Richard Falk’s review of the new “Palestinian Prison Diaries” is worth sharing and tempting everyone I know to purchase a copy. More details about ordering your copy available here.

Global Justice in the 21st Century


The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, edited by Norma Hashim, in close collaboration with the Centre for Political & Development Studies, Gaza, 2013

There are many moving passages that can be found in these excerpts from prison diaries and recollections of 22 Palestinians. What is most compelling is how much the material expresses the shared concerns of these prisoners despite great variations in writing style and background. A few keywords dominate the texts: pain, God or Allah, love, dream, homeland, steadfastness, tears, freedom, dream, prayer. My reading of these diaries exposed me to the distinct personal struggles of each prisoner to survive with as much dignity as possible in a dank and poorly lit circumstances of isolation, humiliation, acute hostility on the part of the prison staff, including abusive neglect by the medical personnel. The diaries also confirmed that even prolonged captivity had not diluted the…

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  1. Fred: You mention that Likud now supports a two state solution, presumably you mean a state for Israel and a state for Palestine. But this Likud member was quoted today ….. doesn’t agree with you. Lets agree that there are extremists on both sides who will never acknowledge the rights of the other. So then the question becomes “What do we do with extremists — Palestinians and Israelis”?
    In the same vein, Likud Member of the Knesset, Moshe Feiglin, made a statement saying that “Haas’ words are condemnable and are considered an expression of disloyalty to the state.”

    He also added that, “The article by Haas delights those who don’t recognize that the state between the sea and the river belongs to the Jewish people alone.”

    • Fred Skolnik

      Israeli extremists talk. Arab extremists kill and are supported by Arab governments. Moshe Feiglin isn’t the prime minister of Israel, he’s an extremist Knesset member who was chosen by the Likud convention in opposition to Netanyahu’s wishes. What matters is what Israel’s government says and does, and Netanyahu’s has made his position clear.

    • Fred Skolnik

      Regarding Haas, the only reason she isn’t being prosecuted for incitement – and rocks have killed – is because it is understood that with or without her encouragement the terrorists are going to try to murder Jews.

      • And the terrorists living in settlements in the West Bank are going to murder Palestinians. When will we end this cycle of violence? The difference between the rock-throwing youth and the gun-toting settlers is —– one is resisting occupation, while the other is trying to maintain an occupation. Big difference under international law.

    • Fred Skolnik

      If you are equating terrorism as policy with isolated criminal acts by Israelis just so that you can say that Israel is as bad as the Arabs, you are forgetting that the rare cases when settlers kill Palestinians are not encouraged or sanctioned by the State of Israel while Arab acts of terrorism are celebrated by Arab leaders and that is a big difference. The settlers tote guns to defend themselves against terrorism. It is a little too glib to call the murder of innocent civilians resistance or to pretend that the occupation is not the result of a war that the Arabs initiated. You heard the bombs in Gaza and I heard the artillery shells fired into Jerusalem by Hussein on the night of June 5, 1967. The reason that the occupation has lasted this long is because the Arabs have been unable to reconcile themselves to the existence of a sovereign non-Muslim state in the region. You are right that there is no point in carrying on such a discussion. You can read what I have to say on the subject in my comments in Falk’s blog or in my occasional comments in Guernica. I really don’t have anything else to add.

  2. The Israeli army is the biggest multi-national terrorist organization. They murdered tens of thousands of civilians . There will come a day when all of them will be brought accountable.

  3. “In the recent Gaza clash, around 160 Palestinians were killed, at least 100 of them Hamas fighters and of these 60 in the act of firing rockets.” Liar. Don’t lie about Gaza too, because I and Lora live in Gaza and we know well who were killed. 43 kids were killed among the 186. Don’t you feel ashamed? Shut up.

  4. Fred: You say that Likud accepts the two-state solution now. So Likud should be willing to amend its charter. There has been a lot of pressure on Hamas to amend its charter.

    I don’t know the official position of Hamas currently. I have read reports and heard interviews in the past that Hamas would be willing to accept a long-term truce (is it called Hudna?) for a period of 99 years. I wonder if that proposal is still on the table.

    I think actions speak louder than words. And so it will be interesting to see what actions all parties take during the next few months when Kerry is shuttling back and forth.

  5. Fred: Thank you for being so clear and direct with your response about the contours for a peace agreement. This Haaretz article looks like Abbas is giving diplomacy some time to work by agreeing to suspend unilateral moves at the UN. I hope Netanyahu will suspend his plans for development in E-1 zone.

