Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is right in the Independent:
Thaer Halahleh wrote a letter to his wife Shireen from an Israeli jail in February: “My detention has been renewed seven times and they still haven’t charged me. I can’t take it any more.” Then the 34-year-old began a hunger strike, as did Bilal Diab. That was 77 days ago. Both are Palestinians, fathers, whose young daughters are strip searched and terrified when they visit. David Rose, an exceptional investigative journalist and Jewish himself, recently publicised their stories. Eight others have been on the same, silent, self-wasting, wasted protest. Halahleh’s eyes were bleeding, blood instead of tears. He, Diab and others may well be dead by the time you read this. Last Friday, Supreme Court judges in this hubristic democracy turned down an application from civil rights groups to have the men moved to civilian hospitals. They didn’t want, perhaps, their own citizens to witness such stuff. What would that do to the image of the plucky little nation, surrounded by real and imagined threats?
The moralistic Chief Rabbi will not be on “Thought for the Day” expressing sorrow for the treatment of these prisoners. Ardent British Zionists will not be pressed to condemn those responsible for the state barbarism. You certainly won’t get a big TV hit like Homeland, (based on Hatufim, an Israeli TV series that fictionalised the capture by Palestinian militants of the IDF soldier Gilad Shalit) being made about these men. Come on, you cool, edgy TV chaps, how about a film about a handsome Palestinian held by the Israelis till he loses his mind? Do I hear a choral “No”?
Western opinion formers have been indifferent, in some cases knowingly so, about what is happening. No condemnations are heard around our Parliament. They say we must have freedom of speech, but that right is never evoked when it comes to Israel. The BNP and EDL can spread their racist poison freely, but Baroness Jenny Tonge is savaged by Zionists and her own party for saying that nation “is not going to be there forever in its present form”. She has just quit the Lib Dems. If she had uttered the same words about, say, Zimbabwe, she would have been acclaimed.
A large number of enlightened British Jews see the double standards and object to Israel’s intransigence. It must be so hard to do what they do, behave with integrity and empathise with those they are instructed to hate.
The detained Palestinians are embarked on peaceful, Gandhian protest action. They want their families to be able to visit without restrictions, decent medical treatment, not to be put into solitary confinement for years on end, to be taken to court and tried. How is that “terrorism”? With the 1981 IRA hunger strikers, of whom 10 died, even the most anti-Republican British newspapers published pictures and told us what was happening. TV too covered their journeys to the very end.
With these slowly dying inmates and the 6,000 others locked up without due process, there is nothing, nada. I never knew until this week that since 1967, 700,000 Palestinians have been detained. Not all were innocent but nor were all of them guilty. To be a Palestinian, to want equality, rights, freedom and land is not a crime. Except that for hardline Israelis, it is.
Some Israelis and Palestinians are protesting the Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Like this yesterday when protesters blocked the entrance to the Ma’ale Adumim settlement, metres away from one of Israel’s main interrogation centers in the West Bank. Two protesters were arrested.