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October 10, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 10, 2014

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PAGE 12A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 10, 2014 No freedom of speech for Palestinians even on Facebook comments By Abdullah H. Erakat The Media Line West Bank--Pharmacist Raed Qubbaj was busy with a customer when a man working with the Palestinian Preventative Security Forces came into his RamaUah phar- macy and placed him under arrest earlier this month. "He didn't tell me why and he had no official papers from any court," the father of three boys told The Media Line. Qubbaj handed over his mobile phone and laptop to the man who had a car wait- ing outside. He agreed to go, thinking it was all a mistake, and he would be back in a few hours. It was only after he was given a medical exam and put in a jail cell was he told he had been arrested because of com- ments criticizing Palestinian officials on Facebook. During the interrogation, the security officers showed him several printouts of his Facebook page, the statuses highlighted on some pages, circled on others. "They asked me why I liked to curse the President (Mahmoud Abbas) on my Facebook, a charge I denied. Then they asked me if I had made comments against an official from the president's office and I admitted yes," Qubbaj, 42, said. The incident in question occurred over the summer, just before the fighting began Honoring poet Abraham Sutzkever University Club member Holly Mandelkern will speak about Abraham Sutzkever (1913-2010), a poet, partisan and witness at Nuremberg, at the University Club's Novem- ber meeting. The noted Yiddish poet was born on July 15, 1913 in Smorgon, Russian Em- pire. After WWI he and his mother moved to Vilnawhere he became a prolific young writer. In 1941, he and his wife, Freydke, were sent to the Vilna Ghetto. While there, he was ordered by the Nazis to hand over important Jewish manuscripts and artworks for display in an Institute for the Study of the Jewish Question, to be based in Frankfurt, Sutzkever and his friends hid a diary by The0dor Herzl, drawings by Marc Chagall and Alexander Bogen, and other treasured works behind plaster and Abraham Sutzkever, 1950 brick walls in the ghetto. In July 1943, he gave a fellow partisan a notebook of his poems, which reached the Jewish Anti-Fascist Commit- tee in Moscow. On Sept. 12, 1943, he and his wife escaped to the forests, and together with fellow Yiddish poet Shmerke Kaczerginsky he fought the occupying forces as a partisan. In February 1946, he was called up as a witness at the Nuremberg Trials testifying against Franz Murer, the murderer of his mother and newborn son. He died on Jan. 20, 2010 in Tel Aviv at the age of 96. Historical issues of interest that arose in writing a poem honoring Sutzkever will also be discussed. Mandelkern has lectured about Jewish resistance for many years and has ust completed her collection called "Beneath White Stars: Holocaust Profiles in Poetry." The discussion will be held Nov. 3, at 10 a.m. at the Uni- versity Club of Winter Park, 841 N. ParkAve., Winter Park. The event is open to the public and is free of charge. ............. ,  ......... . ................................  ............... . ...... Every day that you're outside, you're exposed to dangerous, but invisible, ultraviolet (UV) sunlight. Left unprotected, prolonged exposure to UV radiation can seriously damage the eye, leading to cataracts, skin cancer around the eyelid and other eye disorders. Protecting your eyes is important to maintaining eye health now and in the future. Shield your eyes (and your family's eyes) from harmful UV rays. Wear sunglasses with maximum UV protection. 17! il, i! !i\\;.'ii.! !!i! ii   ii  !i: ii: i ii,( :: between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In an inter- view with A1Jazeera, Nimmer Hammad insulted the news anchor when she asked him what Abbas was doing in the wake of the brutal killing of Palestinian teenager Moham- mad Abu Khdeir. Qubbaj wrote on Facebook that lis- tening to Palestinian officials like Hammad made him want to vomit. "They told me that writing bad things about an official is the same as writing about the whole Palestinian presi- dency," Qubbaj said. After four nights of sleeping on a dirty mattress smelling of urine, Qubbaj was released and given a November court date. If he misses the date, he will have to pay a $1400 fine. Palestinian Security Forces spokesman Adnan A1-Damiri refused to elaborate on Qub- baj's story but stressed that in such cases, no arrests are made without official court papers. "We will never arrest some- one who is practicing freedom of speech or freedom of expres- sion, whether he does it on Facebook or elsewhere," he told The Media Line. But the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) says the number of West Bank resi- dents arrested by Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces for anti-PA comments on social media is on the rise. While precise statistics are hard to pin down, MADA says the number has doubled in the first six months of 2014 compared to the year before. While the total numbers are still small, the increase is a cause for concern, they said, urging the Palestinian Authority to protect journal- istic freedom of speech. Some journalists say they have learned to practice self- censorship to avoid arrest. Patestinianjournalist Qutaiba Qassim says he has been sum- moned for questioning several times over the past six years. The most recent interrogation was conducted by the Pales- tinian Central Intelligence early this month. "They asked me to come with them for five minutes, and then they threw me into solitary confinement for more than seven hours," Qassim told The Media Line. He was arrested for commenting on a photo of Hamas police ar- resting then-Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. He said the photo proved that anyone could be arrested. He would visit the Palestin- ian intelligence unit in Beth- lehem five times. Qassim said that because his news agency Asdaa' is based in Gaza, the Palestinian police tagged him as a Hamas sympathizer, who opposes Mahmoud Abbas. "The first time they started at the interrogation, they asked me questions like: 'Why did you bring up Gaza?' 'Why did you write this?' 'What is your aim? 'Why are you are against law and order in the West Bank?' I explained to them that I'm not against law and order and at the end of the day, this is my opinion." The interrogators told him that he was being monitored, and that they were reading everything that he writes. "If I go into my Facebook, I get interrogated?" he asked. "The PA talks about freedom and democracy, where is it? We want to touch the freedom." Qassim continues to work in the field of media but has admitted to easing back on his reporting, especially when it comes to reporting on Pal- estinian officials. He says he has his future to think about. Meanwhile, Raed Qubbaj has no plans to deactivate his account."I still believe in free- dom of speech. I will not stop writing on my Facebook," the Palestinian pharmacist said. BBYO and partner for food drive campaign BBYO, the world's lead- ing pluralistic Jewish youth movement and DoSome-, the largest not- for-profit for young people and social change, announce the launch of"Can-Tribute," a campaign that will rally Jew- ish youth across the country to fight poverty in their local community through a food collection drive. The campaign kicked off on Sept. 23 and continues through Nov. 6. At the conclusion of the campaign, the leaders of the top three biggest drives will win a pre-screening of the "Hunger Games: Mock- ingjay Part 1" for themselves and 20 friends. "BBYO has a long tradition of teens coming together to stand up for the causes they believe in and to take action to create change in their communities and our world," said Natalie Spring, director of Campaigns and Movement Initiatives at BBYO. "Work- ing with on this campaign, we're able to connect more teens to the value of repairing the world." " is all about making social change accessible to young people and working around events in their lives like holidays and movie premieres to make so- cial change apart ofalifestyle" said Naomi Hirabayashi, chief marketing officer at DoSome- To sign up for Can-Tribute, visit: campaigns/can-tribute. Jewish Academy of Orlando students participate in Tashlich service The students at the Jewish Academy of Orlando walked to Lake Lily in the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to participate in Tashlich service. At Tashlich, the students symbolically threw away their misdeeds to begin the New Year renewed. Rabbi David Kay of Congregation Ohev Shalom as well as the Academy's Hebrew and Judaic Studies faculty led Tashlich service. It was a meaningful program to begin the New Year. For more information or to arrange a visit to the school, please contact Alan Ru- sonik, Head of School, at or 407-647-0713.