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Sol Salbe: The Case Of Tali Fahima

[The case of Tali Fahima, the first pro-Palestinian Israeli Jew who has been placed in administrative detention in Israel has made it to the Australian media.

The item linked below appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald. While it provided at least some coverage the article missed some of the crucial points. The 7 September Guardian (also linked below) came closer to the point as to why the Israeli state hates Fahima:

"Tali Fahima served her time in the Israeli army, voted for Ariel Sharon as prime minister and took it as given that her country was struggling for survival against terrorism.

"Then last year, the 29-year-old legal secretary from Tel Aviv picked up a newspaper and read about Zakariya Zubeidi, the Jenin leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the group responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and shootings. Ms Fahima decided she would ask Mr Zubeidi why he killed Jews. "

Liad Kantorowicz was more explicit still in a 25 August on Ynet:

"The question gets asked: what did Tali Fahima do there among all the Palestinians in a refugee camp? Hasn't she got anything better to do with her time? Openly or secretly, the vast majority of us would like to know why do the Palestinians hate us so much. How do they justify their constant use of violence against Israel? You can't get the answer to those questions in Tel-Aviv. To get the answer you've got to reach a place where you can find the Palestinians, preferably the kind that hate us the most. There's no better place than a refugee camp.

"I've been through the same kind of process. I couldn't get satisfactory answers to similar questions. I noticed that while I could recite the Israeli narrative in my sleep, I didn't have a clue as to what's happening on the other side. So I started visiting the Occupied Territories regularly. By fielding the most difficult of questions while there, I attempted to come to grips with the Palestinian reality. It doesn't take long to work out which side is the strong one and to extent is the weak side humiliated. These are things that Israeli public, especially those who go on reserve duty, can see every day. But when they return home they choose to ignore what they saw or dismiss it under the rubric 'they are terrorists.'

"There were others like me who started visiting the Territories. Together they joined in political activity. But we don't really count. The majority of us came from activist or left-wing backgrounds. We had the political consciousness to start with. Little wonder that we became involved in a struggle for justice - it was in the blood. But it was different in the case of Tali Fahima. She wasn't an activist. She held right-wing views. She was just your typical Israeli woman who apparently dared asking too many questions. And she was willing to go a long way to find the answers.

The General Security Service and similar bodies are not too worried about people like me. We do not pose a threat because we are all too predictable. Our ability to transcend national boundaries is self-evident. But in Tali Fahima's case no part of the security apparatus could have foreseen what happened. That's the reason she is deemed much more dangerous than any of us. If a run of the mill woman could get to such places, open up a dialogue with the "enemy" and display empathy - that means that anyone could do so. If we get to that stage where such communications develops, what then happens to the occupation?"

[My translations throughout.]

The Guardian reported: "Intelligence sources told the Israeli press that Ms Fahima had a hand in bombing an army checkpoint last month, and that she was planning attacks inside Israel." The trouble was that not only didn't the security apparatus have the evidence to prove their case, they didn't believe it themselves. Einyan Merkazi [] reported that according to her solicitor she wasn't even questioned on the subject of the bombing.

Fahima spent 30 days in the Shabak's [Sherut Bitachon Klali - General Security Service] detention centre. But she didn't break or give in on her convictions. There can be little doubt that the GSS could not find any evidence against her. Had there been even the slightest scintilla of evidence then she would have been charged. But rather than lose face it decided to keep her under administrative detention.

Of course, it is an embarrassment to the state to resort to such measures. Thus the officials in charge had to plead "security": "The justice minister, Yosef Lapid, said the activist has not been charged due to the need to protect intelligence sources.

"'There is very, very concrete evidence in the material indicating that she acted in a manner that endangers the security of Israel. Until there is a trial, the relevant officials believe that it would be better from the point of view of the security of Israel that she remain in detention,' he said."

The use of administrative detention [ a legacy of the British Mandate] is quite common when it comes to Palestinians. It is very rarely used against Israeli Jews. The last one was the case of Kach [extreme right-wing] activist Noam Federman. To its credit the Yachad-Mertz Party had a very good record on the subject. Zahava Gal-On, chairperson of the parliamentary wing was ferocious in her criticism of Federman's detention. Gal-on said that a person is innocent till prove guilty in a court of law. "Administrative detention is a vile measure that is inconsistent with human rights and democracy." Gal-on was just as critical on this occasion: "This is not in keeping with civil rights in a democratic society," Gal-on said. "If the GSS has information on her, she should be tried; if not, she must be released. The ease with which these administrative orders are issued shows a hysteria that will not attain its objectives."

Both the SMH and the Guardian items are linked below

- Sol Salbe]


Protesters demand release of Jewish woman
September 7, 2004
See complete article:

Dozens of left-wing activists demonstrated in Tel Aviv against a decision to place a young Israeli woman in administrative detention on suspicion of involvement in attacks by Palestinians.

The protesters gathered outside the district tribunal yesterday, chanting slogans demanding the immediate release of Tali Fahima, who was slapped with the four-month detention order by Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz on Sunday.

Fahima, 28, is a close friend of Zakaria Zubeidi, who, as leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the West Bank town of Jenin, is one of the most wanted of all Palestinian militants.

See complete article:


Peace activist held as 'danger to Israel'
Lawyers question state motives behind detention without trial of former woman soldier who befriended leading Palestinian militant
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
Tuesday September 7, 2004
The Guardian
See complete article:,3858,5009643-103552,00.html

Tali Fahima served her time in the Israeli army, voted for Ariel Sharon as prime minister and took it as given that her country was struggling for survival against terrorism.

Then last year, the 29-year-old legal secretary from Tel Aviv picked up a newspaper and read about Zakariya Zubeidi, the Jenin leader of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the group responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis in suicide bombings and shootings. Ms Fahima decided she would ask Mr Zubeidi why he killed Jews.

On Sunday, the military placed Ms Fahima in detention without trial using a law applied to thousands of Palestinians over the past four years of intifada but rarely to Israelis.

See complete article:,3858,5009643-103552,00.html


[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is generously sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]

**** ENDS ****

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