Don’t be numbed, don’t be lulled into complacency. As of today, Israel’s current Operation Shield and Arrow in Gaza has killed 26 Palestinians, including women and children, and injured many more. Thousands are taking shelter in their homes, although there is no protection from Israel’s bombardment.
Israeli officials say they targeted three senior Islamic Jihad commanders, a preemptive action to prevent alleged attacks on Israel. Attacking them in their homes, they surely knew their wives, children and other family members would be victims too. If the new (old) normal under international law is to condone preemptive deadly action against military leaders, then I suppose any foreign actor who feared U.S. military aggression would be justified in taking out the U.S. President and his family in a preemptive strike. Such action, whether initiated by Israel or any foreign actor, is a clear violation of international law, and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
Deliberately throwing international law into the wind is, sadly, the new normal. Take for example all of the journalists that Israel has killed.
Democracy for the Arab World (DAWN) is demanding that the Biden Administration release its report on the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by Israeli troops in Jenin a year ago, and publicly acknowledge the FBI’s investigation into her killing.
Americans hear very little from our mainstream press about Israel’s military actions in support of its 75 years of occupation of Palestinians. We know nearly nothing of the context for the resistance. When the spokepersons for the White House and the State Department are put on the spot, they are adept at side-stepping reporters’ questions about Israel – Palestine. Thankfully, the questions are becoming more direct and relevant to uncovering the truth.
Don’t be numbed, don’t remain silent. Listen carefully to how the stories are presented. WAKE UP!
Israel’s military entered Nablus in occupied Palestine to “preemptively” “neutralize” three “suspects” who were allegedly “planning attacks in the immediate future.” The timing was exquisite, coming on the heals of Secretary of State Blinken’s diplomatic visit.
The Israeli military’s daytime raid began at around 10:15 a.m. (3:15 a.m. ET), Ahmad Jibril, the local director of Red Crescent, told CNN. It is “a time when everyone is out shopping in the open market of the old city. No one expects an invasion at this time of the day,” he said.
There were Israeli snipers on the rooftops shooting live ammunition, he said. “That’s why many people were shot in the head, shoulders and backs,” he said. Most of the dead were shot in the head, he added.
“People who were unarmed and even away from the old city were also shot. Bullets were everywhere!” he said.
Even by Israel’s standards, this was a brazen affront against international law and a big “FUCK YOU” to the Biden Administration.
The IDF killed 11 Palestinians and wounded 102 before withdrawing from Nablus.
U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Jan. 30. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP via Getty Images
Summary of call: Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today (Feb. 18) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reiterate our support for a negotiated two-state solution and opposition to policies that endanger its viability. The Secretary underscored the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to take steps that restore calm and our strong opposition to unilateral measures that would further escalate tensions. The Secretary and Prime Minister also discussed broader regional challenges, including the threats posed by Iran, and the Secretary underscored our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security.
My message to President Biden: Netanyahu doesn’t give a flying FU*K about your diplomacy, about a two-state solution, or any damn “shared values” between the U.S. and Israel. You’d better tell the American public what you consider our ‘special relationship’ to be, specifying the substance and policy dimensions of the two countries’ so-called ‘shared values’. Only by clearly defining those values can you set the U.S. apart from Israel’s flagrant violations of human rights and international law, such as the slaughter in Nablus this week. And you should make clear what would represent a departure from those ‘shared values’. Otherwise, you and your Administration are joined at the hip with a country that “preemptively” assassinates Palestinians with impunity. (Israel has murdered 62 Palestinians so far in 2023.)
In its detailed coverage of the UNSCOP report, TheEconomist in early September 1947 called the majority plan “both unjust and unworkable.” The majority plan recommended that the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community in Palestine, which made up 34 percent of its population, be given almost two-thirds of the country’s land area, both of its ports, most of its primary water sources and most of its valuable citrus plantations. At the time, the Yishuv only owned 7 percent of the land in Palestine. Almost all of Palestine’s industries—Arab, Jewish and foreign—would be in the new Jewish state. Yet, under this plan, the Jewish state would still be demographically a binational state, with almost an equal population of Jews and Palestinian Arabs. For their part, the Palestinians were asked to accept a rump statelet with little of the country’s economic wealth, and a heavy dependence upon the goodwill of the new Jewish state to make the proposed economic union functional.
