Israel/Palestine: The Flaw in International law

The arrest of Ezra Nawi is undoubtedly a grave miscarriage of justice. Watching the video on supportezra.net only emphasizes the harsh treatment cast upon this selfless humanitarian. However, the notion that the actions of the Israeli army violate international law is a utopian mischaracterization.


Their judicial system is theirs, not ours. If an American is convicted of a crime, he/she has numerous opportunities to appeal the initial decision to a separate court system. Our judicial system, while far from perfect, includes a fail-safe system, known as appellate courts. Westerners, coddled by a complex legal system, project their own ideals of justice into the international sphere, calling for uniform standards, or ""international law.""

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The term ""international law"" is as oxymoronic as ""smart sun devil.""


Laws are nothing but words written by the ruling class of a society. Without an efficient enforcement mechanism or regulator, laws are only followed by the willing or weak.


""International law"" is the term commonly used to refer to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document, adopted by the United Nations on December 10, 1948, outlines the basic human rights that should be bestowed upon all people, including protection against ""arbitrary arrest."" Even when a state is a signatory to this declaration, adherence is strictly voluntary. The UN lacks any enforcement capability, making this declaration merely a collection of unfeasible values. 


The Palestinian struggle for civil rights, including the opportunity to make a permanent home, will not be achieved by any foreign reaction to the imprisonment of Nawi. Since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, there has been an established principle of national sovereignty.


West's Encyclopedia of American Law defines sovereignty as the ""independence of a state, combined with the right and power of regulating its internal affairs without foreign interference."" The right to create, interpret and enforce laws falls solely within the jurisdiction of a country's own government.


Government control over domestic matters is not an issue of international contention. The power of a government is granted by the citizens of a state, also known as rule by consensus. The necessity of public permission requires a government to act within the collective conscious of the public. As soon as the majority decries the unequal treatment of Palestinians, the government will have to react.


This story touches the hearts of social activists, including yours truly, because of the stark resemblance to the American civil rights movement. The minority, black Americans, were subject to discrimination, second-class status, and outright hatred by many of the majority, white Americans. The racism displayed by millions of private citizens was reinforced by the propaganda of elected politicians, whether it was genuine or motivated by votes. Inside the majority, both private citizens and select members of government, was a group who fought alongside the minority. These selfless individuals, deprived of no rights, placed their livelihoods on the line to pursue justice for the minority. Seen as troublemakers, or even traitors, white sympathizers were treated the same as blacks.


From the colonial period to the late 20th century, black Americans were denied everything from human dignity to basic civil rights. The multi-century struggle for advancement progressed at a repugnant rate and overcame innumerable barriers. However, the fight for American equality was a task undertaken by Americans. The historical benchmarks reached, stand as a testament to not only the perseverance of black Americans, but the cultural change of white America. Many of those descended from segregationists and Jim Crow supporters have shed the discriminatory traditions of the past.


The cultural homogeneity of Israel, roughly 75.5 percent of the population is Jewish, further likens the struggle of the Palestinian minority to that of black Americans. Just as American civil rights progressed, the struggle for Palestinian civil rights is a long, arduous road. The prospects of fair treatment of Palestinians will rest on the cooperation between the minority and majority of Israel.


The modern state of Israel is 61 years old, a toddler among senior citizens. Americans, spoiled by current judicial redundancies, seem to forget that even our justice system only recently became as just as we know it today and is still lacking. Pointing to an imaginary concept such as ""international law"" removes this matter from its proper context of domestic injustice. Nawi would be the first to tell you that his actions are devoid of politics. The struggle for minority equality is a domestic fight that can only be won by the people of Israel, constantly referencing ""international law"" is letting them off the hook.



— Dan Sotelo is a senior majoring in political science. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


Related Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysIaQUJWBdk


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