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How the very concept of human rights has failed Palestinians

Certain rights should be inalienable — yet Israel refuses to grant them to Palestinians and the world continues to treat the country as a rights-based democracy. What does this absurdity say about human rights as a political tool, and about the powers, entities and institutions that speak in their name?

Human Rights March 2009 (Naama Saar Stavy)

Human Rights March 2009 (Naama Saar Stavy)

Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman MK David Rotem laid out some of his beliefs and world views in an extensive interview with Israeli financial daily Globes a few weeks ago. One of Rotem’s statements – which made the headline of the piece – was that “human rights are [reserved] for people who are citizens of the state.”

Rotem was referring the Israeli High Court of Justice’s decision to strike down, for the second time, an amendment to the “anti-Infiltration Law,” which authorized the prolonged imprisonment of asylum seekers who entered the country illegally. The final word in this legal battle has yet to be said, as Rotem’s committee will soon discuss and advance yet a third version of the law, which in all likelihood will be also be challenged before the High Court.

Yet when it comes to Israel’s decades-long occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, Rotem’s statement captures the entire logic of the system. This logic is tolerated, and often even accepted, by entities and institutions that see themselves as guardians of human rights. In that sense, that fact that a man like Rotem now heads the Israeli parliament’s constitutional committee is more telling than it seems. Human rights here are not a given, but something that are reserved for one category of people and deprived from another.

* * *

Many 20th century scholars, even liberal ones, have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of human rights as a political concept that can be used for advancing freedom and dignity for all human beings.

The fact that these “inalienable” rights were quickly attached to the concept of “national rights” and citizenship is even more troubling. Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt pondered the fate of the person who is not entitled to citizenship – making it “legal” to strip him of his human rights, too. The result is a “legitimate” form of abuse, which could actually be worse than what preceded the idea of the “inalienable rights.”

This might sound too abstract — until one looks at the Palestinian case. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza comprise an indigenous population, and are a people who were uprooted from their homes in 1947-1948, only to be reconquered by Israel 19 years later. Neither group has Israeli citizenship — or any citizenship for that matter. They don’t even have the legal status of “permanent residents,” as do Palestinians of East Jerusalem. They are the subjects of a military regime.

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers blindfold and arrest a young Palestinian man in Hebron. (photo: Activestills.org)

Under the military regime, Palestinians can have their private property destroyed or confiscated at the discretion of the military commander (and in most cases don’t even have the right to appeal such decisions); their freedom to travel outside the West Bank, and sometimes even within it, depends on special permits given by the military commander; they cannot build without the approval of the military commander, thousands can be deported from their homes with the stroke of a commander’s pen; every political assembly or protest can be deemed illegal unless it was given the permission of the military commander, and; they can be imprisoned, tortured or even killed without trial or due process.

Naturally, when it comes to the decisions of the military commander, Palestinians have no say and no mechanisms for accountability. The army and the Defense Ministry, the sovereign in the West Bank, rule as they see fit. In other words, every Palestinian in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, regardless of their actions, has had his or her civil rights and many of their human rights revoked.

* * *

There is something misleading about the term “occupation” because, in theory, it represents a temporary state of affairs. And while it is true that the international legal system allows the temporary revocation of some rights of an occupied population, Israel’s occupation is permanent. It might not have been this way in the late 1960s, when it wasn’t clear what was in store for the territories Israel captured in the Six Day War. But once the Israeli government started settling its own population in the occupied territory — and even more so, once it began arguing before its own court that such settlements are within its rights — this debate regarding the transience of the occupation should have ended.

People tend to confuse “permanent” with “eternal.” The Israeli occupation is not eternal — no institution is — but it is as permanent as can be in this world. It’s already lasted longer than the post-WWII Soviet bloc, for example. Israel itself stopped treating the OPT as occupied, now viewing them as territories held by Israel under a different status than the rest of the state. Therefore, the act of revoking the rights of an entire category of people is also permanent.

This is something that, in theory, can’t been reconciled with the idea of human rights. How could we deny the inalienable rights? Yet the very same political entities that speak in the name of rights have come to tolerate, accept, and even cooperate and support holding of a certain category of people without said rights.

The international community as a whole tends to view the Palestinian issue as a problem of war and peace, or as a diplomatic issue, rather than an issue of rights. Instead of demanding to immediately return the Palestinians their rights (because rights are inalienable and cannot be revoked in the first place), and only then discuss where those rights will be exercised (within the State of Israel or within a new Palestinian state), the rights were forgotten and the debate focused exclusively on the issue of the state. On a side note, this is also where the deep roots of the failure to reach an agreement lie. The heart of the matter was, and still is, being ignored.

The institutions that speak the language of rights are the very ones that sealed the denial of the Palestinians’ rights. The Israeli Supreme Court, for example, will review cases from the OPT, but it will not uphold Israel’s basic laws (the closest thing the country has to a constitution) in the West Bank and Gaza. The High Court rejects or refuses to hear most petitions from Palestinians, and when it does, it usually approves all the major policies of the occupation – from the confiscation of land, to the transfer of prisoners, to deportations, to imprisonment without trial (“administrative detention”), to torture and targeted assassinations. The court has set certain guidelines and limits on those measures, but the underlying notion that Palestinians have no rights — and can therefore be treated differently than Israeli citizens — has never been questioned.

Once the court accepted this logic it went on to its mini-constitutional revolution of the 1990s, which won it the label of an activist institution. This too was all about rights — but these were the rights of the privileged class: citizens.

Onward, to the world: the United States, which endowed upon the world the very idea of inalienable rights, is preventing the Palestinians from taking their case to international courts. The Palestinians are regarded by all American administrations as people who need to pass various thresholds and litmus tests if they are ever to win back their (inalienable) rights. So far, they haven’t passed those tests — so their current legal status has become the normal state of affairs, while Palestinians’ efforts to challenge it are regarded as “unilateral” acts which need to be punished.

The European Union views its normative power on human rights issues as one of its sources of pride. Some see it as the essence or the EU’s legitimacy. The 1995 trade agreement between the EU and Israel even includes a clause in this spirit:

Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.

Yet the EU never attempted to reconcile these words with the existence of a population living without rights in the West Bank and Gaza. And when it did, instead of questioning the entire agreement, the EU duplicated the Israeli distinction between the “regions of rights” and the “regions of no-rights,” by moving to exclude the West Bank from the agreement. I support the EU policies regarding the settlements, but we should keep in mind that they don’t address the issue of rights; they only allow the EU to feel less complicit in their abuse.

We can go on with these examples (how about the American Jewish community – considered the most liberal in the States – and its ongoing refusal to view the Palestinian issue as a problem of rights?), but the bottom line should be clear by now: human rights are not “inalienable,” but are rather seen as something that can be revoked by a sovereign power.

In fact, as Israel denies the rights of millions of people, it is still considered to be a rights-based democracy, and therefore a natural partner and ally to the liberal West. In other words, it is the rights-based discourse itself that has allowed Israel to revoke the rights of an entire class of people and get away with it. Maintaining the rights of some made it possible to take away the rights of others; exactly as Arendt, Giorgio Agamben and others warned could happen.

Needless to say, Israel is not a rights-based democracy, if this idea has any meaning. As I argued here a few weeks back, it’s time the Palestinian issue became a conversation about rights rather than diplomatic solutions. Until then, the failure to address the occupation as such casts a long shadow on the very concept of rights as a political and philosophical tool for bettering the human condition.

Replacing the peace process with a civil rights struggle
A rights-based discourse is the best way to fight dispossession

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    1. Richard

      If the Arabs obtained sovereignty over the West Bank, they would bring the war down to the Sharon Plain, and then, once again, Jews will be deprived of human rights. So…this whole approach doesn’t really go anywhere useful if you want humans, not just Arabs, to have human rights.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        Richard: “If the Arabs obtained sovereignty over the West Bank, they would bring the war down to the Sharon Plain, and then, once again, Jews will be deprived of human rights.”

        THE war?

        What war would that be, Richard?

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          These are the Arab gate keepers. It is all about the Jews: to be or not to be. Unlike leftists, Jihadis don’t lie. Jihadis tell you exactly what they believe, preach what they believe and practice what they preach.


          Reply to Comment
        • Richard Lightbown

          I think this explains things some more. No Child is Born a Terrorist (That goes for Israelis too I guess.)


          Reply to Comment
    2. Noe

      The author is neglecting to give agency to the Palestinians in this essay.

      The primary reason the presence of Israel in Judea and Samaria exists today is the continued refusal of the Palestinians to compromise and settle with Israel.

      Israel has offered the Palestinians their own state on virtually all of 1967 lines, along with the Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and control over Christian and Muslim holy sites. Israel has made three different versions of this offer in the past 15 years. If the Palestinians had accepted even one of these offers, there would be a Palestinian state already and the author’s entire case would be moot.

      So whom does he blame? Israel, of course. Why would he blame the Palestinians although it is they who refuse peace and compromise?

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        Care to show how, Noe? Just the date of the first offer will do, no need for the three latest ones in the last 15 years because they obviously won’t be inside pre-1967 lines.

        Reply to Comment
        • Noe

          Camp David.

          Taba talks.

          Olmert offer.

          The first offer included 100% of Gaza, 93% of Judea and Samaria.

          The second offer included 100% of Gaza, 95% of Judea and Samaria. Land swaps inside Israel on a 3:1 basis. Sovereignty over Arab parts of Jerusalem including Muslim, Armenian and half of Christian Quarters and even over part of Temple Mount.

          Third offer included 100% of Gaza, 95% of Judea and Samaria. Land swaps inside Israel on 1:1 ratio. Sovereignty over Arab parts of Jerusalem. International control of “Holy Basin”.

          The last two offers included a reparations fund amounting to $30-50 billion.

          All three offers included a mechanism to allow many 1948 refugees to move into Israel.

          The Palestinians refused all three deals.

          Reply to Comment
          • Eliza

            Noa – None of the offers were acceptable, and rightly so. The area of land under offer is only one thing. You do realise that all of the offers come with Israeli control over land/air/sea borders – pretty much like Gaza is now. Israel refuses to relinquish military control of the Jordon Valley, and presumably a West Bank Palestinian state could be sealed off to the outside world according to the whim of Israel. There must also be fair dealing regarding the ROR of Palestinians to their ancestral lands within Israel proper.

            However, lets put that aside for the moment. If the Israel offer is so good, and Israel pure of heart, why then is not the offer reoffered, so to speak.

            These Israeli offers are just part of the pantomime at play whereby Israel steadily works towards de facto annexation of most of the West Bank and transfer of most of the non-Jews to areas A & B, which will become autonomous city states where the animals are kept at bay.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe

            Eliza, you can come up with all the excuses you like, the fact is that none of them stand up to scrutiny. Do you know what the Yishuv accepted as an autonomous nothing in 1937? A small fraction of present-day Israel. But they accepted it because they wanted self-determination. The Palestinians want Israel so they continue to refuse offers and even negotiations.

            Do you want to know how absurd the Palestinian position is? Let me tell you. Israel offered the Palestinians 100% of Gaza and 95% of Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians claimed (now they claim differently) they actually wanted 100% of Gaza and 98.1% of Judea and Samaria. In other words, they claim that, supposedly, 3% of the total landmass of Judea and Samaria – less than 2% of all the land they claim they want – is a sufficient barrier to getting their own country for the first time ever in history, ending the “occupation,” receiving reparations, controlling Arab sections of Jerusalem, etc.

            In what universe can a person complain about severe human rights violations, the evils of the “occupation,” the destruction to both Palestinians and Israelis and the long, long list of perfidies ascribed to Israel because of its presence in these lands when that person knows it could have been over years ago but for a measly 2% of the land?

            I’ll tell you what kind of person. A person who seeks the destruction of Israel. Period.

            Reply to Comment
          • Eliza

            Noa – Let me restate the point that resolution of the I/P conflict is not merely about land area percentages.