With modifications, the UNSCOP majority plan was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947 in Resolution 181. The General Assembly vote was delayed several times because the United States and the Jewish Agency representatives were not confident that they had gathered the requisite two-thirds of U.N. member states to support the partition resolution. Only after significant diplomatic arm-twisting, and an abrupt change of mind by several developing countries, was the final vote conducted. While slightly more territory was assigned to the proposed Arab state by the General Assembly, the lopsided features of the UNSCOP majority plan remained largely intact. The rest has been a calamitous history for the Palestinians.
We should each return to the beginning and remember this history which unleashed the trauma that persists to this day. And if you don’t know this history, Professor Lynk’s essay is a good place to begin.
The partition of Palestine as recommended by the U.N. Special Committee on Palestine, Sept. 1, 1947. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
Then I started wondering about the website/publication/organization that had published Professor Lynk’s essay. DAWN – Democracy for the Arab World Now – was founded in early 2018 by Jamal Kashoggi just months before his brutal murder in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. I had never heard of DAWN.
The deliberate de-development of democracy and the erosion of human rights in the Arab world are detrimental to its peoples, economies, and future prospects for peace and prosperity. Since the brief flowering of the Arab Spring in 2011, the region has seen a harsh crackdown against democratic dissent and youth activism. Many tens of thousands have been forced into exile. Many more have been killed, jailed, and silenced at home. Repressive governments – often with powerful United States backing – have joined forces to block the democratic aspirations of their peoples.
Friends, colleagues, and supporters are now carrying on Kashoggi’s legacy – establishing DAWN with the mission of advancing democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in member nations of the Arab League through an integrated program of monitoring and research, advocacy and publicity, publications, and broad-based coalition-building.
I explored the DAWN website and found the most recent essay published February 13, 2023. Ending the ‘Special Relationship’: A Proposal for Transforming the Biden Administration’s Israel Policy. See here. WOW! Stay tuned!
About ten or twelve years ago I had an interesting conversation with an American Jew in Albuquerque, New Mexico about the future of Israel and Palestine. He expressed the view shared by many Americans at the time that the Palestinians were getting the short end of the stick but Israelis really had no choice but to maintain the occupation in order to protect themselves.
He knew I’d visited Gaza for a week or two in 2004, and had traveled through the West Bank and Jerusalem as a tourist. So he asked me what I thought the future held in store for both peoples, intimating that his vision of two states with a permanent occupation of one was inevitable. Without a moment’s hesitation, I replied “one country between the river and the sea where every person is treated equally”. I’m not sure where I got that idea, whether reading or talking with someone more knowledgeable than me. But even then I knew that a big part of the problem was a failure of imagination. My Jewish American friend thought I was nuts; we haven’t talked since.
Now, thankfully, there are many so-called nuts traveling around the world promoting the idea of a one democratic state in Israel – Palestine. Last week I listened in to a Zoom meeting with some of the leaders of the One Democratic State Campaign. Check out their website in Arabic and English. I learned that this one state idea is not new. The Palestinian liberation movement, before the Nakba of 1948 and after, had promoted this vision in the PLO’s National Charter, abandoning it for the two-state solution only in 1988.
The proponents of the One Democratic State (ODS) campaign believe that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a good strategy but the Palestinians lack an end goal. To paraphrase what I heard on the Zoom call: “If you don’t have a political goal, all of the strategies in the world won’t accomplish anything.” The One Democratic State campaign provides the goal.
“The only way forward to a genuine and viable political settlement is to dismantle the colonial apartheid regime that has been imposed over historic Palestine, replacing it with a new political system based on full civil equality, implementation of the Palestinian refugees’ Right of Return and the building of a system that addresses the historic wrongs committed on the Palestinian people by the Zionist movement.”
