On Apathy

Check out this excellent Haaretz editorial which condemns the Israeli apathy towards Palestinians’ human rights.

‘Cases of abuse of Palestinians, whether by soldiers or by settlers, have stopped making headlines in the press or eliciting shock. Nor do investigations of these incidents appear to be serious, and complaints are ignored until the story is either published in the media or dealt with by one of the human rights organizations active in the territories. This growing apathy can perhaps be attributed to the continuous satisfaction felt over the disengagement from Gaza, following which Israelis feel that the occupation is about to end. But, meanwhile, the occupation is continuing in all its severity, with all the abuses that have characterized it throughout the years.’

And it’s true. We hear about the Israelis who are shot or blown up or injured; but we hear very little about Palestinians. We talk endlessly about Israeli security, and protecting Isreali civilians, but not Palestinian security or Palestinian civilians.

‘The prime minister, Knesset members and ministers have not made their voices heard, and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is in charge of preventing all the incidents and abuses described here, has not even bothered to explain what he has done to correct even a fraction of this injustice.’

Aside from the fact that such apathy is downright disgusting and embarassing, how can we talk about the rights of Israelis to leave in a state of security, unless Palestinians also have that right? How can we hope for the situation to improve, if we do not address Palestinian human rights?

What is perhaps most striking about the editorial is the responses it has had online. When I read the article, there were something in the order of 430 responses posted, expressing a spectrum of views. Perhaps the most interesting is the fourth one, by Mark Kato:

‘Shawara`s fate is illustrative of how the cycle of hate, violence and death is perpetuated. How many of Shawara`s nine children will become suicide bombers or fighters as a result of this despicable act? And, if any or all of them seek and take revenge on Israelis, justified by “collective guilt,” how many of the families of their victims will seek and mete out revenge against Palestinians, also justified by “collective guilt?”

It does not take deep insight to recognise that it is this pernicious cycle of hatred and violence that must end before there is any hope of achieving a real and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.’

If any improvement is to take place, if any progress is to be made, it must begin with recognition of human rights — Palestinian and Israeli — and with recognition of the fact that moral atrocities are being committed against Palestinians and Israelis.

Such recognition is often attacked as “justifying” terrorism. It is absolutely nothing of the sort. Terroirsm is an atrocity. In no way is it a justification of terrorism to say that the Israelis government and IDF is also committing despicable acts agaisnt Palestinians, however. And those acts do nothing to end the violence or change the situation — they only further it. It is utterly counterproductive to declare that the responsibility for beginning the peace process lies entirely with Palestinians.

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