Monday, September 10, 2007
CHAPTER TEN : IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE INTIFADA IN OCCUPIED PALESTINE
I had left Melbourne for Tel aviv on the 22nd of October, 1987, for my first visit to my native country in 20 years. My old mother was at the airport and we travelled to her home by taxi. She insisted that I should stay at her place assuring me that she had reached an agreement with her husband to let me stay at her place for the duration of my visit, and I obliged.
Combined with physical exercises on the nearby beach I began a very busy schedule of phone calls, meetings, etc. My first contact was Yael Lotan, who together with my mother was at the airport for the welcome. The literary editor of a zionist daily she would write every now and again articles critical of the government's policies. Only later would I really know her, and until then I had placed unduly hopes on and too many expectations of her. We began our contact by corresponding during the campaign for Vanunu, as she was the chairperson for the Israeli committee for Vanunu. However, as it turned out ,the only bright spot about her was her former marriage to an African-American. But that was her only
anti-zionist act. All the rest about her was loyalty to zionism, or even to fanatical zionism.
The one Israeli I was really looking forward to meet was Udi Adiv. I saw him as an Israeli who dared to challenge the zionist apartheid regime of Israel by actually volunteering to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Arab people of Palestine, the main victims of that regime.He was arrested by the zionist Gestapo upon his return from Syria in 1974. He was
convicted and sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, but released after 12 years on condition that he will not be involved in politics for the rest of the term. A committed Marxist-Leninist he had believed in a socialist revolution in the Middle East. Now, upon meeting him for the first time, we exchanged views and became friends. He helped me to get in touch with Lea Tzemel, the Israeli lawyer in Jeusalem whose legal practice was based on the defence of Palestinian prisoners.
Since my name was still on the list of members of the Israel Bar, i.e. I was still considered a qualified lawyer in Israel, I had no trouble restarting practice as a lawyer in Israel. However, the Israel Bar Association demanded of me some $2000 as a backlog of dues. I appealed and eventually won and my debt was cancelled. Yet the most formidable hurdle was still in front of me, namely, the need to update and renew my
knowledge of the law in Israel after 20 years of legal abstinence and actual absence from the country. There were,of course, many other hurdles in front of me, such as my politics and no financial or social backing, but I remained optimistic.
I had a friendly meeting with Lea Tzemel at her home in Jerusalem. At that early stage of our acquaintance I fully trusted her both as a comrade and as a colleague. I therefore accepted her recommendation to work for a certain lawyer ( who she said was a good friend of hers). However, only after a few months work at that lawyer's office I would discover that he was a fanatical zionist. He was actually a senior member of a fanatically zionist political party. Also , I would discover to my horror that Tzemel actually considered me not as a comrade but as a competitor lawyer, albeit I was only at the early stages of relearning my trade, and was looking forward to her as a teacher as well as a comrade. At the beginnig I was working for her for no pay at all. Thus, for example, during the months of December 1987 and January 1988 - later to be known as the first days of tthe intifada - there had been a sudden increase in mass arrests, which required of me to rather frequently appear before Magistrate's Courts on behalf of Palestinian detainees , and we had also plenty of visits to the zionist military prisons. However, I was rewarded personally because it allowed me direct contact with the heroic sons of Palestine.
After 7- 8 months work for Tzemel and for the fanatically zionist lawyer friend of hers I considered myself ready to practice as an independent lawyer. Also, I had to find my own residence because my stepfather had been pressing my old mother to get rid of me as I won't obey his orders. So I moved out to a rented flat in Ashkelon, some 30km north of Gaza, and I began work for detainees in Gaza prisons and concentration camp (Ansar 2). As the intifada intensified the Ashkelon bus to Gaza would terminate no further than the Erez Checkpoint for fear of attacks, and I would get off there and then look for a lift to the centre of Gaza. At the beginning I would halt an Arab taxi and then pay my share along with the other passengers. Soon I would discover that my share was higher than that of the rest of the passengers, and I would soon figure out the reason too. An Arab passenger would invariably greet the occupants, saying "salam aleicom"(peace be with you ) to which he would get a reply , "aleicom -e-salam" ,from all the occupants. Whhereas myself, like most other Israelis, would not greet anybody at all, and just tender my fares. When I discovered my backwardness and corrected it by greeting all the occupants of the taxi I felt wonderful ,and I was rewarded too, by having my fares cut by half...
