Analysis

Why Did Israel Handcuff and Deport a French-American Law Professor?

The military arrest of Frank Romano, a French-American citizen who was protesting Israeli policy, raises many disturbing questions

Professor Frank Romano in court in Jerusalem on September 16, 2018.
Emil Salman

The case of Prof. Frank Romano, a dual French-American citizen who was arrested on Friday at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, raises a number of questions.

Why was it documented and reported that the professor attacked a police officer, and based on this report a military arrest warrant for 96 hours was issued, when no such attack had occurred? The attorney representing the state admitted to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court that there had been no attack. Rather a soldier had been hindered in carrying out his duties, when apparently the movement of a tractor was blocked as part of a protest against the intention to evacuate the village and destroy its homes.

What steps will be taken against those who gave false testimony?

How long will the practice continue in Israel of law enforcement officers providing false reports against citizens or tourists to lead to their false arrest?

Was the use of a military arrest order intended to enable a longer detention without judicial oversight? Was it intended to allow for a hasty deportation from Israel? Is this the way Israel treats the right to liberty?

Why wasn’t Romano afforded a proper hearing on his deportation, including representation by his attorney? Was the deportation process intended to prevent a hearing in the court in Jerusalem over the legality of his detention, by making such a hearing unnecessary?

Israeli border police arrest American university professor Frank Romano in the West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar, September 14, 2018.
Nasser Nasser/AP Photo

Why and on what basis was Romano deported?

How did it happen that for hours, no official body was found to take responsibility for Romano’s custody after a deportation order was issued against him, and as a result, the short trip from Ramla,where he was being held, turned into four hours.

What justified keeping Romano handcuffed during the hearing? What were those who cuffed him afraid of? And in how many other cases are detainees cuffed unnecessarily, except for the illegal purpose of causing them to suffer?

How long will the stupidity persist that is behind the government’s persecution of people in Israel and abroad who oppose the occupation, the expulsion of Palestinians and the Israeli government’s contempt for international law? When will it become clear what huge damage this causes to Israel’s image as a free country and its international standing? When will the impact of these steps — which change the attitude of those who are its victims from a critical stance to a completely negative view of Israel — be understood?

How good it is that there are judges in Jerusalem, including the Magistrate’s Court, whose insight has not deserted them, despite the demands on them by the government to function as automatons in the service of brutality.