An Open Letter To Winston Peters

By   /   August 7, 2018  /   25 Comments

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It was with some personal disappointment that despite several letters from my friends and colleagues, there appeared to be no action by the New Zealand government to protest the hijacking of the boat I was travelling on, Al Awda, and from which I was kidnapped and detained by the Israeli military from international waters on Sunday, July 29.

To: the Honorable Winston Peters,
Minster of Foreign Affairs,
New Zealand Government.
Dear Mr Peters,
It was with some personal disappointment that despite several letters from my friends and colleagues, there appeared to be no action by the New Zealand government to protest the hijacking of the boat I was travelling on, Al Awda, and from which I was kidnapped and detained by the Israeli military from international waters on Sunday, July 29.
I also wish to raise with you my deep concern at the behaviour of New Zealand’s Honorary Consul in Tel Aviv, Israel, Gad Propper.
When I was being processed by Israeli military forces on the docks of the Port of Ashdod I asked to speak to lawyers we had been assigned as well as the New Zealand diplomatic representative as soon as possible.
On August 1 Mr Propper and other consular representatives came to the prison detention center we were being held in.
I could see that the other nationals were able to see their representatives in privacy, so was surprised when I was ushered into a room to see the consul that had several Israeli prison officials or security staff. I questioned Mr Propper why this was so and he said there were no other rooms available and the officials had “kindly” agreed to allow their room to be used. I was doubtful but did not want the meeting to be cancelled so allowed it to proceed.
Mr Propper inquired as to how I was and noticed a small wound on my face and asked about it. I explained it was the result of being tasered. He quickly brushed it aside and implied that I must have done something to provoke the attack with a taser.
I then said my belongings had been “stolen” because the backpack I had travelled with was not among the property dumped just outside the sorting area at the port from where we could select our own luggage from to take to prison. All that I was able to identify and take to the prison was a shoulder bag that appeared to have nothing in it other than a small bag of toiletries.
My other bag, which was a backpack, was carefully packed and labelled and had been left with the shoulder bag on my bunk on Al Awda. This had all my clothes, a go-pro camera, iPad, iPhone, charging cables, battery chargers, and a sleeping bag. Another phone and my passport had been removed from me on the boat.
Since I knew this clearly labelled bag had not made it to the prison it seemed reasonable to me to claim it was “stolen”. However, Mr Propper objected to this suggestion as exaggerated and improper. I never received this bag, as its associated property or the phone seized on the boat from Israel before being deported. Again this is something that you may wish to take up with Israeli authorities.
It is also my understanding that soldiers do not have the legal right to seize passports. The passport is legally the property of the New Zealand government so this may be something you also wish to take up with Israel.
I was very concerned that the prison authorities had not lost my passport. Further, I needed to check my bag and see if the wallet containing 200-300 Euros, New Zealand cash and two credit cards was still there. I asked Mr Propper to ask about these.
The passport was shown to me and Mr Propper asked me to sign a form written entirely in Hebrew which the consul said acknowledged the passport had been seen. I said I would not sign a document I did not understand. He then said he would write something on it to explain, which he did – in Hebrew. I objected and said I would not sign. He then adopted a very irritated stance and – over my specific objection – said he would sign on my behalf.
I then pressed Mr Propper to ask to see my wallet or have me taken to see if it was in my bag. He was told by the prison authorities with us that this wasn’t possible because they were all in a special room and that the guard with the key was having a day off. He joined the Israeli officials in a mutual laughter at this proposition. At this point, I objected loudly and strongly that is was simply unbelievable and unacceptable that a room in a prison was not able to be accessed because no one had a key.
I stood up and said the meeting would now be terminated and that I believed Mr Propper’s decision to meet me in the presence of Israeli officials was completely unprofessional and he appeared to me to be acting as an agent of the State of Israel, not as my representative.
The Israeli officials then bundled us out of their room and straight to an empty meeting room a few meters away. So the first lie about not having a room was exposed.
In the private room, Mr Propper objected to my raising my voice with him. I still wanted help accessing my wallet so I told him that I had concluded he appeared to be acting on Israel’s behalf and not mine. I told him that if that impression was mistaken then I would apologise and we could resume the discussion on a new footing.
I asked him to follow up later regarding my wallet. From this point on, he pressed me for the next 15 minutes to sign a form accepting deportation that the Israeli authorities wanted us to sign to get us out as quickly as possible. I explained I probably would sign this form sometime but we needed reassurances that all the detainees would be treated equally.  We did not want some being deported and others held for special attention. I also explained that I needed to speak to my lawyer first. The detainees also wanted to put our own riders on the form objecting to the kidnapping in international waters and reserving the right to take legal action.
He kept pushing me to sign with various arguments, including that if I did so I would get out that night, that he had so much experience in these matters and that I did not even need to see a lawyer.
I took the form from his hands and thanked him for his “help”. I left the room a very angry man. That anger only grew when I got back to the cells and discovered that around the same time, the Norwegian officials insisted that one of their nationals get access to the room with the luggage to retrieve glasses he needed. So a second lie was exposed as well. But, at least the Norwegians had done something for their countrymen and women.
I was eventually taken to the airport and put on a plane. When I got there I discovered my shoulder bag had a only a few panadol and some toiletries. The wallet was there but missing most of the money. The backpack not to be seen.
I would like a review into the conduct of Gad Propper and whether his behaviour is appropriate for a consular official. I understand that consular officials are often businessmen of the country concerned who have some commercial dealings with the country they represent. But, they need to be told that their duty when playing the consular role is to the country and its people that they represent. I am convinced that Mr Propper’s behaviour was so cynical and manipulative that he is unfit to continue in that role.
Regards,
Mike
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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

