- In recent years, the Association for Civil Rights in
Israel (ACRI) increasingly warned about infringements of democratic freedoms
- Major concerns involve undermining free expression, human
dignity, equality, pluralism, freedom of assembly and right to protest,
and whether certain positions can be declared illegitimate, despite the
democratic right of anyone to profess them.
- Another major concern is Israel's proposed counterterrorism
law. On August 3, it passed its first Knesset reading. It proposes to make
current "state of emergency" measures against terrorism permanent
law, including administrative detentions, control orders, and broad definitions
of "terrorism" and "terror organizations."
- The law smacks of police state justice that should worry
dwindling numbers of less extreme MKs and all Israelis. Of course, Palestinians
and Israeli Arabs already experience Israeli terror. Perhaps Jews will
soon learn firsthand how unjustly repressive.
- According to ACRI attorney Lila Margalit:
- "(T)he bill includes elements that may lead law-abiding
individuals and organizations to be deemed as 'terrorists.' (It) grants
the State draconian and unchecked authority to take extreme measures against
individuals and organizations without due process, on the basis of suspicion
alone, without guaranteeing the minimal right of self-defense in court.
The bill therefore provides a huge opening for the State to intervene in
the public debate and to limit freedom of assembly and freedom of movement."
- It also endangers free expression without which all other
rights are at risk. If passed, the bill will legitimize police state justice,
rendering anyone vulnerable to be judged guilty by accusation.
- It's the same slippery slope America headed down post/9/11.
In numerous ways, Israel replicated it. This law will add another nail
in the coffin of a free society, leaving everyone unsafe - uncertain whether
midnight justice will leave them isolated in detention, awaiting harsh
rulings to keep them there for exercising rights they've now lost.
- Israel's 2011 Counterterrorism Law (CL)
- ACRI explained its provisions, subject to debate and
- (1) Administrative Detentions and Control Orders
- They let authorities arrest and detain individuals indefinitely
without charge, based on secret withheld evidence. Obama made if official
policy in America. Yet under US, Israeli and international law, it's illegal,
deplorable, and an affront to democratic principles.
- Under Israel's Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty,
it's flagrantly illegal, violating the law's limitation clause - "namely,
it is not consistent with the values of the State of Israel, and does not
make use of the principle of proportionality."
- Moreover, it's justified on alleged or concocted evidence,
previous activities or motives. Yet due process is denied because no proof
is needed. In other words, administrative detentions are police state measures
used to imprison individuals without evidence or legal justification.
- (2) Secret Evidence
- CL institutionalizes widespread, routine use against
any designated individuals or groups, without minimal discovery requirements
to assure due process, and without considering alternate ways to prevent
civil and human rights violations.
- It's kangaroo court despotism at its worst, abolishing
due process and ability of anyone to contest false charges. "There
is no more serious injury to due process than to deny a suspect the opportunity
to confront his accusers and to respond to the charges leveled against
- Using likely fabricated charges based on secret evidence,
justice is impossible. Abuse of power, gross discrimination, and political
targeting assure innocent people will be unjustly punished.
- (3) Vague, Overly Broad Definitions of Terrorism, Terrorist
Organizations, and Members of Such Groups
- CL ill-defines the terms "terrorist act," "terrorist
organization," and "member of a terrorist group," effectively
declaring those charged guilty by accusation, no evidence needed. That's
- For example, under Article 2, "a member of a terrorist
group" includes anyone who allegedly intends to become a member, without
evidence to prove it.
- Moreover, suspects bear the burden of proof they can't
contest without knowledge of alleged evidence against them. Criminalizing
individuals indiscriminately is political persecution against which they
have no defense.
- In addition, charges based on alleged intentions to join
a terrorist group may either be false or misjudged verbally stated views.
For example, opposing state policies constitutes free thought, opinion
or expression, not malice aforethought to commit crimes.
- (4) Legalizing Draconian Practices
- Under temporary security order authority, suspects may
be detained up to 96 hours for interrogations without judicial permission,
based on the notion that interrupting questioning may compromise or undermine
- Under current law, security suspects may be denied access
to counsel up to 21 days, an intolerable practice but it exists. Removing
judicial oversight means they can undergo lengthy draconian interrogations
with no protections whatever against torture and other forms of abuse.
- As a result, false confessions may be obtained to convict
innocent people, what Palestinians commonly face, they, too, judged guilty
by accusation, even children for alleged stone-throwing. They're imprisoned
for it unjustly even if entirely innocent. And if guilty, they deserve
no more than reprimands.
- (5) Violating Free Expression
- For example, Article 27 imposes three year prison terms
for anyone "whose actions express solidarity or identification with
(an alleged) terrorist group, including through publication of praise,
support or sympathy for a terrorist group, waving its flag, display or
publication of one of its symbols, or displaying, playing, or publicizing
one of its slogans or anthems, if such an expression is made in public."
- In other words, freely expressed views become crimes,
even alleged support for wrongly designated terrorist groups.
- (6) Re-Writing Criminal Law
- CL establishes new rules contradicting fundamental criminal
law principles. For example, Article 47 permits hearsay exceptions, letting
a suspect's alleged statement(s) be submitted as evidence, even if he or
she isn't present in court because they reside outside Israel or aren't
available for other reasons.
- Although CL prohibits convictions this way, it permits
hearsay used as corroborating evidence. Note also that most Israeli security
cases rely largely on confessions extracted under torture, making them
illegitimate in due process proceedings. But not in Israel where it's common
practice against Palestinians. CL will allow it against Jews.
- In addition, it equates alleged intent with actually
committing a crime, imposing the same liability on both in violation of
accepted criminal law tenets.
- CL's provisions thus "turn law-abiding citizens
and organizations (with no connections whatsoever to violent acts) into
'terrorists' " because Israel says so. It also authorizes unchecked,
draconian executive powers, based on alleged suspicions, not hard evidence,
leaving suspects unable to defend themselves.
- As a result, CL effectively annuls due process/judicial
fairness protections, leaving everyone potentially vulnerable to police
state justice, that, of course, means none whatsoever.
- Israel's extremist right-wing Knesset very likely will
pass what no legitimate democracy would tolerate. In Israel and America,
it's common practice, filling prison cells with innocent victims unjustly.
- Against Muslims, Blacks and Latinos in America, as well
as Palestinians in Israel, it goes unnoticed. When everyone in both countries
is vulnerable, perhaps public awareness will take note and act. The alternative
is too dire to imagine, but it's coming unless public outrage prevents
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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