Tales of Piracy

Husband and wife Adam Shapiro & Huwaida Arraf write about the Israeli piracy the led to them being assaulted, kidnapped and held in jail, the total lack of support from their own government and ponder how different Iran is treated. The first is Arraf in The Nation, and Shapiro gets to publish on the Huffington Post, (maybe beginning to realise it can no longer censor the truth about the apartheid in Israel), excerpts-

Huwaida Arraf:- We were boarded by force. Before we were separated, I saw Navy forces grabbing my husband, Adam, a filmmaker who has made documentaries from Palestine to Darfur, about the neck. Later, I learned that outside of my view, these government-sanctioned pirates pummeled Adam in order to wrest his videocamera from his grasp. Though I know it could not have been easy for him, Adam did not fight back. He was a multi-sport athlete in high school, threw out Manny Ramirez stealing second and is one of those rare individuals who bring a football player’s intensity to peace work. But like the rest of us, Adam insists on using nonviolent means to resist Israel’s military occupation. And though in his widely hailed Cairo speech President Obama made an implicit call for nonviolence as the means to challenge the Israeli occupation, the Obama administration made no public statement on our behalf — nor did it do so three months ago, when my dear friend Bassem Abu Rahme was killed while nonviolently protesting Israeli expansionism in the West Bank that threatens to destroy his village of Bil’in.

Perhaps we were politically inept. Had we sailed toward Iran to offer assistance to civilian protesters there, we would have been a cause celebre if the Iranian government had arrested us. Iran, however, for all its troubles, is not now under foreign occupation as Palestine is. Yet as I watched the demonstrations in Iran, I could not miss the similarities to Palestine’s nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation. I cannot count the times I have marched peacefully, waving a flag and demanding freedom for my people — with only my voice and my presence as my weapons. And sadly, the number of friends I have lost — killed by Israeli forces as, like Neda Agha-Soltan in Iran, they nonviolently demonstrated for freedom — is becoming too great a pain in my heart.

Adam Shapiro:- In a flurry of activity, we were boarded. Those of us with video cameras bore the brunt of the over-zealous navy forces. We were beaten to break our grasp on the video cameras. I have documented events from Afghanistan to Darfur to various locations around the Middle East, but until then I had never been physically attacked on account of my work. Israel’s military censor continues to hold the evidence and I expect never to retrieve it. With the evidence gone, much of the media have treated the event as though it never occurred. Instead of sailing into Gaza’s bombed and broken port, we were kidnapped at gunpoint, taken to a foreign country, and imprisoned. Instead of delivering toys to children in Azbet Abed Rabbo, where in February I met families living in tents (again) because their homes were left in rubble by Israel’s December-January invasion, we stood at attention for a prison guard to check our cell.

Even President Obama, who seemed so sincere in his Cairo speech, is imprisoned by the status quo of American-Israeli relations that bend American values and interest to the will of a state that is increasingly being labeled internationally with the brand of apartheid. One set of laws for Jews and one set of laws for Palestinians is unacceptable in the 21st century. Washington can only ignore the facts for so long when Israel’s housing minister states, “We can all be bleeding hearts, but I think it is unsuitable [for Jews and Palestinians] to live together [in Israel].”

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