Ongoing Israeli Human Rights Abuses
Ongoing Israeli Human Rights Abuses - by Stephen Lendman
Throughout its history, Israel's been a serial human rights abuser. Count the ways.
State-sponsored terror is official policy. So is collective punishment, apartheid, colonialism, premeditated war, torture, and filling prison cells illegally with Palestinians wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.
Instead they've suffered brutal indignities and persecution under 44 years of occupation. They've endured racism, land theft, dispossessions, road blocks, checkpoints, Separation Walls, mass arrests, prison hell, economic strangulation, terrorized neighborhood incursions, and isolation in cantonized communities and Gaza under siege.
Israel is a modern day Sparta, a regional killing machine. It can mobilize over 600,000 combatants in 72 hours, equipped with nuclear and other state-of-the-art weapons. With strong Western backing to do what it pleases, it takes full advantage.
Moreover, its youths are indoctrinated to be warriors. Underage boys and girls are prepared for future mandatory military service even though Israel has no enemies except ones it manufactures to justify conflict and violence.
Impressionable young minds are taught to believe force and belligerence are preferred ways to solve political problems. Education highlights it, including by uniformed soldiers in classrooms.
Moreover, teachers, especially principals, are retired career officers, and school walls are adorned with names and photos of fallen heros among their graduates. In addition, field trips for all ages visit military memorials on former battlegrounds.
Curricula and textbooks also reflect militarism. From kindergarten through high school, programs in all state-run ones mandate "preparation for the IDF."
They feature training, glorifying military heros and conquests. At the same time, children are proselytized to vilify Arabs and hate them.
They learn early and it sticks. They're disciplined for later conscription, combat, and a lifetime of military support. In fact, by raising children in a hostile, violent environment, they're conditioned to wage war against any designed state enemy, whether or not true.
Palestinians have paid dearly under occupation hell, especially besieged Gazans. They've endured years of slow-motion genocide from depravation, neglect, and regular air and ground attacks.
Israeli Arabs are treated more like fifth column threats than citizens. Even Jews are abused. Military and business priorities come ahead of people needs.
As a result, poverty, homelessness and hunger are growing problems. Israel, in fact, is one of the most unequal Western societies in terms of income, standard of living, and eroding social benefits.
Moreover, democratic freedoms are threatened. Israel's Knesset under Netanyahu is its worst ever. Weak-kneed opposition members go along to get along.
Recent actions include forcibly transferring around 30,000 West Bank Bedouin Israelis. Beginning in January, 2,300 will lose their homes and be expelled to a site near Abu Dis' refuse dump east of Jerusalem, the city's main one.
It poses health hazards to nearby residents. Israel's Environmental Protection Ministry calls it a "source of environmental pollution, risk of fire and even explosions" for lacking a way to pump out gases produced from unloading waste.
Jordan Valley residents next face dispossession. Over three to six years, one option is expelling them to areas near a-Nabi Musa, west of Jericho.
Stealing anyone's land and property is illegal. Israel falsely claims Bedouins have no land or property rights where they've lived for decades or generations.
Around 80% of Bedouins are 1948 refugees. During Israel's "War of Independence," they lost theirs and their Negev homes and other rights.
Two-thirds now are under 18. All lived for decades in "unrecognized villages." They've been denied basic services afforded other Israelis, including electrical grid and water system connections. Deeply impoverished, OCHA says most suffer from food insecurity.
Demolition orders already were issued. Israel has construction plans for thousands of Jews-only apartments and other development as part of its objective to entirely Judaize greater Jerusalem.
Colonizing occupied land brazenly violates international law. Forcibly expelling protected persons compounds a grievous crime. Depriving them of all rights with no redress exacerbates it. Nonetheless, it's longstanding Israeli policy.
Persecuting Mordechai Vanunu
As a Dimona nuclear technician, he smuggled out dozens of photos and scientific documents. On October 5, 1986, the London Times published them, headlined:
<blockquote>"THE SECRETS of a subterranean factory engaged in the manufacture of Israeli nuclear weapons have been uncovered by the Sunday Times Insight team."
"Hidden beneath the Negev desert, the factory has been producing nuclear atomic warheads for the last 20 years. Now it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons," with yields great enough to destroy entire cities.
The Times named Vanunu its source. He worked at Dimona for nearly 10 years in "Machon 2 - a top secret, underground bunker built to provide the vital components necessary for weapons production...."</blockquote>
Nuclear experts examined Vanunu's documents, called them genuine, and concluded that Israel's sophisticated technology enabled it "to build up a formidable nuclear arsenal."
According to Theodore Taylor, a world expert at the time:
<blockquote>"There should no longer be any doubt that Israel is, and for at least a decade has been, a fully-fledged nuclear weapons state....considerably more advanced than (earlier) indicated...."</blockquote>
Other top nuclear scientists agreed. Israel then and now is a world nuclear power, possessing sophisticated technology and weapons. Estimates of its arsenal range from 200 - 400 warheads able to destroy entire cities.
Vanunu's revelations cost him dearly. On October 12, 1986, The Times headlined his September 30 disappearance.
