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From triumph to torture

John Pilger – Guardian July 2, 2008

Two weeks ago, I presented a young Palestinian, Mohammed Omer, with the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. Awarded in memory of the great US war correspondent, the prize goes to journalists who expose establishment propaganda, or "official drivel", as Gellhorn called it. Mohammed shares the prize of £5,000 with Dahr Jamail. At 24, he is the youngest winner. His citation reads: "Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless." The eldest of eight, Mohammed has seen most of his siblings killed or wounded or maimed. An Israeli bulldozer crushed his home while the family were inside, seriously injuring his mother. And yet, says a former Dutch ambassador, Jan Wijenberg, "he is a moderating voice, urging Palestinian youth not to court hatred but seek peace with Israel".

Getting Mohammed to London to receive his prize was a major diplomatic operation. Israel has perfidious control over Gaza's borders, and only with a Dutch embassy escort was he allowed out. Last Thursday, on his return journey, he was met at the Allenby Bridge crossing (to Jordan) by a Dutch official, who waited outside the Israeli building, unaware Mohammed had been seized by Shin Bet, Israel's infamous security organisation. Mohammed was told to turn off his mobile and remove the battery. He asked if he could call his embassy escort and was told forcefully he could not. A man stood over his luggage, picking through his documents. "Where's the money?" he demanded. Mohammed produced some US dollars. "Where is the English pound you have?"

"I realised," said Mohammed, "he was after the award stipend for the Martha Gellhorn prize. I told him I didn't have it with me. 'You are lying', he said. I was now surrounded by eight Shin Bet officers, all armed. The man called Avi ordered me to take off my clothes. I had already been through an x-ray machine. I stripped down to my underwear and was told to take off everything. When I refused, Avi put his hand on his gun. I began to cry: 'Why are you treating me this way? I am a human being.' He said, 'This is nothing compared with what you will see now.' He took his gun out, pressing it to my head and with his full body weight pinning me on my side, he forcibly removed my underwear. He then made me do a concocted sort of dance. Another man, who was laughing, said, 'Why are you bringing perfumes?' I replied, 'They are gifts for the people I love'. He said, 'Oh, do you have love in your culture?'

"As they ridiculed me, they took delight most in mocking letters I had received from readers in England. I had now been without food and water and the toilet for 12 hours, and having been made to stand, my legs buckled. I vomited and passed out. All I remember is one of them gouging, scraping and clawing with his nails at the tender flesh beneath my eyes. He scooped my head and dug his fingers in near the auditory nerves between my head and eardrum. The pain became sharper as he dug in two fingers at a time. Another man had his combat boot on my neck, pressing into the hard floor. I lay there for over an hour. The room became a menagerie of pain, sound and terror."

An ambulance was called and told to take Mohammed to a hospital, but only after he had signed a statement indemnifying the Israelis from his suffering in their custody. The Palestinian medic refused, courageously, and said he would contact the Dutch embassy escort. Alarmed, the Israelis let the ambulance go. The Israeli response has been the familiar line that Mohammed was "suspected" of smuggling and "lost his balance" during a "fair" interrogation, Reuters reported yesterday.

Israeli human rights groups have documented the routine torture of Palestinians by Shin Bet agents with "beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation". Amnesty has long reported the widespread use of torture by Israel, whose victims emerge as mere shadows of their former selves. Some never return. Israel is high in an international league table for its murder of journalists, especially Palestinian journalists, who receive barely a fraction of the kind of coverage given to the BBC's Alan Johnston.

The Dutch government says it is shocked by Mohammed Omer's treatment. The former ambassador Jan Wijenberg said: "This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life ... I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future."

While Mohammed was receiving his prize in London, the new Israeli ambassador to Britain, Ron Proser, was publicly complaining that many Britons no longer appreciated the uniqueness of Israel's democracy. Perhaps they do now.


source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jul/02/israelandthepalestinians.civilliberties


Click to view image: '197215-palestine_boy_tank.jpg'

Added: Jul-2-2008 
By: snade
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  • no suprize here. Disgusting country that should be wiped off the map.

    Give the Israelis Texas and then we can let Mexico have the whole state.

    Chosen ones my ass. Israel doesnt care about the ramifications if they attack Iran. Israel wants to start a war and drag America into it. Let them fight their own wars. The entire middle east will retaiate.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • There should be no hesitation in equating israels action with nazism. Anyone who constantly screeches about the virtues of democracy yet condones such tyrannical behaviour is a lowlife hypocrite.

