Three people were taken into custody and their literature confiscated as they were handing it out to foreign journalists outside the Dan Panorama Hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday night. The Dan Panorama is where most of the journalists who are covering the Bush visit are lodging.
Plans to distribute the material to foreign journalists were put into place last week as a joint project of the Center for Near East Policy Research and the National Council of Young Israel, a Jewish American organization with chapters in every state. "A number of activists with several organizations were working on assisting the Center to distribute this crucial information to the foreign media," said activist Suzy Dym in an exclusive interview with Israel National News.
English-speaking volunteers came Wednesday evening to speak with visiting journalists outside their hotel, and present them with views and materials opposing the establishment of a Palestinian state in Israel.
Volunteer Yosef Hartuv gave a Fox TV cameraman a booklet presenting the majority view in Israel which opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Fox cameraman is seen in the picture below holding the literature as he carried on a 20-minute conversation with him. According to Hartuv, the cameraman said, "This is very interesting. I'll get this stuff to my producer."
The literature handed out was a booklet authored by Arlene Kushner entitled, "Fatah as 'Moderate': A Hard Look Post-Annapolis," published by the Center for Near East Policy Research at the Beit Agron International Press Center in Jerusalem. The booklet may be viewed in its entirety by clicking here.
According to eye-witnesses, Police Superintendant Chaim Moshe approached the cameraman and confiscated the booklet from him. Officer Moshe then told the volunteers that they were not allowed to stand there and talk with the journalists.
In the picture below, Superintendant Chaim Moshe can be seen holding the confiscated booklet in his hands and telling volunteer Susie Dym that she must leave the premises.
"One policeman said we can't stand in front of the hotel, that we should go to the corner, so that's what I did," related Jeff Daube, another volunteer at the site.
Daube wrote what happened next in a blog post:
"Approximately 20 minutes later, a policeman comes down to the corner where I had been standing and taps me on the shoulder asks me for my teudat zehut [ID card] and tells me to come with him. He then told me to get into the police car with Yehudit Dassberg and Susie Dym, two colleagues who were there for the same purpose. They did not tell me at the time why I was being taken in but Susie told me in the car that they found the material either seditious or contain incitement -- I am not sure which. Later it became apparent that they claimed we were creating a public nuisance. Nothing could be further from the truth."
Hear Daube interviewed on IsraelNationalRadio.com.
Dym was not willing to be taken in for questioning: "I told them that I cannot agree to be detained because I need to talk to these foreign reporters, that that's what I came to Jerusalem for." "Then you are arrested," responded the police officer, "for distributing seditious (treasonous) material."
Dym said Police Superintendent Chaim Moshe told her if she didn't "come along quietly" that they would use "considerable force" against her.
At the Russian Compound, Dym was formally arrested while the other two were detained.
Approximately one hour later, all three were released, their personal belongings were returned -- minus the booklets -- and the charge against Dym was dropped. "They haven't really charged us yet, but they still could," she emphasized. "We like to hope that in a democracy that doesn't happen, but we know it does."
Israel Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told Israel National News on Thursday that the three volunteers were released "after it became clear there was no security threat involved and there was no incitement with the materials they had."
Rosenfeld said the booklets were confiscated in order to be "examined" but was unable to explain why the materials were not returned once it had been determined they were harmless. "That's something I have to look into," he said. When pressed for a response as to why the detainees were released without their literature, he reiterated the police were examining the materials at the time, adding, "It takes time to read through a 27-page booklet in English."
The real concern, said Dym, is the lack of information reaching public figures in American Jewish organizations about Fatah's continued involvement with terrorism against Israel.
"Our real hope is that public figures and organizations will take this very seriously," she said. "We pray we won't be abandoned by the American Jewish community on this issue."
Daube concludes his blog post about the arrest with his personal feelings:
"I am struck by the police's total arbitrary and capricious behavior in this incident. After having read and heard about these types of police actions, and now having experienced it first-hand, I can only say that I am saddened by the fact that the police force of the Jewish State employs tactics which are unethical in the extreme and still has the gall to call itself a democratic country where the rule of law prevails. Granted at 60 years old, the country may still be young, relatively speaking, but it still has a long way to go before it reaches minimum standards of respect for a citizen's civil rights -- even a brand new citizen."