No excuses -- we must support Khader Adnan

February 14, 2012

Khader Adnan is a 33-year-old Palestinian husband and father. As of February 14, he was 59 days into a hunger strike and perilously close to death. He has been held by Israel since December without any charge or trial under an Israeli "administrative detention" order. Such orders violate international law.

There is an urgent need for international action to save Adnan's life and -- beyond that -- force Israel to abolish administrative detention orders (under which someone who is held is denied access to the evidence being used to justify holding them).

See also:
Take action for Khader Adnan
Khader Adnan -- starving for freedom
Israel court abandons Palestine hunger striker near death

Confronting this grave injustice, some people raise the fact that Adnan is accused by Israel of being the spokesperson of the Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad, which has claimed responsibility for armed attacks against Israel. Under an article on Adnan on this site, one person left the comment that it was not just Israel, but pro-Palestinian sites that referred to Adnan as being tied to Islamic Jihad.

The clear implication is that, if this is true, then in someway Israel is justified, or else the scale of the crime being committed against Adnan -- as well as the need to protest it -- is somehow lessened.

OK, so Israel accuses Adnan of being a spokesperson for Islamic Jihad. So what? If Israel believes he has committed a crime, why do they not charge and try him in an open court of law?

There is no justification for Israel's treatment of Adnan or any other Palestinian it holds under administrative detention orders.

Whatever you may personally think about Islamic Jihad, there is a Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation and Islamic Jihad is part of it. International law recognises the right of people to resist occupation.

Adnan is accused of being a "spokesperson". Accused. Not officially charged with anything, let alone found guilty of any responsibility for any act of violence.

If this fact of Israel's accusation in anyway helps justify Israel's actions, then you might as well be consistent about it and apply the logic to both sides of the conflict.

If Israel has the right to kidnap and hold in terrible conditions in prison an alleged spokesperson for an armed resistance group, then Palestinians have the right to kidnap and hold without any charge any person it accuses of being a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Force.

That would at least be even handed.

If you actually have any interest in resolving the conflict, it is worth looking to where similar events have occurred before. An obvious place to start is Ireland during "the Troubles" that lasted decades from the late 1960s. Violent conflict between the British military and its supporters, and armed republicans tore apart the six counties in Ireland's north still claimed by Britain.

The policy of banning the Irish Republican Army's political wing Sinn Fein (even banning SF leader Gerry Adams' voice from British TV) did absolutely nothing to end the conflict. Nor did the infamous 1970s policy of internment, by which the British forces rounded up and held, without charge or trial, thousands of people.

It only fuelled the conflict, because such injustice always breeds resistance.

Nor did the British policy of allowing 10 men to starve themselves to death in 1981 (who were all members of armed republican groups and which the British government denounced as terrorists, but the nationalist community viewed as heroes) do anything other than fuel a determination to resist British occupation.

It was, in fact, an important turning point in that conflict. It exposed the injustice of British policy and helped lay the ground work for a political agreement to end the armed conflict.

It was only when Britain realised it could not win militarily and had no choice but to negotiate around the issues behind the violence, the situation was able to move forward. It has a long way to go, but at least it has moved beyond the ongoing violence of the Troubles.

You cannot say, in relation to Israel's actions, "well, if Adnan is Islamic Jihad, then that is a different story". You cannot pick and choose which injustice you oppose depending on a personal preference for or against those the injustice is being committed against.

Adnan is being slowly murdered by the Israeli authorities in order to defend a thoroughly unjust policy as part of a thoroughly unjust occupation by a thoroughly unjust regime. Adnan must be supported.

Former IRA prisoner Tommy McKearney, who went on hunger strike for 53 days, sends a message in support of Khader Adnan.


Islamic Jihad is a major Palestinian political party. Maybe it sounds scary or whatever, but really, it's like being a spokesperson for Fateh, or Hamas, or the PFLP. They're all major Palestinian political parties (the above would be the largest four factions or parties), and all of their members (yes even Fateh) are targeted for imprisonment and administrative detention by the Israeli occupation. The fundamental goal of all of these parties is ending the illegal Israeli occupation of their land. Pro-Palestinian sites refer to Khader Adnan as a spokesperson for this political party because Palestinian sources do, and it does us a huge disservice to attempt to marginalize and criminalize Palestinian political activism by rendering the major Palestinian political parties somehow indefensible because they have military wings that have undertaken armed operations against the illegal occupation that is currently sitting on their land. We need to defend Khader Adnan, and part of that defense is not getting caught up in the trap of marginalizing or "delegitimizing" Palestinian resistance and Palestinian political parties.

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