Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’
An international children’s rights charity has said it has evidence that Palestinian children held in Israeli custody have been subjected to sexual abuse in an effort to extract confessions from them.
The Geneva-based Defence for Children International (DCI) has collected 100 sworn affadavits from Palestinian children who said they were mistreated by their Israeli captors.
Fourteen of the statements say they were sexually abused or threatened with sexual assault to pressure them into confessions.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the West Bank, Nour Odeh, met one of the children, identified only as “N”, who said he suffered sexual abuse at the hands of his interrogators.
DCI officials say that when they complain to the Israeli military about the treatment of the children, their allegations are dismissed as untrue.
Now the organisation has submitted its evidence to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to try and increase pressure on Israel to stamp out the alleged abuse.
According to our correspondent, Israel has two sets of laws: one for its citizens and another for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
All Palestinians, minors and adults, are tried in military courts.
Children between the ages of 12 and 16 are tried in Israeli military courts as children.
From 16 years onwards, Palestinians are tried as adults.
Human-rights groups have criticised Israel’s detention policy with regard to children, which denies them access to their families or lawyers during the detention process.
Palestinian children arrested by Israel are not permitted to see their lawyers until they are in court.
There are currently 340 Palestinian children in Israeli jails, mostly convicted of throwing stones.
An Israeli military order stipulates that stone throwing carries a maximum jail sentence of 20 years, and there is no appeals process for decisions by Israeli military courts.
The Israeli military, in a written response, rejected DCI’s allegations, saying the detention of minors is consistent with international law.
It said all court hearings involving minors in the West Bank were conducted before a special military court which specialises in dealing with issues pertaining to minors.
“Allegations regarding violence in the course of questioning should be raised during the trial or in a formal complaint,” the military said.
“Regarding the presence of a lawyer during questioning of a minor, the Youth Law does not require such a presence, even within the state of Israel.”
Bana Shoughry-Badarne, head of the legal department at the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, an Israeli human-rights group, says there is a huge issue of impunity in Israel with regard to complaints against the security services.
“Our latest report, from 2009, shows that from the 600 complaints that were submitted to Israel’s attorney-general, all of them were dismissed,” she told Al Jazeera from Jerusalem.
“There was not even one criminal investigation.”
You will have no protection
— Medgar Evers to Civil Rights Activists in Mississippi, shortly before he was assassinated, 12 June, 1963
My heart is breaking; but I do not mind.
For one thing, as soon as I wrote those words I was able to weep. Which I had not been able to do since learning of the attack by armed Israeli commandos on defenseless peace activists carrying aid to Gaza who tried to fend them off using chairs and sticks. I am thankful to know what it means to be good; I know that the people of the Freedom Flotilla are/were in some cases, some of the best people on earth. They have not stood silently by and watched the destruction of others, brutally, sustained, without offering themselves, weaponless except for their bodies, to the situation. I am thankful to have a long history of knowing people like this from my earliest years, beginning in my student days of marches and demonstrations: for peace, for non-separation among peoples, for justice for Women, for People of Color, for Cubans, for Animals, for Indians, and for Her, the planet.
I am weeping for the truth of Medgar’s statement; so brave and so true. I weep for him gunned down in his carport, not far from where I would eventually live in Mississippi, with a box of t-shirts in his arms that said: “Jim Crow Must Go.” Though trained in the United States Military under racist treatment one cringes to imagine, he remained a peaceful soldier in the army of liberation to the end. I weep and will always weep, even through the widest smiles, for the beautiful young wife, Myrlie Evers, he left behind, herself still strong and focused on the truth of struggle; and for their children, who lost their father to a fate they could not possibly, at the time, understand. I don’t think any of us could imagine during that particular phase of the struggle for justice, that we risked losing not just our lives, which we were prepared to give, but also our children, who we were not.
