Thursday, September 20, 2012


by Tom Gross 18th September 2012

The American cable network MSNBC, as part of its “Lockup: World Tour” series, has confirmed what the Israeli authorities have been saying all along: that attempts by certain NGOs and international journalists to portray Israeli prisons as particularly horrific are pure propaganda, and Israel in fact has among the most humane prison systems in the world.

In its episode on Israel, MSNBC’s “Lockup: World Tour” showed meditation rooms, dance and art lessons, petting zoos, computer rooms and various classes that prisoners, including convicted Palestinian terrorists, are allowed to attend. At one point MSNBC even described some aspects of Israel’s prison system as “glowing”.

The MSNBC series first started seven years ago, and over the years it has filmed gruesome prison conditions in Asia, America and some European countries.

The program noted that Israel has fewer prisoners per capita than most Western countries, and released inmates achieve much higher levels of reintegration into society than most other countries. The Israeli prison service helps inmates to obtain advanced education, including university degrees (and in some cases even PhDs), and runs skills development and job placement courses. (Most imprisoned Israelis have been convicted of drug or property crimes, while the rates for murder, rape and other violent crimes remain relatively low in Israel.)

At Hermon Prison in the Galilee, MSNBC noted that the facility looks more like a college campus than an American-style prison. Inmates are allowed a high degree of freedom of movement and can attend a wide range of sports and “therapy” classes.
At Neve Tirza, Israel’s only prison for women, the MSNBC presenters say they were surprised to find a petting zoo, and a meditation room with fish tanks. Inmates are shown taking dance and art lessons, and even nursing their infant babies in the prison’s fully equipped ward for new mothers.

At Rimonim prison, inmates are allowed to bring their own clothes and personal appliances with them to prison. Inmates cook together in communal kitchens, and prison staff eat food prepared by inmates. Jewish and Arab inmates socialize both with each other and with the guards, in what MSNBC terms “a very social and festive environment.”

“I feel like I am in a hotel,” says one Palestinian inmate as he shows MSNBC around his cell -- which is bigger than many New York apartments I have visited -- with kitchen equipment, bookshelves and a private bathroom. “Nothing is lacking.”

As I have pointed out in previous dispatches on this list, prisoners in Israel, including hardened Palestinian terrorists, have not only received free dental care, but sometimes the most advanced kinds of dental care that may prove very costly for a citizen who is not a prisoner.

Israel allows prison furloughs to a much greater extent than most countries. Surprisingly (in my opinion), even rapists have been allowed to go home regularly to visit their families at weekends.

In contrast to the propaganda fed by EU government-funded anti-Israel NGOs to other international media, convicted Hamas terrorists are even allowed to post pictures on Facebook using their Iphones, showing photos of their cells with pets, posters, football flags, and music boxes.

Here are a couple of the clips from the MSNBC series, which was first broadcast last May and rebroadcast by MSNBC last weekend:

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