Khalida Jarrar is a senior lawyer for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and she was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and is one of the three deputies for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP is a Marxist-Leninist organization that is the second largest group in the PLO. It considers the Israeli government in the West Bank and Gaza strip illegal due to the lack of elections for Palestinians, and Israel, the European Union, Canada and the United States have designated the PFLP a terrorist organization.
The PFLP has carried out a multitude of attacks, both on civilian and Israeli government targets, but to paint the entire organization with that brush is overly simplistic—but such is the War on Terror. In April 2015, Khalida Jarrar was arrested for “incitement and involvement in terror.” Israeli Central Command Chief Gen. Roni Numa issued a six-month administrative detention, which can be renewed indefinitely. Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, wrote at the time:
One may ponder the extent of such an order’s effectiveness, when Jarrar can carry out her public activity via the media. She is permitted to meet activists who come to her home and express her positions on the Internet. It would not be groundless to state that the restraining order was meant to deter her from her public activity and punish her for it, rather than to prevent terror attacks.
But Jarrar apparently dared to violate the foolish order and for that she is being punished now with administrative detention. This is how Israel seeks to deter every Palestinian public activist — not to mention one involved with advancing the processes in the International Criminal Court — from realizing his or her rights.
Jarrar was released in December 2015, before being arrested again in July of 2017. This was due to an alleged offense related to national security, and it allows Israel to continue their undemocratic practice of indefinitely issuing six-month detention orders. Israel says that the goal of indefinite detention is to allow authorities to hold suspects while gathering additional evidence, which theoretically prevents attacks in the meantime. According to the Addameer rights group, Jarrar is one of 6,150 Palestinians currently in Israeli jails.
Last month, I wrote a piece that tried to dissect my feelings on the Jerusalem issue. I am Jewish, and was raised to believe that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state, but it’s also a major Christian and Muslim city. Jerusalem is simultaneously everyone’s and no one’s to own, but the Israeli government refuses to concede this point backed up by the entirety of history. Instead, they subjugate Palestinians in a method similar to what Jews have endured for centuries. It is an unassailable fact that Israel is a de facto apartheid state. Per my column from last month:
For centuries, Jews have been the victims of various apartheid states, and the establishment of Israel was supposed to be our light at the end of the tunnel. It is, but so is New York City (Israel and the United States account for around 88% of Earth’s roughly 15 million Jews).
We didn’t see that one coming, and the Jewish people’s double-salvation in the American empire is now inextricably linked to its proxy-state occupying a plot of land pledged to us by the Bible.
The problem is that we cannot defend Israel solely on theoretical terms. It’s a fact that for all of its accomplishments, Israel is still by definition, an apartheid state. We typically hear that term in the South African context, but it describes any country that separates people according to color, ethnicity, caste, etc…Palestinians live in Israel, but they are subject to being (at least) moved out of their homes at the whim of the Israeli government. By all functional accounts, Palestinians are second-class citizens under the Israeli government, and any Jew inspired by our people’s nomadic history who does not sympathize with the Palestinians is actively avoiding the lessons from our own teachings (I mean, the Palestinians are literally wandering through the desert thanks to an oppressive ruler—come on).
The major stress point for all conflict in the Middle East is Israel’s subjugation of the Palestinian people. It serves as the ultimate symbol for how Western empires have fractured the entire region. Bad actors like Iran fuel the fire, and insert weapons in to an already chaotic situation—giving Israel an excuse to wage eternal war. Instead of searching for a diplomatic solution to this seemingly intractable issue, the Israeli government takes the bait, and launches perpetual warfare on “terrorists.” But when you parse through the wreckage, you find that their apartheid policies disproportionately hurt civilians more than those who have taken up arms against the state. One such example: the Israeli government successfully lobbying Facebook to delete accounts of Palestinian activists.
Looking at Israel from a Jewish perspective is beyond deflating, as the famed line from The Dark Knight is fitting: “you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” The story of the Jewish people is similar to the heartbreak Israel is putting the Palestinians through, and the irony seems to be lost on the Netanyahu government. Indefinite detentions, elections without representation and forcing people from their homes is not what my ancestors wandered the desert in search of, yet here we are. The shining symbol of a persecuted people has become the face of evil to another subjugated population.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.