The One Democratic State campaign has ten key points:
A Single Constitutional Democracy. One Democratic State shall be established between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as one country belonging to all its citizens, including Palestinian refugees who will be able to return to their homeland. All citizens will enjoy equal rights, freedom and security. The State shall be a constitutional democracy, the authority to govern and make laws emanating from the consent of the governed. All its citizens shall enjoy equal rights to vote, stand for office and contribute to the country’s governance.
Right of Return, of Restoration and of Reintegration into Society. The single democratic state will fully implement the Right of Return of all Palestinian refugees who were expelled in 1948 and thereafter, whether living in exile abroad or currently living in Israel or the Occupied Territory. The State will aid them in returning to their country and to the places from where they were expelled. It will help them rebuild their personal lives and to be fully reintegrated into the country’s society, economy and polity. The State will do everything in its power to restore to the refugees their private and communal property of the refugees and/or compensate them. Normal procedures of obtaining citizenship will be extended to those choosing to immigrate to the country.
Individual Rights. No State law, institution or practices may discriminate among its citizens on the basis of national or social origin, color, gender, language, religion or political opinion, or sexual orientation. A single citizenship confers on all the State’s residents the right to freedom of movement, the right to reside anywhere in the country, and equal rights in every domain.
Collective Rights. Within the framework of a single democratic state, the Constitution will also protect collective rights and the freedom of association, whether national, ethnic, religious, class or gender. Constitutional guarantees will ensure that all languages, arts and culture can flourish and develop freely. No group or collectivity will have any privileges, nor will any group, party or collectivity have the ability to leverage any control or domination over others. Parliament will not have the authority to enact any laws that discriminate against any community under the Constitution.
Moving from Decolonization to Post-Colonialism. The genuine liberation of Palestinians and Israelis requires a process of thorough decolonization through which we may reach collective justice, peace security and reconciliation. A new national narrative must be constructed that “writes the native Palestinians back in.” Israeli Jews must acknowledge both the national rights of the Palestinian people and past colonial crimes. In return, and based on an egalitarian democracy, Palestinians will accept them as legitimate citizens and neighbors, thereby ending Zionist settler colonialism and entering into a new postcolonial relationship of accommodation, normalization and reconciliation.
Constructing a Shared Civil Society. The State shall nurture a vital civil society comprised of common civil institutions, in particular educational, cultural and economic. Alongside religious marriage the State will provide civil marriage.
Economy and Economic Justice. Our vision seeks to achieve justice, and this includes social and economic justice. Economic policy must address the decades of exploitation and discrimination which have sown deep socioeconomic gaps among the people living in the land. The income distribution in Israel/Palestine is more unequal than any country in the world. A State seeking justice must develop a creative and long-term redistributive economic policy to ensure that all citizens have equal opportunity to attain education, productive employment, economic security and a dignified standard of living.
Commitment to Human Rights, Justice and Peace. The State shall uphold international law and seek the peaceful resolution of conflicts through negotiation and collective security in accordance with the United Nations Charter. The State will sign and ratify all international treaties on human rights and its people shall reject racism and promote social, cultural and political rights as set out in relevant United Nations covenants.
Our Role in the Region. The ODS Campaign will join with all progressive forces in the Arab world struggling for democracy, social justice and egalitarian societies free from tyranny and foreign domination. The State shall seek democracy and freedom in a Middle East that respects its many communities, religions, traditions and ideologies, yet strives for equality, freedom of thought and innovation. Achieving a just political settlement in Palestine, followed by a thorough process of decolonization, will contribute measurably to these efforts.
International responsibility. On a global level, the ODS Campaign views itself as part of the progressive forces striving for an alternative global order that is just, egalitarian and free of any oppression, racism, imperialism and colonialism.
I personally know some Israeli Jews and many Palestinians who reject this notion of One Democratic State. In a nutshell, the Israeli Jews (the ones I know) believe it’s a security issue and (the hard core Zionists) believe their right to the land supersedes the Palestinians’ rights. On the other hand, the Palestinians (the ones I know) believe the past and present injustices are so horrendous that the occupation must be dismantled before they will even talk or entertain a One Democratic State.
