The United States, Israel and the retreat of freedom

The United States, Israel and the retreat of freedom

Freedom House’s approach to Israel provides the starkest example of the abyss into which liberal thinking has fallen on the relationship between colonialism and freedom. Israel, we are told, “remains the only country in the [Middle East] region to hold a Freedom in the World designation of Free.” We are informed euphemistically that “The beginning of the year [2009] was marred by fierce fighting between the Israeli military and the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip.”

There is no mention of the deliberate targeting by Israel of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and the resulting massive destruction, and death and injury to thousands of Palestinian civilians. Nothing is said of the denial of fundamental political, civil and human rights, or freedom of movement, association and education to four million Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and siege in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. There is no mention of the systematic discrimination, and social and political exclusion faced by 1.5 million Palestinian citizens of Israel, nor of the denial of the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees.

There is an acknowledgment that “Hundreds of people were arrested during demonstrations against the Gaza conflict, and the parliamentary elections committee passed a measure banning two political parties from national elections, though the ban was quickly overturned by the Supreme Court.”

Despite this, on the tables accompanying the report, “Israel” receives the highest score of “1” for political rights, and a very respectable “2” for civil liberties — on a par with Italy and Japan. The overall impression is of minor glitches that could occur in any exemplary “Western” democracy. [continued…]

Palestine under the shadow of the wall

Sabah Haider visited the West Bank for ten days over Christmas and New Year 2010 to teach filmmaking to more than a hundred children at the SOS Village orphanage in Bethlehem. Here are some of the photographs that she took in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Hebron and Nablus. [continued…]

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