Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Democracy? Israeli activists under attack

New Profile Movement: Harsh Police Attack on Freedom of Expression

The Police Detained Political Activists from Ramat Hasharon, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem

and Beer Sheva

* “One who believed that criminal cases due to political activism are conjured up “only” for Arab citizens discovers that s/he is also liable to be detained due to the expression of opinions concerning the failures of the society and rule in Israel.”
* Amongst the detainees – a 70 year old ceramic artist, the daughter of a family of “Righteous among the Nations” from Holland, a grandmother to six Israeli grandchildren

This morning the Israeli police descended upon the homes of political activists, members of the feminist movement New Profile, which acts for the civil-ization of society in Israel and against the undue influence of the military on life in the country.

The police demanded that the activists turn over the computers located in their homes, and among other things took the computers of partners of the detainees and in one case also the computer of a fourth grade pupil, the daughter of one of those interrogated. The computers of family members were returned after the activists were released on bail.

Amongst those interrogated: Analeen Kish, aged 70, a ceramics artist, daughter of a family of the the “Righteous among the Nations” who converted to Judaism after her marriage to Holocaust survivor Dr. Eldad Kish, active in organizations of Dutch Holocaust survivors in Israel. The pair have six grandchildren; Miriam Hadar, age 51, an editor and translator, mother of two, married to professor of psychology Uri Hadar. The two women were born in Holland and continue to hold Dutch citizenship.

Additionally detained for interrogation were Amir Givol, a resident of Jerusalem, Sergei Sandler, a resident of Beer Sheva, and Roni Barkan, a resident of Tel Aviv. The computers of all those interrogated were taken by the police, who presented search warrants.

All five were interrogated in the Ramat Hachiyal station in the Yarkon Region of the police. At the conclusion of the interrogation they were released on bail and under limitng conditions, and all were told that during the next 30 days they are forbidden to contact other members of the movement.

The New Profile Movement expressed rage over the interrogation and the demand to not have contact with other members, which means a partial paralysis of the activities of this important organization in civil society in Israel.

Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, who is representing New Profile, said that the investigation of the police is focusing on the website of New Profile, which has links to other sites on the internet. Ben Nathan added that the New Profile Movement is a recognized non-profit association which acts openly and publicly, in accordance with the law, and the use of a criminal investigation in this context is invalid and exaggerated, and stands in opposition to freedom of expression.

New Profile is a feminist movement established ten years ago. The movement has been warning for years of the exaggerated and destructive influence of Israeli militarism on civilian life, and provides legal aid and social support to young people desiring not to do military service, both for political and personal reasons.

The New Profile Movement noted today: “These recent acts confirm what we have been contending for many years: the militarism of society in Israel harms the sacred principles of democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of political association. One who believed that until now criminal files were conjured up “only” for Arab citizens of Israel saw this morning that none of us can be certain that s/he can freely express an opinion concerning the failures of society and rule in Israel.”

For interviews:

Dr. Diana Dolev, telephone: 052 872 8300
Attorney Smadar Ben Nathan, telephone: 052 358 9775

For further details:

Ofra Leith, telephone: 050 552 4372
Eilat Maoz, Coordinator of the Women’s Coalition for Peace, telephone: 050 857 5729

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