The struggle of Natan Sharansky and his fellow refuseniks for freedom in the Soviet Union was an inspiration to human rights activists around the world. But his recent article, “Breaking the Silence Is No Human Rights Organization – and I Should Know,” where he criticizes Breaking the Silence, reveals that his experience does not necessarily give him insight into the norms of democracy and human rights. Read more in Ha’aretz
Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category
Posted in human rights, tagged B'Tselem, France, Geneva Conventions, Hagai El-Ad, Hebron, house demolitions, human rights, Israel, Moshe Ya'alon, Musa Abu Hashhah, Palestinians, Paris attacks, September 11, Terrorism, West Bank on November 25, 2015 | 1 Comment »
In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon remarked on the tension between security and liberty. “In the United States until the events of September 11, the balance between security and human rights favored human rights on the issue, for example of eavesdropping on potential terrorists,” he said. “In France and other countries in Europe, [a shift toward security] hasn’t yet happened. Countries fighting terrorism have no alternative in this other than shifting in the direction of security. I assume that we will see a large number of steps [to carry out] inspections: passport inspections, inspections at the entrance to public places.”
As in the U.S. this dichotomy between security and human rights is at the very heart of the debate in Israel. ”We believe not only are these not contradictory, but that human rights provides security,” said Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights groups monitoring its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, on a recent press call. “Indeed, we think that human rights are the reasons for which we have security, they are why people have a society that must be protected. So one has to wonder what kind of society do we end up with (in Ya’alon’s framework) and would that society be worth defending if you take Ya’alon’s idea to extremes. I hope that idea will work differently in France. Time will tell.”
Posted in Democracy, Gaza, human rights, Israel, tagged Avigdor Lieberman, Gaza, Gaza War, GazaUnderAttack, Ha'aretz, Israel, Israel Democracy Institute, Israeli Peace Index, Jim Crow Laws, media, Muslim-Jewish Wedding, Naftali Bennett, Palestine, Palestinian rights, pro-Israel protests, right-wing Israel protests, Sheldon Adelson, slavery, What do Israelis think of Netanyahu?, Yair Lapid on August 21, 2014 | 3 Comments »
This article originally appeared in an edited form at LobeLog.
The latest edition of the Peace Index, produced by the Israel Democracy Institute, reflects some disturbing findings about the extent to which any effort to change Israel’s policies and actions in the Gaza Strip specifically, and in the Occupied Territories more broadly, is not merely a matter of changing the government’s actions. It necessitates rejecting the will of the Israeli people. Given the vast dichotomy between the respective weights carried by the wills of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, this is a real problem.
For much of the world, the Israel-Palestine conflict is not viewed as a struggle by an occupied and dispossessed people against their occupation. Rather, it is seen as a conflict between two peoples over a piece of land. The two formulations are important; one frames the conflict in terms of an imbalance of power, the other does not. Perhaps this is not so among the general global populace, but in the offices in Washington, Brussels and even the United Nations, it is. (more…)
My friend, Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem’s tireless spokesperson, was shot in the thigh with a rubber-coated bullet by Israeli Border Police
Friday during the weekly demonstration at a-Nabi Saleh, The Palestinian village has suffered from Israel taking parts of its land and the nearby settlement of Halamish stealing its already limited supply of water.
Sarit, in her account of the incident, which I’ve pasted below, makes it clear that there were no stone-throwers anywhere near her, that the police, as they regularly do, violated even their own rules of engagement, and that either she or some other non-violent civilians near her had to have been intentionally targeted: “In order to shoot at me, the soldier had to knowingly point his weapon in my direction, or in the direction of a medic and two Palestinian female protesters who were close to me. No one standing in my vicinity threw any stones.” (more…)
Posted in human rights, Israel, Nakba, Palestine, Refugees, tagged 1967 Six Day War, apartheid, Benjamin Netanyahu, Dan Meridor, Iran, Israel, Israeli Independence Day, Life Magazine, Likud, Michael B. Oren, Middle east, Nakba, Palestine, Wall Street Journal, Yom Ha'atzmaut on May 16, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
This week’s piece at Souciant deals with the anniversary of Israel’s independence and the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). It takes off from the shameful op-ed the Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, placed two days ago in the Wall Street Journal, wherein he whines about the world not loving Israel while it holds millions of people under a regime of occupation that denies their basic rights.
It is focused in the need for Israel to acknowledge the Nakba, to recognize it for what it is, and to stop seeing it as mourning Israel’s creation, but as Palestinians mourning their own dispossession. Recognizing that, perhaps Israel can start taking responsibility for that dispossession, a necessary prerequisite for peace, no matter what form an eventual resolution takes.
Posted in Democracy, human rights, tagged al-haq, B'Tselem, Bashar al-Assad, Benjamin Netanyahu, East Jerusalem, Flytilla, Gaza Strip, Gisha, Hamas, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Six Day War, Syria, West Bank, Yom Kippur War, Zionism on April 18, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
In this week’s entry at Souciant, I examine the implications of Israel’s heavy-handed, stupid and clumsy response to the intention of hundreds of activists to fly into Israel in order to join a Palestinian protest. The ironic thing is that Netanyahu trots out the standard “Israel is the region’s only democracy” argument to defend actions that both show how deeply flawed that democracy is and how seriously that democracy is threatened.
Posted in Gaza, human rights, Israel, Judaism, tagged democracy, Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, human rights, Israel, Jewish State, Justice, Middle east, Occupation, Operation Cast Lead, Palestine, Palestinians, Passover, pro-Israel, Terrorism, West Bank on April 18, 2011 | 1 Comment »
During a Passover Seder, we Jews tip our cups of wine and let drops spill. This symbolizes, and more importantly acknowledges and mourns, the suffering of the Egyptians under the yoke of the ten plagues God inflicted on them.
I always found this remarkably touching and meaningful. The ancient Egyptians were said to have enslaved the Hebrews, whose liberation we are celebrating. While the
Torah isn’t specific about the social dynamics in the era of Ramses II, one gets a very strong impression that the Pharaoh was not the only enslaver, but that much of Egyptian society held us in bondage. Nonetheless, we express sorrow for their suffering.
Sadly, as with so many religious traditions, this ritual has now lost its meaning for too many of us. For some it is mere rote, a ritual performed because it is part of the Seder, but stripped of its meaning.
Look, for instance at the contemptible words of Noah Pollak, the Executive Director of the ultra-right wing, fanatically anti-peace organization, the Emergency Committee for Israel. He could not contain his glee at the murder of Italian International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Vittorio Arrigoni. Among other comments, he sneers “My condolences to the anti-Israel crazies mourning their ISM friend. We who do not work with terrorists will never understand your pain.”
This is not about the ISM, whose politics I also disagree with (though far less so than I do with Pollak’s hate). This is about simple human decency. A man was murdered – in fact murdered, at least based on the information we have now, by terrorists not like Hamas, but much more like al-Qaeda (those differences are very important) – and that is a tragedy. Most people would agree with that, most Jews would agree, even those who might vehemently object to Arrigoni’s politics. Pollak is virtually dancing in the streets.
Pollak is neither typical of Israelis nor Jews, but the lack of empathy is not confined to radical anti-peace extremists like him.
We might think about the Israeli attitude toward the Gaza Strip. Let’s forget for a moment about international law, the Goldstone Report and all of that. Let’s dispense with dueling narratives and just look at it from an Israeli viewpoint. (more…)