'Palestinian Gandhi' Convicted for Protesting; U.S. Silent

Last week, an Israeli military court convicted Abdallah Abu Rahmah,
whom progressive Zionists have called a "Palestinian
," of "incitement" and "organizing and participating in
illegal demonstrations" for organizing protests against the
confiscation of Palestinian land by the "Apartheid Wall" in the
village of Bilin in the West Bank, following an eight month trial,
during which he was kept in prison.

The European Union issued a protest. But as far as I am aware, no U.S.
official has said anything and no U.S. newspaper columnist has
denounced this act of repression; indeed, the U.S. press
hasn't even reported the news. To find out what
happened, someone could search the wires where they'll find this
AFP story
, or go to the British
or Israeli


EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed deep
concern "that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to
prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate
right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a
non-violent manner," her office said.

"The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on
Palestinian land to be illegal," it quoted her as saying in a

The failure of the New York Times to report the news is
particularly striking, because the New York Timesreported
last August
on the protests in Bilin, quoting Abu Rahmah in
particular; and because this July New York Times columnist
Nicholas Kristof, writing from Bilin with the provocative headline
"Waiting for Gandhi," weighed
on the subject of Palestinian nonviolent protest.

Last August, Ethan
Bronner reported in the Times

Abdullah Abu Rahma, a village teacher and one of the
organizers of the weekly protests, said he was amazed at the
military's assertions [of protester violence, including of "rioters"
throwing "Molotov cocktails"] as well as at its continuing arrests and
imprisonment of village leaders.

"They want to destroy our movement because it is nonviolent," he said.
He added that some villagers might have tried, out of frustration, to
cut through the fence since the court had ordered it moved and nothing
had happened. But that is not the essence of the popular movement that
he has helped lead.

Kristof wrote
patronizingly in his column last month
that "some Palestinians are
dabbling in a strategy of nonviolent resistance," but is seems that
Kristof was "dabbling" in his fleeting expression of concern about the
fate of the Palestinians.

Under the "law" of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian
West Bank since 1967, "incitement" is defined as "the attempt,
verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the Area in a
way that may disturb the public peace or public order", and carries a
maximum 10 year sentence. Abu Rahmah's sentencing will take place next
month, and the prosecution is reportedly expected to ask for a
sentence of at least two years.

In December 2008 Abdallah received the Carl Von Ossietzky Medal for
Outstanding Service in the Realization of Basic Human Rights from the
International League for Human Rights in Berlin, as Amnesty
International noted
following his arrest.

This February, former President Jimmy Carter wrote
on behalf of the Elders
, the group of global leaders brought
together by Nelson Mandela to promote peace:

We are especially concerned to hear that Abdallah Abu
Rahma, the coordinator of the Popular Committee against the Wall and
Settlements in Bil'in, was detained in a night raid on 10 December
last year and faces charges of incitement, stone throwing and
organizing and participating in illegal marches.
Abu Rahma is a middle-aged school teacher who eschews violence
including stone throwing.

Catherine Ashton, Europe's Hillary Clinton, protested the conviction.
Why hasn't Hillary done so?

Perhaps the failure of the U.S. media to simply report the
might have something to do with it?

You can ask Secretary of State Clinton to speak out, as Europe's
Catherine Ashton has, by calling the State Department's comment line
at 202-647-6575 and pressing 1.

Or you can use the State Department's web
, choosing "E-mail a Question/Comment," and topic "U.S.
Foreign Policy/Middle East." You could use a subject like "Conviction
by Israeli court of Abdallah Abu Rahmah for nonviolent protest," and a
question like "I urge Secretary Clinton and other State Department
officials to speak out against the conviction by Israeli military
court of Abdallah Abu Rahmah for organizing nonviolent protests
against the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank, which has
confiscated Palestinian land."

You can write a letter for publication to the New York Times
here; you can contact the
Times' news editors
; you can write to the Times' Public Editor here.

UPDATE: (8/29): CNN,
, and The
reported the news; Amnesty
and South African
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
protested the conviction.

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