Sunday, May 1, 2011

Human Rights, the PA and the death of Ben-Yosef Livnat

On Sunday, April 24, 2011 five Breslov Chassidim drove into the PA-controlled city of Nablus, to worship at a Jewish Holy site, Joseph’s Tomb. It was the middle of Passover, a week-long celebration of the Jewish Exodus from Egyptian slavery more than three thousand years ago, during which time the bones of Joseph had been taken out of Egypt. What better way to honor Joseph than by praying at his Tomb? But in an incident that involved—according to the victims—the PA police, this day-trip turned into murder as PA police opened fire on their car, killing 25-year old Ben-Yosef Livnat, and wounding four others.
According to at least one news report, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu has angrily demanded that the murderers be brought to justice. The PA, however, claims it has, “no leads”.
 When Israel signed the 1993 Oslo Accords, Joseph’s Tomb was to remain an Israel property—because of its religious significance. But in 2000, after an outbreak of Arab violence that left one IDF soldier dead, security at the Tomb was handed over to the PA. The Tomb is not off-limits to Jews.
Apparently, one justification for the killing of Mr Livnat is that this Breslov group did not coordinate their trip with the IDF; they travelled alone and unannounced.
With this killing, the PA is on trial. Despite the suggestion that failure to coordinate renders this assault somehow acceptable, the United Nations understands that this murder is a human rights violation (see below). This is important because UN documents state that the manner in which a governing body reacts to human rights violations committed by its agents clearly shows if it is willing to ensure effective protection of human rights.
More important still, the UN then takes this  ‘protection of human rights’  concept and links it explicitly to creating or breaking peace and international security.
 Today, we should hold the UN to its word.
If the PA does not respond to this murder with appropriate action, then our Prime Minister should tell both the UN and the US Congress  ( he is scheduled to  speak there soon)  four things about the PA: (1) it demands the privilege of statehood but arrogantly rejects a state’s responsibilities; (2) its systemic and institutionalized incitement to kill Jews (which may have played a role in this murder) is a crime according to Article III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide; (3) while the World Bank and IMF recently stated that the PA’s readiness for statehood depends upon gaining Israel’s cooperation, the PA seems more interested in killing than cooperating; and (4) by rejecting human rights, the PA rejects the above concepts of  peace and security.
To understand the extent to which the PA disdains human rights—even as it hypocritically accuses Israel-- consider the violations committed here:
(1) shooting indiscriminately at civilians: this is a violation of international law.
(2) the deliberate attack against civilians, with lethal outcome: termed a ‘serious’ civil rights violation that creates individual criminal responsibility.
(3) the use of unnecessary lethal force against unarmed civilians:  a violation of the PA’s  responsibility, under international human rights laws and international humanitarian laws, to protect civilians from violence.
(4) The killing of Ben- Yosef Livnat: arbitrary deprivation of life.
(5)The killing of Ben-Yosef Livnat: a violation of customary international law.
(6)The killing of Ben- Yosef Livnat: police brutalty (wording depends on code cited).
(7)The killing of Ben Yosef Livnat: the deprivation of life that involves the complicity or tolerance of a Governing body or its agents ( including death through the excessive use of force by police or security forces).
Furthermore, according to US State Department documentation on Human Rights, additional rights violations may also have occurred:
(8) racial discrimination:  the restriction of movement based on national origin.
(9) Destruction of property.
(10) deprivation of the right to exercise the freedom of religion.
(11) religious discrimination (could be separate from depriving the freedom of religion).
(12) failure to respect the cultural life of a group.
(13) failure to protect cultural heritage and cultural property
This is how the UN works—one incident; perhaps thirteen violations.
 The Arabs understand this ratio of violations-to-incident, and they have used this knowledge at the UN to accuse and slander Israel. Now, Jews should fight back.
The UN must apply the same standard to all.
Moreover,  Mr Netanyahu must demand that this attack not only be prosecuted, but linked to Palestinian statehood. The UN has already stated (above) that peace, international security and human rights are a package, one that the PA clearly rejects. To maintain world respect, the UN must defend its world-view:  there should be no statehood for those who disdain human rights, peace and international security.
This is how Mr. Netanyahu should speak for the Livnat family.

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