JERUSALEM – With the war in Ukraine providing cover, Israel continues its unchecked violence towards the Palestinian people who live within its control. And as the world stands mesmerized and distracted by Vladimir Putin, Israel continues to perpetuate what Amnesty International called Crimes Against Humanity targeting the Palestinian people.
Crimes against humanity
In his outstanding book “East West Street,” Philippe Sands, a professor of law at University College London, relates the stories of the two jurists who wrote the crimes of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity into international law. These were two Polish-Jewish jurists who had lived on opposite sides of the same street in the town of Lemberg, or Lviv, which is now in western Ukraine. Their names were Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin.
In the prologue, Sands writes, “A little after three o’clock in the afternoon the wooden door behind the defendants’ dock slid open and Hans Frank entered courtroom 600.” Hans Frank was Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer and then the governor-general of German-occupied Poland during World War II. He was responsible for the forced labor and murder of millions of Jews and Poles. Sands continues:
Seated no more than a few feet from Frank in a black suit, Lauterpacht was the one who came up with the idea of putting the term ‘crimes against humanity’ into the Nuremberg statute, three words to describe the murder of four million Jews and Poles on the territory of Poland.
Of Hersch Lauterpacht, Sanz writes in the British daily The Guardian: “Most crucially, he crafted the language of Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter, enshrining crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression into modern international law.” Hans Frank was tried, convicted, and hanged for his crimes.
Post-World War II
The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals that were held following World War II by the Allied forces. The defendants were among the leadership of Nazi Germany that were caught and taken into custody. The trials went on from the fall of 1945 until the end of 1946.
Undoubtedly one of the most significant results of, and one might even say reactions to, World War II was the creation in May 1948 of the State of Israel, the so-called “Jewish State.” The State of Israel was supposed to be a refuge for Jews who suffered persecution and an answer to the Holocaust. In fact, Israel was neither. The vast majority of survivors of the Holocaust opted either to return to their countries of origin or to emigrate to places other than the State of Israel.
Later on, Jewish people who felt they had to leave their country of origin ended up in Israel only as a last resort and many of those who did go there regretted their decision. Even as late as the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union drove Jewish people to emigrate, those who ended up in Israel did so mostly because they either had no other option or the visas to other countries demanded longer wait times and they wanted to leave immediately instead of wait.
The title of the Amnesty report on the Israeli apartheid regime is, “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity.” The report states the following regarding the state of Israel:
Since its establishment in 1948, Israel has pursued an explicit policy of establishing and maintaining a Jewish demographic hegemony and maximizing its control over land to benefit Jewish Israelis while minimizing the number of Palestinians and restricting their rights and obstructing their ability to challenge this dispossession. In 1967, Israel extended this policy beyond the Green Line to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which it has occupied ever since. Today, all territories controlled by Israel continue to be administered with the purpose of benefiting Jewish Israelis to the detriment of Palestinians, while Palestinian refugees continue to be excluded.
Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights and a crime against humanity under international criminal law. Three main international treaties prohibit and/or explicitly criminalize apartheid: the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (Apartheid Convention) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Rome Statute).
The crime against humanity of apartheid under the Apartheid Convention, the Rome Statute and customary international law is committed when any inhuman or inhumane act (essentially a serious human rights violation) is perpetrated in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another, with the intention to maintain that system.
What we learn from the report, and what Palestinians have been saying all along, is that not only is the State of Israel not a refuge for persecuted Jews or a response to the Holocaust, but it was in fact, from its very establishment, a crime against humanity perpetrated against the Palestinian people. To assume that there was, is, or ever could be an Israel that is not an apartheid regime is a complete misunderstanding of Zionism and of the state of Israel.
The consequences of this report are – or rather, have the potential to be – far-reaching. The fact that this crime against humanity was allowed to be perpetrated in Palestine only three years after the crime was officially entered into the realm of international law must not be ignored. Furthermore, the biggest lie perpetrated by Zionists is that the State of Israel is somehow a response to the crime against humanity that was perpetrated against Jews by Nazi Germany. In fact, Israel is itself a crime that needs to be pointed out.
Moreover, Palestinians have not only suffered from the crime of apartheid, but they have also suffered from fighting against it. Palestinians who have stood and fought against this crime have paid a heavy price. Even Palestinians who have never held arms in their life have served time in Israeli prisons and are labeled terrorists. It must be pointed out that these men and women are courageous freedom fighters and they must be heralded as such.
It is not surprising that this Amnesty report is being condemned by Western governments or that it is rarely discussed by the corporate media. The potential it carries is enormous and it is up to people of conscience to act and demand that the recommendations be carried out without delay.
Feature photo | Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen reflected in glass as he speaks at a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem, March 6, 2022. Photo at left shows Theodor Herzl “the spiritual father of the Jewish State.” Ronen Zvulun | Pool via AP
Miko Peled is MintPress News contributing writer, published author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. His latest books are”The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”