            If I were Palestinian and Israel were to offer all of Gaza, EJ, all of the W/B plus say 10% of land of Israel proper, I would still reject it if:

            Israel were to maintain a military presence in the Jordon Valley (and elsewhere);

            Palestine would be prevented from maintaining an army and defence forces;

            Israel would maintain control over Palestinian airspace and control its land/sea borders;

            Palestine would not be able to enter into alliances with other States unless Israel agrees; and

            There is a just resolution of the ROR of Palestinians (including financial compensation if necessary) including the Palestinians currently residing as refugees in neighbouring states.

            The new state of Palestine must be independent and sovereign.

            However, this is all slightly off-topic. Noam is discussing the difficulty or dilemma that arises where human rights are attached to citizenship. Just what happens to people who, for whatever reason, are denied citizenship in any Nation State? This is his question.

            Well, we sorta know what happens to people who have no citizenship, no access to civilian courts to redress civil wrongs etc. We see how Israel treats the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

            This is not to say that citizenship in a Nation State guarantees human rights – it does not. However, occupation and lack of citizenship pretty much does guarantee the denial of human rights. Its really not rocket science.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe


            I understand that you want me to understand that there are other factors than percentages of land dominating this issue. That’s irrelevant. It’s just another excuse. The Palestinians say they want X. They are offered X minus a couple of details and percentage points. Over these quibbles, they refuse peace and then complain about their lot. It’s absurd.

            If you really want to discuss losses, you can begin with the losses of 2500 year old Jewish communities in Arab lands that lost everything and most of whose residents became refugees in Israel. Do you know how much land and wealth was lost to the 800,000 Jews in Arab and Muslim lands who had to leave?

            Stop justifying the rejection of peace and compromise. There will have to be significant compromises on the part of the Palestinians. We have lost sight of the discussion because the Jordanians conquered Judea and Samaria in 1948. Everything west of the River is supposed to be “home” to the Jewish people. The Israelis, by making the offers they made, were giving up 20% of the land that should be theirs. They were also essentially agreeing to another Jew-free state despite having kept a large population of Arabs in 1948 and to date.

            Why do Palestinians have to compromise? Because they lost the wars they started. Because they rejected every compromise deal ever offered to them. Because they have been murderously hostile to the Jews since the early days of the Yishuv when there was a small minority of Jews living there. Small minority, large majority, “settlers,” “non-settlers,” it doesn’t matter who was there, the Palestinians have been murderously hostile.

            Presently, half of the Palestinians are ruled by a group that openly seeks Israel’s destruction and Islamic rule over the entirety of Gaza, Israel, Judea and Samaria. The other half are ruled by those who wish to have zero Jews in their hoped-for state and also the right to move millions of other Arabs of Palestinian descent into the adjacent state of Israel as well.

            That’s all. Everything else is BS. You care about the Jordan Valley? Well, Islamic State has proven the claims of Israel about how critical it is for Israel to have a presence there. If Islamic State could destroy Syria, you think it would be hard for them to destroy the Palestinians? The PA couldn’t even manage against Hamas in 2006.

            You want the Palestinians to have an army? Why? Israel will protect them from IS better than they ever could (see Syria as evidence). Jordan has openly ceded any claim on Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians so they’re not a threat. Syria would never move against a “Palestine” as long as Israel shares a border with it. So why give them an army again?

            The Palestinians have a century of physical hostility directed primarily at Jewish civilians in their recent past. Who is going to give them tanks and jets? Have you seen the size of Israel? Do you think Israelis, half of whom are refugees or descendants of refugees from Arab lands, are going to commit suicide? The Palestinians have NEVER demonstrated a desire for peace and compromise. You want Israel to let them have jets? Why don’t you google how fast jets fly and how wide Israel would be after the offered peace agreements.

