Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deplores the criticism his beloved Jewish state receives from abroad. Human rights are under assault all over the world, he retorts — starting next door in Syria and Iran. Singling out Israel is unfair and antisemitic.
North Americans who share Bibi’s point of view are invited to examine recent statistics on Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in annexed East Jerusalem, and in that part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories referred to in the 1994 Oslo Accords as “Area C” — where almost half a million Jewish settlers now live (in violation of international law).
According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), one of Israel’s best known NGOs, since 2009, the Israeli military and West Bank Civil Administration have demolished almost 1500 Palestinian homes, farm buildings and support structures, displacing some 2600 people. Almost 26,000 Palestinian structures have been demolished since Israel’s June 1967 conquest of the West Bank, ICAHD reports.
Figures like these — drawn from an April 2012 publication of ICAHD’s — may cause a person of conscience to pause before cutting Israel too much slack, simply because it lives in a “tough neighborhood” where arguably worse crimes are routinely committed.
According to ICAHD and other critics of Israel, Israeli home demolition practices violate a slew of international statutes. To wit: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. They may also constitute ‘inhuman acts’ and ‘war crimes’ under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the UN Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid,” adds ICAHD.
I sat down recently with ICAHD co-founder Jeff Halper (who happens to be in the midst of a North American speaking tour as of this date). Halper, a native of Hibbing, Minnesota, has resided in Israel for years, pursuing a life of academic study (anthropology), writing, and activism. He has worked with inner city Jerusalemites, and with marginalized Misrahi and Ethiopian Jewish communities. He helped found ICAHD in 1967. Listen to Jeff here: