Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

10 years’ jail for selling cakes

Strange what things suddenly reveal to Israelis the ugliness of their political and legal systems, but this story seems to have pricked some consciences.

Zaki Sabah, a Palestinian street vendor in the Old City of Jerusalem sells one of the local staples, kaki simsim or sesame cakes (not bagels, as Israelis keep referring to them). But he has recently been sentenced to 10 years in jail after years of being fined daily by (Jewish) municipal inspectors for operating without a licence. Living on the bread (sic) line, Sabah can’t afford to pay the accumulated fines, so he’s been carted off to jail.

Most Israeli Jews, of course, don’t understand that Israel has no right to be applying its laws in occupied East Jerusalem. But all of them understand several things: that he can’t get a vendor’s licence – much like Palestinians can’t get building permits for their home – precisely because he is Palestinian; that he would never have been arrested, let alone jailed, if he had been Jewish; and that there is something wrong with a legal system that jails him for 10 years when his cellmate, a major heroin dealer, is serving only six.

In passing, Yossi Sarid, a former government minister, also notes that the judge broke Israeli law in jailing him in absentia.

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