By Tali Shapiro at Mar 25, 2009
Last week, Israeli envoy to the United Nations in Geneva said (Ha'aretz):
"Israel will improve its treatment of minorities and prisoners, taking on board some suggestions made in a review of its human rights record before the UN."
Another empty promise. As if the repression of The Palestinian Culture Festival, a couple days ago, wasn't enough, a long awaited for extreme-rightist march just had to be held in the largest Arab city in Israel yesterday morning.
Who Suffers the Double Standards of Israeli Democracy?
In he hight of the onslaught on Gaza, two right-wing politicians, Itamar Ben-Gvir (spokesperson for The Chayil Party) and Baruch Marzel (leader of the Religious Zionism-orientated Jewish National Front party), decided it's a good time to march with Israeli flags in Umm al-Fahem, the largest Arab populated city in Israel. Just to clarify the sensitivity of the situation, allow me to quote myself:
"Israeli Arabs and Palestinians are, in fact, the same people... you can't call an Israeli Arab a traitor for identifying with his Palestinian wife and kids. "
There's no wonder that "Israeli Arabs" would have a problem with a "patriotic" March in their city, while their own wife and kids are being murdered by their own government.
The police refused to grant permit to this demonstration:
"A senior police source told Haaretz on Sunday that the decision to delay the march was made following extensive assessments and meetings among the uppermost echelon of the police. He said that intelligence has been gathered over recent days indicating that violent clashes could erupt should the rightists march as planned, and potentially spill into the entire northern district.
"There was a real danger that lives could be lost," said the source. "That is why it was decided not to allow the march to proceed."
He added that the police will reassess the situation in two weeks and set a new date for the march."
So the two petitioned the supreme court. Ben-Gvir was quoted in Ha'aretz:
"Before the march has even commenced we have made a great achievement. We have proven what we've claimed all along - that there are hypocrisy and double standards in the system."
Eventually the court did grant the permit, agreeing with the The State Prosecutor's Office's stipulation that:
"...the march needed to be deferred until after the election because of the recent hostilities in Gaza and the deteriorating security situation in Israel."
Marching for What?!
Now that the march has happened, I have to ask, what the hell was the point of that?! What did these people want to say? This is like (but much more offensive) Neo-Nazis marching in predominantly Jewish neighborhoods in New York.
National Union MK Michael Ben Ari, who decided to join this "important display of democracy", in the last minute, was quoted in Ha'aretz:
"It's a horrible situation that in certain regions within Israel, all signs of sovereignty have been removed... This process has become so accepted and legitimized that anyone raising the Israeli flag is dubbed an instigator. The situation has been turned on its head...This is the country in which Umm al-Fahm residents live, and which finances and finances them... "
"Umm al-Fahm mayor Sheikh Khaled Hamdan said at a press conference on Monday that residents will prevent the right-wingers from entering their town, and will use force if necessary.
"We have no desire for clashes," he said, "and we are not planning on confrontations with the marchers or the police. Our position is that we will try to block them with our bodies, but peacefully and quietly.""
The Aftermath of Racism
So what happened? This is the gist as far as I understand it:
"... more than 2,500 police officers deployed in and around Umm al-Fahm... accompanied by dogs patrolled the protest route on Monday, searching for roadside bombs. Others visited the area to prepare for being stationed there on Tuesday."
"The clash erupted after police arrested three Israeli Arabs who had scuffled with officers... Police declared the rally to be illegal and ordered the Israeli Arab protestors, some of whom were waving Palestinian flags, to leave."
- Update (26.03.09): I forgot to say this, while I was writing the article: Roadside bombs?! Really? Arab-bashing again... Way to go homeland...
This is what I saw on Channel 10:
About a 100 religious right marchers came by busses, sang "The Nation of Israel Lives" and waved Israeli flags. Hundreds of young Arabs, citizens of the city, covered their faces (as Arabs often are the victims of police brutality this is quite understandable), and, unfortunately, started throwing rocks. I'm uncertain as to who started it- yes it IS important. In about 45 minutes, the marchers retreated, but the clash with the police went on for a couple more hours. And resulted as following:
- Deputy police commissioner Shahar Ayalon and fourteen other policemen were wounded.
- Twelve Umm al-Fahm residents were hurt in scuffles with police.
- Lawmaker Ilan Ghilon (Meretz) was also wounded in the incident when police fired tear gas grenades.
Considering the images on Channel 10, it's surprising to hear there were only 28 wounded in this clash.
In the Absence of a 9th Amendment
A day after this completely unnecessary ordeal, Police Commissioner, David Cohen, came out with the following statement:
"This morning, 2,500 policemen went in to ensure the existence of the democratic process in the State of Israel."
So let's talk about democracy. Americans should be familiar with the following:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
As I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong), the 9th amendment means that other rights, aside from those listed in the constitution, may exist, and just because they are not listed doesn't mean they can be violated.
I was just sent this video by a friend, I thought it was relevant:
Israel doesn't have a 9th amendment. It doesn't even have a constitution. It does, however, have a Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty:
"Section 2 Preservation of life, body and dignity
There shall be no violation of the life, body or dignity of any person as such.
Section 4 Protection of life, body, and dignity
All persons are entitled to protection of their life, body, and dignity.
Section 11 Application
All governmental authorities are bound to respect the rights under this Basic Law."
Unfortunately, the problems with the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty lays within the Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty (bolds by me):
"Section 1a Purpose
The purpose of this Basic Law is to protect human dignity and liberty, in order to anchor in a Basic Law tile values of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Section 8 Violation of rights
There shall be no violation of rights under this Basic Law except by a Law fitting the values of the State of Israel, designed for a proper purpose, and to an extent no greater than required or by such a law enacted with explicit authorization therein."