A true democracy doesn’t hold suspects for weeks without a lawyer

A message I continue making across my current tour in New Zealand (presently in Wellington, after sell-out events in Christchurch and Auckland) is that Israel isn’t a democracy and such untruths must be continually challenged. It was something I discussed with senior members of parliament today. Re-framing the debate. Making the general public understand that the Jewish state is moving in a direction that in many ways makes it far easier to explain why the Western elites should seriously question its relationship with the country. Yet another reason:

Two weeks after Israel imposed a travel ban on him, Ameer Makhoul, a well-respected Palestinian leader holding Israeli citizenship, was kidnapped from his home on 6 May in the middle of the night. The persecution of Makhoul brings back memories of the South Africa apartheid regime: he has been held incommunicado and was not allowed access to his lawyer for two weeks; a court order prohibited publication of any information on the case against Makhoul for 90 days; and the so-called evidence justifying the “security charges” against Makhoul remains secret. During the South Africa anti-apartheid movement, similar tactics were used against those advocating for freedom and equal rights, who were accused of terrorism and having links with the Soviet Union.

The detention of Ameer Makhoul follows a wave of repression of Palestinian leaders and activists resisting the occupation in the West Bank, and he is not the only Palestinian community leader in Israel to be receiving such treatment. Internationally-renowned pharmacologist Dr. Omar Said was detained two weeks before Makhoul and a gag order was used to silence the media. Detentions and gag orders are imposed by Israel to intimidate and harass those who speak out and campaign for freedom and equal rights.