Nothing protected Medgar, nor will anything protect any of us; nothing but our love for ourselves and for others whom we recognize unfailingly as also ourselves. Nothing can protect us but our lives. How we have lived them; what battles, with love and compassion our only shield, we have engaged. And yet, the moment of realizing we are truly alone, that in the ultimate crisis of our existence our government is not there for us, is one of shock. Especially if we have had the illusion of a system behind us to which we truly belong. Thankfully I have never had opportunity to have this illusion. And so, every peaceful witnessing, every non-violent confrontation has been a pure offering. I do not regret this at all.
When I was in Cairo last December to support CODEPINK’s efforts to carry aid into Gaza I was unfortunately ill with the flu and could not offer very much. I lay in bed in the hotel room and listened to other activists report on what was happening around the city as Egypt refused entry to Gaza to the 1,400 people who had come for the accompanying Freedom march. I heard many distressing things, but only one made me feel, not exactly envy, but something close; it was that the French activists had shown up, en masse, in front of their embassy and that their ambassador had come out to talk to them and to try to make them comfortable as they set up camp outside the building. This small gesture of compassion for his country’s activists in a strange land touched me profoundly, as I was touched decades ago when someone in John Kennedy’s White House (maybe the cook) sent out cups of hot coffee to our line of freezing student and teacher demonstrators as we tried, with our signs and slogans and songs, to protect a vulnerable neighbor, Cuba.
Where have the Israelis put our friends? I thought about this all night. Those whom they assassinated on the ship and those they injured? Is “my” government capable of insisting on respect for their dead bodies? Can it demand that those who are injured but alive be treated with care? Not only with care, but the tenderness and honor they deserve? If it cannot do this, such a simple, decent thing, of what use is it to the protection and healing of the planet? I heard a spokesman for the United States opine at the United Nations (not an exact quote) that the Freedom Flotilla activists should have gone through other, more proper, channels, not been confrontational with their attempt to bring aid to the distressed. This is almost exactly what college administrators advised half a century ago when students were trying to bring down apartheid in the South and getting bullets, nooses, bombings and burnings for our efforts. I felt embarrassed (to the degree one can permit embarrassment by another) to be even vaguely represented by this man: a useless voice from the far past. One had hoped.
The Israeli spin on the massacre: that the commandos were under attack by the peace activists and that the whole thing was like “a lynching” of the armed attackers, reminds me of a Redd Foxx joke. I loved Redd Foxx, for all his vulgarity. A wife caught her husband in bed with another woman, flagrant, in the act, skin to skin. The husband said, probably through pants of aroused sexual exertion: All right, go ahead and believe your lying eyes! It would be fun, were it not tragic, to compare the various ways the Israeli government and our media will attempt to blame the victims of this unconscionable attack for their own imprisonment, wounds and deaths.
So what to do? Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus. Martin Luther King followed her act of courage with many of his own, and using his ringing, compassionate voice he aroused the people of Montgomery, Alabama to commit to a sustained boycott of the bus company; a company that refused to allow people of color to sit in the front of the bus, even if it was empty. It is time for us,en masse, to show up in front of our conscience, and sit down in the front of the only bus we have: our very lives.
What would that look like, be like, today, in this situation between Palestine and Israel? This “impasse” that has dragged on for decades. This “conflict” that would have ended in a week if humanity as a whole had acted in defense of justice everywhere on the globe. Which maybe we are learning! It would look like the granddaughter of Rosa Parks, the grandson of Martin Luther King. It would look like spending our money only where we can spend our lives in peace and happiness; freely sharing whatever we have with our friends.
It would be to support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to End the Occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and by this effort begin to soothe the pain and attend the sorrows of a people wrongly treated for generations. This action would also remind Israel that we have seen it lose its way and have called to it, often with love, and we have not been heard. In fact, we have reached out to it only to encounter slander, insult and, too frequently, bodily harm.
Disengage, avoid, and withhold support from whatever abuses, degrades and humiliates humanity.
This we can do. We the people; who ultimately hold all the power. We the people, who must never forget to believe we can win.
We the people.
It has always been about us; as we watch governments come and go. It always will be.
Alice Walker is a poet, novelist, feminist and activist whose award-winning works have sold over ten million copies.
