Palestine Internationalist, Volume 2 Issue 4 (Jun 2007)

Keeping the Standard: Human Rights Abuses as Israeli Policy


Perhaps more shocking than the accounts contained in this issue of Palestine Internationalist – accounts of humiliation, assassination, the targeting of civilians in brutal, bloody and systematic fashion, of starvation and deprivation, the destruction of homes, and all manner of misery – are the persistent attempts of some politicians and their friends in civil society to paint any criticism of the foregoing acts by Israeli authorities and agencies, as anti-Semitic.

This issue of Palestine Internationalist coincided with the OSCE conference on promoting tolerance and mutual understanding, held in Bucharest in June, wherein such claims were repetitiously made. Whilst the very real and ever nefarious problems of hate crimes against members of the Jewish community in Europe need urgent action, sections of civil society claiming to represent the victims of such crime, sought instead to stifle any criticism, however muted, of Israeli policy and practice. Whilst there was passing mention of the swastikas that many Jews and indeed these days many Muslims, find daubed across their doors, it was the boycott of Israeli academic institutions endorsed by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in the UK that was the focus of attention. According to the US governmental delegation, Israel was being held to an “impossibly high standard”, another member demanded that instead of focusing on various issues of intolerance (as the meeting did) including the societal and political hatreds levelled at amongst others, Muslims, Roma, Sinti and Christians, the OSCE’s focus should be solely anti-Semitism, or as many sought to rephrase it, anti-Zionism and the demonisation of Israel.

The demonisation of Israel. Is it really a hate crime to decry the demolition of Palestinian homes and the open talk of transfer, as Meir Margalit’s piece ‘No Place Like Home’ in this issue does? Is it an act of violence to monitor an Israeli checkpoint at which Palestinian women have been forced to give birth because IDF officers denied them passage to medical care? If so, is MachsomWatch/CheckpointWatch, whose co-founder Yehudit Kirstein-Keshet’s deeply moving article ‘Gateways to Hell’ appears on this site, an extremist organisation? Is Jennifer Lowenstein’s eyewitness account ‘Nightmares’, recalling the aftermath of an assassination – the smell of charred flesh, the instant decomposition of a burned out body – akin to the smashing of windows, or the desecration of synagogues and cemeteries? Is the account of the plight of Palestinian refugees - their displacement, marginalization and impoverishment – or the daily trauma of life under occupation for those that remain, as articulated by Daud Abdullah in ‘Palestinians under Occupation: Living without Human Rights’ an act of hate? Such accusations have already been levelled at former US President Jimmy Carter’s book ‘Palestine: Peace not Apartheid’ reviewed herein by Mohamad Nasrin Nasir.

There is evidence of hate, and there is evidence of violence aplenty in this issue.

When first conceived, this edition was meant to be a succinct reminder of the types of human rights abuses faced by Palestinians on a daily basis. Now it is also a challenge to civil society and activists everywhere. It is a challenge to ensure that the victims of racist violence, of discrimination, of hatred and intolerance manifested at the levels of the individual, wider society and the organs of state – no matter whom or where they are, have their voices heard.

Just as there should be no hierarchies of suffering, there should be no acceptance of hatred, and no attempt to stifle criticism of it and its effects. We hope that readers will take this message forward in whatever way they can, for therein perhaps lies hope.

Arzu Merali

Fahad Ansari

Mohamad Nasrin Nasir

June 2007

[1]Towns such as Qalqilya and Hebron have seen the massive departure of their citizens as a result of the difficulties imposed by the checkpoints and, in the case of Hebron, because of unchecked settler violence. Although the term is usually associated with mass killings of populations, in the context of the Occupied Palestinian Territories the combination of oppression and containment of a civilian population, the denial of their most fundamental rights and the frequent killings of individual Palestinians, armed and unarmed, seems to me rather to add up to ethnic cleansing.

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source: Volume 2 Issue 4 (Jun 2007),
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