25 Comments

  1. Rickoshay says:

    Fire him for having a co operative attitude

  2. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    Geez Mike, where DO you find these ‘friends’? 😀

    Unfortunately you are at the confluence of government exceeding human rights (and international law agreements) and good old New Zealand conservative apathy. I can imagine the Israelis are going to continue to be just as hard arsed and thuggish as always and Winston won’t give a flying fuck over this and simply wants it over and done with as quickly as possible.

    Being presented with such a glaring example of Scandinavian solidarity and “how to get things done” merely rubs salt into the wound(s) as well as highlighting just how bloody useless NZ is when it comes to issues of this kind. That’s bitter.

    I don’t know what comes next but if I can add my name to something (petition? poll? group?) I will certainly do that. This idiot needs to be removed from his position.

    It’s good to have you back and more or less in one piece. Condolences over the stolen goods (and yes that is the correct adjective), and thanks for doing all this.

  3. Theodore says:

    Peters’ non-response is shameful. Even Murray McCully had bigger balls in standing up to zionist aggression. Where is the courage we showed in standing up to the French on nuclear bomb testing? Or opposing apartheid? If this is a test of Peters’ intestinal fortitude then he hss failed badly.

  4. Mr Darlington says:

    When did we as a nation start kowtowing to the Zionist imperialists in Tel Aviv? Come on Winnie, use that back-bone evolution gave you. Are you man or jellyfish?

  5. Andrew says:

    Grandstanding didn’t work eh Mike?

    You’re just a sad old Marxist. Go back to the last century where you belong.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s best to comment when sober. In vino veritas and all that.

      Before that comment you were entitled to the benefits of our doubting that anyone could be so crass.

      Now? In vino veritas…

  6. Peter Tomlinson says:

    You are an idiot Mike. Why don’t you grow up and realise you are supporting a bunch of Hamas thugs who have virtually no respect at all for the Western liberal values you espouse. At least the Israelis didn’t give you a good hiding which you fully deserve. Be thankful!

    • You accuse Hamas of being thugs… then advocate Israelis “giving Mike Treen a good hiding which you fully deserve”…?

      Who’s the thug, Peter?