Another Kristallnacht in Palestine: Village Mosque Torched by Settlers
Little Kids Talk About Seeing Their Mother and Father Die “They took the most precious and beloved of my heart, Mama and Papa”
An interview with Nancy Kamal Taher Hamdiya, 28, of Jenin
Tributes to Maasa and Jamaa
by Antony Loewenstein, John Docker and Ned Curthoys – newmatilda.com – 31 March 2010
It’s not just major western allies who are talking tough with Israel – evidence suggests ordinary Jews are also withdrawing their support from the rogue state
Earlier this month the Sydney Morning Herald’s chief correspondent Paul McGeough quizzically asked if there are any “major allies” left for Israel to offend. With the abuse of passports in the Dubai Mossad scandal, Israel has caused anger in Britain, Ireland, Australia, France and Germany.
It has even managed to annoy the United States, announcing on 8 March, the day of US vice president Joe Biden’s arrival in Jerusalem, that 1600 hundred new homes for Israeli Jews would be built in East Jerusalem — that is, on illegally occupied and annexed Palestinian land. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement “an insult to the United States”, and President Obama reportedly gave Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu an icy reception during last week’s visit to the White House. The implication is clear: if Israel is rapidly losing moral legitimacy in the world, so might its close ally, sponsor, and defender in the United Nations.
Some years ago the American political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, in the London Review of Books, warned that Americans must see that continuing total support for Israel will harm their own national interests, jeopardising “not only US security but that of much of the rest of the world”. With that situation now playing out, western countries are finally beginning to question their traditional subservience to Israel.
Another of Israel’s powerful allies, however, has been steadily moving away from the rogue state for a number of years. The international Jewish Diaspora no longer automatically backs every Israeli action. In what was at first a trickle and is now a broad stream of dissent, Diaspora Jews are regaining their independence and questioning Israel’s moral and intellectual foundations. Refusing the leadership of the blindly pro-Israeli Zionist organisations, they have formed groups of “independent Jewish voices”, including in Australia, suggesting that Israel does not act in the name of all Jews, as it claims to do.
A recent US study found that only 54 per cent of non-Orthodox Jews under 35 were “comfortable with the idea of a Jewish state” — compared to more than 80 per cent of those over 65. Another study, conducted by progressive Jewish lobby J Street, found significant opposition among American Jews to continued settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As well, high-profile Jewish activists and intellectuals such as Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, and Ronnie Kasrils, are energetically joining in the international movement of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, which was launched by Palestinian civil society in 2005 and inspired by the non-violent anti-racist, anti-colonial philosophies of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
In Australia, following similar initiatives in the United States and Britain, prominent Jews have signed a petition rejecting the 1950 Israeli Law of Return whereby people of Jewish descent can migrate to and become citizens of Israel. They are also expressing anger that Israel will not permit the right of return of Palestinian refugees and exiles as sanctioned by international law.
The petition, signed by ethicist Peter Singer, actor Miriam Margolyes, feminist Eva Cox, academic and pioneering gay rights activist Dennis Altman, writer Susan Varga, and others (including the three of us), argues that the Israeli Law of Return is “a form of racist privilege that abets the colonial oppression of the Palestinians … We renounce this ‘right’ to ‘return’ offered to us by Israeli law. It is not right that we may ‘return’ to a state that is not ours while Palestinians are excluded and continuously dispossessed”.
The petition sits within an interesting historical context. In 1961 the famous German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber — who was forced to leave Germany in 1938, went to live in Palestine and was himself a cultural Zionist — wrote to prime minister David Ben-Gurion protesting against the persistent refusal of the Israeli government to accept and implement UN Resolution 194. Buber considered that Israel’s refusal to abide by international humanitarian law brought dishonour upon the Zionist movement and the Israeli state. For many decades Buber had put forward the idea that Palestine should become a bi-national state with equal citizenship for Arabs and Jews.
In the present, Jewish intellectuals such as the American Jewish philosopher Judith Butler, have looked to alternative traditions of critique such as those of Martin Buber to pose against the mainstream Zionist ideals that inspired the coming into existence of Israel as a militantly nationalist and aggressive settler-colonial state.
