Podcast: Israeli Christian citizen harassed by police because of Facebook comment
By Ray Hanania
Israeli Christian Palestinian Ghassan Monayer was in his home in Lod, Israel on Friday night, April 25 when he received a phone call from the local Israeli police summoning him to their offices.
Monayer, who is married, said he went to the station but was held in isolation for one hour and 40 minutes before anyone would come to him and explain why he had been told to come to the police.
In a 20 minute conversation, Monayer was shown a printed copy of his Facebook Page where he had posted a comment about photos he had shared from another Israeli Arab citizen, Rev. Gabriel Nadaf, who has been urging Christian Palestinians to join the Israeli military. Monayer said he was expressing his opinion when he wrote that Arabs should know that what is being suggested is that Arabs join the Israeli military in order to oppress their own people and families.
He was left in isolation for more than four more hours, for a total of six hours, when he demanded that they either charge him or let him go. He said while in the police station, he had been told if he provided his computer and iPad, they would let him go. Monayer said he complied but was then ordered to serve five days “home confinement.” When Monayer protested, the police said they didn’t know what he was talking about, so he refused to sign the paperwork allowing the police to search his computer.
Monayer’s five day “home confinement” ended on Tuesday and on Wednesday, April 30, 2014, Monayer spoke with the Arab Daily News to discuss the discrimination that Arab citizens of Israel face in a podcast audio interview (linked below).
“They called me and told me to come to the police station,” Monayer said, noting he was put in a room by himself for 110 minutes.
“I asked them what did I do and they said it’s very sensitive. Very sensitive. They said I a suspected of threatening. I said, threatening who? They said they could not say.”
Monayer said he shared three photos that had been posted on Facebook by the Rev. Gabriel Nadaf who made international headlines as a Christian Palestinian citizen of Israel when he urged other Christians to enlist and join the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Monayer said that he posted a comment under the photos that said, “Because of Freedom of Speech and transparency, these are the people who are trying to enlist your kids to the Israeli Army to fight your own people.”
Monayer never made any threats. He never even criticized a specific person. All he did, he said, was express his opinion, something Israelis often tout is among the many “freedoms” that Arabs enjoy as Israeli citizens that they don’t enjoy in the Arab World.
“They showed me the printed copy of the Facebook Page and I said it is my post and I did not erase it. It’s freedom of speech. I did not threaten anyone. I just expressed my opinion,” Monayer recalled.
In his interview with The Arab Daily News, Monayer repeatedly said that he never threatened anyone. All he did was express an opinion. But he noted that Israel continues to discriminate against Christian and Muslim citizens, not just in Israel but especially against Christians and Muslims living under the Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Monayer detailed how he and his wife and other non-Jewish citizens of Israel experience daily discrimination, while Israel falsely claims that all citizens of Israel are treated equally.
“We are not treated equally,” Monayer, who is a Christian said.
Here is the Podcast Audio file to listen to the Interview.
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Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.
"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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