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Washington Post Column Gives Skewed Portrait of Israeli Administrative Detention

Illustrative: Israeli forces gather at the scene of an incident at the Hawara checkpoint, near the Palestinian city of Nablus, in the West Bank, Nov. 4, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.

On the heels of the deal that has seen Hamas release Israeli hostages being held in Gaza in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, Washington Post columnist Ishaan Tharoor has written a piece about Israel’s policy of administrative detention, which some of the released prisoners were held under.

Rather than contributing to a legitimate discussion about the use of administrative detention in Israel and other democracies with similar policies (such as the US and UK), Tharoor presents a skewed image of the Israeli policy, while also relying on biased sources to back up his assertions.

How Israel keeps hundreds of Palestinians in detention without charge

(free to read)

— Ishaan Tharoor (@ishaantharoor) November 28, 2023

“The Norm in the West Bank”: Ishaan Tharoor’s View of Administrative Detention

Tharoor’s piece portrays administrative detention as a popular tool used by Israel to detain Palestinians without charge or trial.

He even goes so far as to claim that “it has become more the norm in the West Bank.”

However, a closer look at his analysis belies some of Tharoor’s conclusions.

For example, he cites HaMoked, an Israeli organization with a record of demonizing the Jewish state. It stated that on October 1 (over a week before the Hamas attack), that 1,319 Palestinians were being held in administrative detention. According to an Al Jazeera report that Tharoor also cites, before October 7, there were 5,200 Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

It is clear that these numbers do not substantiate Tharoor’s claim that administrative detention has “become more the norm in the West Bank.”

Similarly, Tharoor claims that after October 7, 3,000 Palestinians were detained by the Israeli security establishment and that “the majority appear to be held in administrative detention.”

However, in the next paragraph, the numbers provided by HaMoked claim that 1,051 of those arrested post-October 7 are being held in administrative detention, which is certainly not a “majority.”

As well, there is no mention of the fact that many of those arrested after October 7 are members of Hamas or other proscribed terror organizations.

Tharoor also leaves out some salient facts that would provide his readers with more of a nuanced picture about administrative detention.

For example, he makes no mention of the fact that administrative detention is also used against Jewish Israelis (albeit in lower numbers than Palestinians).

There is no mention of the fact that there is a six-month limit to administrative detention (which can be extended by a military court if it is led to believe that the detainee still poses a threat); that the detainee is allowed to appeal the military court’s decision all the way up to the Israeli Supreme Court; and that the intelligence justifying the use of administrative detention is not made public due to its sensitive nature.


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Ishaan Tharoor’s Biased Sources

Furthermore, Tharoor relies solely on biased sources that are known for their exceptional criticism of Israel and the IDF.

These include:

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization that has falsely accused Israel of being guilty of apartheid, has called for International Criminal Court and United Nations investigations into Israeli activities, and has partnered with organizations that promote the boycott of Israel.
Amnesty International, which has falsely accused Israel of being guilty of apartheid and war crimes, has called for an arms embargo of Israel, and has been accused of disproportionately singling out Israel for condemnation.
Michael Lynk, the former United Nations Special Rapporteur, who has claimed that Israel’s security blockade of Gaza is “medieval,” who has falsely accused Israel of apartheid, and who has defended Palestinian organizations with ties to proscribed terror groups.

In addition, Tharoor quotes a 2012 European parliamentary report that claims administrative detention is used “principally to constrain Palestinian political activism.” However, it is unclear what the report deems to be “political activism” as it later describes Khader Adnan, a Palestinian Islamic Jihad member, as a “Palestinian activist.”

Ultimately, Ishaan Tharoor has provided his readers with a simplistic overview of Israeli administrative detention, based on biased sources, broad statements not backed by his own statistics, and a disregard for any context that would complicate his facile analysis.

It should be noted that The Washington Post is just one of many media organizations who have inaccurately depicted the Israeli system of administrative detention in recent days. These include CNN, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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An anti-Israel blockade at McGill University’s Bronfman Building led in-person classes to be cancelled for a day

An ongoing blockade at McGill University’s Bronfman Building in downtown Montreal led classes on the premises to be cancelled on Thursday—but some of the scheduled ones were taught online instead. Protesters blocked both entrances to the building while holding up signs that accused the university administration of supporting genocide, which also involved drawing photos of […]

The post An anti-Israel blockade at McGill University’s Bronfman Building led in-person classes to be cancelled for a day appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas

[Illustrative] Harvard University students displaying a pro-Palestinian sign at their May 2022 graduation ceremony. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

A group of ten Harvard University alumni filed a lawsuit against the institution on Wednesday, accusing it of “devaluing” their degrees through permitting and fostering an environment of antisemitism, support for terrorism, and anti-Israel sentiment. 

Filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the alumni claims that Harvard has breached an implicit contract with its graduates, promising to maintain the institution’s prestige, which they allege has been compromised due to a toxic campus environment. This, they argue, has led potential employers and prestigious law firms to distance themselves from Harvard alumni.

“Harvard has directly caused the value and prestige of plaintiffs’ Harvard degrees to be diminished and made a mockery out of Harvard graduates in the employment world and beyond,” the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit argues that the university’s administration has failed to combat campus anti-semitism, and has consistently overlooked assaults on Jewish students and calls by students and faculty for the annihilation of Israel. It highlighted, among other things, an open letter signed by more than thirty student organizations blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas-led attack, and campus protests which included chants like “Long live the intifada!” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab!”

The suit also points to then-Harvard president Claudine Gay’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she stated that calls for genocide against Jews would only violate bullying and harassment policies “depending on the context,” as indicative of the school’s tolerance of antisemitism.

The lawsuit is part of a growing dissatisfaction among graduates over what they perceive as rampant antisemitism on U.S. campuses, according to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of legal aid group, Shurat HaDin, who is representing the alumni alongside New York-based lawyer, Robert Tolchin.

Darshan-Leitner criticized the colleges for becoming “hate centers” under the guise of academic freedom. 

The lawsuit, Darshan-Leitner said, reveals the “growing outrage and contempt that graduates all across the US are feeling over the wild antisemitism and hate speech being encouraged and explained away on the American campuses.” 

“This dangerous weaponization of higher education by radical faculty and students as well as the impotent administration response, all justified under the guise of academic freedom, has turned the colleges into hate centers which has greatly devalued their reputation and diplomas,” she said, adding that the suit could prompt similar actions from graduates of other institutions.

Tolchin accused the university of succumbing to “the flavor of the month, the lowest level of discourse.”

“Harvard’s seal proclaims “Light and Truth” in Latin and Hebrew–yes, Hebrew, the language spoken by the indigenous Israelites. Yet light and truth have been hard to find at Harvard. The darkness of antisemitism and the dishonesty, hate, and discrimination have cast a pall over Harvard so embarrassing that people do not wish to be associated with Harvard,” Tolchin said. 

Harvard has been accused of facilitating an educational environment that is unwelcoming to Israelis and Jews for years, with the lawsuit citing annual events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” and incidents targeting Jewish students and symbols on campus. 

Antisemitism expert Dara Horn, a Harvard alumnus who was asked to join Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, authored a damning essay published this week in The Atlantic in which she detailed the Jew hatred on campus predating October 7. 

She noted that staff members “who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups;” In one instance, a professor continued teaching after rejecting the findings of an investigation by Harvard after he was found discriminating against several Israeli students. Last spring, a student was asked to leave because her identity as an Israeli was making her classmates “uncomfortable.”

She also pointed to courses themselves “premised on anti-Semitic lies”, pointing to one called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health”, and noted that lecturers invited to speak at the campus included some who peddled in blood libels that Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organs or that the IDF uses Palestinian children for weapons testing. 

“The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised,” Horn writes.  The alumni’s legal action comes alongside another lawsuit filed by six current Harvard students on January 10, claiming that the university has not done enough to combat antisemitism on campus which had become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” It also comes a day after a professor at the university, Walter Johnson, resigned from two anti-Zionist campus groups after they posted antisemitic cartoons.

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Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7

Eden Alene, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during finals in Neve Ilan studio near Jerusalem on Feb. 4, 2020. Photo: Shlomi Cohen/Flash90.

Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar sent the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) a letter on Thursday urging them to approve Israel’s submission to the Eurovision song competition, after the EBU called it “too political.”

“As you know, the State of Israel is experiencing one of the most difficult and complex periods since its establishment. We lost our loved ones, and there are women, men and children who are still held captive by a terrorist organization,” Zohar said.

Israeli media reported that the broadcasting union would not approve the song, called “October Rain,” after a number of countries even issued threats to boycott the event if Israel participates. The EBU issued a statement saying “We are currently in the process of carefully examining the lyrics of the song – a process that is confidential between the EBU and the Public Broadcasting Corporation until a final decision is made. To all broadcasters, they have until March 11th to officially submit their songs. If a song does not meet the criteria for any reason, the corporation will be given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, according to the contest rules.”

“The song that Israel sent to the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen by a professional committee made up of well-known names in the local music and entertainment industry,” Zohar added. “It is a moving song, discussing renewal and revival from a very fragile reality of loss and destruction, and describes the current public mood in Israel these days. We see now most clearly because our lives – as one, united society – manage to overcome even the greatest suffering. This is not a political song.”

Despite the news that the song by Israeli singer Eden Golan would not be approved, The CEO of KAN, Israel’s national broadcasting service, and the body that approves the song, Golan Yokhpaz, said “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.” Adding “The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) is in dialogue with the EBU regarding the song that will represent Israel at Eurovision.”

Zohar said later in a television interview “The songwriters, KAN, and the singer will have to make the decisions at the end of the day… I do think that Israel should participate in Eurovision because it is important for us at this time to be represented there, and to express ourselves throughout Europe.”

Speaking to the EBU, he said, “We trust that you will continue in your important task of keeping the competition free from any attempt at political manipulation.”

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