HAGAI El-AD. Netanyahu Exploits the Holocaust to Brutalize the Palestinians (Haaretz23.1.2020)

Netanyahu didn’t invent the idea of leveraging the Holocaust for political gain. Yet he is taking even that low to new depths, stripping Palestinians of basic human rights in the name of the survivors of the Holocaust

According to Haaretz, Israel’s prime minister intends to exploit the Fifth World Holocaust Forum – convening this week in Jerusalem to mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz – to call on world leaders to publicly back Israel’s self-serving position that the International Criminal Court in The Hague has no jurisdiction in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu began this exercise barely 48 hours after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced last month, after five years of preliminary examination, that she is ready to open an investigation  into potential war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, pending an ICC judicial decision on jurisdiction.

Wasting no time, Netanyahu responded that “new edicts are being issued against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court.”

This cynical reframing is staggering, both intellectually and morally.

The Palestinians who live under Israel’s occupation are a people bereft of rights. For decades, their existence has been governed by the arbitrary whims of their occupiers. They cannot vote for the government that controls every aspect of their lives. They have no army to defend themselves. They do not control the borders of their own territory, or their ability to travel abroad, or even how long it will take them to get to the nearest Palestinian town – if even allowed to do so.

They also have no recourse to justice through Israel’s legal mechanisms. Israeli prosecutors and judges process Palestinians in the occupied territories through a “justice system” that delivers an almost 100 percent conviction rate. At the same time, this system works to ensure impunity for Israeli security forces who kill, abuse or torture them.

For Palestinians, quite literally, the International Criminal Court is their court of last resort. Yet Netanyahu, backed by Israel’s entire political leadership, is trying to quash even this faint hope.

How dehumanizing, to insist on denying a people’s last recourse to even an uncertain, belated, modicum of justice. How degrading to do so while standing on the shoulders of Holocaust survivors, insisting that this is somehow being carried out in their name.

What a lack of historical memory and moral compass it must take to ignore the key lesson the world gleaned from the ashes of the 1940s: that no person should ever, under any circumstance, be left bare of rights, precisely because – as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights tells us – “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”

But Netanyahu goes even further, arguing that the very same ashes give rise to the opposite conclusion: that there is a people – the Palestinian people – who should remain bare of rights under all circumstance.

A bare life with neither land nor ballot, court nor justice. Where freedom of movement extends only as far as the nearest checkpoint. Where soldiers can enter any home, at any time. Where the only constant is how little control one has over one’s life.

Shame on you, Prime Minister Netanyahu. Shame, also, on any world leader who goes along with the travesty of equating a people’s attempt to achieve justice with anti-Semitism. Taking this cowardly position does not only betray the Palestinians’ hope for freedom and dignity. It joins in the slow death of the lessons that have guided humanity for the past 75 years and are now drowning in the rising authoritarian tide around the world.

This is not the world that humanity tried to build after World War II, after the Holocaust – but it is the world of Putin and TrumpModi and OrbánNetanyahu and Bolsonaro. Indeed, we are already living in their cowardly new world. Yet it remains in our hands to decide if the past’s painful lessons will be allowed to be turned on their head in order to further oppression – or remain loyal to a vision of freedom and dignity, justice and rights, for all.

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem. Twitter: @HagaiElAd


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4 Responses to HAGAI El-AD. Netanyahu Exploits the Holocaust to Brutalize the Palestinians (Haaretz23.1.2020)

  1. Kien Choong says:

    It’s remarkable how quick Western countries are to “stand up” against China over territorial disputes in the South China Seas (on which there are no human settlement) but do so little to defend the pre-existing rights of indigenous Palestinians to both (i) lands on which they currently occupy, and (ii) lands which they once occupied.

    Then again, Western nations have long learnt to ignore the pre-existing rights of indigenous populations in the New World and Australia. Oh the self-righteous liberal West, when will you remove the plank from your own eye before offering to remove the speck from your brother’s eye?

  2. Rex Williams says:

    As above, ….Wasting no time, Netanyahu responded that “new edicts are being issued against the Jewish people – anti-Semitic edicts by the International Criminal Court.”

    Here we go again. The same old Jewish claptrap. It never stops.

    If only the Zionist Netanyahu and his apartheid followers in Israel, the USA and Australia realised that the world has tired of his anti-Semitic sideshow antics and Holocaust dine-outs. For 70 plus years we have seen this sad event caused by the Third Reich, used and abused for what it has now become, something of a sad indictment against Israel,and from which it is unlikely ever to recover based on the Zionist antics we have seen this again week, 75 years after the end of WWII.
    We even saw our supportive Governor General fly all the way over to Israel to attend this latest Israeli effort at dragging as much out of this old event as they can. Little does the the Governor-General realise how the world is tired of such events. But he’ll be there on call for the next event. Count on it. Part of the performance.

    When Israel shows by removing its inhumane apartheid occupation of Palestine and ceases to murder and torture Palestinians every day, locking up children, depriving them of education, justice, decent living conditions, clean water and electricity and then removes their soldiers and their settler murderers, all of which started through the corrupted decision of the UK Balfour Declaration of 1917 when Palestine became captives to the most disliked illegal state in the world, the world may consider forgiving them such criminal excesses over 70 years.

    When we also see the United Nations, currently a captive of US influence, take decisive action on so many of the resolutions that have been addressed but not acted upon for decades in that feeble palace of meaningless words, then we have a slim chance of a resolution to the most disgraceful occupation in history.
    70 years and still going..

    Eight times longer that the Jewish pogroms by Hitler. Just think on that.

  3. Colin Hesse says:

    One can only agree with Mr El-Ad.

    • rhys stanley says:

      Yes. A good article and as we all know, the “sideshow” as it was described above, will be there again next year.
      How can any rational thinker fail to see that these Israeli / Jewish / Zionist people are buying their so-called friends, their loyalties and their votes at the United Nations when a vote comes up, all to reduce any chance of helping Palestine recover its stolen lands. Daily we see Israel grafting their way to criminally steal a country in front of the world through military occupation and apartheid practices.

      Dislike of Zionists and their activities has happened before and based on similar behavioural patterns now, as were evident then, it must have a good chance of happening yet again.
      Some people never learn from history which has always found a way of repeating itself.

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