Israeli government threats against Palestinian human rights defenders
Some on this list, including journalists, have written to me inquiring about or voicing their concern at the recent Israeli government minister’s threat of “civil targeted killing” against BDS “leaders” and activists.
There is of course a good reason to be seriously alarmed when government ministers anywhere make such threats against human rights defenders. So imagine the seriousness of the threats when made by an increasingly pariah and lawless regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid that practices extrajudicial killing against Palestinians with impunity and that considers even Zionist Israeli dissenters who dare to reveal — self-censored and cherry-picked — Israeli war crimes as “traitors.”
It is worth remembering that in 1995 then hawkish Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a fanatic Jewish-Israeli who was influenced by a campaign tainting Rabin as “traitor.” Current Israeli leaders were silent about or even involved in that incitement campaign.
Rabin will always be remembered by Palestinians as the Israeli leader who ordered and orchestrated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian cities Lydda and Ramleh in 1948. He will also be remembered as the minister of “defense” who in the first intifada (1987-1992) ordered his soldiers to “break the bones” of captured Palestinian children and youth to prevent them from throwing stones at the occupation forces.
Still, the atmosphere then was significantly more “civil” than it is today! The Israeli “justice” system was still pretending then to be independent and professional; settlers did not have the effective control on government that they have today.
The level of criminal impunity that pervades the Israeli establishment today has triggered US Senator Patrick Leahy to ask Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate whether US tax money is helping Israel in committing “extrajudicial killings” of Palestinians.
It is not everyday that such a ranking senator courageouly asserts that he owes it to US taxpayers to have military aid to Israel reviewed in light of its “gross human rights violations.” Loyalty to Israel’s far-right regime of oppression is a considerably higher priority in the US Senate, after all, than it is to American taxpayers.
As was reported in the Israeli media, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said (Hebrew) at the largest Israeli anti-BDS conference, held on March 28 in Jerusalem, that Israel should engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS “leaders” with the help of Israeli intelligence, intentionally using language that plays on the Hebrew term for “targeted assassinations.” My name was mentioned in this context.
Here’s the link to a youtube for speeches by minister of interior Arieh Deri and minister of intelligence Yisrael Katz. It is professionally and accurately translated and subtitled by a Jewish-Israeli human rights activist (and colleague).
Several of my colleagues (Palestinian, international as well as Jewish-Israeli BDS leading activists) and I feel alarmed and seriously concerned for our physical safety after this top-level threat. We are not panicking, needeless to say; neither will this remotely thwart our human rights work. But we do not take such threats lightly either.
Minister Yisrael Katz in his statements plays on the official Israeli military term for assassination, “targeted thwarting,” and adds “civil” to it.
As Israeli colleagues have pointed out, adding “civil” to a term used for many years by Israeli officials to indicate assassination is ambiguous at best.
BDS is a global nonviolent human rights movement led by the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. Established in 2005, on the first anniversary of the ICJ advisory opinion against Israel’s wall, BDS calls for fundamental Palestinian rights under international law.
The BDS movement is anchored in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and rejects, accordingly, all forms of racism and discrimination on the basis of identity, including anti-Semitism.
Although Katz goes around the bushes and avoids defining the term in any accuracy, his claim that some BDS leaders and activists are connected to “terrorism” and “terrorist organizations” further amplifies this between-the-lines license to kill.
This is the reason why I am seriously concerned for my physical safety and that of my Palestinian, Israeli and international BDS colleagues. We hold the Israeli government responsible for any physical harm that may be inflicted on any of us as a result of this vile attempt to silence our voices.