As we all mourn, yet more, senseless loss of innocent lives and destruction of property we have no option but to keep hope alive. This is not the time to remind all that we have warned of such an outbreak of uncontrollable violence for years now. Rather, this is the time we wake up to the reality of where the politics of exclusivity, occupation and extremism is taking us all. I, for one, refuse to just go with this bloody flow. I refuse to not try to better understand the underlying causes of violence amongst us, be it murder or mass murder, be it individually-driven or state-driven, and redouble my efforts to bring about a just peace in Palestine and Israel.
"I'm not asking if we've forgotten how to be Jewish, but if we've forgotten how to be human." ~Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel "Israel has not moved to the right. It has gone to a madhouse!" ~Dr. Husam Zomlot, a high-ranking adviser in the Abbas government
No one will be able to say they were not forewarned where this is all heading.
The New Yorker
Letter from Jerusalem - November 17, 2014
The One-State Reality
Israel's conservative President speaks up for civility, and pays a price.
By David Remnick
Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the new President of Israel, is ardently opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state. He is instead a proponent of Greater Israel, one Jewish state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. He professes to be mystified that anyone should object to the continued construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank: "It can't be 'occupied territory' if the land is your own."
A very sound analysis that should be read by all involved. "This cycle of violence will only be broken when the international community insists upon greater accountability and ceases to turn a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed by both sides."
New York Times
The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor
Europe Is Blocking Mideast Peace
By NAVI PILLAY
NOV. 6, 2014
LONDON — This summer's war in Gaza was the latest episode in a cycle of mistrust, aggression and destruction. Yet again the world is counting the cost in lives, homes, hospitals, schools, factories and other civilian infrastructure. More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the conflict, at least half of them civilians and around a quarter of them children. Sixty-six Israeli soldiers also died, as well as five civilians, including one child.
This cycle of violence will only be broken when the international community insists upon greater accountability and ceases to turn a blind eye to the horrific human rights violations committed by both sides.
One way of facilitating accountability would be for Palestine to join the International Criminal Court. The I.C.C., where I sat as a judge for five years, hears cases concerning the most serious international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It plays a vital role in deterring future violence and ensuring justice for crimes that are not being tried or cannot be tried at the national level. The Rome Statute, which is the legal basis of the I.C.C., entered into force on July 1, 2002; 122 countries have acceded.
The I.C.C. currently has no jurisdiction over Israel or Palestine because neither party has acceded to the court's statute. Israel, fearing possible war crimes charges, has decided not to become a party. Palestine, which has been able to accede to the I.C.C. since it was accorded Observer State status at the United Nations in 2012, has threatened to become a party, though it seems reluctant to follow through for fear of losing a political bargaining chip.
If Palestine accedes, the I.C.C. would have jurisdiction to investigate crimes committed by all sides in the territory of Palestine, which includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip, irrespective of Israel's nonmembership. But the problem is that Europe and the United States oppose Palestinian accession. In the latter case, it's not surprising; indeed, America is not even an I.C.C. member. But it is less understandable for individual European member states and the European Union as a whole to take this position.
The European Union is a staunch supporter of the I.C.C. It uses its trade and development deals to encourage other countries to join, and it has withdrawn aid from countries for refusing to cooperate with the court. But in stark contrast to its position on other conflicts, and in violation of the obligations of I.C.C. members to promote the universality of the Rome Statute, European officials have warned Palestine "to use constructively its U.N. status and not to undertake steps which would lead further away from a negotiated solution." This mesage is clear: refrain from joining the I.C.C.
Europe should support Palestine's bid to join the court because I.C.C. jurisdiction could become the ultimate deterrent that breaks the cycle of conflict.
It could ensure that both Palestine and Israel are held accountable for future war crimes. After decades of impunity, and no redress for crimes committed — including indiscriminate firing of rockets, bombing of civilians and targeting of hospitals and schools — I.C.C. accession would deter the worst violence.
Would Hamas continue to fire rockets into Israel or hide militants in schools if it knew its leaders would appear in the dock? Would Israel shell hospitals or shoot down children if it knew its leaders could be jailed in The Hague? The specter of the I.C.C. could be a game changer in preventing or drastically reshaping the dynamics of any future conflict. And by promising serious legal consequences for those who commit war crimes, it would encourage both sides to stay at the negotiating table.
Furthermore, if the Palestinians joined the court, the Israelis would need to think carefully about continued settlement expansion because the I.C.C.'s statute defines as a war crime, "the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" — which would arguably apply to Israel's settlement activity.
Europe should not be concerned that I.C.C. accession might obstruct peace talks. On the contrary, it is exactly what is needed to build trust and encourage cooperation. For the last few decades there has been no notable progress in the peace talks, precisely because of the lack of an accountability mechanism. Repeated violations of international humanitarian law have gone unpunished, leading to a breakdown of trust and a refusal to negotiate in good faith.
The best contribution the Europeans can make to peace between Israel and Palestine would be to abandon their hypocrisy and encourage Palestine to accede to the I.C.C.
