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Human Rights Get Short Shrift in Israel

by Stephen Lendman Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 at 8:21 AM

police state

Human Rights Get Short Shrift in Israel

by Stephen Lendman

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) assesses human rights in Israel annually. It's 2012 report is "bleak."

It's true in virtually every category assessed. Netanyahu and dominant Knesset hardliners spurn human and civil rights. They do so for Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, and most Jews.

Neoliberal harshness is policy. So are hardline belligerence and institutionalized racism. Poverty, homelessness, and hunger harm growing numbers in society.

Conditions in Israel get worse, not better. Palestinians suffer most. Horrific conditions harm them. They're reflected in ruthless police state policies. Militarized occupation enforces them.

In 2012 alone, 557 Palestinian structures were lawlessly demolished. So were 172 homes. Over 1,000 Palestinians were displaced. Their land was stolen. Israeli policies mock fundamental freedoms. Palestinians have no rights.

Asylum seekers and African immigrants are relentlessly persecuted. Occupation harshness silences dissent. Affordable housing exists nowhere. Water is a precious luxury. Peaceful social protests face harsh crackdowns.

Israel's budget includes enormous amounts for rubber bullets, tear gas, concussion grenades, toxic chemicals sprays, and other implements of police state repression.

Jews aren't exempt when they resist. In solidarity with Palestinians, they're treated harshly. Equity, justice, mercy, and fairness aren't in Israel's vocabulary.

It's a model police state. It matches the worst of regional tyrannies. It mocks democratic governance. Israel tolerates none.

ACRI's 2012 came down particularly hard on housing. In Arab towns and villages, restrictive planning policies limit residential building. Effective development is prevented.

Many Israeli Arabs have no viable option. They're on their own to supply housing without means or ability to overcome onerous restrictions.

Bedouin communities face especially harsh treatment. In late summer 2011, forced Bedouin evictions began. Thousands in Israeli-controlled Area C were affected. They were ordered to leave. They were threatened with force if they refused.

They were displaced to a regional garbage dump. Their homes were demolished. They had no say. Israel wanted their land for Jewish development.

Most Bedouins were expelled from the Negev in 1948. Some lived on Israeli declared land. Others lived on private Palestinian land.

Twenty Bedouin communities living in the E1 corridor now face eviction. Whether or not construction begins, Israel wants them out.

About 2,300 people are affected. They have no say. Israel freely violates their rights. They're removed at the whim of ruthless authorities. They're prevented from building permanent housing or connecting to essential infrastructure.

They're dispossessed on their own with no rights. ACRI calls Netanyahu's Bedouin policies particularly harsh and discouraging.

Around 160,000 Bedouins live in Israel. Over half live in so-called unrecognized villages. Around 35 communities are affected. They're denied schools, healthcare, running water, electricity, paved roads, postal service, and other vital services.

Most are deeply impoverished. They struggle daily to get by. Israel's Prawer Plan intends greater harshness. Forced displacement will affect tens of thousands of Israeli citizens.

It's a significant blow to justice. It facilitates state-sponsored discrimination. It spurns fundamental rights. It summarily disenfranchises long neglected people who deserve better.

It contradicts Goldberg Commission findings. They called Bedouin treatment unjust and ineffective. It recommended injustices be corrected by recognizing their communities as they exist.

Israel refuses. Historic injustices continue. Netanyahu wants harsher enforcement. He represents the worst of despot authority.

From day to day, Bedouin communities aren't sure whether police, soldiers and bulldozers will show up to evict them forcibly.

Israeli Jews and Arabs face public housing crisis conditions. The issue was central during summer 2011 protesters. Netanyahu promised change. He lied. He did nothing. Harsh neoliberal policies remain.

Knesset hardliners oppose affordable housing legislation. At the same time, they "systematically eviscerate" what's left of public housing.

Water rights were harmed when rates were raised sharply. Nothing in place or planned protects disadvantaged, elderly or disabled Israelis. Arab citizens and Palestinians are entirely out of luck.

West Bank housing and water rights are more tenuous. Palestinians are gravely affected. Israel controls Area C. Many Palestinians live there. Brutal persecution affects them.

Homes are demolished. Cisterns are destroyed. Netanyahu's Levy Commission recommendations will be followed.

His report rewrote international law. He claims occupation "as set out in the relevant international conventions cannot be considered applicable to the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades."

"Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of settlements cannot, in and of itself, be considered illegal."

He recommended legalizing illegal outposts. He said zoning officials should authorize them without further political approval. He urged no restraints on settlement construction.

Netanyahu praised his report, saying:

"In my opinion, this report is important because it deals with the legalization and the legitimization of the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria on the basis of facts, a variety of facts and arguments that should be seriously considered."

Dominant Likudniks support colonizing all valued parts of Judea and Samaria Israel wants. They claim Jerusalem as Israel's exclusive capital. They want Palestinians gone. They'll tolerate them only on isolated bantustans on worthless scrubland.

Levy is a former Israeli Supreme Court justice. His rulings spurned justice. He's more facist than jurist. He embarrasses legitimate juris prudence. He rejects Green Line separation of Israel and Palestine.

So do Likudniks. Netanyahu and Lieberman reflect the worst of their agenda. They're ideologically on the lunatic fringe. They're world class thugs.

Under their leadership, free expression suffered. Both sides of the Green Line are affected.

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are Israel's two largest cities. They enacted new regulations. They make it extremely hard to demonstrate publicly.

West Bank diktats ban all forms of protest. Activist leaders and supporters are persecuted. Repression continues against the backdrop of dual legal systems. Laws affecting Palestinians violate fundamental international laws and standards.

Israeli security forces target them ruthlessly. Repression is official Israeli policy. It's systematically enforced. Police state harshness is severe.

Reports from East Jerusalem reveal illegal interrogation practices used on accused minors. Pre-dawn arrests target them. Children young as 10 are detained. Parental and legal contacts are denied.

ACRI discussed statements, legislative initiatives, and policies infringing on the human rights of asylum seekers. Most face severe repression or death if deported to their home countries.

Propaganda viciousness targets them. They're called criminals, disease-ridden, demographically threatening, harmful to Israeli security, and malignant to Israeli society.

They're desperate human beings. They threaten no one. They deserve safe haven help. Israel criminalizes them. Vicious mobs attack them. Security forces don't intervene.

ACRI also discussed privatizing judicial and police authority. Human rights are weakened in the process. Other policies institutionalize privacy violations.

ACRI's annual reports show Israel on a slippery slope toward full-blown tyranny. Palestinians and Israeli Arabs suffer most. Increasingly, so are growing numbers of Jews.

Israel isn't fit to live in. Many fed up Jews vote with their feet and leave. Others consider doing so. Many obtain foreign passports in preparation.

Mass exodus one day may follow. Why would anyone accept what's intolerable? Safer environs exist elsewhere. Even in a hazardous world they exist.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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