Monday, May 09, 2005


Does anybody else see the problem here?

Anybody who has any interest at all in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict cannot avoid the constant pairing of the words "Israel" and "democracy." And certainly those who try to make an argument sympathetic to Palestinians is often met by the counter-argument that Palestinians living in Israel take part in a democracy where they live either as equals with Israeli Jews, or at the very least far better than they would live in Lebanon (for example) or other states in the region (a variation of the dissent-squelching refrain "if you don't like it, why don't you just go somewhere else?").

But anybody truly interested in democratic principles should easily be able to see the problems inherent in the situation described in this article in Ha'aretz. The Israeli High Court is currently presiding over a case in which Palestinians from the occupied territories are arguing against their lands being confiscated and used to build Israel's separation barrier in the West Bank. Here we have individuals who are not citizens of Israel and thus have no representative in the Israeli goverment, and their property rights, and the fate of their land and their livelihoods, are being determined by the Israeli High Court.

As if to add insult to injury, they are lectured by justice Michael Cheshin for trying to argue that international law should be the basis of the decision (which seems logical enough to me, considering the fact that the construction of the wall is taking place outside of Israel's internationally recognized borders).
Cheshin quoted several clauses of the international ruling and said they lacked explanations. "Don't you, the petitioners, feel a certain discomfort when defending such a position?" he asked.
How condescending can you get? Furthermore, the one Arab member of the Israeli High Court, Salim Joubran, has recused himself of the case, since several of the petitions deal with land in al-Ram, a West Bank town where his brother lives. Joubran is being replaced by Jonathan Adiel. So now a panel made up completely of Israeli Jews is deciding the fate of Palestinians in the occupied territories. And this is democracy?

But Alex! If it weren't for the generosity of Israeli democracy, the Palestinians wouldn't even be able to make use of the rule of law and have their feeble little arguments condescended to and ultimately denied.

Aunt Deb
True enough. I actually read that Aharon Barak, chief justice of the Israeli High Court, decided that the Palestinians who are getting their land confiscated shouldn't just be compensated with money, but with land in the West Bank. Isn't that the problem in the first place--using West Bank land to take care of Israeli business? And whose land are they going to take to give to these people? What kind of solution is that?
It's a Talmudic solution, of course! God gives, God takes away, oy vey, what can I say??

Aunt Deb
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