Jul 21, 2006

Akron Professor Still Jailed in Israel

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Left: Dr. Ghazi Falah, courtesy of University of Akron website

(Akron, OH) An Ohio geography professor remains in an Israeli jail 12 days after he was arrested on unknown charges, according to family members.

Ghazi Falah, 53, who teaches at the University of Akron, was detained July 8. Falah's wife Jamila said that her husband was detained after taking photographs on a tourist beach near Nahariya, and was later transported to a jail in Haifa.

"They [Israeli authorities] are not saying anything and they told the lawyer he’s not allowed to give any information," she said. "I’m so worried here."

Janelle Hironimus, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, said officials will not intercede because Falah is not a US citizen. He is a citizen of both Israel and Canada.

"A consular official from the embassy would be allowed to visit him in jail, but because he is not a citizen we don't have access to him," she said.

Israeli officials refuse to provide information about Falah to family members, and they have denied him the right to speak with his attorney. At a detention hearing last week, Falah's attorney was not allowed to be present.

Falah's family must wait and hope for the best.

"This is a ridiculous situation," his 23-year-old son Naail said. "We didn't even tell my youngest brother about it until TV cameras started showing up this morning. He should not be sitting in an Israeli prison."

Falah traveled to Israel to be with his mother, who underwent surgery in a Haifa hospital for a brain tumor.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Dr. Falah is a good man who is being railroaded by the paranoid Israeli police.

Anonymous said...

The ISraelis have no respect for human rights or ule of law. Israel is a terrorist state!

Dariush said...

I second the first poster's comment, Mike. Thanks for posting this. The more that word gets out about this, the better.

Kate said...

Do the Canadians have access to him? Maybe not - he's an Israeli and that's who has him.

Kate said...

from your linked article:

Stork said the Middle East Studies Association of North America's Committee on Academic Freedom, which he chairs, was sending a letter to the Israeli government, asking whether Falah was detained because of his academic writings, which have been criticized as having an anti-Israel bent.

Kate said...

from your linked article:

Stork said the Middle East Studies Association of North America's Committee on Academic Freedom, which he chairs, was sending a letter to the Israeli government, asking whether Falah was detained because of his academic writings, which have been criticized as having an anti-Israel bent.

Lisa Renee said...

link

If you haven't watched this video I recommend it - it's the audio and a transcript of Noam Chomsky that Cindy posted over on As Ohio Goes...

historymike said...

Thanks for the link, Lisa, it was edifying.

I left out the material, Kate, about Dr. Falah's writing. While it may be relevant, I think it is speculative at this moment.

My guess is that he got picked up by patrolmen who had no clue who he was, just that he looked Arabic and was taking pictures.

Sort of like "driving while black" here in the US.

Kate said...

that's how it struck me also Mike.

And he was visiting his mother. ABC had a terribly sad story today by Cal Perry in Tyre.

Only if you're feeling tough should you read this story: http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/07/23/perry.tyre/index.html

His last three paragraphs:

"Today, as I finish I am sitting in the same spot and the shells are still falling. Hezbollah rockets are firing toward northern Israel. I can imagine another reporter, in another flak jacket, standing over an 8-year old Israeli boy.

I'll finish by asking another question: Are any of us making a difference?

Tomorrow, I'll let you know."

Just breaks your heart. Everybody loses -

Kate said...

Sorry - he's AP and published this one on CNN

Anonymous said...

sources tells he is a Hizbolla informer. no tourist is ever going to Naharias boring beach to take pictures, specially not during the war...?! if he supplies information that suppose to give the Hizbolla terrorists better stikes on innocent population - let him rotten in jail.

historymike said...

"Sources," says Mr. Anonymous.

Care to provide a link, or just engage in rumor-mongering?

My sources at the University of Akron say that Falah is a good person, family man, and the farthest thing from a "Hizbollah informer."

Hooda Thunkit said...

Regardless of what he is suspected of doing, he is an Israeli citizen, doesn't that offer him some level of rights in his own country?

Seems very suspicous to me.

Anonymous said...