Of course, I know many Israeli Jews and Palestinians who would gladly embrace the One Democratic State, but I don’t know if there’s a critical mass on either side to move this program forward.
I hope no one closes the door on the One Democratic State campaign until they’ve read the Ten Points mentioned above, and talked about the future they want to leave their children.
I suspect it will take a lot of friends from the international community to help, but InshAllah it will happen.
Recent events and communications have focused my attention on “the other” and the world’s intolerance for “the other”.
Some concrete examples might help.
A Palestinian-American author condemned an Irish-American author’s book about Palestine. Colum McCann‘s novel (Apeirogon) is about two families (a Palestinian family in the occupied West Bank and an Israeli family in Jerusalem) who each suffer the death of a child due to the violence perpetrated by the other side. The Palestinian-American author criticizes the book:
Along comes a novelist, who is so moved by this unusual friendship, the story behind it, and what he feels it represents of hope for the future of the nation that he decides to write a book about them. It is a kind of amplifying-the-voice-of-peace endeavour (sic), born from the stubborn belief that anything can be solved by the benevolent enthusiasm of well-meaning folks.
I do not know McCann, though I suspect he wrote this book with a sense of solidarity and a desire to foster “dialogue”. But it is possible to do great harm with the noblest of intentions. The rhetoric of dialogue can be alluring – the idea that talking to find common humanity is all it takes to dismantle structural racism and notions of ethnocentric supremacy. It can make all kinds of people, even victims themselves, become purveyors of injustice. (emphasis added)
The second example is a Palestinian activist in Gaza (Rami Aman) who was recently arrested by Hamas for engaging in a Zoom chat with Israeli peace activists. Perhaps naively, it appears both sides were hoping to understand “the other” better. I’ve written about Rami and normalization here and here.
Both examples illustrate one of the biggest impediments to the future survival of the human species.
!*!*!*!*! Are you serious? !*!*!*!*!
Here’s my thesis in a nutshell. (I’m giving a lot of thought about how best to elaborate on the thesis, and hope to in the future. InshaAllah)
Humans face many challenges today, and they will continue to face many more which are arguably life-threatening. (Take a minute and think about the challenges —- from the small to the existential.)
How have we made it this far? Those among us with a good dose of testosterone might conclude that it was the spear, sword, gun, and the individual’s strength that ensured “survival of the fittest“. I disagree.
I believe it’s our ability to cooperate and empathize with “the other” that has allowed humans to achieve much, and ultimately to survive.
I can hear the howls of protest and derision even as I write. I will summarize what I hear simply by saying that cooperation and empathy are not qualities of weakness or naivety, and they certainly don’t require anyone to ignore danger posed by “the other”.
However, survival requires that each one of us recognize our self in “the other” — and accept “the other” is a part of me. (A LOT MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER POST)
Sadly, our human species seems to be evolving in the opposite direction, ultimately a dead end, and a path destined to bring much suffering along the way.
It’s far easier for me to conjure up “the other” than it is for me to conjure up “the larger family” … “we are one”. I can see our differences and easily ignore our similarities.
So what does this thesis have to do with Israel – Palestine and the two examples I set out above? Don’t be fooled. It is
not to forget who is the occupier and who is the occupied
not to forget the past and current injustices
not to equate all voices and all perspectives as valid
It is simply to see “the other” as a member of “the larger family” … “we are one” … flaws and all.
We are losing that ability to see “the other” in this evolutionary way every time we dismiss “the other” — such as Colum McCann’s book and Rami Aman’s Zoom chat.
McCann’s voice contributes a meaningful perspective about “the other” regardless of whether you are an Israeli considering your Palestinian neighbors, or a Palestinian considering your Israeli neighbors, or anyone else in the world considering the human suffering in the Middle East.
Aman’s voice on that Zoom chat contributed a meaningful perspective about “the other” too—as did the young Israelis on the other side of that chat.
When anyone attempts to shut down these examples of seeing “the other”, he or she is simply trying to redirect the human species down the dead end cul-de-sac. It saddens me and I pray they don’t succeed.
