Friday, May 4, 2007
With Amy Goodman
"......Today, Azmi Bishara is facing his most serious challenge to date. Israeli police have accused him of treason and espionage. The charges reportedly center around Bishara's alleged contacts with members of Hezbollah during Israel's attack on Lebanon last year. There are reports Bishara's conservations were wiretapped. Bishara resigned his position in the parliament and left Israel last month. Israeli police say they'll arrest him if he returns. Bishara's resignation takes away his parliamentary immunity from prosecution.
Today, Azmi Bishara joins us from Abu Dhabi. And here in the firehouse studio we're joined by Yael Lerer. She is an Israeli Publisher who worked as an aide to Azmi Bishara in 2000.
AZMI BISHARA: Well, both decisions have nothing to do actually with the charges. I resigned from the Knesset because I wanted to -- like a year ago, I felt already exhausted from parliamentary work -- eleven years. This was a very, very intensive year, and I wanted to give more time for my philosophy and literature writing on my books and also for political work, but not in the parliament......
They changed the rules again totally. Now they are not accusing me of supporting the state of the citizens against the Zionist character of the state, or they're not accusing me of saying things. They’re accusing me of doing things. It is totally different. It’s actually -- they’re accusing me of security crimes that, according to the Israeli law, it’s very hard to clear yourself from, because it’s their arena. They can bring the evidence they want from unknown intelligence sources. They can actually impose new things that you did not do and interpret your relationships. For example, they can declare any friend you have or any journalist you talk to in Lebanon or in Jordan or in Egypt as a foreign agent. And this is so, according to Israeli law. Security courts are very different from civil courts, although they are civil courts formally. But the rules of the game are totally different in there, because of the kind of evidence that convinces a court. So I thought it’s very mean, actually, the fact that instead of facing my political and ideological work, that they referred to security tools with which it’s very, very hard to compete. It’s very hard to challenge......
But actually the Israeli security started working against my case a few years ago -- against me a few years ago, because they could not cope with the fact that there is an Arab Palestinian who is trying to take away the democratic liberal discourse from their hand and use it against them. They’re not used to this fact, that there is an Arab national, Palestinian national, who is using a democratic discourse of citizenship and liberalism, etc. They started working a few years ago before the timing of the war. I referred actually to the media and politicians' timing, which has to do with their need to divert attention into my direction......"