Proposed First Bill to the Senate by Lee Whitnum:
Prosecute Settler Violence Bill.
I present this bill for legislation for the federal prosecution of American citizens in Israel known as Israeli "Settlers" who commit acts of violence during the forceful taking of the homes, farms, and land of the indigenous Christians and Muslims (a.k.a Palestinians). Israel has failed to prosecute Americans who kill and commit acts of violence. Any American caught killing or maiming in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of US federal law. The actions of the Settlers are morally wrong, and constitute a regional instigation which makes all Americans unsafe.
For more than 60 years the establishment of Israeli Settlements on occupied Christian and Muslim land has continued, and this land grab - and accompanying violence - violates customary international law and humanitarian law. Article 49(b) of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits the transfer of the Occupying Power’s civilian population into the territory it occupies.
Israel has not kept its legal obligation to prosecute criminal acts committed by Settlers on the indigenous cultures. These violent acts by Settlers have resulted in more than 115 acts of murder and more than 1,200 incidents of maiming of members of the Christian and Muslim indigenous underclass. These criminal acts have, by and large, gone un-prosecuted by the Israeli justice system, despite clear videotaped evidence of the violence. Since most of the Settlers are Americans, this U.S. citizen can no longer sit by and allow such injustice to continue. While seven U.S. presidents have condemned the settlements and demanded that they stop, AIPAC’s powerful control of most elected officials squashes any attempt at peace or truth in the apparently endless Zionist hunger for more American money and illegally acquired land. The politics of delay - as well as disinfomation spread by Israel and AIPAC's powerful American PR firms - have made Israel richer and larger, and, unfortunately, have made the non-Jewish underclass poorer. The number of the wounded, traumatized, and dead is staggering and tragic.
Israel has a duty under customary international law, specifically Article 43 of the Hague Regulations, to ensure public order and safety in the territory it occupies. This is simply not the case, despite the existence of videotaped evidence of some settlers' alleged crimes. The excuse given is national security. Some state prosecutors use their discretion in employing national security claims to drop all charges against accused Americans. This has happened again and again in Israel. The prosecution’s decision to completely circumvent a criminal trial without exploring other procedural legal avenues demonstrates Israel’s obvious unwillingness to bring settlers to justice for violent actions against the non-Jewish indigenous culture.
There are numerous discriminatory elements of the Israeli justice system, particularly the courts’ inconsistent treatment in balancing Israel‘s right to keep information privileged with an individual‘s right to a fair trial. Under international human rights law, Israel is obliged (according to Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) to ensure that all persons are entitled, without discrimination on any ground, to equal protection before the law. But, Israel has failed miserably and measurably in this regard.
By contrast, human rights groups have consistently documented cases where Israeli courts have allowed prosecutions of Palestinian defendants to proceed on the basis of secret evidence, thereby denying their right to due process. Israel‘s practice of administrative detention in the OPT has meant that Palestinians are routinely arrested and held without charge or prosecuted on the basis of secret evidence that is not disclosed to them. This double standard of justice based on religion is deplorable to this American. The detainees have no legal recourse within the Israeli legal system to challenge the evidence against them.
And, things are getting worse. In March 2009, three Israeli human rights organizations withdrew their petition to challenge the constitutionality of an Israeli criminal procedure order from the Supreme Court. The petition was withdrawn in protest over the Supreme Court‘s decision to allow the General Security Service to present information pertaining to the constitutionality of the law exclusively to the Court in the absence of the petitioners, thereby denying the petitioners the right to examine and question the evidence presented. This marked a troubling trend within the Israeli justice system, namely the system‘s failure to provide Palestinians with an effective means of legal recourse to challenge the system to which they are subject, thereby denying equal protection under the law.
Such failure to hold settlers to account creates an atmosphere of impunity, which encourages increased settler violence and widespread anti-American sentiment since many of the settlers are Americans. Senators, colleagues: we can no longer tolerate this situation. To vote against this is to condone murder based on religion - not the killing during a war but the slaughter of members of the underclass because they were born into a religion that is not deemed acceptable by the American Zionists and the Israeli government. To further compound the injustice is the fact that the violence is usually committed during the forcible acquisition of another’s property. It is a violation of human rights and basic rules of dignity and respect.