Gaza is tiny. At 139 square miles, it’s about the same size as Detroit (138.8 square miles), Philadelphia (134.1), Las Vegas (135.8), or Portland, Oregon (133.4). We’re talking about more than two million people, the largest majority being youth under the age of 30, confined to a Very. Small. Place.
Any Palestinian in Gaza older than 12 years has lived through three devastating Israeli military operations: Operation Cast Lead(in 2008-2009 Israel killed 1391 Palestinians in Gaza in 23 days); Operation Pillar of Defense (in November 2012 Israel killed 167 Palestinians in Gaza in 8 days); and two years later Operation Protective Edge (Israel killed 2,251 Palestinians in Gaza and wounded more than 11,000 between July 8 and August 26, 2014). Since March 2018, Israeli sharpshooters have killed and maimed hundreds of Palestinians participating in the Great Return March every Friday at the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.
This violence and physical separation has occupied the Palestinian souls in Gaza for a very long time, a deliberate military strategy pursued by the State of Israel. There’s little doubt among human rights lawyers that it amounts to collective punishment, a war crime under the 1949 Geneva Conventions.
So this happened recently.
A Palestinian in Gaza connected on Zoom with an Israeli in Tel Aviv about 40 miles away but they could have very well been light years apart because it’s official government policy on both sides that there will be no communication “with the enemy.” The Zoom meeting included friends on both sides. It went on for over an hour. I watched part of it but the audio quality and heavy accents prevented me from understanding the entire exchange.
A young Palestinian woman later saw the video of the Zoom meeting and tagged Hamas leaders. They arrested the organizer in Gaza on grounds that his conversation with the Israelis was a form of normalization.
I’ve heard different definitions of normalization; it appears to sweep the gamut from the very denunciation of any contact between any Israeli and any Palestinian to a more tailored and nuanced criticism of people-to-people programs.
The definition I find most helpful is:
Within Palestine, normalization is generally defined as any project; initiative; or activity in Palestine, Israel, or internationally that aims to bring together Palestinians and Israelis without addressing structural and power inequalities and/or without having its goal be opposition and resistance to the Israeli occupation.
Read this article published two years ago in the Friends Journal, a Quaker publication, by Mike Merryman-Lotze for a deeper understanding of a very complex subject. He writes:
It should be understood that the push against normalization is not about closing off communication because of issues of identity. Rather it is about identifying the principles and processes through which discussion and communication occur so as to not reify power imbalances or do harm to those who are already vulnerable or abused. It is about ensuring that when people come together, the focus is co‐resistance to the structures that oppress people, and not coexistence within oppressive systems.
The woman who alerted Hamas to the Zoom meeting appears to ascribe to a very blunt definition where any communication between Palestinians and Israelis is verboten. Here’s what she later posted on her Facebook account. She’s received a lot of support from Palestinians inside Gaza and outside.
As a Palestinian born and raised in the Gaza Strip, under endless blockade, survived two aggressive wars, covering the Great March of Return I believe that the worst sin any Palestinian can commit is Normalization; which is any joint activity between Palestine and Israel.
In other words, no form of joint activity, cooperation or dialogue with Israelis is unacceptable, even engaging with Israeli “Peace Activists”.
These actions are collaboration with enemies of us, the Palestinians.
No one ever taught me that Israel is my enemy, but every airstrike I heard told me that.
No one ever told me that talking with Israeli’s is unacceptable but every single body shattered into pieces covered with blood said it all.
It is not my intention to make an argument in support of normalization. Normalization is a matter writ large for the Palestinian community to explore and decide for itself collectively and as individuals.
But if the shroud of anti-normalization can be stretched so far and wide as to smother any communication between Palestinians and Israelis, I fear for the future of everyone in the Holy Land.
I would never have met Sami, a Palestinian from Gaza who was a high school exchange student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I wrote about Sami and his meeting with an Israeli security official in that U.S. high school many years ago.
