World must not be hoodwinked by Israel’s latest lie

DAOUD KUTTAB October 26, 2021

World must not be hoodwinked by Israel’s latest lie
General Director of Al-Haq Shawan Jabarin at the human rights organization’s offices in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Oct. 23, 2021. (AP Photo)

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The gap between Israel’s justifications for its continued illegal occupation and colonial settlement enterprise and reality has just grown wider. Friday’s declaration of six Palestinian human rights groups as “terrorist organizations” is the latest Israeli government invention to justify its own war criminality.

The decision by Defense Minister Benny Gantz, which outlawed Al-Haq, Defense for Children International, the Bisan Center for Research and Development, Addameer, the Union Of Agricultural Work Committees, and the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, makes him the biggest Pinocchio of them all.

This announcement took me back to an incident that is burned in my memory. One day, when we were having dinner at my brother Jonathan’s house, he received a frantic call from the head of the Christian Peacemakers Team informing him that the organization’s staff in Hebron had been detained by Israeli soldiers. Jonathan, a co-founder of Al-Haq, immediately called the Israeli military prosecutor to seek the release of the arrested Americans. A few minutes into the call, my brother let out a huge laugh.

An Israeli military official had told him that the American peace activists had violently attacked Israeli soldiers. Jonathan, a law graduate of the University of Virginia and a member of the New York, Israeli and Palestinian bars, dropped the legal jargon and was forced to explain to the Israeli military what nonviolent activism is all about. He told the army prosecutor that those American peacemakers, who daily walked Palestinian children to school in Hebron to protect them from violent Jewish settlers, were members of the pacifist Mennonite church. They would never carry out a violent act, even if their own lives were at stake.

Eventually, the Israeli army dropped the charges and let the American pacifists go, but their names were recorded and the next time any of them tried to re-enter Israel they were told that they had been permanently denied entry.
Criminalizing human rights defenders is not only a lie, but it also gives a green light to the Israeli army and vigilante Jewish settlers to arrest and attack them. The digital revolution has allowed Palestinian, Israeli and international activists to document the Israeli army’s repeated war crimes and the human rights violations of Jewish settlers. And a spokesman for the B’Tselem human rights organization commented on the repeated attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians harvesting their olives by describing the Israeli army as “colluding” with the violent settlers. Dror Sadot told Al-Monitor that the settlers’ violence toward Palestinians has long been part of daily life in the West Bank.

“Thousands of testimonies, videos and reports, as well as many years of close monitoring by B’Tselem and other organizations, reveal that Israeli security forces not only allow settlers to harm Palestinians and their property as a matter of course — they often provide the perpetrators’ escort and backup,” Sadot said. “In some cases, they even join in on the attack.”

Israel uses similar deceits to justify the confiscation of Palestinian land. At first, the land is taken away strictly for “security reasons,” but after some time the same land is passed on to Israeli contractors to build settlements exclusively for Israeli Jews — a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids “an occupying power from moving its people to the occupied areas.”

It is high time for those that say they are human rights defenders to condemn this latest fabrication against nonviolent Palestinians.

Daoud Kuttab

Of course, Israelis who use brute force to keep control of the Occupied Territories don’t even admit that they are an occupying power. Some would argue that the very existence of the Zionist movement that brought about the creation of Israel was based on a 1901 invention, when Israel Zangwill wrote in the New Liberal Review that “Palestine is a country without a people; the Jews are a people without a country.” This was apparently based on earlier similar statements by zealous American Christian Zionists.

But the deceptions of the Israelis and the Zionists are not limited to the Middle East. In America, Europe, Australia and other parts of the world, Israeli apologists have perfected another big falsehood: That opposing the Israeli occupation or Zionism is anti-Semitic. Who in America, Germany or Australia is willing to be labeled an anti-Semite just because they tell the truth and declare Israel’s decades-long military rule and colonial enterprise against 5 million Palestinians to be wrong?

It is high time for those that say they are human rights defenders, including US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Mary Lawlor, the UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, to condemn this latest Israeli fabrication against nonviolent Palestinians. The only “crime” that these courageous people are committing is that they are meticulously documenting Israel’s repeated human rights violations. Israel must not be allowed to hoodwink the world into believing the deception that this makes them terrorists.

  • Daoud Kuttab, an award-winning Palestinian journalist, is a former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Twitter: @daoudkuttab

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view


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