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The anti-apartheid activist Issa Amro is to be sentenced by an Israeli military court on February 8 for a bunch of trumped-up charges relating to his nonviolent resistance over many years. And as we noted yesterday, politicians from around the globe have questioned the case, and Amnesty International and the UN have called for Israel to drop the charges.
The case has a special resonance because Amro works in a city that epitomizes apartheid, Hebron, and just last month the leading Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said Israel is an apartheid state, maintaining a “regime of Jewish supremacy” from the river to the sea.
But a military court is poised to sentence Amro for nonviolent activities against that regime.
Jamil Dakwar (of ACLU) and Khaled Elgindy (of Brookings) both ask the obvious question on twitter: Where is the U.S. government on a Palestinian activist at a time when it has highlighted the freedom of other groups to protest (notably the imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Russia).
If @Issaamro was one of the Russian or Chinese human rights defenders being accused of bogus charges and unfairly convicted by a military court, we would have certainly heard his name on the Senate floor or during a White House press briefing.
Nonviolent activist @Issaamro to be sentenced Feb8 after conviction by Israeli military court that doesn’t meet even min. standards of fairness. Yet bc he’s #Palestinian those who champion causes of other political prisoners elsewhere in ME are now silent.
Secretary of State Tony Blinken last weekend condemned the Chinese crackdown on democracy protesters in Hong Kong and said the U.S. would help those dissidents out.
In a Sunday interview with NBC News, Blinken said that China has acted “egregiously” to curb the freedoms enjoyed for decades in the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong. Blinken said that the U.S. “should do something” to give “haven” to dissidents and protesters who have faced a growing crackdown from mainland Chinese authorities.
The U.S. has issued a sharp challenge to Russia over the sentencing of democracy advocate Alexei Navalny– 3-1/2 years in a penal colony. On Tuesday Blinken said that even as the U.S. will “work with Russia” on some issues, the U.S. demands Navalny’s release.
We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny, as well as the hundreds of other Russian citizens wrongfully detained in recent weeks for exercising their rights, including the rights to freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly.
State Department spox Ned Price underlined these demands in a briefing on Wednesday. The U.S. is undertaking a “holistic review” of Russia’s “malign” actions.
But of course we are going to look very carefully at the deteriorating human rights situation in Russia, what has happened with Mr. Navalny specifically, what has happened with the mass detentions of those who have bravely taken to the streets in the aftermath of Mr. Navalny’s arrest….
President Biden has been very clear, Secretary of State Blinken have been very clear: We are not going to countenance the sorts of things that we’ve seen from the Russians in recent years, and that’s exactly what this review is intended to do: to review those and to help inform an appropriate policy response.
But if the U.S. is going to apply such standards to Russia, why isn’t it doing the same with our pet, Israel, which is practicing apartheid against 6 million-plus non-Jewish residents and brutalizing/killing protesters?
Among Israel lobby organizations that have influence on the Biden administration, few have had a word to say about Issa Amro’s case, outside of some liberal Zionists. J Street made a statement yesterday. Rabbi Jill Jacobs of T’ruah wrote today that she had brought rabbis to meet Amro.
He is an extraordinary leader & proponent of non-violent action who is being unfairly punished for his activism.
Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street agrees:
Those who put their lives on the line – risking imprisonment & worse – for human/civil rights are honored by history, not those who prosecute them.
International solidarity activists and Youth Against Settlements, Amro’s organization, are planning a twitter storm for Sunday, February 7, a day ahead of the military sentencing. Here’s Natalie Strecker announcing the demonstration, on behalf of all Palestinian prisoners:
Israel has for a long time targeted Issa, due to his long history of nonviolently resisting apartheid… This is an attmept by Israel to quash any form of Palestinian resistance to their 73-year history of oppression at the hands of the Israeli state.
Amro faces a “lengthy prison sentence, or if he is lucky, a hefty fine,” Strecker says, and urges others to demand that the charges are dropped, so as to “assure that Israel cannot commit its crimes in silence” but pays some price for violating international law in the West Bank.