    • Andrea says:

      It is apparent that the current hotchpotch government of Israel and its enforcer military have no regard for ‘Western liberal values’ either.

      The report made by Mr Treen is similar to those made by many before him.

      Perhaps you could link to the matching set of abuses of citizens of other nations made by Hamas.

      I’m glad Norway stepped up for its citizen.

      The issue is, however, that a man who is being paid (I presume) to do the same for any of our citizens in strife failed dismally and was too cozy with the Israeli authorities. A badly-served citizen of this country is asking our government to rescind the authority they’ve bestowed, at the very least.

      Or did you read that differently?

    • Shona says:

      Peter you are a gibbering idiot! Anyone who symapthises with Israel in this day and age is an uninformed moron.Hamas are legimate. Democractically elected. Israel is a fascist state. The law of the sea was broken in this icident. It was piracy. And Israel has no fucking right to Mikes personal possessions or his passport or his money. Wake the fuck up !
      Oh and Fuck Israel and everything it stands for!

      • Lorna Haisley says:

        Shona – I think you are a little bit naïve if you think Hamas were democratically elected. How many years ago was that election, maybe ten or so? The one where they threw the Fatah guys off the roof. They have now evolved into the usual Islamic Dictatorship which Sadaam Hussein and Colonel Gadaafi would be proud of.

        You do realise the Levant was the traditional homeland of the Jews and Christians before the muslims conquered it but unfortunately they lost it when their Empire made the ill considered move of voluntarily allying with Germany in WW1 which, of course, they lost. So Israel was returned to the Jews and the muslims got Jordan. But as usual they want everything with no compromise. How many times did Arafat refuse a really good peace deal? But he died worth billions from foreign aid which somehow made its way into his Swiss Bank a/c. If he hadn’t been so greedy there could well have been a two state solution by now. All that foreign aid would dry up and that is what Hamas do not want because now it is their turn to fill up their personal coffers and they don’t care how many of their brothers and sisters have to die to keep the billions flowing in!

    • Nik says:

      1.8 million men, women and children and every last bally one of ’em a Hamas thug I tells ya! …No.

    • countryboy says:

      @ Peter Tomlinson. You’re a moron. You’re a bonifide moron. God, I would never have thought people as dumb as you could write much less navigate their way to The Daily Blog to puff out your moronness. DO NOT BREED is all I can beseech of you. You’re off spring would be as dumb as you and you will be ever ready and able to ‘good-hiding’ your values into them. yay. whoop. What-we-need-more-of. whoop. Ever heard of electrolyites? Makes things grow dumbass.

  7. Shona says:

    I contacted Winston about this situation Mike if you want to see his answer I will send you a copy of the email.

  8. Marc says:

    An interesting letter by Mike. He writes this:

    “My other bag, which was a backpack, was carefully packed and labelled and had been left with the shoulder bag on my bunk on Al Awda. This had all my clothes, a go-pro camera, iPad, iPhone, charging cables, battery chargers, and a sleeping bag. Another phone and my passport had been removed from me on the boat.”

    I suspect the Israeli officials may have considered this equipment that would be typical for a ‘spy’ or ‘saboteur’ to carry, e.g. a subversive Palestinian or sympathiser of Palestinians opposing the state of Israel.

    Especially the ‘go pro camera’ may have raised their awareness and suspicions. They may also have done a quick online search for Mike Treen, and found out he is a committed leftist activist.

    As for the passport, it is not uncommon for such to be seized temporarily by any police or law enforcement in countries, where traveling individuals of other nationalities may be considered ‘illegal’ or of suspicion otherwise.

    To expect Winston Peters to step in, or do anything, that is naive, this government is only selectively ‘progressive’ and standing up for human rights and so forth, they are for the rest as conventional as they come in neoliberal NZ Inc, and they work with the Deep State and their ‘agencies’, all led and staffed by many who are wanting things to remain unchanged, and who are loyal to ‘traditional allies’ and ‘friends’.

