[Pnews] Interview with Khalida Jarrar, Prominent Palestinian Activist and Parliamentary Member, After her Release from Prison

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Thu Aug 11 18:00:35 EDT 2016


  Interview with Khalida Jarrar, Prominent Palestinian Activist and
  Parliamentary Member, After her Release from Prison

by Noura Erakat - August 8, 2016

Khalida Jarrar is a longtime Palestinian activist, feminist, and leading 
member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). She 
served as the Director of the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights 
Association <http://www.addameer.org>between 1993 and 2005 and has been 
a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) since 2006 where 
she leads the committee on political prisoners.

In 2014, the Israeli military ordered that Jarrar move from her home in 
Ramallah to Jericho. Under the Oslo framework, both cities are in Area 
A, the twelve percent of the Occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip 
subject to Palestinian civil and security jurisdiction. The deportation 
order is on its face, violative of this arrangement. In response, Jarrar 
staged a month long sit-in in front of the PLC offices in Ramallah and, 
together with international support, successfully overturned the 
military order.

On 2 April 2015, Israeli military forces arrested Jarrar in a pre-dawn 
raid where they forcibly removed her from her home. She served six 
months under administrative detention, the martial law framework that 
authorizes Israeli forces to detain any Palestinian without charge or 
trial for up to six months at a time that can be renewed indefinitely. 
In response to international protest, the military ended its 
administrative detention and charged Jarrar with twelve counts all 
related to her political activity 
<http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.659008>. She accepted a plea bargain 
whereby she would serve a fifteen-month sentence and pay a 10,000 NIS 
fine (~2,600 USD) for being a member of the PFLP and incitement. She 
chose not to go to trial to challenge her detention because of her lack 
of faith in the occupation court, which has a 99.7 percent conviction 
rate against Palestinian defendants 

In late July 2016, two months after her release, I met with Jarrar in 
the Addameer offices in Ramallah to discuss the conditions of her 
captivity as well as her visions for the future of Palestinian struggle 
and liberation.

*/On Captivity /*

*Noura Erakat [NE]:* */According to Addameer there are currently 
/**/7,000 Palestinian political prisoners/* 
<http://www.addameer.org/statistics>*/, including seventy women and girl 
prisoners Can you tell me a little bit more about their condition of 
captivity. /*

*Khalida Jarrar [KJ]:* In the year and a half I was imprisoned, there 
was a total of twenty-five young girls and fourteen were left when I was 
released. These girls are charged with stabbing or attempted stabbing of 
an Israeli soldier. Many of them do not have internet, let alone 
facebook; they were not influenced by social media. They were very 
impacted by seeing young girls attacked and killed like Hadeel Hashlamon 
and Yasmeen al Zaru. Seeing these young girls attacked and killed 
mercilessly drove them to attempt to attack Israel’s occupation forces.

*NE:* */Palestinian detention is historically known as a space of 
politicization. Did you find that to be the case during your recent 

*KJ:* There were twenty-five young girls in captivity when I arrived so 
I organized with the other prisoners to establish a school for them. The 
primary interlocutor is Lena Jarbouni. Each prison has a representative 
that negotiates with the Israeli prison administration, Lena was that 
representative for all of us. She has been in prison since 2003, she is 
a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship and has not been released in any 
of the subsequent prisoner exchanges. By the time she serves her 
sentence and is released, she will have served the longest sentence 
among all Palestinian female prisoners. She was arrested at twenty-six 
and will be released at forty-one. She was very effective and a leader 
in her all rights.

Together, we took advantage of a military law that allows minors to be 
educated in captivity. We used that to get a Palestinian teacher from 
the ’48 territories from 8:30 AM-3 PM. We created a classroom for them 
as well as a library. The Israeli Prison Administration permits each 
prisoner to bring in up to two books a month delivered by their 
families. We created a library and appointed one of the young girls to 
be the librarian.

As students, these girls were exempt from the rest of the prison 
administration. In general, we were given a total of three hours of free 
time when we could leave our cells and be outdoors. The girls were able 
to leave their cells from morning until 3 PM for schooling. I used my 
free time to also teach the students a course on political philosophy.

*NE:* */These girls are spending a critical portion of their formative 
years in captivity. Do you feel that they are prepared to re-enter 
society and all its norms upon release?/*

*KJ:* Yes, that is the point; to avoid a severe interruption in their 
development. There were several girls that can take the /tawjihi/, a 
matriculation exam upon which entry to university depends. Last year, 
all five girls who took it in prison passed. This year, four girls are 
preparing for the exam.

