Dear Star Academy students,

I am as well an academy student from Palestine. I closely followed your program and got to feel very close to you. I strongly feel that we should exchange experience and it won’t hurt to run a little comparison.

In my academy, Ashkilon prison, we as well rise early in the morning; we do the morning exercise in a closed yard, eat together, and learn together according to strict rules enforced by the prison (academy) administration.

Like you we are monitored around the clock by cameras installed at each cell and around each corner.

We eat, tidy our beds, and clean the dishes just as you do, yet there are few differences that I feel like to mention.

You, out of free well, decided to stay in the academy for four months, we are sentenced to stay here for years, most of us has no clue to when he can leave back to family and friends, be it in a year, ten years, or never.

You are all in one academy, we are distributed in many; Shata and Jalamah in the north, Ramllah, Hadarim, and Telmond in the center, and Ashkilon, Nafha, and Ber Sheva in the south.

As much as you hate being chosen as nominees, we are thrilled to see an inmate leaving back to home and hope that he/she will never come back.

Instead of your vocal training, we protest by shouting ‘God is Great’ and get tear gassed.

Your main event is the Friday primaries, our days are all alike, especially as we are denied family visits since many years.

Your families enjoy comfortable long distant flights to visit you, our families who live few kilometers away are unable to cross the separation wall or even the smallest military check post.

You celebrate Valentine day, we celebrate the prisoner day. Yours is larger and more famous, ours is mostly virtual.

You are visited by artists; we receive lawyers and Red Crescent representatives.

You have a boss (Mohammed), we have a prison representative with the same name.

You can be punished by not being allowed to call family, receive visitors, or receive gifts; we are already denied all of this even without being punished.

Our punishment ranges from switching of TV’s to solitary confinement in small dark cells.

To lose weight you go on a diet, to do the same we go on hunger strikes.

We only leave the academy for military courts and mostly come back with more prison years, our ‘look’ definitely changes just like yours.

Your academy is sponsored by Nes Café and LBC, ours by prison administration, Shabak (Israeli intelligence service) and the police.

You suffer boredom and loneness; we suffer from being over crowded as dozens more are arrested every day.

I think you sing for us and we sacrifice for you

You receive SMS messages and we send SOS calls

You sign fans autographs; we sign our names on the prison walls.

To whom you sing? To whom we sacrifice?

For more information ask liberated prisoners


Nimer Shaban

Ashkilon prison.