Not content to erase the Nakba (Palestinian exodus) from history or spin the line that Palestine never existed in the first place, each day the Israeli machine strengthens the root system that supports its endless assault on the Palestinian people by fertilising notions of both Jewish and Palestinian exceptionalism. (Those of you familiar with this conflict will know I’ve ripped off the gardening metaphor. ‘Mowing the lawn in Gaza’ is common parlance within the Israeli establishment for its clockwork attacks on the besieged strip of land, aimed at keeping its terrorised population digging out bodies from under a more or less constant pile of rubble.)

To be precise, a history of Jewish suffering coupled with innate Palestinian brutality animate both claims of anti-Semitism against anyone who dares to criticise Israel, and the denial of the Palestinian entitlement to the human rights enshrined in international law. (In fact, I’ve just spotted a piece by Rania Khalek who reports on a now-deleted Times of Israel post in which an Israeli supporter describes both Ferguson, Missouri, protestors and Palestinians as ‘”savage,” irrationally “angry” and deserving of the institutionalized state violence wielded against them.’)

Absent recourse to this exceptionalism, it’s difficult to explain calls in the mainstream press to put Palestinians in concentration camps, for instance, expounded with neither irony nor shame. Sure, the post above was deleted after a furore erupted, as was the one you’ll find below from a New Jersey rabbi who called for entire Palestinian villages to be razed under the headline ‘Dealing with Savages.’ But I’d wager a lot of money that these posts were deleted because of the inflammatory language their authors use, and not because of their calls to flout international law.

Everyone from Human Rights Watch to Amnesty International has condemned the demolition of Palestinian homes and firing of Arab Israeli workers in response to attacks on Israelis. ‘Everyone’ includes my sister Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and her colleague Makarim Wibisono, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories. Together they issued a press release demanding an end to these home demolitions.

On cue, The Jeruselem Post regurgitated the Israeli government’s response to this demand in which ‘terrorism’ (as opposed to criminal behaviour, punishable through the courts) obviates its victims of the need to observe the niceties of international law. In fact, all of these groups’ criticisms along with expressions of ‘concern’ by various governments have been batted away by Israeli authorities like so many fruit flies around a bowl of overripe bananas.

Naturally, no such exception was made for the Israeli bus driver who last week mowed down Palestinian pedestrians, killing one and seriously injuring another. His family home is intact. And remember the Palestinian bus driver found hanging in his bus, whose death Israeli police put down to suicide? Instead of investigating eyewitness reports that the man had been lynched by a gang of settlers, Israeli authorities hauled in for questioning a Palestinian pathologist who’d refuted the suicide claim as inconsistent with the autopsy results.

Still, those who are under the impression that it’s merely on the level of common decency and morality that Palestinians are excluded from consideration as human beings might be interested to take a look at what international law has to say about their entitlement to basic rights.

1. Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.

Article 33:

No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed.

Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.

Pillage is prohibited.

Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.

2. Notes on ‘Customary International Humanitarian Law’ from the International Committee of the Red Cross

While human rights law [as opposed to the conventions of war] does not explicitly prohibit “collective punishments” as such, such acts would constitute a violation of specific human rights, in particular the right to liberty and security of person and the right to a fair trial. In its General Comment on Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (concerning states of emergency), the UN Human Rights Committee stated that States parties may “in no circumstances” invoke a state of emergency “as justification for acting in violation of humanitarian law or peremptory norms of international law, for instance … by imposing collective punishments”.

3. From the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

GENERAL COMMENT 7: The right to adequate housing (art. 11.1 of the Covenant): forced evictions

12. Forced eviction and house demolition as a punitive measure are also inconsistent with the norms of the Covenant. Likewise, the Committee takes note of the obligations enshrined in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocols thereto of 1977 concerning prohibitions on the displacement of the civilian population and the destruction of private property as these relate to the practice of forced eviction.

Here are some things that were said and done:

New Jersey Rabbi Steven Pruzansky Spews ‘Savage’ Hate in Blog Post
Teaneck Cleric Calls for Expulsion of Palestinian ‘Animals’

The rabbi of a major modern Orthodox synagogue in New Jersey has written a blog post that calls for Israel to collectively punish Arab Israelis and Palestinians until they realize “they have no future in the land of Israel.”

In the post, written Friday and titled “Dealing with Savages,” Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck offers suggestions that range from destroying whole Palestinian towns to uprooting the Dome of the Rock.

Israel to demolish homes of three Jerusalem attack suspects

The families of three Palestinians who are suspected of recently carrying out attacks in Jerusalem received notices that their homes will be demolished on Wednesday.

The families of Ibrahim al-Akkari and Muhammad Jaabis — both of whom ran over Israeli pedestrians — as well as Mutaz Hijazi, who shot and injured right-wing Jewish extremist leader Yehuda Glick — all received demolition notices.

Israel has arrested 380 Palestinians in 20 days

Israeli occupation forces have arrested at least 380 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last three weeks, The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement on Thursday, as Israeli authorities continue a summer crackdown that has led to the detention of thousands of Palestinians.

According to the PPS, a wide-ranging Israeli crackdown on Palestinians has so far led to the arrest of almost 200 in East Jerusalem alone since the beginning of November…

Since 1967, more than 850,000 Palestinians have been held in Israeli prisons and detention facilities.

And in case you’d forgotten the extremist settlers, off their heads on a toxic cocktail of hatred and fanaticism, here’s one of this week’s escapades

Israeli settlers torch Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem

An arson attack targeting first-grade classrooms at a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem sparked a wave of condemnation Sunday as months of racial tensions in the city showed little sign of abating…

On Saturday, Israeli settlers torched the “Hand-in-Hand” bilingual school and scrawled on its walls racist anti-Palestinian slogans in Hebrew reading “Death to Arabs” and “There’s no coexistence with cancer,” Israeli police said, describing the attack as a “very serious incident.”

For good measure, here are a couple of the ‘savages’ Rabbi Pruzansky finds so loathsome. The settlers will be delighted to learn that both were killed in Gaza this summer.

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