[Ppnews] Khader Adnan’s Hunger Strike

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 17 12:09:16 EST 2012

Weekend Edition February 17-19, 2012

Valiance in the Face of Cruelty

Khader Adnan’s Hunger Strike


A month ago only those who had met him knew 
Khader Adnan. Now all of Palestine and people 
across the world know his name and his cause.

Before December 17, when Khader was arrested for 
the eighth time from his home in Jenin, he was 
one of thousands of Palestinians living in the 
Occupied Territories who had entered and re-entered administrative detention.

Administrative detention allows Israel to hold 
Palestinian prisoners without charging them, and 
potentially indefinitely. There is no 
specification as to why each person is held and 
the length of the detention has no legal limits.

In its very essence administrative detention is 
dehumanizing; its effects are to homogenize the 
Palestinian population and strip each man, woman 
and family that encounters it of his or her 
singularity and personal identity. Each person 
who enters administrative detention is the same 
as the one who came before, and the one who will 
follow. This endless cycle of incarceration 
paints all those who pass through it with the 
same brush, rendering the Palestinian population indistinct.

“The essence of totalitarian government and 
perhaps the nature of every bureaucracy, is to 
make functionaries and mere cogs in the 
administrative machinery out of men, and thus to dehumanize them.”

Hannah Arendt wrote these words after observing 
the trial of Nazi leader, Adolf Eichmann, in 
Jerusalem. What is perhaps so remarkable about 
this sentence is the ambiguity of whom she is 
speaking. Arendt’s words note that both the 
oppressors and the oppressed become agents of, or 
cogs in, a regime of totalitarianism. In this 
understanding, there is no room in a system of oppression for individuals.

But Khader’s unbearably long hunger strike has 
stopped this process, clearing the fog of 
bureaucracy that turns humans beings into 
mechanisms allowing them to disappear into the 
monochromatic fabric of administrated tyranny.

He told his lawyers, “I am a man who defends his 
freedom. If I die it will be my fate.”

Khader is a graduate student of Economics, a 
father of two girls, a husband to Randa, who is 
pregnant with their third child, and a member of 
Islamic Jihad. He is a political activist and a 
baker at a pita shop, Qabatiya, near his home in Jenin.

We cannot know the internal process by which 
Khader came to his decision to engage in a hunger 
strike that may end his life. He began the strike 
as soon as he was detained, so it seems certain 
that he was neither surprised that he was 
detained yet again, nor unprepared for a different and meaningful response.

In a letter he wrote from an Israeli hospital on 
day fifty-six of his strike, Khader stated, “The 
Israeli occupation has gone to extremes against 
our people, especially prisoners. I have been 
humiliated, beaten, and harassed by interrogators 
for no reason, and thus I swore to God I would 
fight the policy of administrative detention to 
which I and hundreds of my fellow prisoners fell prey.”

But we do know that when Khader entered 
administrative detention on 17 December, he made 
the decision to interrupt the routine of 
administrative detention, a system whose banality defines its power.

His reaction, to go on hunger strike, marked a 
radical departure from obediently waiting out his 
sentence, as the steady stream of Palestinian 
detainees had done before him. After Khader 
refused his meal, Israeli soldiers proceeded to 
beat him, rip hair from his beard, smear dirt 
from a soldier’s shoe onto his face, force him 
into painful stress positions and verbally 
degrade female members of his family.

Even as Khader nears the end of his sixty-second 
day, the weakened man remains shackled to his 
hospital bed by both his feet and one hand­in a 
strange and symbolic recognition of how 
threatening and powerful this act truly is.

The might of Khader’s humanity and his valiance 
in the face of cruelty will not be met with a 
just response. There is no just response a master 
can give to a slave­for justice would see the end 
of the master/slave relationship. And while 
Khader’s strike will not and cannot lead to the 
end of Israeli tyranny over Palestinians, it is 
certainly a profound denial of its power to erase the humanity of Palestinians.

Khader has shown the face of a Palestinian. He 
has etched his name onto the hearts and thoughts 
of all who became aware of his plight, and in his 
quiet, agonizing determination he shows the world 
the man who Israel murdered with its savage 
weapon of “administrative detention.” That is a 
profound feat and for it, we owe Khader Adnan our deepest gratitude.

Charlotte Silver is a journalist based in 
Ramallah, West Bank and currently the editor of 
The Palestine Monitor. Her work has appeared in 
Al Jazeera English, Al Akhbar English,Truthout 
and other publications. She can be reached at 
<mailto:charlottesilver at gmail.com>charlottesilver@<mailto:charlottesilver at gmail.com>gmail.com

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