Posts Tagged ‘Israeli–Palestinian conflict’

Human rights lawyer Felicia Langer died on 21 June 2018

June 24, 2018

Felicia Langer (born 9 December 1930 ) died on 21 June 2018. She was a German-Israeli attorney and human rights defender known for her defence of Palestinian political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She authored several books alleging human rights violations on the part of Israeli authorities. She lived in Germany from 1990 and acquired German citizenship in 2008.In her writings, lectures and interviews she criticized the Israeli policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, which she considered equivalent to an annexation. Langer furthermore considered the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as undermining the possibility of a two-state solution and demands the complete and unconditional retreat of Israel from the territories conquered in 1967 and a right to return for any descendant of the Palestinian refugees. In 1990, Langer received the Right Livelihood Award ” for the exemplary courage of her struggle for the basic rights of the Palestinian people.” In 1991, she was awarded the Bruno Kreisky Award. In July 2009, President of Germany awarded her the Federal Cross of Merit. The bestowal triggered a public controversy because of her attitude towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For more on human rights awards see: http://trueheroesfilms.org/thedigest/

 on 23 June wrote in an Op ED in EurAsia Review Felicia Langer is highly respected and revered by the Palestinians like no other Israeli-German citizen. Only Yasser Arafat is more adored. Both the Palestinian Authority and the city of Tübingen, where she lived in exile, should set up a memorial place for this great German-Israeli woman…Felicia Langer is one of the few outstanding Israeli-German personalities who have sacrificed themselves to the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people to the last breath, and whose memory should remember by all three peoples. Their tireless commitment to Palestinian justice and human rights should always be considered an inspiration and a societal obligation to their political actions.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felicia_Langer

https://www.eurasiareview.com/23062018-german-israeli-human-rights-lawyer-felicia-langer-passes-away-oped/

Israel bars human rights lawyers from the USA

May 4, 2018

Two U.S. human rights lawyers were detained Sunday 29 April 2018 for 14 hours at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport before being deported back to the United States. Columbia University’s professor of law, gender and sexuality studies Katherine Franke and Center for Constitutional Rights’ executive director Vincent Warren were repeatedly questioned about their associations with groups critical of Israel. They were part of a delegation of American human rights defenders heading to Israel and Palestine to learn about the human rights situation and meet with local activists. They arrived back in New York City early Monday. Hear the interview with Vincent Warren and Katherine Franke via:

Israel at 2018 UPR session denies restricting human rights defenders

January 29, 2018

On Wednesday, 24 January 2018 mwcnews reported on Israel‘s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session in Geneva.  A large part of the session was devoted to the usual and heated tit-for-tat with UN member states criticizing Israel for failing to abide by human rights laws and UN resolutions (“Israel is the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state,” the South African delegate stated), while Aviva Raz Shechter, Israeli ambassador to the UN in Geneva, laid out bluntly how Israel was going to receive the recommendations of fellow members. “The continuous discrimination against Israel in the HRC and the unparalleled number of one-sided biased and political resolutions adopted regularly by the automatic majority of its members testifies not only to the unfair treatment of Israel but also to the deficiencies of the council itself and its agenda,” she said.

Shechter listed what she claimed were some areas of improvement in human rights in Israel compared with the last review, which was in 2013. These, she said, included new initiatives and measures taken by Israel to uphold the rights of people with disabilities, minorities, the LGBT community and women. However, Shechter’s minimal references to the situation of Palestinians in the occupied territories left many delegates unimpressed. Emi Palmor, the director-general of the Israeli ministry of justice, stayed on the defensive before highlighting what she called the improvements in the judiciary, from the introduction of some prisoners’ rights and safeguards for juvenile detainees to taking over investigations of complaints against the Israel Security Agency, better known as Shin Bet. “A large part will not listen to what I am saying … this council has not acquired its reputation for equality or impartiality,” she said.

Palmor contended that Israel had made progress with regards to the detention of minors by establishing a dedicated juvenile court, improving its system by which families are notified, as well as authorising courts to appoint attorneys for the minors “if they wished so”. Still, delegates from Belgium, Bolivia, Canada, Madagascar and other UN member states called upon Israel to allow civil society and independent human rights organisations on its territory to work freely. Some called on Israel to allow human rights bodies to conduct fact-finding missions to investigate allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity. They expressed concern over the perceived targeting of human-rights defenders and independent nongovernmental organisations in the context of Israel’s NGO Transparency Law and Anti-Boycott Law. The recommendations and concerns were rejected by Palmor, who claimed that Israel places no legal restrictions on human rights associations.

