My heart goes out to the Israeli human-rights campaigners whose plight was highlighted by Rachel Shabi ("Fatah ceasefire in jeopardy", World). It is one thing for Israel's propaganda machine to "shoot the messenger" as all of us in the west who are seeking justice for the Palestinians have found to our cost. It is quite another when internal critics face the same treatment. "We lost our empathy skills," says activist Naomi Zion, "and when you lose that you lose your humanity." Critics of Israeli policies will say with some justification that the state lost its objective view of humanity long ago, along with human compassion in its treatment of the Palestinians, not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank, shredded to pieces by settlements and settler-only roads, checkpoints and the hated wall.
It is one of the most human of characteristics to stand up for justice in the face of tyranny, and Israel's human-rights groups need our support for their bravery. Let us remember that "shoot the messenger" has on more than one occasion – think Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall and countless Palestinians – been taken literally by the Israeli occupation forces.
Published in The Observer – 3rd January 2010
Middle East Monitor,