I probably would never have traveled to Gaza in 2012 and learned so much about life under occupation, and the beautiful culture of sumud and determination, because my opportunity was sparked by Sami, Izzeldin, Mohammed and many others who connected with me. I’ve had my difference of opinion with some in Gaza over the years, but if they choose to shroud themselves in darkness by condemning any connections between Palestinians and Israelis as haram, then I must part ways with them. My voice and actions in solidarity with Palestinians will fall on deaf ears.
For the time being, I’m hoping that there are many more Palestinians inside Gaza, the West Bank, and the diaspora who reject this mindset. I suspect they may feel it is safer to remain silent.
I also hope there are Israelis who recognize that “it’s the occupation, stupid!” Speaking with Palestinians may be an important first step, but it’s certainly not the last. Israelis must have the courage to take action to dismantle the occupation.
The community of nations should start using some of the legal sticks available in its basket to push the State of Israel into ending the occupation of Palestine. That’s the bottom line according to the U.N. Special Rapporteur who is calling for global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel.
Professor S. Michael Lynk, a Canadian law professor, is no newbie to Israel’s occupation. As the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied territories, he asked — When is enough, enough under international law? He answered it in his report to the U.N. General Assembly in October 2017. I summarized his report here.
In the 22 page report, which should be required reading for everyone interested in the future of Israel and Palestine, Professor Lynk opened a new (legal) chapter in Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. He made the case for recognizing Israel as an illegal occupier, and called on the international community to use all of the tools in its toolbox to end this illegal occupation.
The next year, EJIL: Talk! …. the Blog of the European Journal of International Law published Professor Lynk’s commentary where he urged the international legal community to consider whether or not Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestine has crossed some legal red line, resulting in an illegal occupation. Professor Lynk posited a 4-part test to determine the answer. His commentary was reprinted on my blog here.
In the Spring of 2018, when Palestinians in Gaza launched the Great Return Marchand protested at the fence line between Israel and Gaza, Israel responded with lethal force. Lynk said the killings reflected a “blatant excessive use of force by Israel” and likened them to “an eye for an eyelash.” The protesters appeared to pose no credible threat to Israeli military forces on the Israeli side. Under humanitarian law, he said, the killing of unarmed demonstrators could amount to a war crime, and he added that “impunity for these actions is not an option.”(I wrote about that here.)
Although Professor Ilan Pappe wants the world to jettison the term “occupation” in favor of “colonization” in the context of Israel – Palestine, Professor Lynk has taken a different tack. He recommends that the U.N. declare the occupation illegal. See more about that here.
As the one-year anniversary of the “Great March of Return” on 30 March 2019 draws closer, and in view of the ever-deteriorating economic and humanitarian situation in Gaza, the Special Rapporteur expressed concern over possible rising levels of violence if no firm action was taken to pursue accountability and justice. “Continuing to suffocate Gaza is a blot on the world’s conscience and a recipe for more bloodshed,” Lynk said. “Restoring Gaza and ensuring justice and accountability would give the region hope that a better Middle East is possible.”
For many years, Palestinians and human rights activists have been beating the accountability drum urging the world to hold Israel accountable for its responsibilities as an occupier and its flagrant violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Beyond the many non-binding resolutions at the U.N. over the years, there has been no credible and sustained effort to hold Israel accountable. (The U.S. is a very big reason why the U.N. has failed — but that’s for another blog post.)
On his most recent tour to the Middle East, Professor Lynk held meetings in Jordan because Israel refuses to allow him to visit Palestine. He believes that unless Israel is pressured to do the right thing, it will continue to deepen and further entrench the occupation.
Professor Lynk recommends that the UN members should consider everything from cutting cultural ties with Israel to suspending its membership in the world body.
He emphasized the role of the EU, which accounts for some 40 percent of Israel’s external trade and could make the flow of Israeli goods and services to the 28-nation bloc contingent on policy shifts that help Palestinians.
Furthermore, Lynk urges the speedy publication of a long-awaited blacklist of Israeli and international companies that profit from operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. He also wants prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to hasten its preliminary investigation of allegations of rights abuses by Israel and Hamas on Palestinian territory, which began in 2015.
