Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Living without Rights

There are quite a few Israeli citizens who quiver in shame at the failure of their legal system to afford justice to those who need it most. They sympathize with Palestinian protestors who fail to understand how a government pledged to a two-state solution can justify accelerating building new Jewish settlements in the very land that would actually be that second, Palestinian, state.
What’s worse, it seems that not only are Arab Israeli’s constantly subject to “stop and frisk” harassment, to having homes bulldozed when a relative is charged with terrorism, but they are being rather completely ignored by their own leaders as well as Israeli authorities when a wrong is perpetrated against a Palestinian. Even serious stuff like arson fires or stabbings. Palestinians are routinely shot by Israeli police with fewer consequences than an officer shooting in Cincinnati, Ohio. There are almost no post-police-shooting inquiries where the deceased is an Arab.
Harsh interrogation techniques – like ‘tiltul’ or very violent shaking (which has purportedly resulted in at least one death) – have routinely been applied to Palestinian detainees, some of who have been detained for long periods of time without being formally charged… but  so far never to Jewish citizen. That may change under recent pressure on the government to treat extremists of any persuasion the same. Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced on August 3rd that: “an Israeli security cabinet meeting had authorised the security services to interrogate suspected Jewish militants by violent shaking.
“‘What the security cabinet told the security services was that any method is kosher,’ Mr. Erdan told Israel Radio, in comments quoted by the Reuters news agency… ‘An interrogation method like tiltul, or anything that is done when it comes to Palestinian terrorists - the same thing should be done when it comes to a Jewish terrorist.’”, August 3rd. Well, extending “enhanced interrogation techniques” (read: torture) to Jewish suspects is… an improvement? OK, er, I think. What about stuff like the peace process with the Palestinians?
The Netanyahu regime has also vacillated between acknowledging that peace process could be restarted with completely contradictory statements from PM Benjamin Netanyahu himself and his top diplomatic official that no two-state solution would happen on their watch. Added to the constant high-level approval of new West Bank Jewish settlements is the complete lack of the slightest progress towards restarting those peace talks. To make matters worse, even the non-Hamas Palestinian Fatah leadership is hideously corrupt. Injustice and corruption. Not a good mix. Hamas, well, brought random violence to a new level, raining rockets on innocents, which were, thankfully deflected, by the Israeli Iron Dome defense program (mostly provided by the U.S.). Israel’s retaliation, on the other hand, well… you’ve already seen my take on that excess.
But notwithstanding recent legislation adding gobs of additional prison time to stone-throwing protestors (a standard feature in Palestinian protests against Israeli forces), Jewish West Bank settlers have taken to throwing stones at local Palestinians as well. And recently, knowing that both their Palestinian leaders and Israeli authorities will turn deaf ears to their demands to arrest the stone-throwing settlers, local Arab protestors have turned to social media to turn out significant numbers of counter-protestors to throw stones back at the settlers. But nothing is seemingly going the right way for local Israeli Palestinians.
“Peace talks have been stalled for years, and Palestinian efforts to hold Israel to account in international forums — particularly the International Criminal Court — are unlikely to bring results in the near future. The Palestinian government, led by Mr. Abbas, 10 years into what was supposed to be a five-year term, is increasingly seen as neglectful and corrupt.
“Justice in local courts is equally elusive. The Israeli rights group, Yesh Din, reported in May that the prospects of a Palestinian complaint leading to criminal conviction are just 1.9 percent. The group, which investigates law enforcement in the West Bank, estimated 85.3 percent of all investigative files were closed, ‘due the failure of the police investigators to locate suspects or to find sufficient evidence to enable indictment.’
“‘There’s no clear message to enforce the law and protect Palestinians,’ said Ziv Stahl, the director of Yesh Din’s Research Department. Palestinians ‘tell us they don’t even want to bother to file with the police, and basically they are right.’
“In tit-for-tat violence, on [July 3rd], assailants thought to be Palestinians hurled a Molotov cocktail into a vehicle in an Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem, moderately wounding the driver, who lost control of her vehicle and crashed into another car, said Luba Samri, an Israeli police spokeswoman.
“Some fear the specter of another uprising is inching closer with each fatal shooting of a Palestinian by Israeli forces — six in recent weeks — and with each attack by extremist Jews…‘We throw stones because nobody has guns,’ said Moustafa, 18, in the Jalazoun refugee camp, where mourners were holding a wake for a teenager who was fatally shot in a clash with Israeli soldiers on Friday. He and other protesters commented on the situation under the condition of only providing their first names.” New York Times, August 3rd.  
The injustice does not go down well with caring Jewish citizens any more than it does with Arabs who bear the brunt of discrimination, second class citizens far worse than even imposed on the black citizens of Ferguson, Missouri. What equally unfair is the notion that all Israelis harbor animus against all Palestinians and feel that second class citizenship is more than the Arab citizens deserve. There is a deep and abiding notion among a large number of Jewish Israelis of a need to apply fairness and justice to all Israelis, Arab and Jew, a value system that is a most basic value inherent in their faith.
I’m Peter Dekom, and every act of discriminatory unfairness demeans us all.

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