Monday, February 17, 2014

PALESTINE: The United Nations and the need for America to wake up

My last article for the Middle East Monitor. I say the 'last' article because I have recently been asked to sign a petition that, if followed, would allow the Palestinians to mistreat the Israelis in the same manner in which they have been treated the Palestinians. I am not defending the Zionists but two wrongs don't make a right.

PALESTINE: The United Nations and the need for America to wake up
Stewart Sloan

The article may be seen at:

At any given time the five so-called ‘permanent members’ of the United Nations Security Council have the right to veto any substantive draft resolution, regardless of the level of international support there is for the draft. At one time or another, each of the five permanent members has exercised that right. Those countries are: China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States of America and in agenda items entitled, ‘Middle East situation, including the Palestinian question’ and ‘The question of the exercise by the Palestinian people of its inalienable rights’ the USA has vetoed draft resolutions on no less than 15 occasions.

The drafts repeatedly reaffirms that, “….the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace” and, “…..demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately and completely ceases all settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem and, that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard…..”

The question that begs to be asked is: when the majority of the member states demand that Israel complies with its moral and legal obligations, what right does the United States of America, or any other country for that matter, have to say otherwise?

In the last three years America’s relationships with Israel have become somewhat strained, which would seem to indicate their continuing support of Israel in the United Nations all the more hypocritical.

In 2010, Hilary Clinton announced to the nation and the world Israel’s intention to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem as “deeply negative” for US-Israeli relations. Obama, in a rare mood announced that he would refuse to meet with Netanyahu when he arrived in Washington and then promptly met him in the White House. So much for tough talk! Obama then demanded that Israel impose a freeze on Jewish construction in East Jerusalem and in his own defense Netanyahu replied that he had no knowledge of the decision to build any houses; a very strange comment coming from the Prime Minister of the country.

The meeting ended without any progress on and Israel continued to build the 1,600 houses prompting Vice President Joe Biden to describe the situation as "one of the most serious rows between the two allies in recent decades".

The following year, 2011, Obama made a foreign policy speech in which he called for a return to the pre-1967 Israeli borders, suggesting that the two countries settle on a mutually agreed border, a suggestion that Netanyahu objected to out of hand. While the United States of America might be playing lip service to the idea of finding a lasting solution, Israel is not even pretending to consider the idea. It is in view of this constant snubbing by the state of Israel that makes the actions of the USA even more unacceptable.

The USA has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the atrocities carried out by the state of Israel against a sovereign country. The wanton destruction of entire communities including places of worship, schools and homes happens on a daily basis. Houses are bulldozed and the inhabitants given only a moment’s notice to get out and save as many of their belongings are they can. What right does Israel have to do this?
There are factions within the country that believe God gave them this land and they do have to right to take it. However, Jewish scholars deny this and have repeatedly said openly that the Torah, the Jewish Bible states that the State of Israel will never exist until such time as the people of the world unite as one and worship God. It goes so far as to say that any establishment of the country until that time would be contrary to God’s word.

That the United Nations was set up with the highest of ideals cannot be denied. It was created on 24 October 1945 in the hopes of promoting international co-operation for lasting peace. The Security Council, one of its six departments is responsible for, “deciding certain resolutions for peace and security”. However, as the League of Nations outgrew its usefulness when it proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 30s, can it be argued that the United Nations might go the same way as it has been corrupted from within by nationalist sentiments that place the benefits of one nation over that of others?

That one country can prevent assistance to another country in order to safeguard the blatantly illegal and immoral demands of a third country is clearly wrong!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children

I am so happy that the Middle East Monitor picked up my article.

You can see the full article at their site at:

Israel’s abuse of Palestinian children
Stewart Sloan

I wonder if the United Nations has always been a toothless dog. The organisation is very good at coming up with conventions and getting countries to sign and ratify them but not quite so good at getting them to comply with them. The situation reminds me of the late 70s and early 80s when no smoking signs started appearing on buses and other forms of public transport. The transportation companies felt that it was their job to put the signs up but, when it came to enforcing the regulation they actually believed that it was someone else’s job. I think the UN might be operating along the same lines.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was adopted on 20 November 1989 and entered into force on 2 September 1990. The state of Israel ratified the CRC in 1991 but continues to wage war on Palestinian children, some as young as the age of five. There is ample video-graphic evidence of Israeli Defense Force personnel targeting children, roughing them up unnecessarily and arresting them at gun point. Why it is necessary to point an M16 at a child below the age of 12, or any age for that matter, defies logic. Often, for want of a better excuse they are charged with “throwing rocks”. Israeli military order 378 allows for up to 20 years of imprisonment for stone throwing and while international standards put the age of adulthood at 18, despite having ratified the CRC Israel has allowed that children of the age of 16 may be tried as adults. Following arrest they are interrogated and denied access to their parents and legal counsel. Victims have reported that they are traumatized, beaten, denied food and water and deprived of sleep for periods of up to several days. It is therefore not surprising that confessions are extracted by force and the statements which the victims are then forced to sign are prepared in Hebrew, a language which the vast majority of them do not understand.

According to reports over 9,000 children have been arrested since the year 2000 (almost 700 per year). They are all subjected to inhuman treatment. It would take too much room to quote the entirety of the CRC in this article but certain extracts are necessary.

“No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

“The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time.”

“Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.”

As mentioned above Israel ratified the CRC in 1991 but arbitrarily ignores its Articles and in turn, the UN ignores the resulting human rights abuses that Israel commits in the name of national security. We are not talking about ignorant travelers arrogantly ignoring no smoking signs here. We are talking about a country that continues to torture children as young as the age of five while the United Nations under Ban Ki Moon does nothing but make “tut-tutting” noises, cowed by their master and overseer, the United States of America.

Perhaps the UN might like to follow the example of the Israeli NGO, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI). The PCATI is an Israeli human rights organisation that works to combat torture. It was founded in 1990 in reaction to the policy of the Israeli government to allow the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in investigations. According to one of the organisation’s reports arrested children were subjected to verbal and physical threats including those of sexual violence. It is mind boggling to imagine how any country that considers itself to be civilised to allow such horrendous abuse.

It is evident, and very sad that well-intentioned Israeli NGOs are more active in defending Palestinian children than the United Nations.

The internet is full of video-graphic evidence of Israeli abuse and these are just two examples:

And although unrelated to the issue of the abuse of children, this one is especially for Ban Ki Moon: