America’s most treasured ally in the United States has deported an American citizen for allegedly political reasons. Jared Malsin, an American from New Hampshire, had spent the last two and a half years working for the Ma’an News Agency in the West Bank. He was the chief English Editor of the paper. Upon arrival at the Ben Gurion airport in Israel last week, Malsin was detained, repeatedly questioned and denied the right to immediately contact his family or a lawyer.
Our friends over at Blogging the Casbah were one of the first to report on the arrest of Malsin (Abu G spent time in the West Bank working with Malsin). Since then the story has been reported in the Washington Post, Reporters without borders, Al Jazeera and extensively by Ma’an and by Blogging the Casbah.
Due to a lack of transparency, there are many questions surrounding the detainment of and eventual deportation of Malsin and his girlfriend. Particularly murky is the way in which Malsin’s deportation was finalized. Malsin’s lawyer, at around mid-afternoon, filed an challenge to the deportation (at this point Malsin had been confined to his cell for several days). Later that afternoon, without advice from his lawyer and alone, Malsin signed a waiver that annulled his lawyer’s motion. The reasons for Malsin signing the waiver are unknown and it is unknown whether he was pressured to do so. From Reporters without Borders:
“The journalist was expelled after giving up his right of appeal. This decision was taken in dubious circumstances in that the journalist’s lawyer was not present,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“Did the journalist come under pressure?” it asked, “It is reasonable to question the legality of this expulsion in the absence of transparency on the part of the Israeli authorities”, it added.
Malsin was reportedly deported for his views, which were considered anti-Israeli and for ‘trying to exploit his Jewishness.’
Here is a more detailed timeline of Malsin’s time in detainment.
A personal friend and master in the fine art of description put it best regarding the attrition on Malsin’s sanity,
“As Jared has now been in the airport detention center for six days, longer than his vacation to Prague, we believe he is out of clean clothing. As we understand he has been unable to go outside and get real air for the length of his stay in the facility. We have been asking how long Jared can legally be kept in the room, and are concerned that above an arbitrary detention and violation of press freedoms case, there may be humanitarian concerns as well. Its obviously too early to make accusations, but we are closely monitoring his treatment and consulting folks to make sure we know what the law is around this.”It is the opinion of this blogger that the only democracy in the Middle East will harm its image for such treatment of Malsin. And it doesn’t matter how many Israeli doctors are seen helping in Haiti, the Malsin case will come back to haunt Israel, like the ghosts of martyred Palestinians from Operation Cast Led a year ago.
If you follow this blog, you know that I depend heavily on Ma’an for news in the occupied Palestinian territories. It is a paper that is impartial and reports equally on the treatment of Palestinians by Israel as well as the treatment of Israelis by Palestine. To deport the editor of such a paper for his views (which, as far as I can tell, as unbiased) is a serious blow to freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Israel, a country with whom the United States shares many core beliefs and whose moral backbone is supposedly made of the same unalienable fibers as America, has acted against the very core of human rights. Certainly, it can be argued that the heavy-hand with which Israel runs the West Bank and closes Gaza is necessary for security reasons. Yet the actions of Israel in the last two weeks have only shown bitterness and a dying commitment to liberty and freedom.
As Abu G says, this case, particularly now that it has been receiving more international attention, will come back to haunt Israel.