As Palestinian leaders debate whether to join the court, constructive European engagement could make the difference. By removing their opposition, they could send a clear signal that impunity must come to an end, and in doing so boost the chances of success in future peace talks.
Navi Pillay was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014 and a judge at the International Criminal Court from 2003 to 2008.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on November 7, 2014, in The International New York Times.
Otherwise Occupied / The genius of Israeli evil: It poses as concern
How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear.
By Amira Hass | Oct. 27, 2014
The settlement of Elon Moreh, with the city of Nablus in the background.Photo by AP
Israeli evil is not at all banal. Abundant in inventions and innovations as well as in age-old techniques, it trickles like water and bursts out from hidden places. But unlike floods, it does not reach an end, and it affects some while being invisible, undetectable and non-existent for others. The genius of Israeli evil is in its ability to disguise itself as compassion and concern (thus providing Bernard-Henri Lévy and Elie Wiesel with yet another opportunity to praise the Jewish state in widely-read essays).
Take, for example, the inventive technique of Israeli agriculture: two to five days per year of cultivating the land. A shmita (sabbatical) for land every year, instead of remaining idle every seven years. It does so 360 days each year. Our compassionate and generous army allows tens of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank to work their land for only three or four or five days per year in order to protect them from attacks by Israelis, colonizers, settlers – in short, Jews. For the rest of the year, the land is a mirage.
Take, for instance, the village of Deir el-Hatab. The settlement of Elon Moreh and its outposts dominate about half of its 12,000 dunams (some 3,000 acres). Because of the proximity to the settlement, the village's farmers are not permitted to cultivate about 6,000 dunams of their land, nor are they permitted to walk there, graze flocks, rotate crops, plow, weed, watch birds or transmit their family's accumulated knowledge to the young generation. They may go there only two or three days a year to pick the olives that Allah made to sprout with his rain and that unknown Israelis did not manage to steal.
Evil also excels at being patient. It knows that land whose owners do not access it for 360 days a year does not disappear. It becomes, de facto, land belonging to the master who loves nature and hikes and grazing flocks, just as our ancestors did.
As is written on the sign beside the road leading out of Elon Moreh: "May it be Your will, our God and God of our ancestors, that you lead us in peace and guide our footsteps in peace ... and rescue us from the hand of every foe, ambush and highwaymen and all manner of calamity along the way," (an excerpt from the Jewish travelers' prayer.)
Take Deir el-Hatab and multiply it by ... how many? Seven villages? A hundred? Add in the spring of Deir el-Hatab, the water source that the grandmothers of the village's grandmothers enjoyed and used. It has now become a pool for ritual immersion and a place to relax for Jews only, by the side of the Palestinian-free road leading to Elon Moreh. Multiply it by dozens more springs that have suffered a similar fate.
Put everything together and you get another innovative technique from the producers of Israeli evil: How to murder human beings without using an explosive or a knife, how to empty them from within, how to steal from workers of the land the thing they hold most dear – not only their livelihood and their children's future, but also the deeply-rooted relationship of love they have with their homeland, which exists without satanic verses or eye-rolling or generous subsidies from the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Department.
The genius of Israeli evil is that it is broken down into an infinite number of atoms, individual cases that the human brain – and even more so a newspaper column – cannot contain in their entirety, and a single definition cannot conceptualize them. We will write about stolen land, and leave out the demolished home. We will leave out both in favor of writing about the prohibition on family visits in prison, but there will not be enough time to write about the military raids and the invasion of a home with frightened children inside, and the atmosphere of "action" in the army unit.
We will waste days searching for the soldier who aimed a rifle at the expense of the days required to describe the branching out of the siege of Gaza under the shadow of promises of relief measures. We will write about the relief measures, and it will be forgotten that the Gaza Strip continues to function like a detention facility for 1.8 million people. We will write about a detention camp, and people will tell us that we are repeating ourselves. We will write about a 40-percent unemployment rate in Gaza and about how only seven of 40 graduates in nursing from Al-Quds University found work, and people will say: "But what does that have to do with us?"
Evil is very good at recruiting linguistic accomplices. "An intifada is running wild in Jerusalem," read one headline. When will we write in a Hebrew headline that the built-in, well-thought-out and deliberate discrimination against Palestinians committed by the Interior Ministry, the Jerusalem municipality and the National Insurance Institute for decades continues to run wild and inflict disasters in the city? It is impossible. It's too long for one headline.
Or a "human-rights violation" – a definition by which this writer also transgresses, a definition that is dragged into dealing with those who have been harmed ("victim," another despicable collaborating word) instead of those who are doing harm.
To keep our blood pressure down, we have not touched on the evil embodied in the killing of children by Israeli troops, the evil of Israel's collective disregard of the inevitable wrath that builds up with the burial of each bullet-riddled child, the evil that exists in the evasive wording imposed by so-called objective traditions of news reporting. Killing? Israeli soldiers shoot at Palestinian children because that is the job of soldiers who are sent to protect, with self-sacrifice, the colonialist enterprise and the benefits that it provides to the master nation. Is it any wonder that so few Israelis are emigrating abroad?
An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the World Zionist Organization's Settlement Division as part of the Jewish Agency.