Palestine Update 301
Israel’s escalating human rights violations
Israel gets labeled as a democracy despite its reprehensible human rights record. Through suppressing those who criticize its human rights record, Israel is proving that it is not even remotely a liberal democracy. Israeli practices on the West Bank and in Gaza involve violations of human rights such as the destruction of Arab homes, sending writers and intellectuals into exile, and invoking censorship and curfews. Due process, adherence to the rule of law, and tolerance for unpopular ideas are not honored.
Targeting civilians and killing them is a war crime. There is no doubt that those who perpetrate such killings and other abuses should be held accountable for their actions. But Israel gets one stage further. It resorts to reprehensible torture during interrogation which amounts to a war crime. Under the rule of law, those who inflict torture must be held to account.
Israel lives in denial. It routinely slams the UN Human Rights Council as a “sham” when it passes anti-Israel resolutions accusing the body as being used by “bloodthirsty dictatorships” to mask their own abuses. It will not confront the truth and make amends at any cost and can afford this luxury only because it has the tacit support of the international community.
In an article titled from 2016 Middle East Monitor Ibrahim Hewitt explains how: “Israel is a rogue state”. He argues: “By any reasonable assessment, any state which treats international laws and conventions with contempt, flouts them with increasing regularity and maintains a brutal military occupation into the bargain has to fit into the rogue category. Israel is one such state… Israel claims to be a democracy, but reserves full citizenship rights for members of one particular ethnic group, the Jews; its 1.7 million Arab citizens have less than full rights and are discriminated against in law, custom and practice. Despite this, it is touted regularly as “the only democracy in the Middle East” by Western politicians and media alike. They are blind to the fact that democracy requires more than elections to be worthy of the name, and that they themselves apply double standards whenever free and fair elections throw up winners that the West doesn’t like”.
Israel’s ongoing war against human rights defenders
Recently, Israel announced that it intends to revoke the residency rights of Omar Barghouti – a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The lack of international response speaks to the extent to which Israel’s violation of fundamental democratic norms has become normalized and not led to any re-evaluation of its standard characterization as a functioning liberal democracy.
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UN call to stop Israeli Settlement in Palestine falls on deaf ears
The United Nations’ independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories issued a damning verdict last week on what he termed “the longest belligerent occupation in the modern world”. Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor, told the UN’s human rights council that only urgent international action could prevent Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank transforming into de facto annexation. He warned of a recent surge in violence against Palestinians from settlers, assisted by the Israeli army, and a record number of demolitions this year of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem evidence of the ways Israel is further pressuring Palestinians to leave their lands.
Lynk has urged an international boycott of all settlement products as a necessary step to put pressure on Israel to change course. He also called on the UN itself to finally publish as long promised a database that it has been compiling since 2016 of Israeli and international companies doing business in the illegal settlements and normalizing the occupation. Israel and its supporters have stymied the release, fearing that such a database would bolster the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that seek to end Israel’s impunity.
‘Want to know what I’m accused of? Me too!’
Hiba al-Labadi, a 32-year-old Palestinian-Jordanian national, was detained by Israeli forces on August 20th at the Allenby Bridge border crossing while traveling from Jordan with her mother to a wedding in the West Bank city of Jenin. Her arrest was reportedly related to meetings she allegedly had with Hezbollah affiliates during a previous visit to Beirut, where she was visiting her sister. Activists in Israel launched a 30-hour long protest action in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square during which several women sat handcuffed to a chair inside a transparent box meant to resemble al-Labadi’s interrogation cell. The action caused passersby to stop and take photos of the display, with several of them calling the police to report an “elderly woman tied to a chair.”.
Administrative detention is a practice which Israel uses to detain Palestinians (and occasionally some Jews) without charge or trial — indefinitely. Administrative detention orders are reviewed every six months, but the detainees are not told of what crimes they are being accused or shown the evidence against them. The result is that it is virtually impossible to defend oneself against an administrative detention order.
Bedouin eviction – Israel to drive Palestinians off historic lands
Last week 36,000 Bedouin – all of them Israeli citizens – discovered that their state is about to make them refugees in their own country, driving them into holding camps. These Israelis, it seems, are the wrong kind. Their treatment has painful echoes of the past. In 1948, 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by the Israeli army outside the borders of the newly declared Jewish state established on their homeland – what the Palestinians call their Nakba, or catastrophe. Israel is regularly criticised for its belligerent occupation, its relentless expansion of illegal settlements on Palestinian land and its repeated and savage military attacks, especially on Gaza.
On rare occasions, analysts also notice Israel’s systematic discrimination against the 1.8 million Palestinians whose ancestors survived the Nakba and live inside Israel, ostensibly as citizens. But each of these abuses is dealt with in isolation, as though unrelated, rather than as different facets of an overarching project. A pattern is discernible, one driven by an ideology that dehumanizes Palestinians everywhere Israel encounters them.
That ideology has a name. Zionism provides the thread that connects the past – the Nakba – with Israel’s current ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the destruction of Gaza, and the state’s concerted efforts to drive Palestinian citizens of Israel out of what is left of their historic lands and into ghettoes. The logic of Zionism, even if its more naive supporters fail to grasp it, is to replace Palestinians with Jews – what Israel officially terms Judaisation.