News Release

* Pope in Cuba * Silence as Female Palestinian Hunger Striker Goes Beyond 40 Days


SAMUEL FARBER, samuelfarber at
Farber is author of Cuba Since the Revolution of 1959: A Critical Assessment. He said today: “While masses of Cubans turned out to greet the Pope, appearances can be misleading. This visit will serve neither democracy nor popular interests. In exchange for the international legitimacy that the Cuban government is obtaining from the Pope, the Catholic Church expects to gain further advantages such as the teaching of religion in Catholic and even public schools.” Farber recently wrote the piece “The Second Coming of El Papa to Cuba: Pope Benedict XVI makes common cause with the Castro brothers.”

ALI ABUNIMAH, aliabunimah at, @avinunu
Abunimah is co-founder of the Electronic Intifada website and recently wrote the piece “Why the Silence? Hana Shalabi on Day 40 of Hunger Strike as Israel Rejects Appeal,” which states: “As Israeli officials defame and malign her on Twitter, Hana al-Shalabi lies critically ill and at risk of immediate death in Israeli detention on day 40 of her hunger strike. On Sunday, Ma’an News Agency reported today, an Israeli military judge – an officer of the Israeli occupation forces who kidnapped her from her home on 16 February – rejected an appeal against al-Shalabi’s “administrative detention” without charge or trial. …

“What is the ‘threat’ presented by Hana? Why won’t Israel charge her with any recognizable crime? Why did it previously hold her for two years, two years of harsh abuse, without ever charging her? The fact is that Hana al-Shalabi is a victim of Israel’s Orwellian “administrative detention” – a routinely abused “emergency” provision which dates from British colonial days. …

“Rather than an exceptional measure, as Israel claims, detention without charge or trial is on the rise. In its latest call on Israel to release Hana al-Shalabi, Amnesty International points out that she is one of more than 300 Palestinians currently in Israeli ‘administrative detention’ including more than 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council whose only ‘crime’ is to have been elected.

“What will it take to get the media pundits – who constantly demand that Palestinians produce Gandhis – to pay heed to Hana al-Shalabi’s struggle? Over these 40 long, agonizing days for her and her family, attention from international media has been sparse. International officials – including the European Union’s ‘Foreign Minister’ Catherine Ashton – have remained silent. Even some prominent human rights groups, including B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have totally ignored Hana al-Shalabi.”

Abunimah is author of the book One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse.