Thursday, September 8, 2016

The ‘Palestinian’ human rights problem

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has a human rights problem. The PA may be delighted to watch Israel demonized as the world’s worst human rights violator (Jeffrey Phillips, “UN names Israel as world’s top human rights violator”, wearechange, March 29, 2016). But the truth is, the PA is worse.

The PA suffers from a history of severe human rights violations (Bassem Eid, “Confronting Human Rights Abuses in the Palestinian Authority: An Essential Step for Progress in the Region”, Centre for the New Middle East-the Henry Jackson Society, 2016). The governance of the PA is marked by oppression (Eid), not the granting of rights.

Israel, by contrast, has no such problem (“Freedom in the world, 2016”, Freedom House). Israel is listed in the 2016 Freedom House Report as the only free nation in the Middle East. It got that designation for a reason: despite what you’ve been told repeatedly by Israel-haters, Israel adheres to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than any other nation in the Middle East.

Humanitarians around the world bombard Israel with accusations of rights violations. These accusations almost always involve violations by one group (Israelis) against another (Palestinians). If true, those violations need to be fixed. Mostly, they are not true.

The PA is different. First, it hears few complaints from humanitarians about its own rights violations. Second, its violations aren’t by one group against another group. Third, the PA violates the rights of its own people (“Hidden Injustices: a review of Palestinian Authority and Hamas human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza”, jerusaleminstituteofjustice, March 2015).

What’s worse—accusations that one group violates the rights of a second group that’s dedicated to killing off the first group; or, accusations that a group abuses the rights of its own people? 

The first is a question of how you safely protect yourself against people who want to die trying to kill you. The second is a question of do you protect the rights of your own people.

The PA human rights record towards its own people is awful. It inflicts upon its own population a plague of extrajudicial killings, a troubling record with the death penalty, torture, arbitrary arrest, the suppression of the freedoms of the press and expression and an abysmal record on women’s and children’s rights (Bassem Eid, ibid; “Hidden injustices”…, ibid). There exists in the PA and Gaza a “broad array of continuing [human rights] abuses” (“Hidden injustices…”,ibid, p. 5). The human rights situation Palestinians and Gazans face on a daily basis is so bad that a student of human rights can easily conclude that PA leaders have no intention of meeting their international human rights promises (“Hidden injustices”, ibid, 5). 

Now, a new tale of Palestinian-on-Palestinian abuse surfaces.  This story is about Palestinian women (Khaled Abu Toameh, “The Invisible (Female) Palestinians”, gatestoneinstitute, September 5, 2016). To a reader accustomed to freedoms such as one finds in Israel, the US and the EU, this tale is outrageous. It’s fair to suggest you’ve never imagined a story like this. In a way, it’s beyond your imagination.

As you may know, the PA has announced it will hold elections October 8, 2016. These elections focus on local, municipal issues and candidates (not elections for national leadership positions). Men and women run for office, just as they do in Israel, America and the EU. But in the PA, women are not equal to men. That’s human rights violation (Article 2, Universal Declaration of Human Rights).  

In some election spots in the PA, candidate lists have been altered. Specifically, the names and pictures of female candidates have been removed (ibid). Now, the words, ‘wife of’ or ‘sister to’ replace the names of female candidates. The reason: compliance with Islamic sensibilities (ibid).

This isn’t the first time in PA elections that female candidates’ names and pictures have been deleted from candidate lists. It happened also in 2012 local elections (ibid).

Now, it’s happened again.

Israel, by contrast, is the freest country in the Middle East. This type of behaviour doesn’t happen in Israel.

It happens in the PA. It’s a human rights violation (ibid) inflicted on ‘Palestinians’ by ‘Palestinians’.

This election outrage is framed as a human rights issue by ‘Palestinians’ themselves. They know their rights. They learn from Israel. They know when their own leaders trample on their rights.

They know the PA is repressive. They know the PA is brutal. They know that this election outrage is just the tip of a deliberate PA rejection of Universal human rights for ‘Palestinians’.

Now, a court in Ramallah has postponed the October 8 elections (Dov Lieber, “Palestinian court postpones long-awaited local elections”, timesofisrael, September 8, 2016). Supposedly, there are too many disputes between Fatah and Hamas over election details (ibid).

Is that the reason for the ‘postponement’? Or, is a possible Fatah defeat the reason?

Either way, the right to hold elections is a basic human right (Article 21.3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights). The PA violates that right.

For example, Mahmoud Abbas was last elected in 2004—to a four-year term. He has not yet authorized the 2008 election. Now, women’s rights in a scheduled upcoming election are trampled. Now, that election goes missing.

Do you think international human rights activists will howl in protest over these basic human rights violations? Don’t bet on it.

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