[https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/02/26/israel-denies-work-permit-to-human-rights-watch-and-continues-harassment-of-hrds/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/04/27/human-rights-watch-granted-israeli-work-permit-in-the-end/ and https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/01/05/michael-sfardjan-israels-human-rights-activists-arent-traitors/]

Some delegates called upon Israel to ratify the optional protocol to the Convention against Torture and to uphold the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, which prohibits individual or mass forcible transfers and deportations of protected persons from occupied territory. Germany was one of the countries with concerns in this regard.…..

Shechter, the Israeli ambassador, said it was deplorable that UN representatives would use the UPR session as what she called a platform to politicise the human rights discourse. “It is a cynical and hypocritical attitude meant to distort the reality,” she said, adding however that Israel would continue to cooperate with the HRC and take “seriously” the recommendations made at Tuesday’s session.

http://mwcnews.net/news/middle-east/70152-israel-gets-flak-over-human-rights-record.html

Daughters for Life Scolarships program 2017 open for applications

September 17, 2017

 The Daughters for Life Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2017 Scholarships Program. The Foundation is looking for outstanding female students, who would like to take their education to the next level.  It is offering up to 10 scholarships for the next academic year for students to follow their dreams at universities in North America, South Asia, and the UK.  The foundation’s goal is to represent the interests of young women of all nationalities, ethnicities, and religious affiliations across the Middle East. So far, more than 30 young scholars have enrolled in universities and colleges across North America, the United Kingdom, and Bangladesh.  Submission deadline: December 16, 2016

Izzeldin Abuelaish started the Daughters for Life organization after his daughters were tragically killed. Since then he’s devoted his life to promoting the higher education of young women in the Middle East and around the world. He has helped nearly 400 girls since 2010 achieve their dreams. He said seeing these remarkable women move to change the world is keeping his daughters memory alive. I reported earlier that even this kind of approach was considered ‘controversial’ by some [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/04/13/human-rights-museum-controversy-izzeldin-abuelaishfor-palestinian-doctor-gallery/]

 

Source: Daughters for Life Scolarships program 2017

“I shall not hate” message of Palestinian doctor not enough (for some)

April 13, 2016

A post in the Canadian Jewish News (CJN) by Myron Love (on 11 April 2016) reports that University of Manitoba professor Haskel Greenfield expressed outrage about an exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights that highlights, among 17 other human rights defenders, the story of Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor from Gaza who lost three daughters and a niece when an Israeli missile hit his home during Operation Cast Lead in 2009. In Greenfield’s words, the interactive exhibit that includes Abuelaish is “a disgusting, one-sided portrayal of a complex situation. It completely ignored the fact that Hamas used yards and roofs of residences, schools and hospitals to launch their missiles. The Palestinian family portrayed was a tragic example of collateral damage in a war started by their Hamas government.” Greenfield is an archeologist and acting head of U of M’s Judaic studies program. He said it’s “very clear to me that the exhibit is not about human rights at all. It is an opportunity for Israel bashing and subtle anti-Semitism. The exhibit only focuses on what the Israelis have done to Palestinians – and, in particular to one Palestinian family – without any context as to why it happened.” 

Read the rest of this entry »

Israel refuses entry to UN special rapporteur Wibisono

June 15, 2015

Unfortunately, Israel joined the countries that think non-cooperation with the UN pays: last week it refused entry to Makarim Wibisono, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, who is working on a report on rights violations in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. “Since taking up his mandate in June 2014… Wibisono has sought Israel’s cooperation with his mandate, including access to the occupied Palestinian territory and meetings with Israeli officials. His requests to access Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in order to carry out his mandate have not received a formal response from the government of Israel,” said Xabier Celaya, from the media unit of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Right.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry justified its decision by saying that “Israel cooperates with most human rights mechanisms of the UN. Israel does not cooperate with unfair and unbalanced mandates such as the… rapporteur’s mandate, and consequently his entry to Israel is not allowed.

[Israel remains the only country for which a special investigator is permanently assigned. The position of special investigator to the Palestinian territories was first created in 1993 and that Wibisono of Indonesia is the sixth person since then to hold that post.]

