Israel’s Orwellian message on human rights

It would appear that Israel’s borders now extend as far as most of Europe.

This weekend hundreds of people participating in the Welcome to Palestine campaign have been barred from “entering” Israel by being prevented from leaving their own country.

Article 13 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says:

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Israel provided airlines with a list of individuals whose right of entry it denies, ordered these airlines to prevent them from boarding their flights and threatened the airlines with sanctions if they failed to comply. So much for the human right of freedom of movement.

Anticipating that Israeli intelligence might not have been able to identify everyone they are afraid of, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office prepared a letter to be handed to activists who manage to reach Ben-Gurion International Airport.

The letter looks like it could have been hammered out by Benjamin Netanyahu himself on a manual typewriter as he struggles to protect Israel from its latest existential threat. It’s ironic that a state that craves respect and recognition as a democratic state, expresses itself in the sarcastic language one might expect from a paranoid autocratic ruler.

Unwelcome to Israel letter

The unsigned letter (without corrections) states:

Dear activist,

We appreciate your choosing to make Israel the
object of your humanitarian concerns.

We know there are manyother worthy choices.

You could have chosen to protest theSyrian
regime’s daily savagery against its own people,
which has claimed thousands of lives.

You could have chosen to protest the Iranian
regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent and support
of terrorism throughout the world.

You could have chosen to protest Hamas rule in
Gaza, where terror organizations commit a double
war crime by firing rockets at civilians and
hiding behind civilians.

But instead you chose to protest against Israel,
the Middle East’s sole democracy, where women are
equal, the press criticizes the government, human
rights organizations can operate freely,
religious freedom is protected for all and
minorities do not live in fear.

We therefore suggest that you first solve the
real problems of the region, and then come back
and share with us your experience.

Have a nice flight.

In 2008, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, commemorated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, saying:

Let us reaffirm that each and every state –– regardless of circumstances –– must fulfill its primary responsibility to respect and protect the rights of all individuals, without distinction of any kind. Let us continue to promote the work of non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders who have played a critical role in assessing violations and protection gaps. Let us work towards supporting international mechanisms, such as human rights treaty bodies, international and regional tribunals and courts and the ICC – all of which seek to provide effective tools to ensure adequate redress and respect for human rights.

In an era when we are increasingly interconnected –– in a time when information rapidly flows across oceans and continents –– we must shine the light of the Universal Declaration to the four corners of the globe. We must commit our resources, as well as our collective resolve and determination, to secure human life, dignity and basic rights for all.

For in the end, human rights are not merely legal instruments. They are expressions of our common humanity, our common vision for a better, more just world.

Nice words. It’s a shame they have such little meaning in a state that repeatedly trumpets its claim to be the region’s “sole democracy” yet denies the human rights of almost four million Palestinians living under Israel military rule or control.

Meanwhile, this is how Israelis treat foreign human rights activists if they manage to reach the West Bank:

Just as disturbing as this soldier’s unprovoked use of violence are the comments below the video.

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  1. Israeli soldiers are not the best ambassadors of H/R, are they?

    But Israel’s government has actually modeled BDS to the world! For purely political reasons (unconnected with terrorism, security, etc.) Israel has in effect shut down air traffic to many Europeans. Israel doesn’t like their politics, so, stay off that aircraft!

    OK — Europe — listen up! Citizens of Europe, call upon your governments to end all commercial air-traffic with Israel until Israel has complied [1] with UNSC-465 (1980) which calls on Israel to remove all settlers, end settlement, and dismantle settlements (buildings); and [2] with ICJ-July-9-2004, which calls on Israel to remove the wall in OPTs.

    This could be the beginning of a real nation-state-level BDS campaign, adn to think — TO THINK! — that it was Israel that showed the way!

  2. Charles Hall says

    Sorry, but no country is under any obligation to permit anyone to enter its territory other than a passport-bearing national. There is no UDHR violation here.

  3. delia ruhe says

    Good idea, PABelmont! However, Europeans — what Pepe Escobar calls “the poodle parade” — cannot be counted on to defy the wishes of Washington. Every once in a while, European leaders have to disagree with the US, if only to keep a majority of Europeans thinking of European states as sovereign — but that’s only with Washington’s permission. E.g., we saw how easily Greece slipped into the role of Israel ally during the last flotilla. That’s the norm. Not voting with the US at the UN — that’s an exception, a safe one since it doesn’t affect the outcome desired by the US.

  4. Sure, Israel can exclude entry to anyone for any reason. But it’s done more than that in this case. It has effectively created a no-fly list for individuals who pose no threat and yet are being prevented from boarding flights on which they were entitled to fly and they have been kept off these flights for purely political reasons. Since when did Israel have jurisdiction over international travel?

  5. dickerson3870 says

    RE: “Sure, Israel can exclude entry to anyone for any reason. But it’s done more than that in this case. It has effectively created a no-fly list for individuals who pose no threat and yet are being prevented from boarding flights on which they were entitled to fly and they have been kept off these flights for purely political reasons.” ~ Woodward

    MY COMMENT: Israel’s actions in this instance remind somewhat of the way that the Zionists back in the 1930s and 1940s worked so diligently to prevent Jews from being able to flee Germany for the safety of the U.S., Britain, etc.

    EXCERPTS FROM “The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict”, Published by Jews for Justice in the Middle East:

    (excerpts). . . “In 1938 a thirty-one nation conference was held in Evian, France, on resettlement of the victims of Nazism. The World Zionist Organization refused to participate, fearing that resettlement of Jews in other states would reduce the number available for Palestine.” ~ John Quigley, ‘Palestine and Israel: A Challenge to Justice’
    “It was summed up in the meeting [of the Jewish Agency’s Executive on June 26, 1938] that the Zionist thing to do ‘is belittle the [Evian] Conference as far as possible and to cause it to decide nothing… ~ Israeli author Boas Evron, ‘Jewish State or Israeli Nation?’
    “[Ben-Gurion stated] ‘If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, but only half of them by transporting them to Palestine, I would choose the second — because we face not only the reckoning of those children, but the historical reckoning of the Jewish people.’ In the wake of the Kristallnacht pogroms, Ben-Gurion commented that ‘the human conscience’ might bring various countries to open their doors to Jewish refugees from Germany. He saw this as a threat and warned: ‘Zionism is in danger.’” ~ Israeli historian, Tom Segev, ‘The Seventh Million’
    Roosevelt’s advisor writes on why Jewish refugees were not offered sanctuary in the U.S. after WWII
    …“[Roosevelt] proposed a world budget for the easy migration of the 500,000 beaten people of Europe. Each nation should open its doors for some thousands of refugees…So he suggested that during my trips for him to England during the war I sound out in a general, unofficial manner the leaders of British public opinion, in and out of the government…The simple answer: Great Britain will match the United States, man for man, in admissions from Europe…It seemed all settled. With the rest of the world probably ready to give haven to 200,000, there was a sound reason for the President to press Congress to take in at least 150,000 immigrants after the war…
    “It would free us from the hypocrisy of closing our own doors while making sanctimonious demands on the Arabs…But it did not work out…The failure of the leading Jewish organizations to support with zeal this immigration programme may have caused the President not to push forward with it at that time…
    “I talked to many people active in Jewish organizations. I suggested the plan…I was amazed and even felt insulted when active Jewish leaders decried, sneered, and then attacked me as if I were a traitor
    …I think I know the reason for much of the opposition. There is a deep, genuine, often fanatical emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement [Zionism]. Men like Ben Hecht are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own.” ~ Jewish attorney and friend of President Roosevelt, Morris Ernst, ‘So Far, So Good’


  6. The first draft of the letter is well worth reading. h/t Yaniv Eidelstein 872 blog