Monday, August 23, 2010

protesting a Chicago-Israel link

Today I attended a protest at Chicago's Millennium Park. There is a celebration going on with performances and exhibits from Chicago's sister-cities around the world. One of the cities is Petach Tikva in Israel. Why protest that relationship?

Petach Tikva is the home of a detention center to which Palestinians may be taken who are arrested in the occupied territories. Transportation of detainees to another country from occupied territory is illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention, but the whole practice of administrative detention under which Palestinians can be held by the Israeli military are an object of concern. As B'Tselem reports (boldface mine)...

Administrative detention is detention without charge or trial that is authorized by administrative order rather than by judicial decree. Under international law, it is allowed under certain circumstances. However, because of the serious injury to due-process rights inherent in this measure and the obvious danger of its abuse, international law has placed rigid restrictions on its application. According to international law, administrative detention can be used only in the most exceptional cases, as the last means available for preventing danger that cannot be thwarted by less harmful means.

Israel's use of administrative detention blatantly violates these restrictions. It is carried out under the thick cover of privilege, which denies detainees the possibility of mounting a proper defense. Over the years, Israel has administratively detained thousands of Palestinians for prolonged periods of time, without prosecuting them, without informing them of the charges against them, and without allowing them or their attorneys to study the evidence, making a mockery of the protections specified in Israeli and international law to protect the right to liberty and due process, the right of defendants to state their case, and the presumption of innocence.

In addition, the sister-cities program promotes economic ties between countries. Strengthening economic ties with Israel shows America's disregard for the plight of the Palestinians by helping the economy of a country that has continually deprived them of their rights and their lands for over 40 years. Israel would like nothing better than business as usual - good business with the outside world and no consequences for their bad business in the occupied territories.

As you can see, it was a beautiful sunny day on which to exercise the American right of free speech. Many fliers were handed out. One person walked up to us and said "Israel is our ally, you can go to hell!" I wish that fellow would read my posting The Ally that only Takes.

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