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Maybe there's just no room for human rights in Israel

Those trying to delegitimize rights groups because their funds come from overseas are sending a very clear message: human and civil rights are not values that exist naturally in Israel.

Right-wing nationalists from the group Im Tirzu protest as Palestinian students living in Israel and Israeli supporters commemorate the Nakba outside Tel Aviv university, May 11, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists from the group Im Tirzu protest as Palestinian students living in Israel and Israeli supporters commemorate the Nakba outside Tel Aviv university, May 11, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Left-leaning Israelis have for decades warned that the occupation will one day come home to roost — that the injustices visited upon Palestinians in the territories will eventually undermine the democratic fabric of Israel itself.

Such warnings are problematic, since they suggest that military occupation is somehow acceptable as long as it isn’t detrimental to the occupier. But at the end of the day warnings that “occupation corrupts” ring true, and two events this week illustrate just how ugly a prophesy it is.

Israel’s Supreme Court this week authorized the denial of legal counsel to the main suspects in the haunting murder of the Dawabshe family. That, on top of a revelation that the Shin Bet, with authorization from the attorney general, has been using “extraordinary” means of interrogation, or as it’s called by everybody else — torture.

The use of torture and the denial of basic rights is not anything new for Israeli security services. Just a couple of months ago the Shin Bet was forced to admit that it illegally used torture against possibly dozens of Palestinians it rounded up a year ago. As demonstrated by the case of feminist Palestinian lawmaker Khalida Jarrar, the state often prefers to put Palestinians in administrative detention instead of building a legal case for their imprisonment.

Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar in Ofer military court, June 22, 2015. (photo: Haggai Matar)

Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar seen during her trial in Ofer military court, West Bank, June 22, 2015. (photo: Haggai Matar)

Those violations of basic civil and human rights, like the ability to effectively defend yourself in court and not having your body and dignity violated by torture, are now transcending Israel’s ethno-religious divide. And these abuses enjoy the support not only of the Israeli government, but also the majority of the opposition parties.

Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, politicians from across the political map declared after the Duma murders, the most horrifying case of “Jewish terrorism” in recent years. Israel must treat Jewish terrorists “exactly like their brothers – Islamist terrorists,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog declared at the time, trying to out-flank the Right from the right.

That attitude, unfortunately, amounts to an assault on civil rights in the name of equality.

The second episode that is casting an increasingly ominous cloud over the values and protections of civil rights is the ongoing campaign being waged against organizations working to advance them. That offensive reached new heights this week when a right-wing organization affiliated with senior members of the Israeli government accused human rights organizations, and individual activists, of being foreign agents serving the nefarious agendas of hostile governments.

The message, similar to that made in an equally outrageous and anti-Semitic video published earlier this year, is clear: human rights and civil rights are not values that exist organically in Israeli society. Human rights and opposition to the occupation are being imposed from the outside-in, and only for the purposes of harming the Jewish state, its citizens and its global image, organizations like Im Tirzu, NGO Monitor and others suggest.

That worldview leaves no room for the idea that Israelis of conscience might, without any financial incentive, be troubled by dual legal systems for different classes of citizens and subjects largely based on ethnic and religious criteria. It leaves no room the idea that Israelis, motivated by the most universal liberal values, might want to form organizations that oppose their own government’s use of torture — against anybody. It does not allow for the idea that Israel’s own native sons, its combat soldiers whom it sends to do its tidings in the occupied territories, might have pangs of conscience and feel the need to talk about what they did for their country.

In short, those who accuse human rights organizations of being foreign agents are saying that human rights are not an Israeli value.

And while the current campaign of incitement against the Israeli Left, and particularly against human rights organizations, is being waged by organizations that represent a minority of Israelis, the wave of popular support they are riding on is far more mainstream. Initiatives targeting human rights NGOs — or “left-wing NGOs” as they’re referred to these days — have been led and co-sponsored by everyone from the Labor party to the ruling Likud to former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman. From the political center, not the fringes.

