29 February 2012
Originally published on PoliticsWeb.
The argument in my article "Why is Israel singled out?" is that Israel receives special treatment in the form of massive US aid and the propaganda efforts of well organised Zionist organisations.1
In contrast to many other gross human rights abusers, there are no US, EU or UN sanctions against Israel. In her response, Monessa Shapiro did not address this. She does say there are more UN resolutions against Israel than any other country, but while I agree that there are countries deserving of more, this factoid actually strengthens my argument, not hers. Why are there no sanctions against a country in such blatant violation of international law?
In response to my comment that Israel is less democratic than Turkey and comparable to Morocco and Algeria, Shapiro cites Freedom House's indices of political and civil liberties.
The institution gives Israel a status of free, while Turkey and Morocco are partly free and Algeria is not free. Putting aside concerns about the methodology of these kinds of indices 2 and about Freedom House itself 3, Shapiro should have looked up the rankings for the West Bank and Gaza. The organisation ranks them not free, on a par with Algeria, lower than Morocco and considerably lower than Turkey. 4
This is partly due to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, but it is Israel that must take primary responsibility because it controls the territories, especially the West Bank.
There are over 2 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They have no meaningful franchise --they cannot vote in Israeli elections for the government that actually rules their lives-- and their civil rights are, as Freedom House notes-- very restricted. Yet, the several hundred thousand Israelis living there have the vote and full civil liberties.
Israel can't have it both ways. If it wishes to be considered a full democracy then it must either give the Occupied Territories independence, or incorporate them into one political entity with Green-line Israel and give everyone the same rights.
Shapiro's defence of the Family Reunification Law is extraordinary. Similar arguments were used to defend the pass laws. In response to her:
She does not deal with the racist discrimination of the law. It does not apply to Jews. Shapiro's words only consider the rights of Jewish Israelis. There is an implicit failure to recognise that Arabs living in Green-line Israel who are affected by the law have the same rights as Jews.
Using the statistics she cites, out of 140,000 Palestinians granted residency as a result of reunification, 54 were implicated in terrorism. That's 0.04%. Calling the Family Reunification Law a disproportionate response is an understatement. A more likely reason for the law is that the Israeli government is trying to keep the long-term Jewish majority in Green-line Israel.
According to statistics calculated using B'tselem data, 754 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians between 29 September 2000 and 31 December 2011, of which the vast majority were during the Intifada. To have some perspective, more than double the number of people are murdered in Cape Town annually than all the Israelis murdered by Palestinians since 29 September 2000. But the IDF killed 6,508 Palestinians. Since after the attack on Gaza 20 Israelis have been killed as compared to 254 Palestinians. This begs the question: where are the Knesset laws to protect Palestinians from the IDF?
I criticised the human rights records of over a dozen countries, so it is interesting that the vehement responses to my article have so far come from defenders of the policies of only one country: Israel. That itself is evidence for my argument about the strength of the Zionist organisations.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which investigate human rights abuses much more comprehensively than Freedom House, do not rank countries or publish indices.
See When Freedom Stumbles published in the Economist on 17 June 2008. The fact that Freedom House considers the Occupied Palestinian Territories disputed and not occupied also betrays its bias. So did its open support for the US war on Iraq.
See Freedom House's Table of Disputed Territories.