Friday, February 28, 2014

Excerpts from "Pro-Human Rights"

The Huffington Post published a very long article about the experiences of two young Dutch women visiting "Palestine." The title is "Not Pro-Palestine or Pro-Israel, but Pro-Human Rights." It's long, so I'm not going to go through the entire thing, I just wanted to highlight some of the more interesting parts:
EK: We did not have a "routine." Every day looked a bit different. Four times a week two of us were at Checkpoint 300, the crossing point of the south of the West Bank into Jerusalem. It's one of the biggest checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territory. We would start at 4 a.m. in the morning till the queue of Palestinians going into Jerusalem was clear, usually at around 7 a.m. We would monitor how many people were able to go through, intervene if there were problems, particularly when the Humanitarian Lane wasn't open (a lane for privileged access, people who have to go to the hospital, students, men and women over 65, and tourists), and provided protective presence in order to establish a smooth flow and prevent arbitrary actions from soldiers. A big part is obviously reporting everything to the concerning organizations and also back home, because part of our work is doing advocacy in our home countries. We hope that when people start realizing what is going on in Israel/Palestine, there will be pressure on national governments to put pressure on the Israeli government, and this will have as consequence that Israel will start abiding international law and human rights.
 So much for not being "pro-Palestine." If you think the "advocacy" she is referring to is to encourage Palestine to "abide by international law and human rights," you're more optimistic than I am. She openly admits that she only wants pressure on the Israeli government and wants Israel to abide by international law and human rights, not the Palestinian side.

Interesting bit about the Humanitarian Lane, isn't it?
EK: I had good and bad interactions with both sides. Usually the Palestinians were very nice and grateful for my presence. With Israeli soldiers it was a bit more difficult. Sometimes they were quite nice. More often they would ignore and not talk to me, and sometimes they would get aggressive.... I always thought twice about saying what exactly I am doing here to not end up in a heated discussion. For me this was quite strange. I am not pro-Palestine [or] pro-Israel, but I am pro-human rights, and I think no one should feel uncomfortable to stand up for those universal values. On the other hand I also had good encounters with Israelis who were open to what I had to say, who also were against settlements and the occupation, etc. Sadly, those interactions were not the majority.
Same woman, claiming that she's not pro-Palestine, but pro-human rights. So why only encourage one side to abide by international law and human rights? Either she believes that Palestinians ARE abiding by international law and human rights, or she knows they aren't, but for some reason she doesn't mind.

But hey, don't worry, she had good encounters with Israelis who agreed with her, but sadly, most weren't ready to receive her enlightened wisdom yet. Such a disappointment.
AR: One encounter I experienced with Palestinians is the following: When my boyfriend came to visit me, we got stuck in Abu Dis, a town next to Jerusalem, on our way to Bethlehem. The roads were closed by the Israeli army, and no buses were going to Bethlehem anymore. All cars that went to Bethlehem took hitchhikers in their cars. We got a lift from a young guy. He did not even check who got in the car. We got in together with an older man and a woman. He just asked where we wanted to go in Bethlehem and did not take any money, although my boyfriend repeatedly tried to give it to him. Honestly, I did not have that much interaction with Israelis. I had some interaction with the soldiers at the checkpoint, which were unfortunately mostly negative.
 Not pro-Palestine or pro-Israel, but we're going to advocate against Israel at home, and when we get there we don't even speak to Israelis, besides soldiers guarding checkpoints. Yeah, these ladies haven't picked a side.
Would you like to return to Palestine?
EK: I would absolutely like to return to Palestine. I am currently applying for an internship at the Swiss embassy in Ramallah and Tel Aviv, and hopefully I can go back this year. I think it's a wonderful country with nice people, good food, extraordinary landscapes and an interesting culture. When I left in December, I definitely left a part of my heart there.
AR: Yes! We said you either love it or hate it, and I thoroughly, with all my being, loved, loved, loved it. The country, the scenery, the people, the language, hope, laughter, smells, love, but also the feeling that what I do might actually matter to others, and maybe I could do something that positively influences other people in this lifetime.
 Left unasked: Would you like to go to Israel and talk to the people there?

Ladies, if you want to be pro-Palestine, then be pro-Palestine. But don't pretend you're some unbalanced, objective reporter when you haven't spent a day with the other side. Our readership knows that if the same thing was written from a visitor to Israel, the comments section would be full of people whining about how they didn't visit the West Bank.

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