Pollard Op-Ed: Noam Federman - The Fight for Israel's Soul
By Jonathan Pollard FCI Butner, NC 22 April 2004
[Appeared first in IMRA. May be republished with attribution]
The imprisonment of Noam Federman, without recourse to due process, blurs
the moral distinction between Israel and her non-democratic neighbors in the
If, without having broken any law, Federman can be deprived of his freedom,
his family and his livelihood indefinitely, merely because his belief system
differs from that of the largely non-religious, non-nationalist political
and security establishment, then no citizen of Israel is safe from
The State of Israel came into being upon the ashes of the Holocaust - which
witnessed the humiliation, incarceration and murder of 6 million Jews. The
new state was conceived as a haven for Jews, a place where we could finally
live without fear of being hunted or persecuted for our beliefs.
The incarceration of Noam Federman calls into question the very raison d'
etre of the State of Israel. Federman has committed no crime. He was never
indicted, never tried. But he has been jailed for two successive terms in
"administrative detention" and subjected to the harshest conditions the
Israeli penal system can mete out.
Administrative detention, a hold-over from the period of the British Mandate
in Palestine, is an odious device which allows the State to imprison an
individual - without charging him - for up to six months. Every six months
the order can be renewed so that an individual can be incarcerated
indefinitely without due process. Federman's detention order has just been
renewed for another six- month term.
If Federman is guilty of anything, it is of being an outspoken religious
nationalist, and for many, a symbol of the nationalist camp. Are his
religious and political convictions now reason to lock him away without
charges? To afflict him? To deprive his family of husband and father? To
prevent him from earning a livelihood? To cancel all social security
benefits for his wife and children - a punishment that even the families of
(Israeli) Arab suicide bombers are not subjected to?
According to the political and security establishment in Israel, the answer
is "yes." They regard Federman's beliefs as a threat to Israel's national
security. For them, that is sufficient reason to keep him locked up
indefinitely, without indictment or trial -effectively denying him the right
to ever challenge his incarceration in a court of law.
Federman is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. His visits with his
wife and children (only 2 visits have been permitted in the last 7 months)
were overpowered by the presence of 5 Shabak agents standing over them and
listening to every word they spoke. He is housed with dangerous, anti-Israel
Arabs and terrorists, and handled as if he were as much a threat to the
State as any one of them.
The imprisonment of a nation begins with the unjust detention of a single
individual. Federman's plight and that of his family is not a private
ordeal. It is a test for the entire nation. If Israel ceases to serve the
reason for which the State was created - to be a place where a Jew can be
free to speak his mind and live his life lawfully according to his
conscience - what will become of us?
A State, just like a person, has its own body politic. If the State permits
its political and security echelons to selectively persecute its own
citizens without challenge, it risks degenerating into the political
equivalent of an auto-immune disease.
In other words, if the State of Israel is permitted to select - according to
narrowly defined personal or political interests - whom it will afflict,
whom it will uproot, whom it will betray, whom it will abandon, whom it will
detain, and whom it will punish without due process, then it will
effectively undermine its very foundations.
The immediate release of Noam Federman is imperative to assure that Israel
remains a safe haven for all of her citizens, maintains its moral high
ground in the region, and remains viable as a democracy.
The fight to free Federman is the fight for Israel's soul. Noam Federman
must be freed, now!