Wednesday, November 30, 2005

What will happen when the lights finally go out in Jerusalem?

Much has been made of Israel being the only democracy and the only bastion of freedom in the Middle East, and I have long admired the Jewish state, but increasingly more and more of the following kinds of stories are coming to light concerning the plight of those who oppose the politics of Sharon et al, and I truly wonder how much longer or further the state of Israel can travel down this road without losing all that has made it previously a beacon of hope and inspiration for so many.

Caroline Glick highlights the sad case of Avri Ran in her most recent Jerusalem Post article:

Case in point is the continued incarceration of Avri Ran. As I noted in a column last month, Ran, who owns and runs the Eternal Hills ranch in northern Samaria, was indicted last March for aggravated assault. Ran was arrested and indicted after punching, on March 20, a trespasser who had entered his cultivated field with a tractor with the intention of destroying his crop.

Although Ran has never been found guilty of any crime and although the action for which he is under indictment was clearly motivated by the context in which it was enacted (that is, Ran's desire to protect his property), the state prosecutors have demanded since the day of Ran's arrest that he be jailed pending trial due to his "ideology."

When Supreme Court Justice Esther Hayut ordered Ran's incarceration pending the completion of his trial last month, she too noted his "ideological zealotry" as a justification for his remand to custody. Hayut, like the state prosecution, never attempted to clarify what, if any, connection exists between an individual's political beliefs and his desire to protect his property from trespass.

Today Ran has been removed from his ranch and separated from his family for eight months on charges for which he has yet to stand trial. His trial was set to begin on October 11. The police prosecutors arrived at Kfar Saba's Magistrate's Court on the appointed date only to announce that they were not yet ready to begin a trial for which they had had seven months to prepare. Without hesitation the judge postponed the trial until December 1 - sending the untried Ran back to jail for another six weeks.

According to Ran's Nir, Ran has become psychologically depressed as a result of his long incarceration and his depression has led to a loss of appetite. He has lost more than 20 kilos and now weighs some 50 kilos. On November 19, Ran's family and friends held a vigil outside Ayalon prison, where he is being held. His 10 children spoke to their father through a megaphone and told him how much they miss him. As his children spoke, prison guards entered the Torah wing of the prison and took Ran into solitary confinement. The next day he was told that he would be even more severely punished if his family and friends repeated the vigil in the future.

Amazingly, the state has apparently not limited its abuse to Ran. His son Daniel was set to be inducted into the IDF on November 14 and begin basic training in the Golani Infantry Brigade. At the beginning of the month Daniel received a letter from the IDF informing him that his military service had been cancelled. All attempts by the family to discover why went unanswered. Finally, he was informed that he had to appear before a military psychiatrist if he wished to be inducted into the army. Daniel has no history of mental illness and no criminal record.

And in other news today, Shimon Peres said, “Ariel Sharon is the only leader who can lead Israel to peace” and formally announced that he will be leaving his convictions at the door of the Labour party after 61 years and joining the Sharon coalition in Kadima.

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