I am unsure any of us have the whole story however, it seems Israel has one of their own citizens traveling at what may have been an inopportune time for him. First it was for his mother's surgery, then to mourne his son, and now for pic's for his upcoming book? The fact that there were military equipment in the picture such as antennas? And the fact he was stated to have met with a known terrorist group in Iran a couple years ago? Add this to the constant country hopping in his life, and it just smells funny. He is not a citizen, and it would not be the first time Americans were fooled would it? Would an inactive CIA plant admit it if caught? I don't think so.

Besides do we really know anybody? Jeffrey Dahmer, and the lady who killed her 5 kids in the tub. Ask the lady next door and you always hear that they were just quiet, and normal folks.

I think I will wait for the jury before I make any decisions!

John said...

My guess is that it's just a screw up by the Shin Beth and the cops who arrested him. Of course he must have initially caught their attention because he was Arab and was photographing. I'm a Canadian Jew and I've been asked for identification or clarifications on several occasions when I was photographing in Israel. Recently I was taking some shots on my digital camera of the Beer Sheva-University railway station, and right away someone approached me to ask (in a friendly manner) why I was taking pictures. The same happened to some German friends of mine, by the way, who took pictures of the very unimpressive, po-dunk train station that used to be the Beer Sheva-University stop. People here are just very sensitive to this kind of stuff. Hizbullah does spy on Israel. Put yourself in the shoes of the Israeli Shin Beth agents who began interrogating Dr. Falah - usually, these are not people who are all that accustomed to the idea of academics travelling to conferences in Teheran and Lebanon. Arabs in America have gotten arrested and deported for much less.

My guess is that they're probably wrong. Ghazi Falah doesn't fit the profile of an adventurist agent. Yes, his articles are anti-Israel and highly politicized. Yes, he is an Arab citizen of Israel with a lot of grievances against his former homeland. But he seems too old, too settled in his life to embark on crazy adventures such as spying for Hizbullah.

I hope this gets cleared up soon...

John said...

On another note: the Israeli courts have now ordered the police to release or charge Dr. Ghazi by Sunday. (see today's Ha'aretz).
Most western democracies, by the way, have legislation in places that allows them to keep people suspected of national security crimes in detention without charge (witness Jose Padilla).

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll bite. The age I may agree with but depending on your beliefs, and what you are willing to do for the cause. Take a look at the employment history, which means how often someone moves. If you look for security, I am unsure this would be the path:

Employment from the University of Akron website:

Department of Geography and Planning, University of Akron, Ohio, USA. (August 2001- present).

Research Associate, University of Toronto, Centre for Urban and Community Studies, Toronto, Canada. (March 1996- August 2001).

Lecturer, University of Wales, Lampeter, Wales, U.K. (October 1995- September 1997)

Associate Professor and Fulbright Scholar, Department of Geography, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, USA. (August 1991- June 1993).

Executive Director and Senior Researcher, The Galilee Center for Social Research, 1987-91

Lecturer, Dept. of History, University of Hebron, Hebron, West Bank, 1985-87

Research Fellow, Research Center for Arab Heritage, Tayiba, Palestine (1984-85)


More can be learned from here:

http://www3.uakron.edu/geography/faculty_staff/faculty_vitae/falah_vitae.htm

At least for those that are willing to look and learn and not just believe either side of the versions we hear in the print and media bias.

Again, the jury is still out in my book, it can go either way!

Anonymous said...

Wow John,

I don't read it that way as stated here:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=ghazi+falah&itemNo=743182

John said...

מתברר שצדקתי... היום הפרופסור ה"נכבד" ישוחרר על ידי השב''כ... עוד פשלה אבל ניתן להבין את חדשות המשטרה והשב''כ

Well, it turns out that I was right. Dr. Falah is being released today, July 30 and the charges against him will be dropped. To anonymous: I think his very mobile lifestyle can be explained by the fact that he was an academic looking for employment. It's not easy finding a tenure track post.

John said...

BTW, all the accusations here about Israel's lack of respect for the rule of law are totally unwarranted in this case. Dr. Falah was arrested on legal security grounds. Plenty of countries have legislation in this day and age that allows arrest without charge. Sorry, it just happens to be necessary. This man was at the wrong place at the wrong time and had a very suspicious travel history. I don't believe that he was guilty, but the Israeli security services would have been very negligent if they hadn't investigated him. What was bad is that they took so long to investigate him and that the publication ban was not lifted earlier.