Interesting to note that all my friends, Israelis and Arabs, have warned me not to venture alone in Gaza. In zionist occupied Gaza Israelis would get lifts from zionist military vehicles, but I detested the use of services of the zionist occupation army. By contrast , I enjoyed the mingling with the Palestinians wherever I happened to be. As a result, because I considered the ordinary Palestinian folk as my friends, every trip of mine to Gaza would turn into a political meeting during which we would debate issues and encourage each other with optimistic statements.
My first appearance before a zionist military court in Gaza was on appeal regarding deportation orders. There were about half a dozen of us, Israeli defence lawyers, sitting opposite the military prosecution desk. My turn to speak was towards the end of the opening of that appeal case. I began by referring to UN Security Council resolution which only a day earlier condemned the zionist state for ordering the deportations which were the subject of the appeal. I reminded the tribunal that both its words and its actions are under close scrutiny of world public opinion. I then went on to describe the deportation orders, and the notorious Emergency
Regulations (1945) under which they were issued, as illegal by
international law. In conclusion I demanded that the military tribunal declare the deportation orders as null and void. As soon as I finished I was approached by a local Arab lawyer with a happy face to shake hands and to thank me. From then on we would become close friends, and he asked me to take over some of his defence cases in cooperation with him.
A great deal of my work was the tracing of Palestinian detainees, as the zionist military deliberately kept the prisoners' relatives in the dark saying that the missing person(s) whereabouts is unknown to them . So I would spend many hours checking the lists of prisoners in Gaza prison and in Ansar 2 to locate the missing people. After locating the missing person in prison I would talk to the and listen to him( with the help of a translator) and then proceed with legal or administrative action to get him released. For their part, the zionist military authorities did all they could to make life difficult not only for the detainees but also for the lawyers representing them. On every step, at any stage, I would be confronted with obstructions. Obstructions which were illegal not only by international law but also by Israel's own laws. Yet the zionist rulers never hesitated to trample and violate the law in their ruthless pursuit of zionist ambitions. Anyway, it became too difficult for me to continue my work in Gaza, and I was looking for alternatives.
As I was winding up my work in Gaza I got a phone call from WOFPP (Women for Women Political Prisoners), an Israeli peace organisation dedicated to help Palestinian women political prisoners. They asked me to do volunteer work for them, and I agreed.
The first case I would look after for WOFPP was of a 17 year old girl from Gaza by the name Jawaher. By then she had been in prison for a few months, and no date was fixed for her trial. Yael Oren, an Israeli woman fluent in Arabic ,and opposed to the zionist policies of oppression against the Arabs of Palestine, who was the founder of WOFPP, met me outside the Ramleh Prison gate. As time went on ,and I got to know Yael, I came to admire her for her fearless devotion to the political prisoners who were Palestinian women. However, when I met her first then outside Ramleh prison I did not know anything about her except for her belonging to WOFPP. She then introduced me to the case of Jawaher and helped me handle the case. Following that introduction we continued to work on many other cases in Hasharon prison, where most of the Palestinian women prisoners had been incarcerated. Even after my return to Australia I continued to promote WOFPP's work as much as I could.
Sometime in the middle of 1989 I have reached the conclusion that I should return to Australia. My numerous attempts to find anti-zionist allies in Israel's society proved fruitless. Without such allies there wouldn't and there couldn't be any way for me to fun'ction effectively, or even to survive in the zionist state.
Udi Adiv and his wife, Lea Leshem, were preparing to leave for England to study there. My daughter, with whom I have been corresponding all the time was still incarcerated in the same looni bin, and her monster mother was happy to keep her there indefinitely.
I was also in contact with Thea in England, and I have posted out to her many press -cuttings-photos about the heroic intifada in occupied
Palestine. She thanked me for the many photos and said she organised an exhibition in her hometown about the intifada based on the photos.