Saturday, January 17, 2009

The trouble with Israel

There's a stunningly awful piece in the Guardian's Comment is Free section today, written by one Elizabeth Wurzel, entitled Standing against a tide of hatred, which includes the remarkable subtitle: It is not Israel's action, but the vitriolic reaction to it that has been disproportionate. There's only one explanation: antisemitism.

Not surprisingly it has received a heck of a lot of comments, one of which I would like to quote in its entirety, because it neatly (and with links) summarises Israel's breaches of international law - and encapsulates exactly why the international community is appalled and outraged by Israel's actions against Gaza.

Thank you PaulLambert - a great comment indeed:

Elizabeth Wurtzel:
'The trouble with Israel is the trouble with Jews'.

No, the trouble with Israel is that it's an increasingly aggressive, violent and rogue state that treats the Palestinians abominably. It illegally occupies and colonises their land:
'Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.'
Ruling of the International Court of Justice, 2004.

It treats the Palestinians in the West Bank as second class citizens in their own country, with a set of laws that resemble aspects of apartheid:
'Israel's settlement enterprise has created two separate systems of rights and privileges, favoring, for the most part, Israeli citizens, at the expense of the over two million Palestinian residents of the West Bank.

The privileges accorded to Israelis for movement and access, along with the use of two different sets of laws for each population (Israeli domestic law for Israelis and military orders for Palestinians) constitute the most pronounced elements of this institutionalized discrimination.'
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report, December 2008 - page 3.

It collectively punishes the Gazan population, over half of whom are children:
'The blockade has effectively dismantled the economy and impoverished the population of Gaza. Israel's policy affects the civilian population of Gaza indiscriminately and constitutes a collective punishment against ordinary men, women and children. The measures taken are illegal under international humanitarian law.'
Report by Amnesty International, Care International UK, Cafod, Christian Aid, Medecins du Monde UK, Oxfam, Save the Children UK and Trocaire, March 2008 - page 5.

Its soldiers and settlers regularly beat and kill Palestinians with impunity:
'Settler violence is not random criminal activity; in most cases, it is ideology-driven, organized violence, the goal of which is to assert settler dominance over an area. IDF Commander of the Central Command Major General Gadi Shamni, responsible for the West Bank, recently argued that the increase is due to the encouragement [the settlers] receive from the settler leadership, rabbis and [the] public. A root cause of the phenomenon is Israel's settlement activity...

...The absence of law enforcement against settlers was again raised in 2005 by Advocate Talia Sasson in her report on the construction of unauthorized settlement outposts that was commissioned by the Israeli Prime Minister. Sasson's report makes clear that there is a problem in terms of enforcing the law on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. According to Sasson, IDF soldiers are ignorant of their law enforcement responsibilities in this regard. Moreover, they are not interested in assuming such roles. In the Executive Summary of the opinion, she notes: The attitude towards law breaking settlers is mostly forgiving. The result is a large increase in law violations.'
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report, December 2008 - page 2-11.

And it bulldozes Palestinian homes without warning or compensation:
'In the last three and half years, Israel's armed forces have bulldozed or blown up more than 3,000 homes - an average rate of more than two homes a day. This has left tens of thousands of men, women and children homeless or without a livelihood... Often the only warning is the rumbling of the Israeli army's bulldozers and tanks and the inhabitants barely have time to flee as the bulldozers begin to tear down the walls of their homes.'
Report by Amnesty International, May 2004.

This kind of thing has been going on for forty one years now. To say that those who recognise the injustice and brutality inherent in the four decade old Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, and want to work to put a stop it, are somehow anti-semitic, is misguided at best, and completely shameless and dishonest at worst.

Hear! Hear! I absolutely agree PaulLambert - and thank you VERY much for the links to sources which even the most virulent pro-Israeli supporter would be hard-pressed to refute.

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