            The irony is that the Palestinians could actually have had many of their supposed desires met under Barak’s Taba deal. But they demanded the so-called but non-existent “right of return” as well as sovereignty over all of the Temple Mount including the Western Wall. I can assure you that despite all the hopes of leftists, Jew-haters and Arabs worldwide to destroy Israel via means like “right of return,” it isn’t going to happen. The status quo is preferable to Israel.

            Regarding citizenship and lack thereof, having Iraqi citizenship did not protect Iraqis from the USA, from each other or from Islamic State. It did not protect Syrians from massive human rights violations over decades committed by the Assad regimes. It does not protect Saudi women from the strictures of their state. Etc.

            Citizenship is not what protects human rights. The type of government under which you live does that. The Palestinians have two governments which they elected into positions of power. 98% of these Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria live under Palestinian governments and it’s those governments you need to hold accountable for human rights violations.

            Reply to Comment
          • Eliza

            Noa – You state that all other factors, apart from the percentage of land available for a Palestinian state, are irrelevant.

            They maybe irrelevant to you but I doubt they are to the Palestinians.

            You also state that all of the land west of the Jordon was designated to the ‘home’ to Jews. Somehow you see Israel as giving away land it is entitled to, if a Palestinian state were to arise in the West Bank. You really should not open up this little can of worms and it inevitably leads to an examination of what really happened in 1948.

            Essentially, as I see it, the Palestinians must compromise (or humbly submit) to all the Israel wants on the basis that they lost the wars. Again, not a real smart position to take given that the day may well come when Israel military loses a war (rather than just diplomatically).

            You would not only deny a Palestinian State the right to arms but would hold that they don’t really need them because Israel will protect them against ISIS (or whoever is around). Which I must say is jolly decent of you, but I just wonder who is going to protect the Palestinian State from Israel? Now, that is the question.

            Finally, I have never argued that citizenship guarantees human rights. Your argument re the citizenship of Iraqis did not prevent the USA (& cohorts) invasion of Iraq – well, yeah, your right. But ….?

            Citizenship can never guarantee human rights – yep, no problem with that. The issue is whether human rights can really exist for people who have no citizenship. This is the essence, I think, of Noam’s article.

            And the treatment of non-Jews in the O/T by Israel is very much an indication that human rights do fall away if there is no citizenship.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe


            If we go by what’s relevant to the Palestinians, then we can revisit 1929 and their attacks on a minority Jewish community inside a land that was not under Arab control. That was a period before statehood and before the PA or “West Bank.” It was a period where the Palestinian Arabs demonstrated that they oppose Jews on this land.

            Today there’s a state and a Jewish majority, but nothing has changed, just the terms of the fighting because the Palestinians have to contend with different realities. They are very clear that they want all of Israel and consider it to be “theirs.”

            You think 1948 is a “can of worms” but I’m not concerned about what happened. I’ve read pro-Israel historians and anti-Israel historians and I believe Israel comes through that period pretty well considering the circumstances. To remind you, the 1947 war was launched by Palestinian Arabs and the main war was launched by Arab states. And, as the murder and forced cleansing of every single Jew in Arab conquered territories – Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Golan – demonstrates, the Arabs viewed this as a war of ethnic cleansing. It just so happens that they lost. Even in victory, Israel still permitted 20% of its nascent state to be Arab non-Jews and in 1950 extended a hand to bring another 100,000 Palestinian Arabs into Israel (the Arab states rejected the proposal and once a stream of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands began to arrive, Israel withdrew the offer so it would have resources to deal with these refugees.

            “Again, not a real smart position to take given that the day may well come when Israel military loses a war (rather than just diplomatically).”

            If that day comes, you will see done to Jews, Christians and Druze in Israel what ISIS is doing in Iraq.

            It isn’t “jolly decent” of me to protect Palestinians from ISIS or someone else, it’s practical. I want them as far away from Israeli borders as possible. ”

            who is going to protect the Palestinian State from Israel?”

            If they don’t fire rockets into Israel, they will not be attacked. If they don’t tunnel into Israel, they will not be attacked. If they do, they should be attacked…You will note that the peace agreements Israel made with Egypt and Jordan have never been violated by Israel.

            “The issue is whether human rights can really exist for people who have no citizenship.”