But while she still admires Buber, in a recent interview for the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Butler was quoted as saying that we now have to go beyond the notion of bi-nationalism to consider “even multiculturalism. Maybe even a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc.”
She continues: “It is no longer the question of ‘two peoples’, as Martin Buber put it. There is extraordinary complexity and intermixing among both the Jewish and the Palestinian populations.”
In our view, although we don’t necessarily speak here for our fellow petition-signatories, renunciation of the Israeli Law of Return by Jews in the Diaspora, and Israel’s immediate compliance with a vast array of relevant international law including UN Resolution 194, would be definite steps towards what Judith Butler envisages as “a kind of citizenship without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, etc”. The kind of citizenship, we might note, that is taken for granted as basic to those very same western democracies that have enabled Israel’s rogue status until now.
Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based freelance journalist, author and blogger and author of My Israel Question.
John Docker is honorary professor in the History Department, University of Sydney, and is author of The Origins of Violence: Religion, History and Genocide.
Ned Curthoys is a research fellow in the Australian National University and co-editor of Edward Said: the Legacy of a Public Intellectual.
Posted By Mark Perry Saturday, March 13, 2010 – 11:05 PM
On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow … and too late.”
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’s instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn’t finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command — or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’s reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region’s most troublesome conflict.
[UPDATE: A senior military officer denied Sunday that Petraeus sent a paper to the White House.
“CENTCOM did have a team brief the CJCS on concerns revolving around the Palestinian issue, and CENTCOM did propose a UCP change, but to CJCS, not to the WH,” the officer said via email. “GEN Petraeus was not certain what might have been conveyed to the WH (if anything) from that brief to CJCS.”
(UCP means “unified combatant command,” like CENTCOM; CJCS refers to Mullen; and WH is the White House.)]
The Mullen briefing and Petraeus’s request hit the White House like a bombshell. While Petraeus’s request that CENTCOM be expanded to include the Palestinians was denied (“it was dead on arrival,” a Pentagon officer confirms), the Obama administration decided it would redouble its efforts — pressing Israel once again on the settlements issue, sending Mitchell on a visit to a number of Arab capitals and dispatching Mullen for a carefully arranged meeting with the chief of the Israeli General Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi. While the American press speculated that Mullen’s trip focused on Iran, the JCS Chairman actually carried a blunt, and tough, message on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that Israel had to see its conflict with the Palestinians “in a larger, regional, context” — as having a direct impact on America’s status in the region. Certainly, it was thought, Israel would get the message.
Israel didn’t. When Vice President Joe Biden was embarrassed by an Israeli announcement that the Netanyahu government was building 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, the administration reacted. But no one was more outraged than Biden who, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, engaged in a private, and angry, exchange with the Israeli Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, what Biden told Netanyahu reflected the importance the administration attached to Petraeus’s Mullen briefing: “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden reportedly told Netanyahu. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” Yedioth Ahronoth went on to report: “The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.” The message couldn’t be plainer: Israel’s intransigence could cost American lives.
There are important and powerful lobbies in America: the NRA, the American Medical Association, the lawyers — and the Israeli lobby. But no lobby is as important, or as powerful, as the U.S. military. While commentators and pundits might reflect that Joe Biden’s trip to Israel has forever shifted America’s relationship with its erstwhile ally in the region, the real break came in January, when David Petraeus sent a briefing team to the Pentagon with a stark warning: America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers. Maybe Israel gets the message now.
Mark Perry’s newest book is Talking To Terrorists
[UPDATE 2–from Mark Perry: A senior military officer told Foreign Policy by email that one minor detail in my report, “The Petraeus Briefing” was incorrect: a request from General Petraeus for the Palestinian occupied territories (but, as I made clear, not Israel itself), be brought within CENTCOM’s region of operation was sent to JCS Chairman Mullen – and notdirectly to the White House. My information was based on conversations with CENTCOM officials, who believed they were giving me correct information. It is significant that the correction was made, not because it is an important detail, but because it is was inconsequential to the overall narrative. In effect, the U.S. military has clearly said there was nothing in this report that could be denied.]