MIFTAH
Saturday, 28 May. 2022
 
Your Key to Palestine
The Palestinian Initiatives for The Promotoion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
 
 
 

The Israeli legal system, stretched to the limit by cases of private and public corruption, still finds the time and the resources to provide massive support for spreading and deepening Israel's image as a country suffering from terrorism and fighting for its existence. It is an image of a country threatened by traitors from within (Arab Israelis, hoping for a victory of the Axis of Evil whose center is in Damascus), by Hamas operatives (who aspire to destroy it) and by murderous Lebanese (Hezbollah).

On Tuesday, the trial of three Hezbollah fighters started. They are charged with murder, weapons possession, undergoing military training and membership in a terrorist organization. On the same day, a military court extended the remands of 21 Hamas ministers and legislators, who have been charged with membership in a terrorist organization. And also on that day, police began questioning a Balad member who visited Damascus - the "capital of terrorism" - and praised Hezbollah's victory.

The ideological basis for these legal steps is the definition of the suspects as terrorists. In other words, criminals. Their supporters are defined as traitors. Israel has taken it upon itself to define what legitimate violence is, and it is claiming a monopoly on the use of force, demanding that others accept its unilateral definitions. If they do not, they will be accused of being hostile, or worse. All practical resistance to Israel, whether violent or political, is an act whose purpose is illegitimate. Therefore, the definition of a "terrorist act" is not limited to the murder of innocents; it includes any use of "illegitimate" force. This definition encompasses "incitement" and "abetting the enemy." One could say, on the basis of this mainstream outlook, that a person can be either a Zionist or a terrorist.

The need to entrench this view, and thus to justify violent, deterrent, consciousness-searing action - and to reject all other definitions that are critical and unflattering - is highlighted by the absurdity of filing criminal charges. It is clear that the elected officials from Hamas were arrested and jailed only to serve as hostages for the release of Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier, and that the charge of belonging to a terrorist organization is just a pretext, as has already been determined by one court proceeding, which ordered the Hamas officials released.

Is the continuation of the trial supposed to serve as a means of pressure? Against whom? Is it meant to make it more difficult for the government to release Palestinian prisoners, or perhaps to undermine the diplomatic process that may emerge upon the creation of a Palestinian national unity government? When the exchange of prisoners does take place, and the Hamas officials are released, the sanctimonious cry will be heard: How could we undermine the rule of law in such a way? But the rule of law did not object when its dignity was exploited for cynical ends.

The trial of the Hezbollah fighters only heightens the absurdity and stains the legal system, which is ready to subserviently serve a military establishment that aims to humiliate an imprisoned enemy. According to the state's representative, "these are not prisoners [of war], because Hezbollah does not abide by the rules of war." Does Israel strictly adhere to the rules of war? Whoever denies his enemies the status of prisoners of war exposes his own imprisoned soldiers to the same treatment.

The United States invented the status of "unlawful enemy combatants" for such prisoners, and thus denied them the benefit of the Geneva Convention. However, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected this argument and applied the convention's content to them as well. Israel, however, was not moved by this. Nor is it moved by the implied humiliation of the IDF, which fought a difficult war against Hezbollah. After all, if the enemy fighters are criminals, murderers and terrorists, but they still managed to successfully withstand the onslaught of Israel's might, what does that say about the IDF's abilities as a fighting force? The attempt to describe the second Lebanon War as a police action, in which a number of criminals were caught and are now being tried for murder and attempted murder, is so pathetic that it should be abandoned immediately. In any case, its wretchedness will be revealed once the negotiations for an exchange of prisoners are completed. The prosecution, in its eagerness to serve an inflamed public opinion at the expense of the Arab MKs - who dared to praise Hezbollah's successes - appears about to be caught up once again in the heat of the moment and investigate the Arab MKs over their statements in Damascus.

Thus the circle is complete: The whole world is against us. Our neighbors, citizens of the state, are a fifth column; the Palestinians in the territories want to wipe us out; Hezbollah is a forward division of Syria and Iran; our very existence is threatened; but our fearless legal system will protect us against all our enemies and bring justice to light. And afterward, we will be able to continue our "deterrence" work with a clear conscience.

 
 
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