            They can exist if the leadership allows it. Period. It so happens the leaderships the Palestinians have are the ones they wanted.

            “And the treatment of non-Jews in the O/T by Israel is very much an indication that human rights do fall away if there is no citizenship.”

            Untrue. The majority of Palestinians live under PA rule. If there weren’t ongoing demonstrations attacking soldiers, as well non-stop attempts to inflict attacks on Israel and illegal construction that seeks to establish facts, the IDF would rarely come into contact with almost all Palestinians. Most of these actions are not “grass roots,” but rather encouraged and sometimes driven by Palestinian leadership.

            Reply to Comment
          • sh

            I specifically asked you for the first ever offer, not the three you mentioned that happened during the last 15 years. The settler movement didn’t start in the year 2000, nor did government support for it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe

            Sh, why are you avoiding the offers made in the past 15 years? They are a result of thawing of relations between Arabs and Israelis as represented in the Oslo Accords.

            Prior to Oslo, the two sides weren’t actually talking. To remind you, the Arabs in general have refused to acknowledge Israel’s existence or to negotiate with it. The three no’s of Khartoum in 1967 established the prevailing Arab philosophy:


            Reply to Comment
    3. Ginger Eis

      “Many 20th century scholars, even liberal ones, have expressed doubts about the effectiveness of human rights as a political concept that can be used for advancing freedom and dignity for all human beings. The fact that these “inalienable” rights were quickly attached to the concept of “national rights” and citizenship is even more troubling. Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt pondered the fate of the person who is not entitled to citizenship – making it “legal” to strip him of his human rights, too. The result is a “legitimate” form of abuse, which could actually be worse than what preceded the idea of the “inalienable rights.” This might sound too abstract —“

      OMG, pls. someone call the doctor, no kidding – pls. call me a doctor – I am gonna die of laughter, I think I just broke a rib. Ooh this is sooooo funny, soooo hilarious. Please Mr. Sheizaf, STICK to writing the diatribes and demonizing Israel and leave the philosophy of law alone to those who have the brain-power to power through its complexities and legal subtleties. Seriously, Mr. Sheizaf, there is wholly nothing “abstract” in what I know you are trying to say but are unable to express. The only reason it appears “too abstract” to you is because you (a) don’t understand and (b) mix-up and confuse a lot of issues and concepts, i.e. “inalienable rights”, “national rights” and “human rights”, etc.

      1. What exactly did the Jewish philosopher Hanna Arendt said? Where is the citation? What is the source?
      2. Who are the “many 20th century scholars? What exactly did they say? Where are the citations? What is/are the source(s)?
      3. “Inalienable rights” and “classical human rights and fundamental freedoms” are one and the same! “National rights” encompass all “classical human rights and fundamental freedoms” and all other rights that do not fall under the legal dogmatic umbrella of “classical human rights and fundamental freedoms”. All of these rights together form what is called the laws of a specific State. For States to be able to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, said rights and freedoms are brought under the umbrella of national rights – regardless of whether or not a State has a monistic or pluralistic legal system.
      4. Citizenship is NOT a human right. Citizenship is NOT an inalienable right; et cetera, et cetera.

      There is still a lot you have to learn and understand, Mr. Sheizaf, before you can write legal stuff that makes sense. Right now you have just tortured a beautiful legal topic to non-recognition.

      Reply to Comment
    4. toni

      SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK in his “Against human rights” underlines exactly this point.

      Interesting see some comments above blaming victims for being victims due to some “original sin”. It’s a pychotic pathology.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Bruce Gould

      In the Gatekeepers 6 former directors of Shin Bet say interesting things, if anyone is interested. I mean, these are folks who spent a good portion of their careers protecting Israel. The film was up for an Oscar, though it didn’t win.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Noe

      Even the UN appears to agree with me and not with Sheizaf.

      ““No, [Israel] is not responsible for those violations that are committed by the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, quite clearly not,” the chairman of the UN Human Rights Committee, Nigel Rodley, told a high-level delegation of Israelis.