Although Professor Lynk’s role as UN Special Rapporteur carries no enforcement power or authority, he’s certainly using his responsibility to examine and report on the occupation to the fullest extent possible. Now civil society and solidarity activists must amplify his call for accountability.
Mr. Michael Lynk was designated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016 as the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967. The mandate was originally established in 1993 by the then UN Commission on Human Rights. Professor Lynk is Associate Professor of Law at Western University in London, Ontario, where he teaches labour law, constitutional law and human rights law. Before becoming an academic, he practiced labour law and refugee law for a decade in Ottawa and Toronto. He also worked for the United Nations on human rights and refugee issues in Jerusalem.
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
Children are taken from their beds and arrested in the middle of the night; they’re arrested on their way to school with their backpacks yanked from their shoulders; and they’re even pulled out of the arms of their teachers in classrooms. All of this has been documented and reported, thanks to Amnesty International and other Human Rights groups, but it hasn’t stopped Israel. An estimated 500-700 children are arrested, detained and prosecuted in Israel’s military court system each year, according to Defense of Children International – Palestine.
UNICEF’s 2013 report — Children in Israeli Military Detention, while somewhat dated still remains one of the most thorough reviews of the pattern and practice Israel employs against Palestinian children in detention.
No Way To Treat a Child — The No Way to Treat a Child campaign seeks to challenge and end Israel’s prolonged military occupation of Palestinians by exposing widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system. It is a joint project of Defense for Children International – Palestine and American Friends Service Committee.
And we even have the personal interviews of 24 Palestinian child prisoners held in Israeli jails compiled in a 2016 book “Dreaming of Freedom“, edited by Norma Hashim and translated by Yousef Aljamal. I delivered a copy of the book to Rep. McCollum in January 2018 as a ‘thank you’ for her unwavering support and advocacy on behalf of Palestinian child prisoners.
The United States has a big stick it could use to bring pressure to bear on Israel —- it’s annual $3.8 billion appropriation to the Israeli military. Representative McCollum doesn’t believe that U.S. taxpayers want their dollars supporting gross human rights violations of children.
In 2015, she wrote a letter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry which 19 of her Democratic colleagues signed, asking him to make this issue a top priority. But nothing came of it.
The following year she wrote a letter to President Obama which 20 of her colleagues signed, asking him to appoint a Special Envoy for Palestinian Youth to collect “vital information necessary to actively promote human rights.” But again nothing happened.
So in 2017, she drafted a bill, H.R.4391, to prohibit any funds from being used by Israel to “support the military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children.” It also required the Department of State either to certify that funds were not used in this manner or report how Israel expended them to ill-treat Palestinian children.
In July 2018, Rep. McCollum explained why H.R. 4391 was necessary.
When it didn’t pass in the 2017-2018 session, Representative McCollum strengthened the bill and reintroduced it on April 30, 2019 where it was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Check out the committee membership here, and if your representative is listed, consider calling and writing and telling him/her why you think H.R. 2407 is important and should have a hearing.
The Promoting Human Rights for Palestinian Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, H.R. 2407 — amends a provision of the Foreign Assistance Act known as the “Leahy Law” to prohibit funding for the military detention of children in any country, including Israel.
The bill also establishes the “Human Rights Monitoring and Palestinian Child Victims of Israeli Military Detention Fund,” authorizing $19 million annually for non-governmental organization (NGO) monitoring of human rights abuses associated with Israel’s military detention of children. The Fund also authorizes qualified NGOs to provide physical, psychological, and emotional treatment and support for Palestinian child victims of Israeli military detention, abuse, and torture.
The full text of the bill can be found here. Additional resources can be found here.
“Israel’s system of military juvenile detention is state-sponsored child abuse designed to intimidate and terrorize Palestinian children and their families,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “It must be condemned, but it is equally outrageous that U.S. tax dollars in the form of military aid to Israel are permitted to sustain what is clearly a gross human rights violation against children.”
