Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vigilante Justice in Israel

The author is an American Friend of Mine who lives in Israel. She's asked me not to use her name as she
fears retaliation from the Israelis. It was written as a letter to the Editor of Harrtez, an Israeli English language newspaper.

Your recent article on the situation in the Negev (Wild West in the Negev, 1/21) largely approving the Israeli farmer who shot and killed a Bedouin interloper, and a following item describing proposed legislation to justify such vigilante justice describes a situation that is in many ways the mirror image of the problems faced by Palestinians living near and facing the depredations of many Israeli settlers. You do not say if the Bedouin intruders are breaking the windows of the Israeli shops and cars, shooting into their houses, screaming obscenities at their wives and children or writing them on their walls, or harassing their children on the way to school, but otherwise it sounds very similar to what Palestinians regularly face from their settler neighbors.
There are differences of course. The State of Israel has gone beyond marginalization of the Bedouin, it has made them non persons, eligible for few or no services, legal status or ability to feed themselves, while the settlers are subsidized, protected, given the best of the very good that Israel can provide. You have only to visualize the tattered Bedouin homes that you have seen (a shame in itself in a country as wealthy as Israel) and compare them with the red roofed villas with pools, lawns, community centers and above all water that are provided at little cost to the settlers. It would seem that the settlers could afford to buy olives and other produce from their neighbors rather than stealing them if in fact they wanted to be neighbors rather than predators.
Are you going to suggest that legislation is passed so that Palestinians also have the right to shoot to kill any trespassers they find on their property, especially if the trespassers are destroying property or stealing produce? Or is it true that Israeli justice, whether in the Territories or Israel, protects only the Israeli and never the others? The recent high speed chase, for example, where a suspected Bedouin indefensibly shot a policeman, - when did we ever hear of police or soldiers chasing or prosecuting or even adequately investigating settler crimes against their neighbors? A recent report by an Israel human rights group has shown spectacular inattention to the needs of those who suffer from attacks by the settlers. The State is entering on dangerous waters in a process that can reveal a great deal about the underside of democracy or justice in Israel. Vigilantism does meets the ethical standards of few Israelis or in fact the world community. Your article seems to approve of â wild west justice. Given the role of your paper, this is especially alarming. Is this now the opinion of the liberal mainstream?

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home