Amidst the Israeli back-slapping over the “success” of its attack on Gaza, in which the IDF murdered 49 Palestinians, over half women and children, a groundbreaking protest by Israeli human rights NGOs passed almost unnoticed. The cause of human rights causes barely a ripple in Israeli society, which is deeply implicated in war crimes and mass violence.
Eitay Mack, the country’s leading human rights lawyer, who has led a campaign against Israeli weapons sales to the world’s most genocidal regimes, organized the statement, which protested what it called “Israel war crimes.” It was endorsed by Combatants for Peace, Yesh Gvul, Mothers Against Violence, and Windows–Channels for Communication. What was unprecedented, was a call for the UN to impose sanctions on Israel for such violations:
Under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the UNSC should also impose sanctions, including travel bans and assets freeze on individuals and entities that are responsible for, or complict in, or having engaged in, directly or indirectly, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security or stability in the area.
The statement also denounces the weak responses by western governments to the mass violence against Palestinians. It demands that the Security Council take concrete action to implement its own guidelines for holding states accountable for grave violations of the global order. I urge you to read it and publish it on social media platforms.
Just as Israel itself derogates human rights, the world media is complicit by offering no serious investigation or coverage of Israel’s crimes. It uses euphemism and misleading terms which obfuscate them. As such, it tramples on the standards of responsible journalism. Statements like these, directly from Israeli groups, must get the coverage they deserve. And we must hold the outlets responsible for their dereliction of duty.
The Israeli statement complements, goes beyond BDS
While the BDS movement, as its name implies, calls for sanctions against Israel, very few Israeli groups have endorsed it. Out of 40 Jewish organizations worldwide which endorsed the movement, only two were Israeli. And none, as far as I know, have explicitly called for any official global body to do so.
Much of the global movement for Palestinian rights has given up any hope that Israel, of its own accord, can ever arrive at a compromise with the Palestinians. Liberal Zionism, on the other hand, is predicated upon the conviction that Israel can reform itself given time and the right political circumstances. Thus, “left Zionism” weakens the pro-Palestine cause by distracting and deflecting from real root causes and solutions. This only serves the purposes of the Israeli political-military regime, which seeks to preserve the Judeo-supremacist status quo.
Those of us who have abandoned the illusion that Israel can “reform” itself, have several options. Among them is the grassroots movement for Israeli accountability, BDS. It has the strength to be a people’s mass movement; but the weakness of having no means of imposing any settlement on the parties. Its goal is to rally the world and by force of popular will, force governments and global bodies to take action.
But ultimately, if there is ever to be a solution (an outcome by no means guaranteed), nations which support Israel, including many western democracies, must be forced by their own citizens and global censure, to take action. A critical means to achieve this goal is pressuring official bodies like the UN to censure and sanction Israel. We must in effect cut the legs out from under the current level of support Israel has.
This change is far from current reality. But the road to freedom is long. Even the most genocidal regimes against whom the world is prepared to fight, like Nazi Germany, lasted 12 years before victory was won. The Soviet Union lasted 70 years. Israel’s racist regime: 70 years as well. In those intervals, tens of millions died. That’s the tragedy of unjust, even criminal regimes.
But we must look to incremental victories and not lose hope because we ourselves will not see the radical change we know is necessary. That’s why I write here about such an important development on the road to Israeli accountability for its long history of crimes against its indigenous Palestinian people.
Though the statement does call for Palestinian accountability as well, Israel is responsible for the vast majority of the war crimes and mass murder in the conflict. As such, it would find many more of its generals and political leaders sanctioned for its crimes.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.