Tuesday, March 22, 2005


David Bedein, writing for the stridently revisionist Israel Insider, argues that Israel's plan to withdraw from Gaza and, if necessary, forcibly expel any Jewish settlers who remain there is a violation both of Israeli human rights law and of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act:

While walking the halls of the US Congress last week, I asked for and received a copy of the US Foreign Assistance Act.

A congressional human rights policy specialist pointed to the relevant section of the law, which restricts nations receiving foreign aid from the US from using that aid to subjugate human rights and civil liberties.

That official pointed to Sect. 502B, which is the "Human Rights" amendment, which was added to the US Foreign Assistance Act in 1979, to ensure that any and all US foreign aid would not abrogate the fundamentals of human rights and civil liberties.
She explained that this would mean that any equipment supplied by the US to an aid recipient would come under the scrutiny of this "human rights" amendment to US Foreign Assistance law...

Prof. Eliav Schochetman, Hebrew Professor of Law Emeritus and Dean of the Shaari Mishpat Law College, testified last month at the Israeli Knesset Parlimentary Law Committee that the decision of the state of Israel to demolish the homes and villages of 10,000 citizens, represents the kind of human rights infraction that is described in the human rights amendment to US Foreign Assistance Act.

It would violate the constraints of Israel's own "Basic Human Rights Law" which oversees Israeli democratic institutions in matters of human rights and civil liberties, in the same way that the US Bill of Rights ensures that the US government can never trample on the human rights and civil liberties of American citizens.

In his testimony, Schochetman noted that this Israeli government decision represents a violation of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which all democratic governments are adherents. Schochetmen added that Israel's decision to expel Jews from their homes, would represent a wanton violation of basic human rights and civil liberties that are protected under Israeli and international human rights law.

Prof. Schochetman cited clause 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which mandates that it is illegal for sovereign governments to expel their citizens and ethnic minorities from their homes, from their private properties or from their farms. Since the only group that Israel has slated for expulsion would be Jews, it may be recalled that the government of Serbia was recently held liable for international prosecution at the International High Court of Justice in the Hague, under the charge of "ethnic cleansing", after leaders of Serbia expelled an ethnic minority, solely because of their religion.

Schochetman also mentioned the clauses in the San Remo Treaty that was ratified by the League of Nations and then by the United Nations which provide international protection for Jews to purchase and dwell in the "Jewish Homeland", defined as any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River.

It takes a special, special sort of chutzpah to oppose Israel's withdrawal from occupied territory on human rights grounds, given that it was a clear violation of Palestinian human rights, not to mention illegal under international law, for Israel to have moved segments of its own population onto occupied land in the first place. It's doubly ridiculous given the human rights violations committed by Israel against the Palestinians on a daily basis. The mind boggles that Mr. Bedein's hands don't burst into flame as he taps this stuff out.

Regarding Mr. Bedein's very questionable representation of the San Remo Treaty, let's see what the treaty actually says:

Article 25.
In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions, and to make such provision for the administration of the territories as he may consider suitable to those conditions, provided that no action shall be taken which is inconsistent with the provisions of Articles 15, 16 and 18.

Note: the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine. The treaty would certainly not have defined a "Jewish Homeland" as "any land which lies anywhere east of the Jordan River" because at that time the land between the Jordan River and Jerusalem was considered part of what became Transjordan. In any case, the intention of the San Remo Treaty was for a Jewish homeland to be established within a multi-ethnic, multi-religious Palestine, not for a gang of Zionist guerillas to establish a Jewish-supremacist government and expel thousands of Palestinian Arabs from their homes.

Bedein ends with this:
I did ask the congressional human rights specialist if the human rights amendment to the US Foreign Assistance Act would apply to Israel's demolition of the homes of terrorists. Her answer: US human rights officials have determined that this would not apply to such acts, since terrorists would be viewed as combatants.

Nice to see that Bedein understands irony enough to address this question, but it's as disingenuous as the rest of his essay. First, in many cases, Israel acts upon secret, unchallenged evidence to determine exactly who the "terrorists" are. Second, Israel doesn't just demolish the homes of terrorists, it demolishes the homes of their families and neighbors, which is inarguably a human rights violation. Third, Israel also demolishes the homes and farmland of Palestinians who have nothing whatever to do with terrorism, but who have the bad luck to get in the way of settlement expansion, also inarguably a human rights violation. Fourth, David Bedein is a crank.

The bottom line here is that it is preposterous for anyone to challenge the Gaza withdrawal under the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act, given that Israel violates the act in regards to its treatment of the Palestinians on a daily, probably hourly, basis.

No comments: