Some democracy

Israel claims to be the Middle East’s only democracy. It’s a spurious claim, of course. In reality, it is a racially discriminatory country with Jews enjoying full rights and Arabs and Palestinians often treated as second-class citizens. Surely a real democracy would allow citizens the right to protest peacefully? Think again.

Israeli peace group Gush Shalom have long discussed the ongoing battle over the “security” fence in the village of Bil’in. Both Jews and Palestinians have been protesting this illegal Israeli move for months and received brutal IDF response. The mainstream media has generally ignored the proceedings but Haaretz finally enters the fray and expresses disgust at the different ways in which authorities handled rampaging Gaza settlers and these protesters:

“The IDF and police did not fire at the protesters on the roof in Kfar Darom, even when the latter threw dangerous substances at them, and they refrained from using force even against violent protesters. Similarly, it could have been hoped that the soldiers would hold their fire when facing left-wing and Palestinian protesters.

“Instead, outrageous images are published week after week of soldiers kicking left-wing demonstrators and firing salt or rubber-coated bullets – showing their general contempt for the right to legitimate protest.”

Furthermore, numerous judges have condemned the defence forces for their excessive force and yet just last week they continued their unchecked behaviour. The “security” reasons for stealing land around Bil’in are non-existent and the move is little more than a typical Israeli land grab couched in the language of peace.

Haaretz continues:

“The separation fence is a means to stop terror, but all the sides know that its line marks, to a large extent, the future border between Israel and the Palestinian state. The attempt to annex more territories, to build more settlements and to arouse more hatred among those whose land is confiscated is superfluous.

“The most obvious lesson from the dismantling of the Gaza settlements is that they should never have been set up in the first place. One day’s settlement success became another day’s political and security millstone. The injustice imposed on Bil’in residents could still be fixed. But, in any case, the village’s legitimate right to protest must not be tampered with.”

It’s encouraging that the world is finally starting to see that hoping and praying America’s Middle East proxy would change its behaviour is a forlorn hope. Stronger action is required.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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