Peace activist Leah Shakdiel under house arrest

Peace activist Leah Shakdiel under house arrest

I just called Leah and got her permission to send this out. Leah is Orthodox; she will not answer the phone or look at the computer until late Saturday night. I am making inqueries at this point and will follow up.

A Letter from Leah Shakdiel

I am under house arrest until Sunday night, and please don’t worry I am fine and even strengthened politically.

I participated twice in protest watches in Beer Sheva (standing with signs with no microphone is legal and does not require police permit by law, but the police of course does not know this). I carried a sign in Arabic, “In Gaza and Sderot children deserve to live,” and near me someone carried a sign in Hebrew that said, “stop, hold fire, talk”.

The group Darom4peace [south for peace] is that wishy-washy, yes, very middle of the road we thought, no extreme left, no accusation of Israeli govt. or army, not even “peace now” type of thing.

Yet the police these dark days is apparently instructed to play an active role in boosting public morale and national unity, so they jumped into our midst literally and grabbed six of us on Wednesday into their cars, etc. Four univ students, myself, and Nir Oren, the director of an NGO called The Parents Circle (look it up on the net), or in Hebrew, Forum Mishpahot Shakulot – Israeli and Palestinian families who lost a family member in the conflict and work together towards peace.Nir’s own mother was killed in a suicide bombing of a bus in 1995. It turned out that one of the arrested students also lost his father in a terrorist attack several years ago and showed a great interest in joining the circle.

So now I am in house arrest for a few days, am not allowed into Beer Sheva for two weeks (my students will probably come to Yeruham instead), and we face trial on January 28. This is totally silly as Israel already has a landmark Supreme Court ruling from 1953 on freedom of speech (Bagatz Kol haÁm), but it does drive the message home that only traitors resist killing for their own group.

No one is surprised that the police wrongly thought we were breaking the law, disobeying the police, rioting (???!!!) and disturbing public peace (Orwellian enough, if you wish to disturb the war you actually disturb peace because war is peace, i.e. consensual, and we are controversial). What is surprising and I think worrisome is the silence of the press on all this in a country where there is freedom of the press, i.e. it is self imposed censorship. Many journalists called, were there at the watch, took pictures and interviewed, telephoned later, promised to come to the court, and nada, not a word, no coverage published.

So Israel crossed the line from self-defense to war crimes in my opinion the minute it refused to cease fire when Hamas requested it.

We shall not give in. Arrests only radicalizes politically, but I am holding my ground and I still refute the reasoning of the extreme left (“Israel is fascist”, “a nation-state cannot be democratic”).

By | 2009-01-16T15:59:00-05:00 January 16th, 2009|Blog|2 Comments


  1. Barry January 16, 2009 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    I did not know that Hamas requested a cease fire. I have read reports that Hamas “leaders” who reside in the safety of Damacus are against any sort of case fire that doesn’t include the destruction of Israel, and that Hamas in Gaza would agree to a cease fire wherein Gaza would have open borders with both Egypt and Israel (but particularly Egypt) but would not agree to unconditional cease fire. Finally, that many (most?) Gazans do wish a cease fire. But no one listense to them.
    I am glad, by the way, that a stray rocket did not land on you when you were conducting your reasonable demonstration in Beer Sheva. (But you have to admit, one could have.)

  2. rozele January 23, 2009 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    many many thanks, Leah Shakdiel, for your work and bravery in standing up for justice in whatever way you feel you can. “wishy-washy” in some ways, perhaps, but the response of the state shows that even wishy-washy can be seen as a threat to their efforts to maintain the myth of popular support for massacre and militarism.

    i wonder, however, why you don’t look to your own experience, and those of other jewish israelis who’ve spoken out against the khurbn gaza, to assess the larger political questions?

    whether or not you believe that nation-states are inherently anti-democratic (personally, i do), your own story leads very directly to the conclusion that the state of israel certainly is. as you say, the law is clear, and the commitment of the police to ignore it is equally clear. this is clearly neither a case of ignorance nor an isolated incident; it’s the system acting as it is intended to and as it has for sixty years.

    our own experiences are not to be dismissed. however strong your desire to “refute” the conclusions of those to your left may be, your testimony only strengthens their arguments and undermines your own.

    again, thanks for your brave work. i hope it leads you to take what it teaches you seriously, and let it guide your reasoning.

Leave A Comment