Political activists and representatives of Israeli Arab advocacy groups are planning a major rally in Haifa on Monday night to protest what they are calling "political persecution on the part of security officials and the silencing of Arab citizens in the State of Israel."
Members of Arab advocacy groups, including Adalah, Mossawa and I'lam Media Center, are angry that they can't provide details about the circumstances or the reasons for the protest, even though some information has been reported by journalists and bloggers in the United States and Europe, as well as by the Arab press in countries including Israel.
"We will act against compulsory laws that enable the prevention of meetings with lawyers," said Mossawa director Jafar Farah, who was involved in contacting embassies as part of the protest campaign organized by Israeli Arab groups. "We will organize public events with the goal of placing on the agenda the political persecution of activists in Arab organizations."
"The feeling is that certain elements within the political and security establishment are acting to damage the ties between Jews and Arabs within the Green Line, with the purpose of complicating the peace negotiations," said Farah.
The protest comes after measures taken by security officials in recent weeks that led Arab advocacy groups in Israel to contact human rights groups abroad and diplomats in Israel. Representatives of the Arab groups decided during a meeting in Haifa on Thursday night to ramp up their protest activity.
Adallah said it would petition the High Court of Justice against what it said were restrictions on publicizing recent events, and I'lam sent messages to all major media outlets in Israel and to the head of the Israel Press Council, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner. Dorner could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Former MK Issam Makhoul, who is planning to participate in tonight's rally, said the public was being deprived of its right to know what had sparked the protest.
"These are drastic steps that infringe on basic rights - the public's right to know," he said.
MK Masud Ganaim (United Arab List-Ta'al ) and other Arab legislators are planning to raise the issue in the Knesset, and the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee is due to hold an emergency session over the weekend to discuss the matter.