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Monday, January 14, 2008

Israel's Stasi

The Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (MfS / Ministry for State Security), commonly known as the Stasi (from Staatssicherheit), was the official secret police of East Germany. Founded in 1950, the Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. It was widely regarded as one of the most effective – and repressive – intelligence and secret police agencies in the world. The Stasi's motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield and Sword of the Party), showing its connections to the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the equivalent to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Another term used in earlier years to refer to the Stasi was Staatssicherheitsdienst (State Security Service or SSD).

The proposal that passed the Knesset Legislation Committee yesterday - which would make bloggers responsible for all content on their sites, including the comments left by others - is but the latest in a series of government actions designed to stifle criticism of the Olmert-Barak-Livni junta, a junta that has virtually no popular support. It is an action that could presage the formation of our own Stasi, a job for which Israel's 'security services' have been used in the past.

Let me tie this together with two other events that have been fighting for the spotlight over the past week. Over the weekend, the JPost magazine did a feature about seven teenage girls who have become folk heroes in Judea and Samaria. The girls - aged 15 and 16 (or 14 and 15 depending upon which version you accept) - have been held incommunicado in a Jerusalem jail since being arrested on December 25 for being in an 'illegal outpost' in Samaria. They are not even able to contact their parents because they refuse to give their names, recognize the court's authority (they say that they only recognize God's law) or sign release conditions that would keep them away from the hilltop on which they were sitting. And no, they have no right to contact a lawyer here either. There are no Miranda warnings or rights to see a lawyer here - even for juveniles. If you follow the link, please keep in mind that the Post column was written by one of the paper's true leftist writers (Larry Derfner), who is unsympathetic to the 'settlers' and take it with the appropriate grain of salt. But for people like me who come from the United States, the idea of 15-16 year old girls being held like terrorists in jail for more than two weeks is simply astounding.

In another incident last week, three 'activists' were 'taken in for questioning' in front of the Dan Panorama Hotel, a couple of blocks from the hotel where President Bush was staying, for the 'crime' of distributing political material to visiting journalists who were staying at the Dan. One of them, fellow lawyer Suzy Dym, was arrested and subsequently released.
English-speaking volunteers came Wednesday evening to speak with visiting journalists outside their hotel, and present them with views and materials opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel.

Volunteer Yosef Hartuv gave a Fox TV cameraman a booklet presenting the majority view in Israel which opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Fox cameraman is seen in the picture below holding the literature as he carried on a 20-minute conversation with him. According to Hartuv, the cameraman said, "This is very interesting. I'll get this stuff to my producer."

The literature handed out was a booklet authored by Arlene Kushner entitled, "Fatah as 'Moderate': A Hard Look Post-Annapolis," published by the Center for Near East Policy Research at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem. The booklet may be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.

According to eye-witnesses, Police Superintendant Chaim Moshe approached the cameraman and confiscated the booklet from him. Officer Moshe then told the volunteers that they were not allowed to stand there and talk with the journalists.

In the picture below, Superintendant Chaim Moshe can be seen holding the confiscated booklet in his hands and telling volunteer Susie Dym that she must leave the premises.

"One policeman said we can't stand in front of the hotel, that we should go to the corner, so that's what I did," related Jeff Daube, another volunteer at the site.
But then Hartuv, Dym and Daube were 'taken into custody' and Suzy was arrested. Read the whole thing for more details.

Also last week, six 'youths' and the 'right wing activist' who sent them were arrested for placing posters around the city calling Olmert, Bush and Peres 'accomplices of terror.' All were subsequently released without charges being pressed.

Fellow blogger Treppinwitz has details of several less-reported incidents that took place last week:

Other protesters (well know far-right activists) waving the above-mentioned posters outside the President's residence have also been arrested. Again, no laws were broken, but since their ideas (and ideology) were considered objectionable to the occupant of the house, the police were given a blank check to arrest/detain these people... just long enough to neutralize them, of course.

