Why the U.S. cares little about the jailed hikers in Iran (hint: it’s about Palestine)

For well over a year, two American citizens who are Palestine solidarity activists have languished in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison (the third citizen was released in September).  The citizens–Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal–were arrested by Iranian authorities on the Iran-Iraq border and are now being tried on charges of “espionage.”

Why aren’t they out yet?  Jesse Rosenfeld, an independent journalist, offers this explanation in Foreign Policy’s Mideast Channel:

Looking at Bauer’s and Fattal’s political track records, it becomes clear that Washington is unlikely to trade much to retrieve outspoken critics of US policy in the Middle East…

Shourd, Fattal and Bauer, according to [Shon Meckfessel, who was traveling with the jailed Americans,] had made close connections with people in the West Bank popular struggles against Israel’s wall in the town of Bi’lin and the family of Bassem and Jahwar Abu Rahmah. Bassem was killed in April 2009 after being shot in the stomach by a tear gas canister during a demonstration, while Jahwar died on January 1, 2011 resulting from heavy teargas exposure during a demonstration the previous day.

Meckfessel highlighted that at the time of their arrest, Bauer — a critical journalist in the Middle East — was finishing an article on the effect of Israel’s use of the American made high-velocity teargas canisters on the Palestinian anti-wall struggles. The story was never published due to Bauer’s detainment.

It is likely for this reason  that the US seems to be putting little effort into securing the release of Fattal and Bauer, and would be unlikely to engage in a high profile trade for them. This is reenforced by the assessment in an US Embassy cable — part of the Wikileaks releases  — which seeks to construe events in a manner that allows the US to blame the hikers while distancing the government from any responsibility for their protection.

There’s no concrete proof that the Obama administration hasn’t pushed harder for the hikers’ release because of their solidarity work and outspokenness about U.S. policy in the Middle East.

But it’s not a crazy claim to make.  Whenever Palestine solidarity activists who are American citizens are in trouble, the U.S. does little to help. Whether it’s Emily Henochowicz or Furkan Dogan, there’s a clear pattern of the U.S. shirking its responsibility to protect its citizens–making Rosenfeld’s explanations for why Fattal and Bauer remain in jail plausible.

8 responses to “Why the U.S. cares little about the jailed hikers in Iran (hint: it’s about Palestine)

  1. It’s amazing how you blame every problem in the world on rich, white men in New York, Washington, and “Occupied Palestine”.

    But to be honest, I could really care less whether or not these, “Anti-Zionists” ever get out of prison alive.

    I will leak a little secret to you. A few Israeli friends and I have been mailing letters of support to the “Hikers” in Hebrew to “Shane and Josh, care of Evin Prison”.

    But they can always say the letters are from “Israeli peace activists”.

  2. Pingback: IDF concedes they cannot ‘contain widespread civil uprising in West Bank’

  3. Wow, what a perfect blog name for the author of such an ugly post. You couldn’t care less if they never get out of prison, so you send them letters in Hebrew, and they charged with espionage in Iran. Your parents must be so proud. Fortunately, in the karma sweepstakes, just being you must be payback enough.

    • Dear Rath,

      I am not the one holding them captive.

      Did you happen to notice that Mr. Kane doesn’t seem to lay any blame with the Iranians?

      In fact, they entered and left the “Zionist Empire” without any problems and nobody cared about all the Anti-Israel stuff they wrote.

      In fact, Israel is a very safe place as long as you don’t try to stop a bulldozer with your face.

  4. Besides having trouble with morality and common human decency you appear to have difficulty with reading comprehension and geography. The article is about the lack of American response, not the Iranian detention of these hikers. Rachel Corrie was not in Israel when she was killed; she was in Palestinian occupied territory, recognized as such by International law and the entire world community, including the United States. Perhaps to you the prohibition against theft and murder only applies to lesser humans and can be ignored by God’s chosen. The crass and ugly reference to Rachel Corrie says everything we need to know about your moral perversions.

  5. You haven’t figured it out yet. We are just BAD people.

    That’s why when an American, European or Russian woman puts her children on an airplane, she says, ” I am afraid of Zionists”.

    Maybe you can get the shaking people in Japan to stop fixing their homes and complain that the American Jews are responsible for your friends being held in an Iranian prison.

  6. Love the conflation of the Zionist cult with Jews. Did you know that in the EU such conflation is considered hate speech? You don’t speak for Jews, you speak for a blood and soil nationalism with messianic religious elements. This is nothing new; we have seen this before. Most people not blinded by tribal hatred figured out that you are bad people decades ago. but thanks for the tip.

  7. So R, if it’s Jewish, it’s tribal hatred? Waiting for your fierce denunciation of Muslim tribal hatred, Black tribal hatred, Latino tribal hatred. Oh, forgot, you’re an antiSemite, and only Jews are bad.

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