      “But it is responsible for those violations that are outside the control of the administrating Palestinian authorities and Hamas but are within the control of the state party,” Rodley said.”


      In other words, Areas A and B and Gaza do not apply here. Area C would.

      Reply to Comment
      • Yeah, right

        Noe, Rodley is simply stating a truism i.e. human rights violations BY Palestinians are their responsibility, just as human rights violations BY Israelis are their responsibility.

        Noe: “In other words, Areas A and B and Gaza do not apply here. Area C would.”

        No, actually, because the IDF can – and has, and will – commit human rights violations in Areas A and B as well as in Area C, and when they do the PA can do nothing except stand aside and hope not to attract the IDF’s attention.

        Israel can not absolve itself of guilt because its soldiers commit those violations in areas A and B.

        If that were true then Noe-Logic(tm) would insist that Hamas can absolve itself of responsibility when it commits a crime inside Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • Noe

          Did that make you feel better?

          I posted what the UN’s own Human Rights Committee considers legal and illegal. You can continue to call me names all you want, and you may certainly criticize the UN for being full of shit, I would agree with you there, but the facts are the facts and here you have the head of the Human Rights Committee explicitly telling the world that the Palestinian leaders who rule over 98% of Palestinians in Gaza, Judea and Samaria are responsible for the human rights and lack thereof of their subjects.

          Now you may continue to insult me. Hope it helps with the meds withdrawal.

          Reply to Comment
          • Yvette

            In reality he did not insult you Noe. He replied in a logical, polite and well argued fashion. On the contrary it is you who plainly just insulted him. Uh oh. Better up the dose of YOUR meds!

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            Noe: “I posted what the UN’s own Human Rights Committee considers legal and illegal.”

            Indeed you did, and then you proceeded to misrepresent what he said.

            HE said that Israel is not responsible for those violations that are *committed* *by* the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

            YOU then claimed that this meant that Israel is not responsible for any violations anywhere within Areas A and B.

            I am right to point out that Israel is ALWAYS responsible for human rights violations that it carries out, regardless of where those violations take place.

            Noe: “You can continue to call me names all you want”

            Oh, precious, I didn’t call you any names at all.

            I did point out that your Noe-Logic(tm) would also demand that Hamas is not responsible for any violations that it commits against Israelis inside Israel.

            Which is, I think we can all agree, manifestly absurd.

            Avoiding the issue while playing the victim is oh-so-hasbarah, but it still isn’t a good look.

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe

            No, actually Hamas and Israel have entirely different status under international law as it relates to this discussion. Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria is quite different than any Hamas presence inside Israel.

            Unless you wish to claim that there is no occupation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            Noe: “Unless you wish to claim that there is no occupation”


            This is a belligerent occupation and, apparently, you agree that it is.

            In which case this is axiomatic: under international law the ultimate source of all “authority” within the occupied territory is…. the occupying power.

            After all, that’s the very definition of a belligerent occupation.

            In which case you appear to be chasing your tail.

            Dare I suggest you haven’t actually thought this through?

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe

            It seems you haven’t thought it through.

            There is an internationally sanctioned agreement between the PLO, now the PNA, and the Israeli government. That agreement specifically hands over most governing responsibilities to the PA inside certain parts of Judea and Samaria.

            Any questions?

            Reply to Comment
          • Yeah, right

            Noe, that the occupying power subcontracts out the management of that occupied territory does not mean that it has evaded its responsibilities.

            It is the occupying power.

            It is therefore the ultimate source of authority, and with it goes the concept of “command responsibility”.

            That is true in every occupation.

            It is true in this occupation.

            Noe: “Any questions?”

            Yeah, I do have one: is this an occupation, or isn’t it?

            Actually, I have another: can the IDF go into Areas A or B for any reason that it cares to give to apprehend anyone it cares to arrest, or can’t it?

