Forget the peace process (part II)

Posted: September 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Left, The Right | Tags: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

There were interesting comments to my previous post, regarding the future of the struggle to end the occupation. My basic point was that though the two state solution remains the most popular – and even most likely – idea on the table, we might have reached some dead end, at least as far as the Israeli public is concerned (and to be honest, right now the Palestinians don’t seem too enthusiastic about restarting negotiations as well). My point was that maybe we should stop thinking, at least for some time, about the desired political structure (one state? Two states?), and go back to dealing with the basic human and civil rights problems which are at the heart of the matter. I think that with time, this approach might even lead us out of the political deadlock.

There was one issue, raised in the comments by Aviv and Judy, which I like to answer here. Judy writes: “isn’t there such a body as the Palestinian Authority that the Palestinians of the West Bank vote for?” And Aviv adds:

That the Palestinian’s internal national institutions are less than democratic is not Israel’s problem – civil rights have to be earned in hard work of Palestinian nation building. (In this case it would have to be the first Arab civil society, which is even harder).

This argument – that the Palestinian got their civil and human rights within the PA so that the international criticism on the matter should not be directed at Israel – is very popular with the Israeli right and among Israel’s supporters in the world. The irony is that these are the same people – Netanyahu, Bennie Begin, etc. – who rejected the idea of a Palestinian autonomy during the 90′s, and now they use the autonomy to support their claim that “there is no occupation”.

The problems is that as my right-wing Professor Martin Sherman use to say, sovereignty’s main characteristic is that it cannot be divided. You can divide authorities or jurisdictions, but at the end, in the current international system, there isn’t but one sovereign. In most cases it is the state apparatus, which represents – even in undemocratic regimes – the people. And it is within this sovereignty that civil rights are given.

Now, who’s the sovereign in the West Bank? I don’t really think there is any question. Last month I gave some examples from my own experience, but here is something from today’s paper:

Tensions are mounting between Israel and the Palestinian Authority following Ramallah’s call on the International Court at The Hague to examine claims of “war crimes” that the IDF allegedly committed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip… Israel has warned the Palestinian Authority that it would condition permission for a second cellular telephone provider to operate in the West Bank – an economic issue of critical importance to the PA leadership – on the Palestinians withdrawing their request at the International Court.

The Palestinian “authority” can’t even decide over the deployment of a cellular provider without an Israeli approval – which comes with very specific, and not at all related, conditions – let alone issues such as air and ground travel, export and import, construction and commerce, and much more. Even more important is the fact that for more than forty years, Palestinians are tried in Israeli army courts, were suspects’ rights are considerably reduced. A fight for civil rights for the Palestinians could start with the demand to incorporate them into the Israeli civilian system.

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I broke the law today, and got away with it

Posted: April 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: racism | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

I have often claimed here that the public atmosphere in Israel is becoming more and more racist towards Arabs. A good example of this can be found in the comments (“talkbacks”) on all major internet sites.

The use of online comments is considerably more widespread in Israel than in most western countries. All the major news sites in Israel allow online comments on the same page with their news articles. The common practice in the US, UK, France, Germany and many other countries is to allow a debate in a separate page, or not to allow comments at all.

There are arguments for and against both policies, and maybe I’ll discuss this issue here sometime. Now I’d like to make a different point. The Israeli law and recent court rulings hold the news sites responsible for the content of the comments. That means that you can sue the site for defamation or slander over the content of the comments as well. That’s why all sites have comments monitors, whose jobs are to prevent illegal or offensive comments from being published. These monitors are not legal experts, but usually low-paid kids, who are instructed not to take chances and delete all problematic material.

At the top of the comment window on the most popular news site in Israel, Ynet.co.il, appears the following warning:

“Comments containing incitement, slander, racist slurs and inappropriate language deemed to violate our Terms of Use won’t be published”

On the Terms of Use page in Ynet there is a long section which refers to “Information Posted by Ynet news Users”. Users, it is stated there, are not allowed to publish links to porn site, sites which breach copyright laws, or any content constituting of defamation, etc.

And this is not allowed as well:

“Any content which exhibits or incites racism or discrimination based on ethnic or national origin, color, culture, religion, sex, occupation, sexual orientation, disease, physical or mental disability, belief, political view or socio-economical class”

This morning I decided to try and break Ynet’s laws. I found this short interview with MK Ahmed Tibi – taken from Yedioth Ahronoth’s magazine for men, “Blazer” – and I sent the following fascist comment (my Italic):

“Ahmed Tibi is a typical Arab. He might talk nicely, but that only makes him more dangerous. If he could, he would exterminate us all. The problem is that for now he can’t, so, with the help of the left, he uses Israeli Democracy to destroy us all. When will we understand that all the Arabs are a threat to the state of Israel and to the life of each and every one of us? This is a Jewish state – that means a state for Jews only. It is time we start to act to defend ourselves”.

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