Fact-free Israel-bashing comes to Capitol Hill

Fact-free Israel-bashing comes to Capitol Hill, Washington ExaminerMaurice Hirsch, July 21, 2017

Last month, Capitol Hill became the site of an Israel-bashing event masquerading as a forum for children’s rights. The anticipated content was problematic enough that the sponsoring congressman, Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., attempted to keep his involvement hidden. After being outed by an investigative journalist, he did not attend the event.

One of the event organizers was the non-governmental organization (NGO) Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCI-P). NGO Monitor, where I serve as a senior military justice consultant, has found that DCI-P has alleged ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which is designated a terrorist organization by the USEUCanada, and Israel.

At the event, DCI-P’s International Advocacy Officer Brad Parker gave a presentation based on a number of blatant distortions and outright lies regarding the Israeli military justice system.

For example, Parker declared that 2016 was the deadliest year for Palestinian minors, and that these deaths were solely the result of a change in Israel’s rules of engagement. Aside from the fact that this is just wrong with respect to new rules of engagement, this allegation omits some vital context.

From October 2015 to mid-2016, Palestinian minors engaged in hundreds of violent terror attacks. At least 45 minors – some as young as 13 – took part in 35 attempted and actual murders that killed 4 and injured 25. So yes, more minors were killed, but it was not due to a change in the rules of engagement. It was due to an increase in terrorist attacks by minors. When faced with a knife, gun, or explosive-wielding minor, what does Parker suggest that bystanders or security forces do?

This context notwithstanding, Parker also ignored an April 2016 International Committee of the Red Cross statement that “there are no shoot-to-kill orders of suspects by [the Israeli Defense Force], as some political elements tried to convince us…Rules of engagement have not changed, and became even stricter.”

Parker also distorted how criminal law is applied to Palestinian minors. He argued, for instance, that the criminal offense of stone throwing was specifically designed to permit the arrest of more Palestinian children. But in reality, stone-throwing is a deadly crime. It has killed Americans. This law applies in all territories under Israeli control, and it is likewise reflected in Israeli domestic law.

Similarly, Parker complains that minors have been arrested and convicted for membership in certain organizations. In his effort to make it seem like legitimate political activity is being criminalized, he avoided saying which organizations — Hamas, PFLP, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Unfortunately, minors are recruited into these illegal terrorist organizations.

Another brazen Parker distortion is his claim that Palestinian minors are being subjected to solitary confinement more frequently. The allegation appears to stem from Israel’s abiding by international standards and Israeli law in not placing minor and adult offenders in the same cells. When Israel separates minors from adult detainees, it becomes an excuse to claim an increase in solitary confinement.

DCI-P’s representative showed further legal ignorance when he alleged that 96 percent of minors interrogated are denied access to an attorney and that evidence gathered in breach of the rights of the children is still admissible in court. As an attorney, Parker must know that the Military Court applies the same rules of evidence that are applied in Israeli Civilian Courts. If a suspect, whether Palestinian or Israeli, is denied the right to consult a lawyer or is the subject of threats of physical violence, then any confession he gives can be declared inadmissible in court.

As the Israeli military’s Director of Prosecution in Judea and Samaria, I attempted to respond to claims by groups such as DCI-P that minors were not able to consult with a lawyer prior to their interrogation. I requested contact details so that I could provide information about cases of child offenders who had supposedly gone unrepresented. The groups refused.

The real question, then, is whether Parker and his DCI-P colleagues are truly looking out for children’s welfare, or whether they are simply members of another NGO operating under the guise of human rights in order to promote a political agenda.

Parker’s half-truths and blatant lies say much more about his organization and its agenda than they do about the Israeli military justice system.

Lt. Col. (res) Maurice Hirsch is Senior Military Justice Consultant at NGO Monitor. He served for 19 years in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, including as Director of the Military Prosecution in Judea and Samaria. Hirsch also led Israel’s talks with UNICEF on the subject of juvenile justice.

Explore posts in the same categories: Israel and children, Israel and human rights, Palestinian child terrorists, U.S. Congress

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