In addition, we introduced them to several crafts that can be useful. We 
taught them how to make /tatreez/, traditional cross-stitch, as well as 
jewelry, and notebooks.  I remain in communication with them. Part of 
the issue is general political and social awareness around women’s 
issues and part of the work I see for myself now is work with women’s 
organizations to better educate young girls and women about gender 
issues, women’s rights, as well political awareness, more generally.

*/Kangaroo Court and Conviction /*

*NE:* */Your arrest came abruptly after you had successfully defied 
Israeli Military orders to leave your own home in Ramallah and to move 
to Jericho. Of course this order is in and of itself in violation of 
existing laws…/*

*KJ:* [laughs loudly] What law?

*NE:* */I know, theoretically speaking…anyway, after you defied the law, 
on what grounds did they arrest you? /*

*KJ:* I refused to obey their deportation order and began a sit-in in 
front of the PLC building where others joined me for a month in defiance 
of the order. Ultimately, Israeli forces arrested me on grounds for 
refusing the order. Once in custody, they convicted me for fifteen 
months for being a member of the PFLP and incitement. The accusations 
were ridiculous and unfounded.

The charges said that one time I visited prisoners who had just been 
released and they considered my visit as material support for terrorism. 
Another time I gave a speech in front of the PFLP flag and the military 
alleged that doing so endorsed the destruction of Israel. In the list of 
charges, they even included my attendance of a book fair where I asked 
fair goers, “hello, how are you?” That was grounds for imprisonment.

This is the problem with military law, being Palestinian is sufficient 
grounds for detention.

I spent six months in administrative detention before the military even 
made any charges against me. If it were not for the international 
support I received, I could have spent much longer in captivity without 
charge or trial.

One time Addameer, asked that I be released on bail and the first judge 
agreed <http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.659008> that I was not a 
security threat and granted me release on bail. The military lawyers 
appealed and said that if I was released, the military would re-arrest 
me under administrative detention. They brought nineteen witnesses 
against me, none of whom were material. They merely recounted that I 
visited someone recently released from prison or attended a public 
event. I refused to testify. It was a theater.

*/Post-release: The Situation is the Same and Worse /*

*NE:* */How do you see the situation since you have been released?
*KJ:* It has only been two months since I have been out. I found 
everything as it was and a little worse. The occupation seems to be 
worsening in all of its dimensions.

The United States is attempting to enforce greater fragmentation among 
our communities. Arab states are engaged in explicit normalization with 
Israel diminishing our ability to apply pressure upon Israel. These 
states now want to modify the Arab Peace Initiative so that they can 
normalize relations with Israel even without achieving a resolution to 
the conflict or the Palestinian condition. Regionally, groups like ISIS 
are destabilizing conditions so that the Palestinian Question is fading 
in significance. Palestinian refugees fleeing Syria are pressured to 
accept whatever is being offered to them because the future is going to 
be worse; further weakening claims for return.

*NE: /Do you have a vision for alternative strategies for liberation? /*

*KJ: *There are alternatives but there is not a lot of support for them. 
The schism in Palestinian society and politics is deep and it is 
affecting us. At the very least, the Palestinian leadership should 
initiate a global conference to initiate all existing international laws 
meant to protect Palestinians- this is an alternative to the current 
political track. Everything else has failed and they can push for this 
as a call for protection in the face of failed politics.

*NE: /A fundamental part of the problem is the formal Palestinian 
leadership itself. How do Palestinians overcome this obstacle?/*

*KJ:* We need to return to a political and popular referendum. We need a 
leadership that is closer to the Palestinian street; we need a unified 
popular leadership unified similar to the structures we had during the 
first Intifada. We are currently in a state of /sumoud/, steadfastness, 
we need political support to strengthen this /somoud/. In practice, our 
existing leadership has undermined all existing and decentralized 
Palestinian resistance efforts.

Right now, not everyone is convinced resistance is even possible. In 
fact, a large segment of society believes that these conditions are 
opportune for them. They are not making any demands, not even for 
international protection. No provision of food or shelter or security or 
even hope.

This is not the work of any one individual or even several individuals. 
This is the work of groups and movements. And here if you breathe you 
are arrested, which makes it even harder to nurture such groups and 
develop those movements.

*NE: /So how do we fill this gap between what is necessary and what is 
possible? /*

*KJ:* People will fill it. During my trial, I stated that “I represent a 
people and my people are under occupation and it is my right to 
protest.” The military judge ordered me to be placed in solitary 
confinement for saying this. But my fellow prisoners protested so much 
that I was never placed in solitary.

We need to be patient, not to lose hope, not to lose track. And there 
will be a accumulation of efforts that will lead to change. We need to 
have hope that we will be victorious. We are not unique in our 
condition, other peoples have overcome worse or similar conditions. If 
our generation is not the one to accomplish this than it will be 
achieved by other generations to come.

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