A third peaceful protest yesterday against Olmert's plan to discuss core issues with the PA - this one on a hilltop near Hevron - was also broken up by police. Once again, there was nothing illegal about the protest itself, except that the protester's ideas/ideology were considered objectionable and embarrassing to the current government.

Lastly, a small group of protester demonstrating for the release of Jonathan Pollard (a topic that, IMHO, should not be a partisan issue) were dispersed by police in Jerusalem. Again, no laws were broken... just a clear message sent and received that nobody is allowed to mention uncomfortable and/or embarrassing topics in public while Olmert is claiming to speak for all the people in front of his out-of-town guests.

In the aftermath of the Rabin assassination, individual rights in Israel were trampled. The government used an old British law called 'administrative detention,' that allows it to lock people up for months without trial, to clear the streets of right wing 'activists' who were opposed to the Oslo surrender. Rather than hold these people in jail, they were confined to their homes where they were incommunicado. For those who ordinarily worked outside the home, it meant that they were unable to work for months. The reign of terror came to an end beginning with the shocking election of Binyamin Netanyahu in May 1996. You can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Are we heading for another era in which freedom of speech will be trampled in Israel? I fear that we are already in such an era. An unpopular government, desperate to maintain power, is seeking to do so by stifling criticism. I hope that Israel's supporters in the US and other free countries are appropriately appalled and will act to prevent the Israeli government from stifling criticism on the internet as well.


At 6:32 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...


Your first post was, to put it mildly, alarming.

This new one? I am literally speechless.

I cry for those innocent children. This is surreal.

'Freedom of the press' indeed.

At 7:04 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - we've seen that type of people before. They are strong but only as strong as a bully is in terrorizing others with the fear of his power. In truth, they are cowards inside. They have no moral truth to guide them, no conviction they are doing the right thing and in the end they will meet their match. They have already found it in seven Jewish girls. They know if they can't break them soon - its the beginning of the end for them. And of the regime to which they answer.

At 8:11 AM, Blogger Author "B" said...

From the earlier comment thread:
The only spot on the planet where free speech is (still!) a right is the U.S.A.
All y'all elsewhere are on your own.

My personal feeling is that Olmert, et al, misplaced their beitzim somewhere, and are hell-bent on helping the moslem world finish off Medinat Yisrael.

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I don;t understand is Fatah, like Hamas, openly call for the destruction of Israel in their party charters - it's on their websites! Why the big surprise? And how silly it is to confiscate hard copies of Arlene Kushner's booklet _ I presume soneone sent Fox a soft copy.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Witch-king of Angmar said...

In connection with your title: if you haven't seen the German film "Lives of others" be sure to do so.

Sorry if this comment is a bit OT. ;-)

At 4:36 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

The head of the stasi was as assimmilated Jewish leftist.

At 4:54 PM, Blogger heroyalwhyness said...

I am stunned. There are no words.

At 5:22 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Disgusting. I cannot even believe that two teenagers are being treated in this way. It is like Israel has totally abandoned the rule of law.

A very dangerous state of affairs.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

Marcus Wolf was the name of the kapo German Jew who headed the stasi. He must be the inspiration for all the Israeli leftists.

At 6:09 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


How appropriate.

Red Tulips,

SEVEN teenagers.

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

It's essentially a state controlled press (you can be prosecuted for "incitement" for just about anything you write or say or print on a tee shirt).

People are thrown in jail without charges or access to counsel.

Ever since the protests against the disengagement, when the left and the police called for violence against the right, arrested and beat anyone with tzitzit, and the gov't used the army against civilians, I haven't been able to distinguish the state from the soviets.

Frankly, I cannot consider the act of moving to a fascist state aliyah. It is insanity.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Long before the 'disengagement.' This type of behavior started with the protests against Oslo in the fall of 1993. After the first big demonstration in Jerusalem broke up, people were milling around, and eventually the police came with clubs and just started beating people in the head. I know someone who was beaten. Not a kid either.

At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stasi win first round.


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