Tuesday, August 24, 2004

 

Worse than South Africa?

From Ha'aretz:
South African law professor Prof. John Dugard, the special rapporteur for the United Nations on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, has written in a report to the UN General Assembly that there is "an apartheid regime" in the territories "worse than the one that existed in South Africa."

As an example, Dugard points to the roads only open to settlers, from which Palestinians are banned.

[...]

Dugard, a law professor from South Africa, was a member of a Truth Commission at the end of the apartheid regime, and was appointed by the UN in 2001 as special rapporteur for human rights in the West Bank and Gaza.
Well, you'd think if anybody would know, it would be somebody like John Dugard (who just happens to have written books with titles like The denationalization of Black South Africans in pursuance of apartheid: A question for the International Court of Justice?, Human rights & the South African legal order, Rights & Constitutionalism: The New South African Legal Order, and The Last Years of Apartheid: Civil Liberties in South Africa). However, while Israel is currently "leaning toward cooperating with the various rapporteurs of the UN, and responding to their questions and requests" (oh the generousity, responding to their questions... well, leaning toward that at least), with just a little caveat.
But there are two exceptions to that rule: Dugard, and the special rapporteur for food, Jean Zigler. Israel refuses to cooperate with them because of the language of their mandates, and what it regards as their unfair approach. According to the sources, Dugard's assignment was phrased in a way that discriminates against Israel.
Ah, the unfair approach. In other words, Israel will cooperate with those that don't criticize it too harshly. That's just great.

And speaking of not criticizing Israel too harshly, there has hardly been a peep about new settlement units that are set to be built shortly. The Daily Star has an editorial spelling out the repercussions of this, not just for the Palestinians, but in a global sense.
Israeli political sources made it known to the press on Monday that the construction of the 530 new homes, together with tenders for 1,000 others approved last week by Premier Ariel Sharon, would focus on settlements near Jerusalem. For its part, Washington made it known Saturday it could accept building within existing construction lines of settlements that have spread on territory Israel captured in 1967. It had previously insisted on a construction freeze under the "road map" peace plan.

If Washington feels that its change in position on settlement expansion is important now because it helps Sharon deflect internal far-right opposition, it should stop being so short-sighted and consider the longer-term damage that comes from its decision. When the world's largest power and erstwhile guardian and promoter of democracy and the rule of law blatantly ignores the overwhelming global consensus on the illegality of Israel's colonial adventure in the West Bank and Gaza, it sends dangerous signals: that the law does not matter, that a global consensus is meaningless, that the powerful can do as they please. This is perhaps no surprise, given the United States' recent tendency to make unilateral policy and war when it feels its national interests - or electoral interests - are at stake. This, too, is the dark and ugly side of the otherwise impressive legacy of the US democratic experience. Washington cannot long expect to have either friends or admirers if it insists on unilaterally defining global legal norms, waging wars for "regime change," reordering entire regions, transforming a legitimate anti-terror campaign into a messy adventure in Iraq and everywhere demanding that its officials and soldiers remain exempt from any accountability to international law.

This is not a recipe for peace, the rule of law, or prosperity. It is a recipe for anarchy, lawlessness and immorality - as the Israeli experience in the West Bank and Gaza proves so sadly.

Comments:
Alex, did you see that article in I think it was the Sunday Post about luxury tourism in Jerusalem? Apartments with views of the Temple Mount and stuff like that? Isn't it truly creepy that this is the sort of thing Americans get to read while people are being pushed off their land in the very same place? When does the Cabaret music start up??

Made me think about the lecture-film we went to at GMU, the one given by Robert Fisk.
 
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