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Liberals Ignore Palestinian Human Rights

Today’s New York Times featured a prominent news piece titled “In West Bank Settlements, Israeli Jobs Are Double-Edged Sword.” It engages in a good dose of disingenuous hand-wringing over its claim that employment for Palestinians, when provided by Israelis, is less a blessing and more a curse. This piece, and the outrageous attitude it propagates, warrants a full response of its own. But reflecting on this subject that the Times apparently deems so worthy of giving space to, it is difficult not to think of another story released yesterday, one that didn’t find its way into the pages of the Times. This concerns the single-edged sword–all curse no blessing–of Palestinian human-rights abuses against other Palestinians.  

Not of any concern to the mainstream media, it was left to Arab-Israeli journalist Khaled Abu Toameh to draw attention to the release of a report by the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) documenting human-rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank. It highlights how last month alone stacked up a disturbing, yet not unprecedented, count of abuses against Palestinians, by Palestinians. Given the great focus on Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to establish a Palestinian state, one might have thought that the Palestinian Authority’s record on governance would be of some considerable interest to commentators.

Yet, the Times follows the script as provided in the good liberal’s handbook; human-rights abuses are only of any interest when committed by the West (which includes Israel). Far more interesting, from the liberal point of view, is attempting to spin economic cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians as oppression worthy of critical concern and lament. The notion that there might be any positive aspect to the Israeli presence in the West Bank is simply beyond unthinkable for liberal dogma.

In contrast to the employment opportunities that so offend the sensibilities of the Times, the latest ICHR report reveals a horrendous record, not only on the part of Hamas in Gaza, but also by the supposedly moderate Fatah-led Palestinian Authority that controls the West Bank and is the recipient of huge amounts of international aid. The report documents how in the course of the last month ten Palestinians died as a result of anarchy, lawlessness, and misuse of weapons, while disclosing that the ICHR received 56 complaints about torture and mistreatment in Palestinian prisons. During January there were 85 complaints regarding arbitrary arrests, with many being related to politically motivated charges. The PA police force in Ramallah employed excessive force to shut down protests on several occasions; in one instance 60-70 protesters were wounded when policemen attacked them with clubs and stun grenades, while in another case the police used live ammunition to disperse stone-throwers.

One has to hope that someone at the State Department is taking note of all of this. With Kerry having pushed impetuously for a negotiation framework that initially sought to reach an agreement on the establishment of a Palestinian state within just nine months, Kerry might want to ask precisely what kind of state it is he is attempting to help establish. Apparently, one with a total disregard for the rights and welfare of its own people. And if the PA is treating its own people in this way, what kind of treatment can we expect them to show toward their sworn enemies, the people of Israel? Nor should anyone forget that, given the amount of aid the U.S. provides the PA with annually, including some $500 million transferred to the Palestinians back in May, it’s not as if the administration has no leverage to try and prevent these kinds of activities.

It is, however, doubtful that anyone at the Times will pay much attention to this report, or the many others like it for that matter. They, apparently, are far too busy cataloguing the host of horrors that come with Palestinian employment in Israeli businesses to trouble themselves with such trifles as unlawful arrest and torture. 


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