The attacks are also coming from more and more directions. In particular, Breaking the Silence, an organization of former Israeli soldiers who oppose the occupation, has been targeted in recent weeks by the country’s national police department, the defense minister, the education minister, and even the president himself. Critics of the organization rarely engage with Breaking the Silence’s messaging and activities, however. Instead the attacks tend to be ad hominem, focusing on where they fundraise and to whom they speak.

The persecution in Israel of human and civil rights NGOs — and the values they represent — is most certainly worrying, but it is not surprising. Similar trends have been documented around the world, often with much more ferocity. And it should not surprise anybody that a country that for five decades has justified the systemic violation of civil and human rights of one population would shy away from defending those very values against waves of populism, especially in the face of looming international isolation.

This story is not new, and yet it is only beginning. It used to be that Jewish privilege offered Israeli human rights activists some level of immunity from political persecution, the likes of which Palestinians have suffered for decades. With the current right-wing government’s strong hold on power, no discernible opposition in sight, and nobody even discussing ending the occupation, it is safe to say that the worst is yet to come.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Bruce Gould

      With regard to the issue of “foreign agents” supporting Israeli human rights groups, a former member of the Israeli foreign service days that pressure from other countries may be the only way to get Israel to change its policies:

      http://mondoweiss.net/2015/12/netanyahu-politicians-community

      “Today I am coming here to say that without foreign intervention, without pressure on Israel, nothing will move.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Merkava

        But of coooourse, BEN, no kidding! Indeed, when the “liberals” and the “progressives” who claim that democracy is their religion and free and fair elections their articles of faith, fail to get their way thru the ballot box, they use threats and intimidations to subvert the democratic will and choice of the people in order to force their own will and choice on the people and get what they could not get thru democratic means. Wao, you folks are geniuses.

        BTW, BEN, we know all along who “Bruce Gould” is, but decided to keep quiet about it. Now you know that we know. ROFLMAO!

        Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Yea, according to SOME lefties, the ones who are sworn enemies of the Jewish nation state, the only pressure which is effective is pressure against Israel. According to them no amount of pressure is effective against the Palestinian Arabs because their leadership is obdurate and stubborn.

        Sooooooo since those misguided leftists want “peace in our time” at all cost, they believe in applying pressure on Israel because they think that Israel yields to pressure. It is time to change that perception. We too need to act like the Palestinian Arabs.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Ginger Eis

      “Left-leaning Israelis have for decades warned that the occupation will one day come home to roost — that the injustices visited upon Palestinians in the territories will eventually undermine the democratic fabric of Israel itself. (…). Israel’s Supreme Court this week authorized the denial of legal counsel to the main suspects in the haunting murder of the Dawabshe family . That, on top of a revelation that the Shin Bet, with authorization from the attorney general, has been using “extraordinary” means of interrogation, or as it’s called by everybody else — torture.”

      Dear Michael Omer-Man, the claim you make and/or the import of your statement is simply NOT true and irresponsible.

      1. The Arab-Israeli conflict started several decades BEFORE the “occupation”. “Occupation” is the result of that conflict, NOT the cause! Until you start dealing with the cause, the “occupation” will stay in place to preserve the status-quo and prevent catastrophe until the cause of the conflict is dealt with, and you shall have been wasting your time.

      2. I read the judgment handed down by Justice Salim Joubran and find it to be quite sound and supported by Ruling Case Law in Israel and as such not new. Justice Joubran (as his record shows) is also a very formidable jurist with the intellectual power required of an Israeli Supreme Court Judge and is one of the best in the business! Beyond that, his Ruling in this particular case happens also to be the proverbial “law of the land” in all of EUROPE as well! Your claim that said Ruling is the result of what you call “occupation” is therefore FALSE.

      3. You equate “extraordinary means of interrogation” with “torture” – based on ASSUMPTION and CONJECTURE. “Extraordinary means” can mean anything incl. or excl. “torture”. Since you have no idea of what actually happened in this specific case, it is irresponsible to accuse the Jewish State of torture!

      Pls. STOP the smear, the delegitimization and the demonization of the Supreme Court and the IDF (paid for by Ramallah and hostile foreign governments). STOP the smear and the demonization of innocent Israelis. THAT – Mr. Omer-Man is the root of all evil and cause of the shameful, very painful war of words we are seeing these days between the Left and the Right.

      Reply to Comment
      • Hans Schnakenhals

        Äh? Where is the denial of legal counsel law of the land in Europe? Article 6 of the European human rights convention clearly says otherwise (even if the UK doesn’t like it).

        Reply to Comment
      • Lion Of Judah

        Hey, Ginj,

        “Beyond that, his Ruling in this particular case happens also to be the proverbial “law of the land” in all of EUROPE as well!”

        I can’t find anything on that. Pls. advice further…

        Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Article 6 §3(c) ECtHR guarantees the right to counsel during the TRIAL-phase. The ECHR has consistently held the right to have a lawyer present PRE-trial, i.e. DURING INVESTIGATIVE state/police interrogation could in general NOT be derived from Article 6 §3(c) ECtHR. However, the Court also finds that in order for the right to a fair trial to remain sufficiently practiced and effective’, Article 6(1) requires that, as a rule, access to a lawyer should be provided (a) as from the first interrogation of the suspect by the police, UNLESS (b) IT IS DEMONSTRATED IN LIGHT OF THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE that there are COMPELLING REASONS TO RESTRICT THAT RIGHT. This is known in legal science as “The Salduz-doctrine” derived from CASE OF SALDUZ v. TURKEY, (Application no. 36391/02).

          http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng?i=001-89893#{“itemid”:[“001-89893”]}

          THAT – is The Ruling Case Law/Law of the land in all of the EU, Turkey, Russia, etc., via the Supremacy Principle/Clause.
          ———————————————
          (Pls. capitalization is only meant to convey emphasis). My personal opinion re the Duma-saga is that the Arabs did that crime, not Jews! Ya’alon started blaming “Jewish terrorism” and brought shame on us without EVIDENCE that a Jew committed the crime. Like many others, I think that Shin Bet is looking in the wrong direction and may have already botched the investigation to the extent that the criminal may never be caught. Time will tell.

          Reply to Comment
        • Ginger Eis

          Article 6 §3(c) ECtHR guarantees the right to counsel during the TRIAL-phase. The ECHR has consistently held the right to have a lawyer present PRE-trial, i.e. DURING INVESTIGATIVE state/police interrogation could in general NOT be derived from Article 6 §3(c) ECtHR. However, the Court also finds that in order for the right to a fair trial to remain sufficiently practiced and effective’, Article 6(1) requires that, as a rule, access to a lawyer should be provided (a) as from the first interrogation of the suspect by the police, UNLESS (b) IT IS DEMONSTRATED IN LIGHT OF THE PARTICULAR CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CASE that there are COMPELLING REASONS TO RESTRICT THAT RIGHT. This is known in legal science as “The Salduz-doctrine” derived from CASE OF SALDUZ v. TURKEY, (Application no. 36391/02).

          THAT – is The Ruling Case Law/Law of the land in all of the EU, Turkey, Russia, etc., via the Supremacy Principle/Clause.
          ———————————————
          (Pls. capitalization is only meant to convey emphasis). My personal opinion re the Duma-saga is that the Arabs did that crime, not Jews! Ya’alon started blaming “Jewish terrorism” and brought shame on us without EVIDENCE that a Jew committed the crime. Like many others, I think that Shin Bet is looking in the wrong direction and may have already botched the investigation to the extent that the criminal may never be caught. Time will tell.

          This is Re-post. The initial post is not appearing probably because of the link to the case relied on. This post is not containing the link, but if you google “salduz v. Turkey” or “the salduz-doctrine”, you will find the case. My excuses Mr. Omer-Man if my post appears more than once.

          Reply to Comment
      • Hans Schnakenhals

        Additionally, the nerve of the right wingers in here is also funny. Complaining about outside pressure after things like Bibi’s stunt in the US and the fact that Israel applies Hasbara and financial pressure (with the help of the US) all over the place, even in small countries like Iceland, to further its political objectives. Apparently it’s also not a problem if illegal settlements receive millions out of the US. And we haven’t even mentioned AIPAC yet.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Ben

      @ Bruce Gould: Colette Avital’s statement is important and interesting. This–the need for outside pressure–to pierce the bubble Israelis live in–is the same thing that motivated Noam Sheizaf to start +972. It’s pretty much +972’s raison d’être. People don’t seem to realize this. Hence all the rants from Israelis about non-Israelis posting here. The right wing obstinacy on this very page only underscores this need for outside pressure. A similar thing with BTS. The vast majority in Israel refuses to even listen to them but witness the loud whining about their then talking to people outside Israel. Can’t have it both ways.

      Reply to Comment
      • Merkava

        Bruce BEN Gould, the verdict is in: http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/hdr_2015_statistical_annex.pdf: young Israel ranks 18th amongst 188 nation in the UN Human Development report! Is that the ‘the bubble Israelis live in that requires outside pressure to pierce’? Why do Jews and Israel stir up such strong emotions of jealousy and hate in you, Bruce Ben Gould? Have you finished piercing the bubbles the folks in the countries (US and Britain) you claim to come from live in? Why then the clinically obsessive fixation on Jews and Israel, BEN? As I have told you before, the most you can do is dwell 24/7 in the comment sections of Jewish websites ranting and raging against Jews and the Jewish State and using multiple aliases to do that, incl. posing as a chic!, but in the end you achieve NOTHING, absolutely nothing. If and when you, as you are now declaring, try to physically harm Israelis, you will be dealt with as prescribed by law, LoL…. Ya got that, Bruce BEN Gould?

        BTW
        We knew that your goal was to first copy and paste as “Bruce Gould” and then come back as “Ben” to start talking to- and with yourself, pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself, etc. and have some momentary emotional satisfaction. You’re very lonely and definitely crazy, Bruce Ben Gould.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          I go away for one day and you miss me already, sweetpea. How sweet. Don’t ferget to take your meds. Sigh. It’s not easy having a crazy girlfrien’.

          Reply to Comment
          • Merkava

            Oh boy….. it seems our resident jerk – Bruce BEN Gould – is on his psychotic sexual trip AGAIN by posting sexual messages to other men online and calling them his “girlfriend”. Oy! Lunacy and sexual hallucinations seem to be the only thing BEN has to offer his Muslim-brothers, besides of course copying and pasting the opinions of political pundits to compensate for his intellectual incompetence. Not only that,

            Bruce BEN Gould claims he is from the “US” and “Great Britain”
            Bruce BEN Gould has no job;
            Bruce BEN Gould is not looking for a job;
            Bruce BEN Gould is dependent on foodstamps to survive;

            Bruce BEN Gould has PAID subscription for Jewish publications ONLY and NONE from his own country or elsewhere. He dwells on different Jewish websites EVERY SINGLE day fixating on- and obsessing with the Jews and Israel, ranting and raging with multiple aliases (Eliza, Bryan, Eva, AverageAmerican, Lauren, “Israel”, “David”, etc.) and calling for boycott. Bruce BEN Gould’s life is under occupation: occupation by Jews and Israel”.

            Seek professional help, BEN!

            Reply to Comment
          • phil

            merkava sounds a lot like meirav, did anyone notice? almost as much as Big Dog and Gustav sound alike

            Reply to Comment
          • Merkava

            BEN just disappeared and metamorphosed into one of his old aliases “Phil”, because he is a creepy coward who can’t debate his fellow men mano-a-mano! BEN/Phil has ON THIS site supported running Israelis over with cars and buses! Does the pathetic little coward BEN/Phil deny that – so that we start providing evidence?

            We are waiting for your denial, BEN/Phil……

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            LOL. Phil Sock puppet is back.

            Reply to Comment

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