Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Since it IS Apartheid, what should we do? Part 7

As I mentioned in previous posts, recently on the Israel Palestine Forum there have been a number of comments posted on the topic Palestine: Occupation not Apartheid. I have argued that it is apartheid. I am posting excerpts from some of my posts where I suggest that international law be used since it says that apartheid is a crime against humanity.

What I would like to do is to return to a discussion about the issue underlying this topic; i.e., do we believe that the Government of Israel has instituted a policy in the Occupied Territories that amounts to apartheid, a crime against humanity and, if so, what should we do about it.

Quote from X
From what I am hearing on this forum, we are already convicted. True this forum is not a court and therefore has the freedom of accusing with no need for proof without doubt. For me, this shows the starting point of any such trial and If I was the Israeli government I wouldn't join this "game" either.

As I mentioned, as of February, 2002, 101 states had signed on to the International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (18 July 1976) but NOT the Government of the United States and NOT the Government of Israel.

This would pose a technical difficulty in obtaining jurisdiction over the Government of Israel to try it for the crime of apartheid. While no one should be sent to prison for the commission of a crime without having been assumed to be innocent and having been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, there is nothing that prevents us (or should keep us) from looking at the facts and the law and forming an opinion about whether we believe that the Government of Israel is guilty.

On a website with a Study Guide on International Law and Israel I found a section on Israeli Violations of International Law entitled “APARTHEID: The State of Israel has a formal system of discrimination set up which technically fits the official UN definition of Apartheid” http://www.geocities.com/savepalestinenow/internationallaw/studyguides/sgil3k.htm

The section contains the text of Article I and Article II of the International Covenant on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (18 July 1976) followed by "evidence" that the Government of Israel has committed the six inhuman acts which, taken together, comprise the crime of apartheid. What I will do for this post is list each of the inhuman acts followed by the "evidence" presented on the website.

Please be aware that this material has been taken from the website of a group I know nothing about – savepalestinenow – and I make no representation that the “facts” that are alleged are true. I just wanted to point out what the international law about apartheid is and what one group alleges to be the “evidence”.

Do you believe that there is apartheid?

If you do, what should we do about it?

Article I

1. The States Parties to the present Convention declare that apartheid is a crime against humanity and that inhuman acts resulting from the policies and practices of apartheid and similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination, as defined in article II of the Convention, are crimes violating the principles of international law, in particular the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and constituting a serious threat to international peace and security.

2. The States Parties to the present Convention declare criminal those organizations, institutions and individuals committing the crime of apartheid.

Article II

For the purpose of the present Convention, the term "the crime of apartheid", which shall include similar policies and practices of racial segregation and discrimination as practised in southern Africa, shall apply to the following inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them:

a. Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person:
i. By murder of members of a racial group or groups;
ii. By the infliction upon the members of a racial group or groups of serious bodily or mental harm, by the infringement of their freedom or dignity, or by subjecting them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
iii. By arbitrary arrest and illegal imprisonment of the members of a racial group or groups;

Massive violation of human rights and civil rights -- the Israeli occupation is known for massive forms of human rights violations, often applied as forms of collective punishment (itself a violation of international law) against very understandable rebellion, such as expropriation of Palestinian lands (now taking more than 70% of the West Bank), building Israeli settlements on Palestinian-owned lands (now housing more than 400,000 Israeli citizens), a separation wall (displacing more than 250,000 Palestinians), in addition to a network of Israeli-use highways and Israeli military checkpoints that have now cut the West Bank in half and which isolate and cripple Palestinian society and economy. The land expropriations, settlements and wall have all been labelled illegal and violations of Palestinian human rights by the United Nations.

In addition, the Israeli military continues to practice further collective punishment by destroying economic assets such as office buildings, the Gaza Sea Port, factories, olive tree groves, and schools, and essentials to every day life (especially in Gaza) such as destroying the electrical power plant, disrupting food supplies and medical services.

The Israeli military also employs the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, which legalizes imprisonment, deportation, property destruction, area closures, censorship, etc., all without charges or trial (but with limited rights of appeal), and all on either an individual or massive scale.

