Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Update from Senator Toomey's Office

This morning I received a phone call from Ben Kochman of Sen. Pat Toomey's office in Washington. He wanted to apologize for "sending the wrong letter" (see my previous post). We also discussed what I had originally written the senator about, namely the administative detention of Khader Adnan, and administrative detentions in general. 

I gave him a lengthy account of Israel's unjust treatment of Palestinian detainees, whereby they are held without trial, indictment, charge or access to evidence. I told him that if similar incarcerations were happening in the United States or, say, in China, people like the senator, and many others in the U.S. would be up in arms against them. His main argument for Sen. Toomey and others in the American political arena not condemning Israel was that it was a close ally. He gave as example the British legal system, in which – he claims – people are presumed guilty until proven innocent (I'm pretty sure he's confusing the U.K. with some other European country). Yet it would be unheard of for the United States to condemn its sovereign European allies for conducting their legal systems in manners contrary to the American one.

I reminded Mr. Kochman that human rights do not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis, and that even among Jewish voters in Pennsylvania there is a growing recognition of the universality of the crisis in the Middle East. I asked him to convey to Mr. Toomey our message, that criticquing an ally is actually the friendly thing to do. "As an Israeli citizen who is critical of my own government, I find it alarming that the United States blindly supports human rights violations carried out by Israel," I said, indicating that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the European Union have all harshly criticized Israel practice of administrative detention.

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