[Pnews] US police brutality protests hit home with Palestinian prisoners

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 26 11:02:54 EST 2014

  US police brutality protests hit home with Palestinian prisoners

Submitted by Maureen Clare Murphy on Wed, 12/24/2014

In a letter written from an Israeli jail cell, Palestinian political 
prisoner Ameer Makhoul 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/ameer-makhoul> sends his salutations 
to African Americans protesting the police killing of unarmed Black men, 
women and youths.

“Even within Israeli jail, very much far away from you, we are mourning 
your beloved,” writes Makhoul in his 9 December letter.

Makhoul’s letter, which can be read in full at the bottom of this page, 
emphasizes the universality of the protests in the United States.

“Such racist official violence exasperates the conscience of all, and of 
course all 7,000 [Palestinian political prisoners] in Israel jail who 
seek freedom, liberty and justice for themselves as well as for their 
people of Palestine,” Makhoul states.

“Your cause is touching hearts everywhere,” he adds. “Your protest is on 
behalf of all humanity. Your voice is our voice … the voice of all free 

Makhoul underlines that like in Palestine, white settler-colonial racism 
is at the root of state violence in the US.

“The real sniper is the rooted racism which targets African-Americans 
because they are African-American,” Makhoul writes.

“Be sure that you are not alone, neither in the USA nor worldwide,” he 
adds. “Palestine backs your struggle.”

“I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy New Year, [in which] liberation 
from colonial racism and occupation become closer,” Makhoul concludes.

    Ferguson and Palestine

Connections to repression in Palestine were expressed in the protests 
following the killing of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown by a white 
police officer in Ferguson 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/ferguson>, Missouri, last August.

Gaza in particular became a metaphor for state violence in Ferguson. 
Israel’s mass slaughter was still wiping out entire Palestinian families 
there when the protests erupted after Brown’s slaying.

“Will we as a people rise up like the people of Gaza? Will our community 
be bombed like last night with tear gas?” one Ferguson protester is 
<http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/08/12/michael-brown-s-hometown-is-under-occupation.html> saying 
in an article titled “Michael Brown’s Hometown is Under Occupation,” 
published by /The Daily Beast/.

The “military-style crackdown by a squadron of local police departments 
dressed like combat soldiers … prompted residents to liken the 
conditions on the ground in Ferguson to the Israeli military occupation 
of Palestine,” The Electronic Intifada’s Rania Khalek wrote at the time 

Meanwhile, Palestinians and Palestine solidarity groups put out their 
own message of support 
and solidarity following the slaying of Michael Brown.

But the connection is more than symbolic, as Khalek has reported 

“Under the cover of counterterrorism training nearly every major US law 
enforcement agency has traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation 
enforcement, including the St. Louis County and St. Louis Metropolitan 
police departments,” writes Khalek.

“Since Michael Brown’s death, both agencies have on several occasions 
rampaged through the streets of St. Louis in military-style combat gear 
with the intention of crushing the Ferguson demonstrations, to no avail.”

As solidarity has grown between Palestinians and African Americans since 
the Ferguson uprising, so have efforts to repress this, as Khalek has 

“As the spirit of Ferguson’s resistance spreads to other American 
cities, so too has awareness about Israel’s influence on American 
policing,” Khalek writes in a recent in-depth report 
on this growing mutual solidarity.

    Common torture

Ameer Makhoul, the author of the letter from Israeli prison, is no 
stranger to other common aspects of US and Israeli state violence.

Makhoul was director of Ittijah, a coalition representing Palestinian 
civil society groups in Israel, before he was arrested during a night 
raid on his home in Haifa <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/haifa>, a 
city in present-day Israel.

For twelve days after his arrest, “Makhoul was held in incommunicado 
detention and was prevented from meeting a lawyer,” Shourideh C. Molavi 
recounts in her new book /Stateless Citizenship: The Palestinian-Arab 
Citizens of Israel/.

The discriminatory conditions “imposed on him as a security detainee,” 
depriving him of due process, led Makhoul’s defense team to threaten to 
boycott the court proceeding, a move unprecedented in Israel.

Makhoul was detained for three weeks before he was charged with 
espionage and “assistance to the enemy in a time of war,” which Makhoul 
vehemently denied when he finally appeared in an open court.

Israeli state prosecutors claimed they had “secret evidence” against 
Makhoul, the content of which was kept from his legal team. “Moreover, 
the prosecutors announced evidence in the form of a videotaped admission 
to the said charges,” Molavi writes.

But Makhoul’s legal team asserted that this admission was made under 
duress during extended interrogation in the first days of his detention.

The legal advocacy group Adalah described this distress as:

    protracted sleep deprivation and continuous interrogation, while
    being shackled tightly to an under-sized chair that was bolted to
    the floor to prevent it from moving. His hands were cuffed to the
    back of the chair in a way that stretched his arms and shoulders
    sharply backward. His legs were folded backwards flanking the chair,
    with his knees turned toward the floor. When, after hours of being
    bound in this stress position while under intense interrogation,
    Makhoul complained of being in excruciating pain, the [Israeli]
    interrogators proceeded to cuff his legs to the chair. They also
    threatened that he would be permanently crippled from the interrogation.

Makhoul was sentenced by an Israeli court to nine years of imprisonment 
in May 2010. Because he is a Palestinian citizen of Israel 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/palestinians-israel>, he is excluded 
from Israeli-Palestinian prisoner release agreements — “a product of the 
Oslo accords,” as Molavi points out.

The ill-treatment endured by Makhoul is characteristic of torture 
<http://electronicintifada.net/tags/torture> techniques long practiced 
by Israel which “are thought to inflict maximum suffering while 
minimizing the risk that they will leave tell-tale signs of torture on 
the victim’s body,” writes Rania Khalek 

Though Israel has banned the use of torture since 1999, a gaping 
“ticking time bomb” legal loophole allows Israeli interrogators to use 
torture to extract information from a detainee.

Hundreds of complaints of torture made by Palestinian prisoners since 
2001 have led to zero criminal investigations, even in cases 
corroborated by the state, according 
to the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel.

Israel’s “ticking time bomb” loophole was cited by the CIA, the 
US foreign spy agency, to justify its torture regime, a US Senate 
inquiry recently revealed 

As Khalek notes, the Senate torture report disclosure “comes just months 
after revelations 
that the Obama administration relied on an Israeli high court ruling to 
justify targeted killings of American citizens without trial.”

CIA methods exposed in the Senate report “bear striking similarity to 
long-standing Israeli torture techniques documented by human rights 
organizations, among them sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme cold, 
confinement in very small spaces and painful ‘stress positions,’” Khalek 

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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