Earlier in the month, Wibisono spoke out against Israeli plans to relocate Palestinian Beduin communities in the West Bank “I am alarmed at indications that the rollout of plans, which in their full effect are believed to entail the forced eviction and forcible transfer of thousands of people, contrary to international human rights law and international humanitarian law, now appears imminent,” Wibisono said

https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/non-cooperation-from-some-states-with-the-un-human-rights-council-is-persistent/

via Israel refuses entry to UN special investigator Wibisono – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post.

More on the Sakharov Prize and the Arab nominees

October 16, 2014

A few days ago I published a piece about the little ceremonial dropping of Arab nominees for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/10/11/europes-sakharov-prize-in-trouble-with-regard-to-arab-nominees/]. The main actor in this story – Alaa Abdel Fattah – has given his own views in a piece  in Jadaliyya on 7 October, entitled “On the Sakharov Prize”. To do justice I copy it in its entirety below:

[Sculpture of Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist Dr. Andrei Dmitievich Sakharov. Photo by David via Flickr.]
[Sculpture of Soviet nuclear physicist and human rights activist Sakharov. Photo by David via Flickr.]

It was with joy that I received the news of my nomination for the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the same joy any act of solidarity inspires.

Since my release from prison in Egypt on bail, with my fate still bound to the Special Terrorism Courts and the draconian Protest Law, I have been facing constant harassment from official and unofficial representatives of the regime. New trumped-up criminal charges pop up every few days. A horde of political talk show hosts on supposedly independent TV stations discusses old and out-of-context tweets, twisting my words and assigning sinister implications to them. There is an insistent tarnish campaign meant to prepare the general public for my eventual return to prison. Needless to say, I am banned from appearing on local TV stations, and I am forbidden to travel outside Egypt.

So it is solidarity such as that of European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) that creates the pressure to keep me out of jail and out of harm. It was also a comfort to find comrades in unexpected places; GUE/NGL’s stance against neoliberal policies and against the distortion of European democracy seemed in line with the aspirations of persecuted revolutionaries in Egypt and the broader Arab context.

I was proud to be nominated along with Tunisian rapper, Ala Yaacoubi, and Moroccan rapper, Mouad Belghouate, both imprisoned for insulting the police in their popular songs. I was relieved that the European Parliament members (MEP) who nominated us understood the point of doing symbolic/verbal violence to the image of the powerful who consistently commit systemic actual violence to the bodies, souls and livelihood of the powerless; relieved that the MEPs understood the meaning of questioning the humanity of those who derive their power from dehumanizing their opponents.

I was not surprised when a new tarnish campaign was launched in reaction against my nomination. My family has faced such campaigns before by supporters of the Israeli occupation and Israeli apartheid. The latest when my sister, Mona Seif, was shortlisted for the Martin Ennals Award. But I was surprised when the president of the GUE/NGL decided to withdraw my nomination based on a two-year-old tweet taken out of context. And I was surprised that this was done without an attempt to contact me for clarification, and without any regard for how such public condemnation affects my safety and liberty. The president of the GUE/NGL has now sent a clear message to the Egyptian authorities that whatever international solidarity and support I have is fragile—easily destroyed with a tweet.

The GUE/NGL are of course free to form their opinion based on whatever sources of information they choose—including well-known neocons writing for the Wall Street Journal about an out-of-context tweet. However, since they made the nomination and made it publicly, it was their responsibility to ascertain how the manner of retreating from it would affect my safety. Other options were available to them; they could have asked me to withdraw, or they could have quietly dropped my name from the short-list.

The GUE/NGL’s president’s statement claims that I “called for the murder of a critical number of Israelis.” For what it is worth, here is what I would have said if anyone from GUE/NGL or any other MEPs had asked me to clarify.

The tweet in question is certainly shocking if taken out of context, but even then it cannot be framed as “a call” for anything. It was a “mention” to two friends, part of a private conversation—a thread spanning multiple tweets—that took place over a public medium (limited to 140 characters) on the first night of Israel’s 2012 attack on Gaza. A conversation between friends who already knew enough about each others’ views to make it unnecessary to clarify and elaborate, for instance, the distinction between civilians and combatants—as one would if one were making a public statement. As this was not a public statement, only those who follow all three of us on Twitter would have had this tweet appear on their timeline at two a.m. on 15 November 2012. And even after the tarnish campaign, it has only been retweeted four times.

To pretend that you can interpret this tweet two years later without consulting the people involved in the conversation, and to claim that it constitutes a call to action, is simply ridiculous. That I should now feel the need to explain and clarify what was not intended for a general public in the first place, and to be condemned for my thoughts, not my actions, in such a manner is clearly an attack on my personal liberty. The chilling effect of having to adapt to such harassment and condemnation should be perfectly clear for those honoring Andrei Sakharov’s legacy.

