One could be forgiven for believing that the protection of civil liberties and fundamental freedoms, and the obligation upon a state to protect and adhere to those rights without prejudice, would be uniform. One could also be forgiven for believing that the treatment of a citizen on the right hand side of the road would be the same as that of the treatment of a citizen on the left hand side of the road. One could be forgiven for naively believing that all are equal before the law.
However, the way in which Israel treats its own nationals as compared to the way in which it treats Palestinians, comes as a stark reminder that there is no equality. It also comes as a stark reminder that without universal condemnation by the international community, and specifically the United States, this disparity in treatment will never change.
There will of course be those who do not accept that there is a double standard, or seek to justify that double standard on the basis that Israel is simply seeking to defend its borders, and its people. There are examples however, that cannot be justified.
Following the brutal murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, and the demonstrations that followed, the boy’s cousin, Tariq Abu Khdeir, aged 15, was arrested by members of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). During that arrest he was brutally beaten. Video evidence released would tend to demonstrate just how violently he was beaten during the arrest.
Regrettably, Tariq’s arrest and treatment is not an isolated incident. What is unusual, however, is the course of events following his arrest.
Tariq is Palestinian-American. Having been arrested and brutally assaulted, he was locked in the police station for hours, without access to medical treatment or a lawyer. Tariq demanded that he be granted consular access and speak to a representative at the US Embassy. Upon doing so, and upon there being mention of the fact that he held a US passport, he was then taken to hospital for treatment. Photographs of his swollen and bruised face bear testimony to the manner in which he had been treated.
The US State Department was quoted as saying how it was “profoundly disturbed” by the video. Tariq was then released on bail, although he was required to pay for his release and is now under house arrest. Tariq’s mother has vowed to bring criminal proceedings against the IDF officers.
The Israeli Justice Ministry has now confirmed that the government’s legal adviser will investigate the video showing the assault.
It is telling, that upon learning that the young man was a citizen of the US, Israel’s most staunch supporter, that the attitude towards him changed dramatically. It is this that is unusual. It is this that smacks of a double standard.
The double standard is apparent to both countries. Israel, upon realising that the young man was a US citizen, suddenly released him on bail, and that the US upon realising that the young man was one of its own, publicly condemned the treatment, and no doubt diplomatically sought his release.
How many times have we seen videos of children being detained, being beaten, and in recent cases, being shot dead by the Israeli security services, and yet there is no condemnation or “profound feelings” emanating from the US. How many times do others complain of the treatment of those arrested by the Israeli security services, and yet Israel does not change the way in which they are treated.
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