While a state may forcibly take the land of an owner by using the concept of Eminent Domain, the law requires the state to compensate that person at a fair market value. Given the vast amount of money given to the Israeli government every year from the United States, the land could have been purchased over and over again. Instead, Israel chooses and condones violence against its non-Jewish underclass and we, the United States, rewards them for it with more money and arms - and an electorate that constantly tries to outdo one another in their pro-Israel fervor.
Every American, every human being, should be outraged. I’m addressing this body today to pass this bill which would establish and guarantee prosecution to any American committing violence. Therefore, my esteemed colleagues, we must establish a means for ensuring that our citizens acting as "settlers" are not committing violence while taking the land or home of another human without paying for it. An American who causes the death or maiming of a Palestinian Christian or Muslim will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
No doubt AIPAC lobbyists will be out in full force fighting against this bill. Our esteemed Richard Clark, former counterterrorism czar, once said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "...achieve peace there and hatred for America would evaporate overnight." Zionism is at the heart of the problem. A vote against this bill states that you put Netanyahu and your own political campaigns before the safety of the American public. And, it also states that you condone murder and racial prejudice.
The settlers are Zionists. Zionists believe they are entitled by God to the land, groves and homes of the non-Jewish underclass. They quote the bible as the reference that "God gave them the land". The size of the alleged God-given land has never been determined and Israel's borders still remain fuzzy. As politicians, we obviously cannot subpoena God in order to determine if the land was indeed given to one human over another based on ethnicity. Therefore, my esteemed colleagues, we are forced to rely on the laws of Man, and in every culture in the world, except in Israel, if you take something that doesn’t belong to you it is stealing. This bill does not broach the property issue - which is indeed an injustice. Instead, this bill concentrates specifically on prosecuting those involved in violence - the physical assault - threat of life and limb to any human being of any religion by an American citizen. To main and kill in the act of stealing a family’s home or farm is a horrifying injustice. If this great governing body prefers to take a biblical interpretation of right and wrong I remind you that three of Moses' Ten Commandments are being violated: Thou shall not steal; Thou shall not kill; and Thou shall not covet thy neighbors goods. While the settlers feel they can pick and choose which biblical laws given from God to Moses they wish to respect, this mainstream American does not agree with this selective interpretation. Thank you, Senators. I shall await your vote.
CASE IN POINT: As I write this on Oct 29, 2011, it is the harvest in Palestine. Today, Palestinian farming families in the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Howard will attempt to access their land for the annual olive harvest.
Since Monday, October 13, 2011 at least four Palestinian civilians have been injured by Israeli settlers while harvesting olives, including a 12-year-old boy. Israeli soldiers waiting on a hill near Howard opened fire after notifying residents via text message that anyone who goes to harvest almonds will be shot.
Palestinians across the West Bank have been attacked by the Israeli military, harassed by settlers, and prevented from accessing their land for the harvest, even after securing approval from Israeli authorities. According to human rights organizations, Israeli settlers have destroyed 7,500 Palestinian olive trees this season alone, causing an estimated $500,000 in damages.
These aren't isolated incidents. They are part of Israel's illegal military occupation and system of apartheid that is supported by U.S. policies, financed by American taxpayers, and used to systematically deprive Palestinians of their rights.
In this "religious" group, the Settlers, it's a badge of honor to bestow misery on other humans. Their message to the indigenous cultures of the Occupied Territories is: "We want your land, we don't want to pay for it, we will maim you, starve you and kill you and make life as miserable as possible so that you will voluntarily leave and so that we can take your property for free. We will do this with the full support of the Israeli government while soldiers stand around and support US American settlers."
By-and-large, the settlers' actions are unknown to most Americans, but their actions are viewed by the rest of the world, and the U.S. is less safe because the behavior of some of the 500,000 religious zealots squatting overseas on land that does not belong to them. Once again, this bill ensures that any American "Settler" caught maiming or killing will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of United States federal law. As Americans, we can no longer allow the misguided extremist religious interpretation and the racially motivated violence by these extremists that make all Americans unsafe.