you can do”. Please take one of these actions into consideration.
Again, we hugely appreciate your continuing interest, caring and support.
Ruth Hiller & Rela Mazali