April 05, 20232
Thousands of Israelis are protesting against efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government to overhaul the country’s judicial system, including making it easier for convicted prime ministers to remain in office.
Nationwide protests were sparked when Netanyahu, who has been fighting three corruption charges filed against him in November 2019, introduced legislation to change Israel’s judicial system.
It is good to see Israel so concerned about a judicial system that already has been corrupted, applying different standards to justice for Jews versus justice for non-Jews: Palestinians inside Israel and under occupation.
Israel’s Jewish society has closed its eyes to the injustices of its nation against non-Jews since the country was forcibly founded by conflict in 1948. Although the government has pursued normalization with the Arab world to circumvent its inability to come to a compromise on Palestinian statehood over the years, Israel’s integrity in the Middle East remains questionable.
It is not as if there is insufficient evidence to show that Israel has discriminated against Palestinian citizens and all those who have lived under a brutal Israeli military occupation.
The most powerful indictment of Israel’s policies has come from Amnesty International, a global organization that monitors human rights around the world and has become the target of governments it has censored in the past.
Nations that claim to be democracies cannot ignore Amnesty International. A true democracy must abide by the rule of law, which is the basis not only of Amnesty International’s mandate, but also the mandate of the International Criminal Court, which prosecutes war crimes.
Israel has always condemned both because both have criticized Israeli policies.
Just over a year ago, Amnesty International released a scathing report on Israel’s brutality and oppression, which is driven first and foremost by racism against non-Jews, particularly Christian and Muslim Palestinians. The report on Israel’s apartheid practices, issued in February 2022, was so comprehensive that it was impossible for anyone in Israel to reject the findings.
Yet, that is what Israelis have chosen to do. Their government — the one that a majority of Israeli citizens voted to place in power last December, and in dozens of elections before that — has refused to adjust and implement the rule of law. Instead, Israeli officials and citizens continue to reject Amnesty’s report. However, instead of responding to its detailed inventory of apartheid practices, they respond by describing the report as “antisemitic.”
This week, Amnesty International issued another scathing report, which concluded that the EU, whose members also claim to be democracies, have failed to live up to the fundamental principle of democracy by failing to denounce Israel’s apartheid policies.
The latest report repeats the fundamental foundation of apartheid’s violations of international law, stating, “The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines apartheid as a crime against humanity, characterized by the commission of ‘inhumane acts,’ such as unlawful killing, torture and forcible transfer, which are committed to maintain an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another.”
In the face of the deflection by Israelis, falsely calling the Amnesty report “antisemitic,” 12 Israeli human rights organizations have affirmed Amnesty’s conclusions that Israel practices apartheid.
Israelis stood up to protect the principle of justice, opposing Netanyahu’s efforts to undermine the rule of law there. But these protests will mean nothing if they fail to stand up against the violations of the rule of law that have already been implemented by Israel’s government.
Denunciations of apartheid will not go away. Israel’s apartheid policies, which continue every day in Palestinian cities and villages, will forever define it as an undemocratic nation that embraces racist brutality against Christians and Muslims.
One day, the Muslim and the Christian worlds will come together and recognize that Israel today is not a democracy and never has been. They will speak out in defense of their own people who are the victims of Israel’s policy crimes.
Israel’s apartheid policies, which continue every day in Palestinian cities and villages, will forever define it as an undemocratic nation.
The rule of law will not just go away. It will always be there as a measure of Israel’s failure as a democratic nation and of its people, who claim to desire justice and law, but who continue to permit one of the worst forms of anti-democratic policies to continue unabated.
If Israelis want to make their protests stand for anything, they need not only to condemn Netanyahu’s government for attempting to derail the rule of law in its proposed overhaul of the judicial system, but also strongly and forcefully demand an end to its racist apartheid policies.
Israel will never be fully welcomed in the world until it embraces the rule of law in a manner blind to race, religion and ethnicity.
- Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist. He can be reached on his personal website at Hanania.com. Twitter: @RayHanania
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