Megan Marzec, who is facing death threats for calling out Israel’s slaughter in Gaza
after the university’s chancellor faced strong pressure from major donors objecting to Salaita’s tweets about Israel’s massive military campaign in Gaza, issued this warning: “As the Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups have been tracking, this is part of a nationwide, concerted effort by wealthy and well-organized groups to attack pro-Palestinian students and faculty and silence their speech. This risks creating a Palestinian exception to the First Amendment and to academic freedom.”
At Ohio University, we recently saw the disturbing reality of the different treatment accorded to pro-Israel, as opposed to pro-Palestinian views which supports Salaita’s statement. Read More at LobeLog
In this week’s entry at Souciant, I examine the implications of Israel’s heavy-handed, stupid and clumsy response to the intention of hundreds of activists to fly into Israel in order to join a Palestinian protest. The ironic thing is that Netanyahu trots out the standard “Israel is the region’s only democracy” argument to defend actions that both show how deeply flawed that democracy is and how seriously that democracy is threatened.
It is not easy being the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza. It is impossible for them to issue any statement that doesn’t become instantly politicized. And, like many NGOs, their reports are often put in less than ideal contexts by the media.
Much like their counterparts — such as al-Haq in the West Bank and groups like B’Tselem and Gisha in Israel — their attempt to report on human rights and, to act as a watchdog on their own government while operating in an atmosphere where the Israeli occupation causes overarching human rights violations creates a difficult balancing act.
Logo of the Palestine Center for Human Rights, located in the Gaza Strip
But PCHR still is the best NGO source for the state of human rights in Gaza. True, it has little competition (though there is some, including B’Tselem’s fieldworkers in Gaza), but its reports have generally proven reliable—so much so, that their releases are often used by the Israeli right.
Today, the New York Times reported on a recent PCHR release, which criticized “members of the Palestinian resistance” for “stor[ing] explosives or to treat such explosives in locations close to populated areas.”
It is important to note that PCHR did not identify the “members of the resistance.” The Times, while scrupulously avoiding any statement that the PCHR statement is referring to Hamas, does say that “Israel has long accused Hamas and other groups of endangering Palestinian civilians by carrying out militant activities in densely populated areas.”
A PCHR spokesman also noted that the Hamas government tried to shift blame for injuries to Gazan civilians that were clearly caused by Palestinian rockets onto Israel.
An unwitting reader of the Times article might infer that PCHR was implicitly accusing Hamas of being responsible for the weapons storage. The distinction there is an important one.
Storing weapons in civilian areas, or dangerously near civilians, carries two threats, both of which the people of Gaza have become intimately familiar with. One is that the weapons will accidentally discharge or misfire when used. The second is that Israel will target the area. Continue reading →
Israel has, in the past, conducted some reasonably credible investigations of itself. Sure, there is always an issue of credibility when a country investigates itself, and on many, maybe most, occasions (most recently, the investigations Israel launched into its own conduct in Operation Cast Lead) such investigations have been whitewashes designed to cover up, rather than seriously examine, Israeli misdeeds.
Still, there have been some counter-examples, such as the Kahan Commission, which investigated the Lebanon War and Sabra-Shatilla massacre of 1982-83 and the Or Commission which investigated the killings of 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel and one other Palestinian at the beginning of the second intifada. Both of these commissions faced obstacles (especially Or), and many were less than satisfied with their results (again, especially Or), but rare indeed is it that any country investigates itself as honestly as these two commissions did. That’s back-handed praise for Israel; it is more illustrative of how the United States in particular (since it has the most to investigate by far) does so poorly in this regard.
So I’m willing to give an Israeli commission a chance if it is not an obvious sham. The Turkel Commission, investigating the killing of nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara at the end of May, did not begin as an obvious sham. There was plenty of reason for skepticism (not the least of which is the consistency with which Israel has turned to such shams with regard to Gaza), but some seriousness was possible.
That benefit of the doubt has not been whittled away, but blown out of the water.
Several human rights groups were called to testify before the commission. But given the obvious hostility toward them expressed by the commission, the slim chance that the Turkel Commission would be at all serious is now down to none.