Roseanne Barr and former Obama official join criticism of Israel as Khader Adnan on day 65 of hunger strike

Demonstrators spray graffiti with the image of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan, hunger striking for more than two months, during a protest to mark 7 years for the struggle against the wall in the West Bank village of Bilin, February 17, 2012.

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr and former Obama administration State Department official Anne-Marie Slaugher are among the growing number of people to join criticism of Israel’s use of administrative detentions of Palestinians highlighted by the 65 day hunger strike of Khader Adnan.

Meanwhile, social media campaigns have helped bring more attention to Adnan’s fight, even though time for him may be running out.

Adnan is gravely ill, and his lawyers fear he may not live until 23 February, when the Israeli high court has agreed to hear a petition against his detention without charge or trial. Adnan was seized from his West Bank home by Israeli occupation forces on 17 December. Israel says Adnan is a member of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad, but has not charged him with any crime.

On Sunday, Twitter users trended the hashtag #KhaderExists to the number one spot worldwide to bring attention to Adnan’s hunger strike.

Slaughter, a professor at Princeton University, who served as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State from 2009-2011 tweeted, “#KhaderExists and should be charged or released” and provided a link to a 12 February Guardian article on his case.

Roseanne Barr tweeted, “G-d bless Khadar Adnan, and the people of Israel/Palestine.”
The cumulative attention on Twitter helped propel signatures on an Amnesty International online petition from just under 1,500 to over 2,500 in a few hours.

On her radio show that evening (begins at the 66 minute mark on this podcast), Barr, who is considering running for president of the United States, said:

Today if you follow me on Twitter, people are talking about Khader Adnan who is in his 64th day of a hunger strike in an Israeli prison.

In further comments she added,

Something that bugs me is that we were talking about Khader Adnan and the State of Israel, and the how they are detaining and arresting people without charge for a long time. And that is such a terrible thing. And of course I just want to make the point that it’s a terrible thing and that should be removed from this world from everywhere that it exists and it’s something people can rally behind.

Adnan, who is actually under guard shackled to his bed at Ziv hospital in Safad, is one of more than 300 “administrative detainees” held indefinitely by Israel without charge or trial. This number includes 21 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council that was democratically elected in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 2006.

A song for Khader Adnan and Bobby Sands

Khader Adnan’s hunger strike – the longest in the history of Palestine – has reminded many of the historic Irish hunger strikes of 1980-81.

David Rovics, an American independent musician, recorded a song called “Khader Adnan, Bobby Sands.” The song draws a comparison between Adnan’s strike and that of Bobby Sands, who died after 66 days hunger strike in Belfast’s Maze Prison. He was one of ten Irish hunger strikes who died.

Rovics’ song includes the lyrics:

They say Khader Adnan is a terrorist
Just like they said of Bobby Sands
Because he dares speak out against injustice
Because he dares to make a stand
Because he dares believe that he is human
And he does not deserve to live this way
Because he dares to consider an alternative
Because he dares imagine a new day

Former Irish hunger strikers Raymond McCartney and Tommy McKearney, and Oliver Hughes who is the brother Francis Hughes and cousin of Thomas McElwee, both of whom died on hunger strike, have all recorded video messages of solidarity. The family of Irish hunger striker Raymond McCreesh, who died after 61 days on hunger strike, are the latest to send a message of support to Khader Adnan calling for an end to administrative detention.

In Belfast over the weekend, Sinn Féin activists and members of Belfast Friends of Palestine held a vigil outside the City Hall to support Palestinian Khader Adnan.

Today, Michelle Gildernew, the Sinn Féin Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone also released a video message of solidarity with Khader Adnan.

As Khader Adnan trends globally, media slow on the uptake

While traditional media finally seem to be slowly waking up to Khader Adnan’s struggle, and the plight of hundreds of other detainees arbitrarily held by Israel, much of the momentum bringing attention to the case has been through social media.

For three days running, supporters of Adnan have managed to push hashtags related to his name into the top global trends, hoping that journalists and others will begin to pay attention.

The effort to trend Khader Adnan will be repeated again today, Monday, at 2PM US Eastern Time/ 7PM UK Time/ 9 PM Palestine Time, and those interested in participating can follow the @KhaderAdnan Twitter account.

A remarkably fair article in The Jerusalem Post, focused on Adnan’s pregnant wife Randa, who is the mother of the couple’s two young daughters Maali and Beisan. Randa Adnan has become her husband’s de facto media spokesperson, a task she admitted was challenging:

“The worst part of it is the lack of objective news reporting. Sometimes, some [reporters] use half of what I say and change the meaning of what I say,” she said.

On TIME’s Global Spin blog, Tony Karon also commented on the case noted that Adnan’s case has been largely ignored:

only as his death appears to draws near has his plight begun to register on the international radar.

The BBC (“Palestinian Khader Adnan hunger strike in Israel into 10th week”) and CNN (“Palestinian’s hunger strike puts spotlight on Israeli detentions”) both carried stories on their websites.

And while The New York Times, with the exception of its The Lede blog, continues to ignore the case, The Washington Post ran a story on Khader Adnan on 18 February: “Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike poses challenge for Israel.”