In this episode of Occupied Thoughts, FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks with award-winning Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab about the case of Mohamed Halabi — a Palestinian employee of World Vision arrested by Israel in 2016 for alleged support for terrorism and held by Israel ever since. Among other things, they discuss: What does the Halabi case teach the world about Israel’s politicization/weaponization of terrorism chargers? And what does it say about the ability of Palestinians to receive justice from an Israeli judicial system that is designed to promote the interests of Israel over the rights of Palestinians?
Background: Despite investigations by World Vision and the government of Australia (that found no basis for these charges against him) Mohamed Halabi has been held by Israel, based on secret evidence, for more than 5 years. Last week, the Jerusalem Post connected Halabi’s case to the recent declaration by Israel that 6 Palestinian human rights organizations are “terrorist” groups – in effect suggesting that skepticism about the charges is reasonable, given the treatment of Halabi. The Jerusalem Post editorial observed:
“Halabi has been in jail for more than five years and has endured 165 court sessions without any credible evidence brought against him. He has been denied bail and his trial has been declared secret without any credible reason except possibly to hide the fact that the prosecutor is afraid of being exposed for unjustly keeping an innocent man in jail for such a long time.”
Resources mentioned in (or relevant to) this podcast:
- Jerusalem Post (10/12/21): Halabi case shows failure of Israeli system
- Mondoweiss (8/25/21): Mohammed el-Halabi: Israel’s claims against me are fake, and aimed at maintaining the Gaza blockade
- Times of Israel (8/22/21): Jailed 5 years without a fair trial: My questions for Mohammed Halabi’s prosecutor
- The Media Line (8/8/21): Was Israel’s Judiciary Compromised?
- Medium (8/3/21): Palestinian humanitarian hero exposes five years of an unfair Israeli trial
- Jerusalem Post (7/18/21): Is Gaza human-rights activist Mohammad El Halabi getting a fair trial?
- National Catholic Reporter (6/30/21): Aid worker’s father appeals to Pope Francis to gain his son’s release from Israel
Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activists. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at PrincetonUniversity. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN) a not for profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman, and www.ammannet.net. Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Kuttab studied in the United Statesand has been working in journalism ever since 1980. He began his journalism career working in the Palestinian print media (Al-Fajr, Al-Quds and Asennara) as well as the audio visual field (Documentary producer). He established and presided over the Jerusalem Film Institute in the 90s. In 1995 he helped establish the Arabic Media Internet Network (AMIN) a censorship free Arab web site www.amin.org.Â He established and has headed between 1996 until 2007 the Institute of Modern Media at Al-Quds University. In 1997 he partially moved to Amman (because of family tragedy and remarriage) and in 2000 established the Arab world’s first internet radio station AmmanNet (www.ammannet.net). Mr. Kuttab is active in media freedom efforts in theMiddle East. He is a regular columnist for the Jordan Times. He has co-produced a number of award winning documentaries and children’s television programs. His op-ed columns have appeared in the NY Times, TheWashington Post, The Los Angles Times, The Daily Telegraph and Shimbum Daily inTokyo. He has received a number of international awards among them the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzeg Courage in Freedom Award and the Next Foundation (UK) Peace through Media Award. He is a regular columnist for the Huffington Post, Palestine News Network, Al Arrabiya.Net and the Jordan Times.
Lara Friedman is the President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP). With more than 25 years working in the Middle East foreign policy arena, Lara is a leading authority on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, with particular expertise on the Israeli-Arab conflict, Israeli settlements, Jerusalem, and the role of the U.S. Congress. She is published widely in the U.S. and international press and is regularly consulted by members of Congress and their staffs, by Washington-based diplomats, by policy-makers in capitals around the world, and by journalists in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her work at FMEP, Lara is a Contributing Writer at Jewish Currents and a non-resident fellow at the U.S./Middle East Project (USMEP). Prior to joining FMEP, Lara was the Director of Policy and Government Relations at Americans for Peace Now, and before that she was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, serving in Jerusalem, Washington, Tunis and Beirut. She holds a B.A. from the University of Arizona and a Master’s degree from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service; in addition to English, Lara speaks French, Arabic, Spanish, (weak) Italian, and muddles through in Hebrew.