Israel Meets the Arab Spring (Cont'd)

Fadi Quran, the Palestinian activist whose arrest I wrote about on Friday, had his day in court today. It didn't go as well as I had hoped (and predicted). Here is part of an email I got this morning from Assaf Sharon, an Israeli human rights activist:

The hearing was held in the military court in Jerusalem. As usual, the security service presented a secret file to the court, to which Fadi's defense had no access. The judge saw the video but said that it does not prove that Fadi did not attack anyone prior to it (Palestinian = guilty until proven innocent). He will be detained until tomorrow when he'll appear in court again.

This makes me wonder whether the judge has access to both videos I've seen, because together they seem to remove any possibility that Fadi was being arrested for attacking a policeman. Again, here's the evidence:

First, the video that's been circulating the longest, the one the judge almost certainly had access to:



Now that translation has been added onscreen, we can see that the thing Fadi says right before the arrest is "This is Palestine!" The context for this exclamation is clearer in the second video, below. What seems to lead to the argument between Fadi and the police is a policeman trying to clear out space by forcing Fadi to move backward. So "This is Palestine!" could be Fadi's way of asserting that he shouldn't have to give ground to someone he considers a foreign occupier. (This is happening in Hebron, in the West Bank.) In any event, if the first video left the judge wondering whether Fadi had assaulted someone right before the taping began, the second video, below, should erase that suspicion altogether. At the beginning of it, Fadi, with his back to the camera, seems to be minding his own business. And even as the arguing starts, he is yielding ground to the police.

By the way, Assaf Sharon has had his own unpleasant encounters with Israeli authority. Here he recounts how his protests against settler activities led a settler to break his nose, and how little interest Israeli authorities showed in pursuing this case, even though it was well documented.

[Here's a page curated by Jake Horowitz, an American friend of Fadi's, that posts updates on Fadi's situation.] [Update, 2/27 11 a.m. EST: I've changed 'soldiers' to 'police' after a commenter noted that the Israelis in the video are members of the Mishmar HaGvul or Israel Border Police. (The border police sometimes work in support of the Israeli military, and when created in 1949 were under its authority, but no longer are.)]

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Robert Wright is the author of The Evolution of God and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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