    As someone here said Israel is its own enemy and its downfall will come from within.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • Waah waah waah. John Pilger sounds like a really unbiased journalist. LMFAO at him. Palestinians will always keep blaming all their problems on Israel. Just like the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons blame all of black people's problems on the white man. Stupidity at its best. Palestinians will remain in the stone age for decades to come for no other reason than themselves.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • How about actually reading the piece you sorry fool?

      What is it you don't get here or think is falsely presented?

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Like your avatar says: conservative nut job.
      But badMother has something else for ye in mind...

      Anyway, the former Dutch ambassador: "This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life"

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Keep on hating Israel for being the only civilized country in the middle east. How dare they defend themselves. How dare they put up a wall to stop jihadi ragheads from killing civilians. How dare they go after terrorist hell bent on the destruction and murder of every jew in Israel. You sound like a Zawahiri or Osama you fool.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • You obvi didn't read the article. LMAO at you. This entire article unfairly baselessly trashes Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Hmmm. Let's think about this. Israel just randomly goes into some Palestinian shanty town and does something like this? I'm sure there's another side to this story which is conveinantly not being covered. Journalism is at an all time low. Form an opinion and go out and find something to support it. Ignore anything that could change that opinion. The Michael Moore More..

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • IT'S OBVIOUS,
      YOU HAVEN'T READ OR UNDERSTOOD THE ARTICLE.

      GO.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • I would have ran after that kid, and given him the ass wooping of a life time. That would teach him not to throw rocks.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • bet your some skinny shaved bird acting hard, a 13 year old taliban kid would make you shit your pants

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Before or after you violated International Human Rights treaties?

      Or is a Palestinian flying back from receiving an award now considered an "Illegal Enemy Combatant" too and therefor devoid of rights?

      I'd like to see you chase him. Right past the Israeli border guards and into Gaza. We'll see how tough you are then.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Keep assuming. Just like you can assume that one day the Jews will leave, and that the war in Iraq and Afghanistan will all be over soon. Here are some more fairytales for you:
      Three litte pigs
      Humpdy Dumpdy
      Peter Pan
      Dumbo

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Right, tough. Just like how tough you have to be to blow up innocent people on a bus or in a market place. Wow, that is really brave of them. Just like strapping a bomb to a retarted women, and blowing her up in a flee market. A lot of bravery there.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Just like how tough it is to rely on foreign military aid to opress not one but three neighbouring coutries and rule with threat of military action.

      I'm not saying either side is right. This guy however has been awarded because despite the odds and his own situation, he has somehow grown up reportedly unbiased, and makes his living on being a voice for a people the international press ignores.

      To be treated like that for no reason other than a cash prize and the fact that he's palestinian More..

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • all the bleeding hearts here,john pilger's a tool.who cares if he gave an award to some kid,what does that actually do to stop the middle east from imploding in on itself?nothing,it's just more propoganda from the islamic arse licking brigade.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • The reason why the foreign armies are there is because these "countries" have already imploded and their populations continue to violently attack others because it is "the will of allah". BOOOO to you, jihadi-raghead sympathizer.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Syria, Lebanon, "Palestine", Gaza, Iraq (it imploded a LONG time ago), and Iran. All failed states. All failed because of themselves.

      If you get the back of a bunch of terrorists, expect the insults to keep coming from most Americans. We group the two together here.

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • Wrong. All those state have failed because of their own populace. Dubai is a perfect example of a populace and gov't that has been able to get it right. Why can't they all be like Dubai? Hmmm? Because they keep failing at EVERYTHING over and over. Iraq will soon become a good country b/c the US stepped in and forced it to get its act in line. If it didn't, Iraq would be have continued to be a mess of rape, murder, torture and intollerance. You have no clue what you are talking about. LMAO at you More..

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • You really love to humiliate yourself, don't you?

      Iraq is a "mess of rape, murder, torture and intollerance" because of your glorious attacks on that sovereign country, you brainless fool.

      How about getting at least minimal knowledge about a topic before trying to enter a discussion?

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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    • HA! Stupidest post I've seen all day!!!!

      Iraq was a hell hole WAY before we got there. You actually think that it was a nice place before we shipped our troops over? Its was just like... um.. Dubai, right??? LMFAO at your stupid uneducated ass!!!!

      Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • retaliate

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • LOL

    Democracy in a cell..lol..US friends again, always racism, dictatorship, violence, occupations. Cant america live in peace with others?

    Peace.

    Posted Jul-2-2008 By 

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  • When will people see that all...ALL of our problems in the middle east and with extremist groups based their stem from all the purely evil shit the jewish based "country" of israel perpetrates on all their "neighbors", as well as the European and Western countries, ie; the US. When.... my God when, will people see what the jewish, so called "nation" of israel, is doing to the world and all of it's peace loving people. They are the rot that eats us from within, yet More..

    Posted Mar-12-2009 By 

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