Mossad lured him to Rome, then beat, drugged, and kidnapped him. In 1986/87, he was secretly tried and sentenced to 18 years incarceration for espionage and treason.
All Israeli prisoners are treated harshly, especially Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. Vanunu was kept confined in six square meter isolation. Somehow he survived what destroys most others enduring such treatment this long or less.
Released in 2004, his behavior and movements were restricted. As a result, harassing arrests followed after giving foreign journalists interviews and trying to leave Israel.
While incarcerated, he endured "cruel and barbaric treatment," he said. So does anyone Israel calls a security threat, whether or not true.
On July 2, 2007, he again was imprisoned for six months for speaking to foreign journalists. Israel's District Court later reduced it to three "in light of (his) ailing health and the absence of claims that his actions put the country's security in jeopardy."
In January 2008, he was sentenced to six months community service.
Daniel Ellsberg called him "the preeminent hero of the nuclear era." In July 2007, Amnesty International (AI) named him "a prisoner of conscience."
Vanunu says "I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening." They had every right to know and still do.
On December 28, 2009, he was again arrested following an alleged meeting with his girlfriend, a Norwegian national. House arrest followed.
On April 14, 2010, he said:
<blockquote>"The restrictions, not to leave the country for one more year (were) renewed. Now 7 years since my release AFTER 18 years in Israel PRISON," he's still effectively in one.</blockquote>
In May 2010, he began serving another three-month prison term, reportedly in isolation.
In July 2011, he petitioned Israel's High Court to revoke his citizenship. He said he could "no longer find his place in Israeli society," and despite free from prison, "the State of Israel continues to penalize him by imposing various restrictions on his person and travels."
Despite his wishes, he remains an Israeli citizen, trapped, unable to leave.
Annually for over 20 years, he's been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In March 2009, he asked the Nobel Committee to remove his name from consideration, and in February 2010 again declined the honor. Most often war criminals like Henry Kissinger and Obama get it.
In 1979, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award, the alternative Nobel Prize, "for outstanding vision and work on behalf of our planet and its people." In 2001, Norway's University of Tromsoe honored him as a Doctor Honoris Causa (History).
On October 6, 2011, AFP headlined, "Israel bars nuclear whistle-blower from emigrating: media," saying:
<blockquote>Israel's Supreme Court barred Vanunu from leaving Israel "on the grounds he still poses a threat to state security."</blockquote>
Ordered to stay in Tel Aviv and not speak to journalists, Israel's High Court turned down his appeal to leave, saying:
<blockquote>He "proved several times he cannot be trusted and does not respect the letter of the law."</blockquote>
Prosecutors claimed he poses "a real danger to the security of Israel." The Court said he has contact with unspecified "foreign elements."
For decades, Israel's been nuclear armed and dangerous. In his 1991 book, "The Samson Option: Israel's Nuclear Arsenal and America Foreign Policy," Seymour Hersh revealed its strategy to use nuclear weapons if it felt its existence threatened. In other words, preemptive nuclear war is an option.
<blockquote>In his 1997 book, "Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies," Israel Shahak (1933 - 2001) said "Israel (is) clearly prepar(ing) itself to seek overtly a hegemony over the entire Middle East (with no) hesitati(on) to use for the purpose all means available, including nuclear ones."
Shahak added that Israel regards "the launching of missiles (onto its territory) as 'nonconventional' regardless of whether they are equipped with explosives or poison gas."</blockquote>
In turn, Israel's nuclear doctrine dictates a nuclear response to a "nonconventional" attack. Shahak called it the foundation of its grand strategy.
Israel's double standard calls for maintaining a formidable nuclear arsenal it wants other regional states denied.
Vanunu's knowledge dates through 1986. He's 25 years removed from Israel's most sophisticated technologies. He posed no threat then or now. Israel authorities know it. So don't prosecutors and its High Court.
A generation of punishment amounts to retaliatory viciousness. It's ongoing to deny him justice and relief.
Israel is one of three known nuclear outlaws. Besides India and Pakistan, it never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor allows inspections. North Korea is a declared but unverified nuclear power.
Between them, America and Russia have about 97% of the world's arsenal. Washington and Israel are the only nations claiming the right to use them preemptively, including against non-nuclear states.
Both are well armed and dangerous. Vanunu never threatened Israel's security and doesn't now.
Nonetheless, he got lifetime punishment for living in the wrong country at the wrong time. Like America, justice was never Israel's long suit.
A Final Comment
Israel is democratic in name only, affording rights solely to higher income and wealthy Jews. Vanunu converted from Judaism to Christianity. He believes doing so hardened his punishment.
On release from prison, harsh ongoing restrictions include:
- contact with Israeli citizens only;
- no phone use;
- no possession of cell phones;
- no Internet access;
- no contact with foreign embassies and consulates;
- no contact with journalists;
- no entering areas within 500 meters of international borders;
- no visits to airports or ports or entry;
- no permission to leave Israel; and
- no right to other democratic freedoms.
Israel is a self-proclaimed democracy. Some democracy!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.