    I would like to learn more about this “apocalyptic vision” you refer to. I haven’t seen it described anywhere. Is this a vision that Hamas has or Palestinians in general?

    • Fred Skolnik

      Read the Hamas Charter for starters.

      • I started to read the Hamas Charter last Fall …. it is long, and the language is very difficult (at least the English translation I had) and I didn’t finish it. But I have read a book about the Hamas charter written by an Arabic scholar. I’ll try to find the title.

        The vision you mention is of one nation with all people (Jews, Muslims, Christians) living together in mutual respect and peace as I believe they did many years ago. So Hamas’ “apocalyptic vision” — although it is not referred to as such —- is a land without the State of Israel.

        I have also read the Likud charter —- much shorter and easier to understand than the Hamas charter. It clearly says there will be no State of Palestine. And Israel will encompass all of the land. So I suppose that charter has another version of an “apocalyptic vision”.

        Now, if both sides could set aside their “visions” and see reality, that might be a good place to begin. The reality is that Israel has been building massive settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories which make it impossible to have a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. So, arguably, Israel is helping one or the other “apocalyptic vision” come true.

      • Fred Skolnik

        But the Likud now accepts the two-state solution while Hamas continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel.

      • Fred Skolnik

        Yes it is.

  6. Fred. Israel’s president signed the papers of the release of all people you mentioned! Israel has nothing against them. Plus,they are prisoners of war and Israel should deal with them accordingly. Plus, they are heroes in our eyes! We don’t care too much about what people who occupy us say about us resisting the occupation. Schalit is the biggest murder to us! Who will bring the thousands of Israeli soldiers who shot Palestinians to death since 1948 to justice? probably you are one of them!

  7. I refuse to use the term “terrorist” because it all depends on your perspective. I am certain that the innocent men, women and children killed by drones in Afghanistan must consider the US President Obama a “terrorist”. And I know that many (most?) Palestinians consider the soldiers in the IOF as “terrorists”.

    I know nothing about the privileges given to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails but I have heard horror stories. Do you have any first-hand knowledge or are you repeating the stories and information you have heard?

    I am an American citizen who is currently living in Gaza. I can tell you that life under Occupation is no picnic. And I can personally testify that the Israeli military does NOT go to “extreme lengths to avoid civilian casualties.” I was in Gaza during the November 2012 bombardment. Again, I think you are sharing stories and information you have heard but it doesn’t sound like you have personal information.

    Both sides have to let go of the stories they have heard, and try to live in the “other’s shoes” …… so I encourage you to visit the West Bank and share a meal with a Palestinian family and listen to their perspective of the Occupation. Stories are important. That is why I think the stories of the Palestinian Prisoners will be very helpful.

    • Fred Skolnik

      Dear Lora

      Yes, I have first-hand knowledge of everything I mention, having lived through this conflict for nearly 50 years, and that includes much time spent on the West Bank, and I have shared meals with Palestinians and have also observed them in the prisons. You can certainly find out for yourself what the prison conditions are rerally like from day to day.

      In the recent Gaza clash, around 160 Palestinians were killed, at least 100 of them Hamas fighters and of these 60 in the act of firing rockets. I would say that this is proof enough of Israel’s restraint, especially given the fact that Hamas stores its rockets in mosques, hospitals, schools and residential buildings and launches its attacks from heavily populated areas. Of course occupation is no picnic but Israel is not at war with the Palestinian people, It is at war with barbaric terrorist organizations who can’t let go of the Big Dream of a great massacre on the shores of the Mediterranean. If you are living in Gaza you should know exactly who and what they are unless you are living with blinders.

      • Fred: I am going to find out about the prison conditions from reading the “Palestinian Prison Diaries”. As an American living in Gaza, I don’t think Israeli authorities would allow me or any American to visit inside the prisons, unless we were arrested at a checkpoint or abducted from a ship in international waters.

        There are two sides of this conflict and I can see you clearly identify with the side of Israel as an occupying power — “the victim who is defending herself against a barbaric terrorist organization.” But many people on both sides understand the situation is not so simple — it is not black and white.

        In my humble opinion, the best way for Israel to find “security” is to end the occupation, acknowledge that the Zionist dream is built on massive injustices (1948 Nakkba), and that reparations must be made to the Palestinians.

        We could write all day about the terrorist activities of Hamas, the IOF, the Irgun and on and on. I’ve read that Israel and the US actually supported the creation of Hamas in 1987 as a counterweight to Fatah. Is that true?

