July 27, 2003

Israel is taking extreme measures to protect civil rights.I recently returned from a 10-day mission to Israel for 50 American, British, and Australian lawyers sponsored by Shurat Hadin – The Israel Law Center. Shurat Hadin brings civil suits against terror organizations and their sponsors, seeking compensation for victims of terror from funds which would otherwise be sent to the terrorist death squads.

I and the other members of the group were overwhelmed by the painstaking and often painful (deadly) steps the Israeli judiciary, military, and police take in order to uphold personal liberties and dignity of those who seek to harm Israelis and Americans in Israel, and eliminate Jews from the Land of Israel. It is well accepted by most Americans that it is preferable for 10 criminals to go free because of due process “glitches” than for one innocent person to be convicted.

Sadly, in Israel this has been extended to the policy that it is better to suffer a few deaths from terror attacks than to deprive the residents of Jenin, Ramallah, and other hosts of terror organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah, of their human dignity or basic civil rights. We were repeatedly told by people such as Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak, members of the Knesset, and senior intelligence and police officers that these are the prices Israel must pay for democracy, that we must have faith and be patient with the process, and that we must be better than our murderers.

Although I disagree with their philosophies (nowhere in my Bible does it say that I should love my murderer as myself), I saw a face of Israel which is too often distorted or buried in the media. Jewish villages have been created where barren land once stood in Judea and Samaria under strict government scrutiny and subject to rigorous requirements calling for respect for the land and other people living in the area. Military check points leading in and out of proven hotbeds of terrorism are operated with attempts at civility and courtesy. House to house searches require search warrants absent active combat initiated by the residents, and both the police and Justice Barak confirmed that they are subject to strict requirements and rules of conduct.

I see no legitimate reason why world opinion views the establishment of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria as fascist acts of aggression, and Muslim settlement as an inalienable right. We learned that 80,000 structures have been erected by Muslims in Yesha, while the vast majority of settlement activity by Jews has been authorized by Israeli and international law.

The Arab population known as the Palestinians were murdered and exiled by most of the 23 Muslim nations of the world over the past 50 years without significant criticism from Western nations or media. Ask any Palestinian who is free and willing to speak the truth, and he will tell you that the Palestinian people are no different in origin or culture from the Lebanese, Syrians and Jordanians, and that not one of them, including Arafat (born in Egypt), demanded a homeland when the West Bank was occupied by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt from 1948-67. In fact, Egypt refused to accept dominion over Gaza when Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula as part of their peace treaty. Only Israel is scrutinized, and then under a distorted and very dirty lens.

I pray more people learn the truth as did my mission co-participants – that the Palestinians are better treated, and their rights better protected, by the State of Israel than by any other nation in history. If workers for peace and justice are looking for a cause which does not smack of anti-Semitism and sorely needs Western help, they should focus on the outrageous occupation of Lebanon by Syria, the military rule of Hizbullah in Southern Lebanon funded by Syria and Iran, the absence of freedom of expression in much of the world, and the repression and subjugation of women by all countries in the Middle East other than Israel.

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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