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Perspectives on UN proposal for independent inquiry into Ahmed Jaradat's death

January 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm

The UN’s Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, has called for an inquiry into the death of Ahmed Jaradat while he was in Israeli custody. Jaradat was arrested for “throwing stones at Israeli cars” and interrogated by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency. Autopsy results have concluded that Jaradat died of torture while in custody; Israel claims that the results are inconclusive.

Opposition to an independent inquiry, and to suggestions that an international forensic team be sent to investigate the circumstances of Jaradat’s death, has already been raised. Once again, Israel finds a staunch ally in the US, which deems the UN to be “unfairly singling-out Israel” and being against “the progress toward the peace among Israelis and Palestinians that we all so deeply desire”.

Several contradictions emerge from such statements. Accusing the UN of anti-Israeli bias fails to ingrain itself within the collective consciousness, because Israel has not been subjected to any punitive measures despite decades of occupation and “anti-Israel” resolutions. There is a default bias in the US statement which only strives to create misplaced sympathy in favour of the Zionist state and its policies. While the UN is supposed to function as an independent body, Israel and the US are prominent enough forces within the organisation to wield sufficient influence to ensure that Israel is only ever censured for its atrocities instead of, for example, being on the receiving end of NATO military intervention in the name of “safeguarding civilians”.

While Israel is glorified – wrongly   as “the only democracy in the Middle East”, it continues to defy democratic principles by failing to adhere to international human rights law. It also enjoys preferential treatment thanks to its success in portraying itself as an “isolated” state prone to “terrorist attacks” despite its brutal military occupation and aggressive expansionism.

An independent inquiry is certainly recommended, not least because the UN also tends to treat Israel’s human rights violations as one-off incidents. This serves to fragment the Palestinian struggle within the overall international scenario by robbing such violations of their context as part of the Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The legal interpretation of “resistance” by the international community is thus threatened. Focusing on single incidents as they arise may create symbolic causes célèbres but it also relegates other victims of Israeli apartheid to obscurity. The Palestinian struggle abroad may be restricted to calls for justice with regards to a single crime but if international resistance and solidarity are tied to whatever the media chooses to disseminate, with little or no reference to the context of Israel’s occupation and colonial history, temporary outrage will fuel nothing but illusion.

Western bias towards the Israelis is reflected in its general silence about atrocities inflicted on the Palestinians and is tantamount to condoning such criminality. Hence, Israel remains protected politically and is free to manipulate Palestinian history as it sees fit.

Ahmed Jaradat’s death cannot be isolated from Israel’s apartheid laws and practices; his Israeli torturers, killers and state should be held accountable. It is from this position that the internationalism of the whole conflict should be sought; we should refuse to accept a partial solution to appease the victims of a single atrocity, when decades of oppression have engraved thousands of other untold stories in the Palestinian psyche which deserved the attention of the United Nations but failed to meet its highly selective criteria for comprehensive action.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.