Why Palestinians Deserve To Have Their Voices Heard In International Court

| by Chrysler Summer

Despite our country’s longstanding support of Israel, one fact remains the same: Palestinians have rights, too.

On Friday, Palestinians took what is apparently the last step in the process to join the International Criminal Court, which is located in The Hague and is the court of last resort for prosecution of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Of course, Palestinians want to join the ICC in order to charge Israel with war crimes, largely over the recent conflict in Gaza and other Palestinian territories. By granting Palestine access to the ICC, the court would also be taking a signficant step towards recognizing a Palestinian state.

Israel and the U.S. is against this move. The U.S. has even gone so far as to say this step would threaten peace in the Middle East and Israel has threatened what they called “retaliatory steps” should this go through.

It is shocking to see such a wall thrown up against a group of people who simply are saying they want to be heard. The fact that Israel and the U.S. have such problems letting the Palestinians have their day in court makes one wonder what they are so afraid of. If Israel is not guilty of war crimes there should not be anything to worry about. And isn't it the right of the Palestinians - who are not just a state but rather a collection of human beings, similar to you or I - to have the world decide what is right and what is wrong? Rather than letting Israel, with the backing of a superpower like the U.S., make that decision?

The bottom line is this: I understand Israel is in a tough place, considering its physical location and being practically surrounded by factions who do not think it has a right to exist. I get why they are such hardliners when it comes to not giving an inch when it feels threatened.

But that is no excuse and no justification to treat essentially a nation of people like they have absolutely no rights, as Israel is doing to the Palestinian people. I have zero doubt that if Israeli’s or Italians or Irish or practically any other ethnic group of people, were treated the way Israel treats Palestinians no one would stand for it. But because of the complexity of the longstanding opposing positions, and the history of Jewish mistreatment and atrocities, most of us turn a blind eye to the Palestinian situation. Correcting and protecting Jewish mistreatment, and Israel’s right to exist and be safe, does not excuse the mistreatment of others.

Interestingly, by joining the ICC, Palestinians could also be held accountable for any war crimes they commit, and for Hamas sending rockets into Israel. But one Palestinian leader made the same point I am making: that if you are sure you are doing nothing wrong, you are not afraid of a trial and judgement. Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour said about this possibility, "We uphold the law so high, and we are not afraid of the judgment of the law, especially international law.”

That is the right response when justice is all one is looking for. So what then is Israel and the U.S. afraid of?

Photo Credit: WikiCommons, PraguePost.com