The conversation relating to the war on Gaza started with a friend expressing her doubt that the conflict would ever be resolved by local actors. The other friend in the conversation and I replied, insisting that like most such conflicts, it would be resolved locally. The tweet stated what seems to be the basic strategy of most national liberation movements, especially those that opt for armed resistance: To make the price of occupation/colonization/apartheid too expensive for the society that supports it. The strategy of the Palestinians is exactly that—via both violent and nonviolent means (boycott, divestments and sanctions, and armed resistance, for example). Since this was during a time of war, I had armed resistance in mind. Think of Vietnam or Algeria; many would say this is exactly what happened: After a critical number of casualties in asymmetric wars, the civilian population supporting the occupier refused to continue its support—despite the fact that the casualties suffered by the society resisting colonization were massively higher.

My tweet was not a call for anything; it was not even a statement of opinion. It was a statement of one of the facts of the conflict. If GUE/NGL had asked me about my views I would have directed them to my March 2012 debate on Deutsche Welle.

It should perhaps be remembered that the first laureate of the Sakharov Prize was Nelson Mandela back in 1988, when he and the African National Congress (ANC) were considered terrorists by many democratic governments. At the time, his views on the necessity of violence for resisting apartheid must have required and inspired complex debates on appropriate tactics and strategies, the rules of engagement, the moral, political and social limitations that should be put on revolutionary violence, etc. There would have been plenty of statements attributable to him or his comrades—including the famous Rivonia Trial speech in which he admits to planning sabotage—that would have looked pretty scary out of context.

Finally, I hardly ever call for any solution or action on my own. As an individual, I have always expressed my opinions and positions in the clearest and strongest language. But as an activist, I have always worked for any given cause with and through the largest united front possible. When it comes to calls for solutions or actions, and for the sake of consensus, I would make the very compromises I refuse to make when speaking only for myself.

More importantly, I do not call for anything when it is not a cause that I am directly engaged with. I stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, but I never presume to tell them what to do.

If my views on violence—specifically against civilians—are what is in question, the answers can be found in my actions and my published views in my local context and my own struggle in Egypt.

 [This piece is co-published with Mada Masr]

On the Sakharov Prize.

Remembering Dina Goor, graceful human rights defender from Israel

October 22, 2013

Dina Goor was an elite model. She was an interior designer in Israel and much more. Dina’s arrival at the Qalandiya checkpoint a decade ago in her grey Volkswagen Golf, changed her and the human rights movement in Israel. Read the rest of this entry »

Five UN experts urge Israel to stop harassment of human rights activist Issa Amro

August 14, 2013

Special Rapporteur Richard Falk. UN Photo/Jess Hoffman

On 13 August 2013 a group of 5 United Nations independent human rights experts expressed deep concern at the alleged ongoing judicial harassment, intimidation and abusive treatment directed against Issa Amro, a prominent Palestinian human rights defender. Mr. Amro, a founder of the non-governmental organizations Youth Against Settlements and Hebron Defenders, was arrested and detained 20 times in 2012, and six times in 2013, without being charged Read the rest of this entry »

Egyptian HRD and MEA Nominee, Mona Seif, under attack

May 3, 2013

As readers of this blog know I would have readily reported on any developments surrounding the MEA especially since the Final Nominees 2013 were announced recently. A few days ago a controversy arose around the nomination of Mona Seif, the courageous Egyptian human rights defender who was selected because of her campaign against military trials for civilians. UN Watch, an NGO affiliated to the American Jewish Committee,  and famous for its strident monitoring of anything that smacks of  criticism of Israel, accused Mona Seif of being a terrorist sympathizer on the basis of 3 older tweets in which she strongly defended the right of Palestinians to resist Israeli occupation. The organisation started a twitter campaign to have Mona recalled as nominee.

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

The problem is that I am – in a personal capacity – the Chair of the Jury which is composed of ten of the world’s leading human rights NGOs (see list http://www.martinennalsaward.org). I am a non-voting chair whose only role is to facilitate the process and I do not participate in the selection. The board of the Martin Ennals Foundation also has no role in the selection as the Statutes provide for a fully independent Jury. Only the NGOs on the Jury can vote on the recipient of the MEA. Still, I feel that my capacity of Chair of the Jury obliges me to show restraint in speaking out.

Read the rest of this entry »