        But our focus should be on the people. Israelis deserve to live in peace and security, just as the Palestinians deserve. The occupation is punishing both sides and endangering the future of Israel, and creating no future of hope or opportunity for the Palestinians. The status quo cannot continue.

        So I would be interested in hearing your ideas about how to change the status quo, but not continue this discussion about bad guy-good guy.

      • Fred Skolnik

        The countours of a negotiated settlement are understood by everyone. It will include a trade-off of territory that will allow the big settlement blocs adjacent to the 1967 lines to remain part of Israel, and the dismantlement of Israeli settlements outside the new border. It will also entail a symbolic return of refugees – the 40,000 or so that Olmert mentioned when he was prime minister happens, coincidentally or not, to be more or less the number of surviving refugees (the rest are their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren born outside Israel, and these will have to be dealt with by the Arab world just as Israel dealt with a similar number of Jews displaced from Arab countries at the time; in such a resolution of the refugee problem Israel has expressed a willingness to participate financially in their resettlement along with other Western countries and to compensate those who abandoned their property in Israel).

        Binyamin Netanyahu has stated very clearly what the peace process has to look like and where it must lead, namely to mutual recognition, an end to the conflict and a state of peace. Mutual recognition means that Israel will recognize Palestine as the Palestinian state and the Palestinians will recognize Israel as the Jewish state. The end of the conflict means that once an agreement is reached it will be final, with both sides relinquishing all future claims – Israel to West Bank territory, Palestine to a return of refugees beyond whatever has been agreed upon. Peace means an end to hostile actions, namely an end to Hamas, its terror and its apocalyptic visions. This is the only process that can result in a Palestinian state.

  8. Fred Skolnik

    Dear Lora

    Noticed your comment on Falk’s blog.

    Here are your eloquent, passionate resistance fighters:

    Walid Anajas, who was convicted for his involvement in the bombing of the Moment Cafe in Jerusalem in 2002, murdering 12 civilians and wounding 54.

    Abd al-Aziz Salaha, who in 2001 took part in the murder of two IDF soldiers who mistakenly drove into Ramallah.

    Nasser Yataima, convicted of planning the 2002 Passover Seder suicide-bomb attack on the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 30 civilians were killed and 140 were wounded.

    Musab Hashlemon, of Hebron, who was sentenced to 17 life sentences for dispatching two suicide bombers to Beersheba, where 16 civilians were murdered when the bombers detonated themselves on two buses in central Beersheba in 2004.

    Ibrahim Jundiya, sentenced to 12 life sentences for dispatching a suicide bomber to a Jerusalem bus in 2002, murdering 11 passengers.

    Fadi Muhammad al-Jabaa, sentenced to 18 life sentences for plotting the suicide bombing of a Haifa bus in 2003, in which 17 passengers were murdered.

    Mazen Muhammad Faqha, who plotted the 2002 suicide bus bombing near Safed, in which nine passengers were murdered and 40 wounded.

    Tamimi Ahlam, the Palestinian female Hamas terrorist convicted of aiding and abetting the suicide bomber who murdered 15 civilians and wounded 140 in the 2001 Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem.

    Do you want more?

    • Dear Fred:

      You confuse the evil, despicable actions of these men and women prisoners with the humanity of each individual now sitting in the Israeli jail. I will not try to justify their actions even though some people may talk about resisting the occupation, because I do not believe killing and violence is justified under any circumstances. However, I believe their voices should be heard, and their stories shared.

      If any of the Israeli soldiers involved in the Cast Lead Operation (08-09) were tried and sentenced to prison for unlawfully killing Palestinian civilians (such as the Samouni family), I presume you would want these prisoners to be treated humanely in a Palestinian jail. Right?

      The only difference between the two classes of prisoners is that one is resisting an occupation, and the other is carrying out the orders of the occupying power. The evil, despicable actions of both must be condemned.

      Do you want more?

      • Fred Skolnik

        The great difference is that the terrorists set out to murder innocent civilians while the Israeli army goes to extreme lengths to avoid civilian casualties in actions against the terrorists; otherwise Gaza City would look today like Dresden after the Allied bombings in World War II with as many as 100,000 dead. Palestinian prisoners receive privileges over and beyond what is required by international law, including canteen privileges, 50 cable TV stations, and external academic studies. It was only in response to the treatment of Gilad Shalit, who didn’t murder anyone, that these were cut back.

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