In addition, the Israeli military practices torture, rebel leader assassination, and random shooting of civilians including children (repeatedly reported by the UN and other human rights organizations), and arming Israeli settlers who do the same.

b. Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part;

Imposition of inhumane living conditions, such as poverty -- the Israeli military has crippled the Palestinian economy leading to severe poverty and unemployment both through surrounding them with Israeli controlled land and isolating them and inhibiting movement between them, and through a network of permit regulations by which it also strangles commerce often directly in service of the Israeli economy.

In addition, the take-over of Palestinian lands has been strategically planned to include on the Israeli side the natural resources of the occupied territories (especially water and rich farmlands), which also has crippled the Palestinian economy contributing to the impoverished conditions of Palestinian communities.

c. Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work, the right to form recognized trade unions, the right to education, the right to leave and to return to their country, the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence, the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

Society-wide legalized discrimination in areas such as finance, housing, employment, education, as well as access to cultural events, etc. -- the Israeli military has created a two-tier government, legal, economic system in the occupied territories. The system for the illegal Israeli settlements is democratic and tied into the government and economy of Israel itself. The system for the Palestinian communities is run by Israeli military committees and Israeli controlled civic adminstrations. This system for the Palestinian communities is not democratic and every aspect of the Palestinian economy and society are controlled by military permits which studies have shown are used to the detriment of the Palestinian society and economy often to the benefit of the Israeli economy. Obviously, this goes beyond discrimination into the realm of oppression and exploitation, but does involve discrimination because it favors one group over another, and is based in laws (which the Israelis call Military Orders and Proclamations).

d. Any measures, including legislative measures, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof;

Isolating the victim group geographically, such as in ghettoes, or "Bhantulands" (term used in South Africa) -- the Israeli government has confiscated more than 70% of the lands in the West Bank in patterns which surround the Palestinian communities with Israeli controlled land, which they then use to strangle those communities both economically and socially. They build on those lands illegal Israeli settlements, walls, military reserves, wilderness preserves, a network of Israeli-use only highways, and the checkpoints which bisect the Palestinian roads further hampering movement between communities further crippling Palestinian commerce and society. This pattern has now cut the West Bank in half, and if the current trends of Israeli settlement expansion continue, the West Bank will soon be cut in 3 parts.

The massive land expropriations, practice of collective punishment, the Israeli settlements and the wall have all been labeled violations of international law, and severe violations of the Palestinian rights of self-determination. The occupation itself has been determined to be a massive violation of Palestinian human rights.

e. Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour;

Exploitation of labor, such as slavery or forced labor or discrimination in wages -- the only form of labor exploitation in the occupied territories has been wage discrimination when Palestinians are employed vs. Jewish labor.

f. Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid."

Inhumane suppression of rebellion against apartheid -- in the occupied territories, the Israeli military employs the Defense (Emergency) Regulations of 1945, which legalize such inhumane practices as imprisonment, deportation, property destruction, area closures, censorship, etc., all without trial or charges, and all on either individual or massive scales.

But the Israeli military has also used inhumane measures not covered in those regulations such as torture and rebel leader assassination, and forms of collective punishment, such as demolishing entire neighborhoods (Jenin, 2204) and expropriating 70% of the West Bank for Israeli use, building on that land Israeli settlements that now house more than 400,000 Israeli citizens, and building a massive separation barrier not on the border, but through Palestinian communities such that more 250,000 Palestinians are now displaced by it. All these have been named by the United Nations as violations of international law and the inalienable right of self-determination of the Palestinian people.

Other serious measures of collective punishment have been interfering with food supplies and medical services, destroying the electical supply (especially in Gaza) and government buildings, and economic assets such as the sea port, airport, office buildings, olive groves, and urban infrastructure such as bridges, curbs, walls, etc., and confiscating natural resources such as water supplies and the most fertile farmlands (including almost the entire Jordan Valley on the eastern side of the West Bank away from Israel).

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