Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category


My friend, Sarit Michaeli, B’Tselem’s tireless spokesperson, was shot in the thigh with a rubber-coated bullet by Israeli Border Police

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, holds a rubber coated bullet, which was taken out of her leg, in Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, July 20, 2013. Photo by: Oren Ziv/ Activestills.org

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…)

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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.

In that same spirit, I’d also like to recommend two pieces from +972 Magazine. This one, by Lisa Goldman and this one by Larry Derfner.

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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.

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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

We spill drops of wine to empathize with others' suffering. How about empathizing with the Palestinians?

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…)

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Not surprisingly, the radical extremists at NGO Monitor and many others are jumping on the op-ed by Richard Goldstone to “prove” that human rights groups, and others, who have been calling for investigations into Israel’s conduct in Operation Cast Lead should retract their claims.

Goldstone essentially said two things of substance in his op-ed: that Israel has done a lot more than Hamas, which has done nothing, to investigate Cast Lead, and this is certainly true, though it might be damning with faint praise; and that Israel did not target civilians as a matter of policy.

Goldstone gets in more trouble the more he talks

To be sure, there are those who did take the Goldstone Report as conclusive proof that Israel targeted civilians intentionally. But here is what I wrote on November 16, 2009:

More overreaching can be seen in Goldstone’s flat statement that Israel, as a matter of policy, targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure. Indeed, it is true that the pattern of destruction he cites in his report raises this very disturbing question. But that’s all it does—raise it. Goldstone makes a flat judgment without proving his case, or even substantially supporting it. He’s a prosecutor by trade; he has to know better than that.

B’Tselem, referring to that same accusation, said, on October 19, 2009:

…the mission’s conclusions regarding Israel’s overall objectives in carrying out the operation were not sufficiently supported by facts arising from the mission’s research.

Human Rights Watch also reiterated that the original Report did not support a conclusion of Israel intentionally targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Not surprisingly, the fanatics at NGO Monitor chose not to name a single instance of an NGO leveling the accusation of intentionality that was alluded to in the Goldstone Report. (more…)

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