    Do not expect much from this lot, the diplomat in Israel was appalling, I must say, but it shows how little they do for their own population, unless it is something the media has got onto, which in this case was rather little and non committal.

    Sorry to find confirmed that money vanished. In my younger years I was also locked up on questionable grounds in Israel, when there temporarily, and the police seized my wallet, which only had a small amount of money left in it, after I got it back, some had ‘vanished’.

    Tells you about the ‘standards’ in that place, I consider.

  9. Marc says:

    Re ‘Gad Propper’, note this:
    ‘HONORARY OFFICERS OF THE NEW ZEALAND ORDER OF MERIT’

    “Gad Propper, Israel
    For services to New Zealand-Israel relations”

    See this:
    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/full-new-years-honours-list

    Ha, ha, ha, a loyal member of the establishment, that REALLY runs the show, also between Nations that trade and do other ‘business’.

    All supported by the Deep State.

    Yet the naive left activists expect such persons to treat them appropriately and ‘fairly’. Wake up, Mike, they are the ENEMY!

  10. Tom Gardner says:

    In the meantime, Mike, what about the union members whose cause you are actually paid to represent?

    • Marc says:

      I thought and asked something similar before he went off.

    • Greg Mait says:

      Considering human rights ,he was representing those he works for .

    • Priss says:

      There are union members in the Middle East as well, Tom. And tell us, please, why trade unionists should not be involved in ALL human rights issues, not just workers’ rights? Or is this a coded way to tell Mike Treen to stay out of Israel’s affairs?????? Oh surely not!

  11. Marc says:

    It is long lost a battle to terrorists or what they deem to be so:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hTzgyIvmEV0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enRVsBDz1oo

  12. Marc says:

    Mike Treen is so good faith and nice but he fails to realise that Palestine is AT WAR, no doubt and no way to resolve it any other way:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-L6FogrieM
    Others:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amhLfE99mog
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSNcLW3LMnk

  13. Marc says:

    Winston is fake, I am sorry to say:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYAU33h9JAQ

  14. countryboy says:

    I wrote to winston peters and this is what I received back.Pleasant, informative and entirely as much use as an ornament.
    The letter let the israeli’s off the hook and green lighted them to do what ever they felt like to anyone anywhere at any time because, boo hoo, them beastly Gazan’s and Palestinians have taken unreasonable umbrage at being occupied by a cadre of narcissistic egotists using the aforementioned as weapons test subjects.
    Clearly, they have peters in their pocket as they would have done/do with jonky.
    It is bloody convenient that the Middle East is there, in the middle, to be able to be used whenever the rothschilds needs to embark upon a new round of dollar-scavenging using their British based bank-weapons to build on to their trillion dollar empire.
    And can I say at this point @ Mike Treen. Well done. I’m proud of you for taking a stand against the bullies. Ignore the fuck wits here, and there BTW. The sadistic wankers should get back into their gimp suits and go back to being strung up in their mistresses dungeons.

    “Thank you for your email of 30 July 2018.

    New Zealand believes the situation in Gaza is unsustainable, and has consistently called for improved access for humanitarian and other essential supplies into Gaza. In order for this to occur, we believe that Israel’s legitimate security concerns will need to be fully addressed. While accepting Israel’s fundamental right to maintain its security, particularly in the face of provocation, any actions need to be proportionate.

    The New Zealand Embassy in Ankara, responsible for Israel, provided consular assistance to Mr Treen. We have been advised that Mr Treen is now on his way back to New Zealand. Information on the assistance that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can provide to New Zealanders detained overseas is available at https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/arrest-and-detention.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade continues to advise against all travel to Gaza. This includes any attempt to enter Gaza by sea in breach of Israeli navy restrictions or participating in any attempt to break the naval blockade. A full copy of the travel advisory is available here https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories.

    Yours sincerely

    Rt Hon Winston Peters
    Minister of Foreign Affairs”