            Reply to Comment
          • Noe

            It’s irrelevant whether you want to call it subcontracting, call Abbas a Quisling or whatever. The point is and remains that 98% of Palestinians live either under Hamas rule in Gaza – which means they are not under occupation in any sense of the word (don’t bother with the folks claiming they’re still under occupation because I’ll give Mahmoud Al Zahar stating the opposite). The other half of the Palestinians live under PA rule. They have police, quasi-military, jails, judges, ministries, universities, a leadership acknowledged internationally as their leadership, media outlets including government controlled ones. And, since they govern the Palestinians, they are responsible for their human rights. And what the UN is stating in this instance (and, I repeat, the UN is a body I distrust because of its hideously unfair treatment of Israel) is that since the Palestinians are ruled by Palestinians and the rulers have the means to control security forces, police, courts and jails, they are responsible for the human rights of their subjects.

            As to the point of your question regarding whether Israel may enter Palestinian areas A and B to conduct arrests, yes it can. And it does so on a basis of security for Israel, not to arrest, say, an abusive factory operator or a Palestinian minister who has declared that Palestinians who sell land should be killed.

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    7. Richard Witty

      I hope that you also see the inconsistency in your proposal.

      Specifically, that equal rights within the context of a single state is a very different assertion than the assertion of equal rights within a two-state setting.

      For one, to pursue equal rights only permanently, means that you are abandoning the component of rights comprising “consent of the governed”, or self-determination.

      That is a VERY BIG political principle to abandon.

      The choice of goal is inevitable is the point.

      The difference in rights pursued between the two are so material that it makes an exclusively rights based approach inevitably bifurcated, not unified, even permanently confused (rather than clear and focused).

      I think the rights to support are the dual components of democracy:

      1. Consent of the governed (only possible presently in a two-state format, can be federated but by consent of the people’s of each state as a state)

      2. Equal rights for ALL within ALL states. There are inevitably varying rights for citizens, from permanent residents, from legal temporary residents, from illegal temporary residents.

      To name them as unequal, is to say nothing.

      But, the concept of equal due process under the law is fundamental, even when inconvenient for one’s objectives (say the legal status of homes purchased by settler Jews in Silwan).

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      • Yeah, right

        Richard: “For one, to pursue equal rights only permanently, means that you are abandoning the component of rights comprising “consent of the governed”, or self-determination.”

        Ahem, the obvious retort is to point out that Israel’s own insistence on making this occupation permanent is itself a grave violation of the Palestinian right to self-determination.

        Or, put slightly differently: Richard wants to have it both ways i.e. Israel’s insistence on denying the Palestinian human right to self-determination insulates Israel from any accusation that it is denying the human rights of the Palestinians.

        An eternal Israeli get-out-of-goal card, in effect….

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        • Richard Witty

          By “human rights only”, I’m referring to the suggestion that dissenters NOT incorporate a choice of political solution (two-state, or single state, or other elaboration).

          And, that they ignore other social issues, even ones that potentially unify MANY in a color-blind manner (as the j14 movement had a seed of doing, but was also harshly condemned here by Joseph Dana and others).

          There is no easy solution.

          Rights orientation is the right track. It just fails to go far enough, ends in a cul-de-sac.

          Frankly, human rights with the stated intention of ending at good neighbor to good neighbor (including in the form of two states), is the only approach that will realize any good.

          Rights alone (my description of Noam’s thesis) won’t accomplish much, as it is confused, and cannot unify Israeli and Palestinian experience.

          It can if combined with a movement for mutual respect. Alone it can’t.

          But, Israelis can’t ask for kindness as part of Palestinian agenda, without seeming to be spineless pansies.

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          • Yeah, right

            Richard: “By “human rights only”, I’m referring to the suggestion that dissenters NOT incorporate a choice of political solution (two-state, or single state, or other elaboration).”

            Yes, I understand the underlying “logic” of your argument.

            It is – stripped of its fluffery – nothing more than the point that Noam demolished in the article itself i.e. that since:
            a) Israel intends this occupation to be permanent, then
            b) any claim that “Palestinian rights to self-determination” shields Israel from culpability for its human rights violations against those Palestinians
            c) amounts to nothing more than an attempt by Israel to have its cake and eat it too.

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