More than 10,000 Palestinian children have been arrested, detained, abused, and prosecuted by Israeli security forces in the Israeli military court system since 2000. Independent monitors such as Human Rights Watch and Israel’s B’Tselem have repeatedly documented that children are subject to abuse and, in some cases, torture — specifically citing the use of chokeholds, beatings, and coercive interrogation. Just weeks ago, CNN broadcast video showing armed Israeli soldiers entering a primary school in Hebron to arrest a 9-year-old who was then “frog-marched away and taken to an army vehicle.”
“Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye to the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.
“I strongly believe there is a growing consensus among the American people that the Palestinian people deserve justice, equality, human rights, and the right to self-determination. It is time to stand with Palestinians, Americans, Israelis, and people around the world to reject the destructive, dehumanizing, and anti-peace policies of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Trump.”
McCollum is front in center on one of the most important human rights issues facing our country —- how we treat children. I’m going to have her back, and help her as much as I can. Please write your member of Congress and ask him or her to cosponsor H.R. 2407.
International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People Special Meeting at UN Headquarters November 28, 2018
Professor Marc Lamont Hill at the United Nations calls for “Free Palestine from the River to the Sea” to chorus of applause. This 20-minute video says all that needs to be said about Israel’s long-term, illegal occupation of Palestine, about human rights, about the facts on the ground today in the West Bank and Gaza. CNN fired Professor Hill the day after he spoke the hard truth at the UN.
I’m selling this southwestern-style buffet for $1,500 to raise vital resources for UNRWA. Please contact me if you’re interested at LoraLucero3@gmail.com
The buffet is 5 feet long, 18 inches deep, and 37.5 inches tall.
Mouin Rabbani spells out Trump’s magical thinking in an article in this week’s issue of The Nation.
This week marks 25 years since Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization signed the Oslo agreement on the White House lawn. It was also the week in which the United States effectively severed diplomatic relations with the Palestinians by ordering the closure of the PLO mission in Washington, DC, capping a series of punitive measures that have included the termination of US funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the elimination of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) program in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the cessation of an American program that supports Palestinian hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem.
No word adequately describes these contemptible acts, nor captures my anger. I’m livid.
But I must stay focused on my goal of raising funds to support UNRWA’s life-saving work with the Palestinian refugees in Gaza. I know the importance of UNRWA’s work and the very good reasons to support UNRWA, including:
UNRWA USA is a 501(c)(3) registered with the IRS and your donations are tax-deductible.
91% of all donations made through UNRWA USA directly support UNRWA’s work for Palestine refugees.
UNRWA USA receives platinum, the highest rating for transparency, accountability, and administration from Guidestar. Of every dollar spent, 91 cents goes toward helping Palestine refugees. Just 6 cents of every dollar is spent on fundraising costs and 3 cents on operations. The UNRWA USA website has all of the 990 tax forms available for viewing and downloading.
The majority of UNRWA’s annual budget comes from voluntary contributions from donor states, such as the United States, the European Commission, the United Kingdom, and Nordic States, individual donors, and NGOs. Reductions in donor states’ contributions due to the slow economic recovery, and the ongoing crises in Gaza and Syria, have left UNRWA with significant budget shortfalls, making contributions from private donors, such as individuals and foundations, all the more crucial.
More than half of UNRWA’s regular budget is devoted to education. UNRWA believes that education is essential to Palestinians’ future and to stability in the region. UNRWA’s education programs aim to encourage a tolerant and empowered Palestinian population who can serve as partners in peace.
UNRWA is a direct service provider, it doesn’t contract out its work to any third parties, and 99% of the 33,000 person staff across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Palestine, are refugees themselves, so the admin costs go toward paying the salaries of refugees who are support families of 5+ people. UNRWA’s staff works tirelessly to uplift their communities while facing the same hardships as the people they serve — sometimes even risking their lives.
UNRWA is the most trusted way to help Palestine refugees. In fact, the United States government has historically been the single largest donor. In light of the recent funding crisis, donating provides urgently needed assistance and shows our government that Americans care about Palestine refugees — and that it needs to continue supporting them.