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The Only Democracy? » Featured, Human Rights Activists in the Crosshairs » What if Tea Partiers were Palestinians?

What if Tea Partiers were Palestinians?

By Jesse Bacon

The Congresswoman from my neck of the Big Woods, Michele Bachmann (R-Parallel Earth) made headlines when she compared the census to WWII Japanese internment camps. It seems to be a common belief in the Tea Party movement that the government is planning to round up its supporters; their fears of persecution are driving them to ever more fanciful beliefs.

I thought of the Tea Party when reading accounts of the protest, (well  promoted by blogger Richard Silverstein) on Ynet in Haifa about the arrests under gag orders of prominent human rights activists who are Palestinian citizens of Israel. No need to concoct fantasies, Tea Partiers, here is the real deal!

Some 300 people rallied in Haifa Monday evening in protest of the arrest of well-known Arab figures Omar Said and Ameer Makhoul.

Ameer Makhoul’s brother, former Knesset Member Issam Makhoul, said that “the way he was arrested – two weeks after the warrant was issued – says something about the drama (authorities) wanted to create, and proves our concern, that by issuing a gag order and barring him from seeing his attorney, they wanted to create an alibi and trample democracy.

So while I feel confident the racism and homophobia of the Tea Party would not be welcome in our movements, I expect to see them denouncing Israel’s actions any day now.  After all, many of them have a religious connection to the region and surely they wouldn’t want an ally of their beloved America acting in such a fashion, right?

Here’s the Forward trying to figure out the Tea Party position on Israel.

In a television interview with Barbara Walters in November, [Sarah Palin] argued against American demands for a West Bank settlement freeze, saying that Jewish communities there need to grow in order to accommodate “more and more Jewish people that will be flocking to Israel.”

Or maybe not.

Fabulous Jewish anti-racist activist Tim Wise asked the provocative question, “What if the Tea Party were Black?” I think it is a fair question to ask what would happen if they were Palestinians? And given the fact that this movement is simply asking for their full citizenship rights, why are their leaders being treated this way? Though Israel’s government eventually cited “security reasons,” initial reports speculated it was Ameer Makhoul’s “incitement” for a boycott of settlement products that got him nabbed in the dead of night by security officials. Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace asked me if Israeli Jewish members of Peace Now will meet a similar fate, given they also support settlement boycotts?

It is sad that Israel, which held over so many antidemocratic laws from British rule, is not honoring the great tradition of Habeas Corpus.

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JESSE BACON (Philadelphia) is a freelance activist and father. He has a Masters in teaching from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He is an observant progressive Jew, and is trying to be a good ally for Palestinians and all dispossessed peoples, while staying true to the best traditions in Judaism. He visited Israel and Palestine in 1996, 2001, and 2002. He served for three years on the local steering committee of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago, and one year on the board of Pursue the Peace in Seattle. Read his posts here.

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