In Israel, the Basic Law serves to protect human dignity and liberty- it states that Israel recognizes the “value of the human being, the sanctity of his life, and his being a free person.” However, the Israeli government is not respecting the human rights of all individuals. On May 10, Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa mosque and used stun grenades against Palestinians worshipping inside, sparking a wave of violence. Most recent estimates report a death toll of at least 120 Palestinians, 31 of whom being children, with over 900 injured. It is clear that the events occurring in occupied Palestine, now and historically, are representative of mass atrocities and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people.
STAND has long worked to organize American youth to prevent and end genocide and mass atrocities abroad. As Palestinian human rights continue to be violated by forced evictions, explicit discrimination, arbitrary harassment, and violence from Israeli police, STAND, as an organization dedicated to ending violence and mass atrocities, stands in firm solidarity with Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and is in staunch opposition to all human rights violations perpetrated by Israel. For these reasons, the 2020-2021 Managing Committee selected Palestine as a new Education focus area for STAND. As with all of our issues, we will work with partners closer to the issue to build our base of knowledge.
Ethnic cleansing is the forced removal of an ethnic group from a territory. Clear signs of ethnic cleansing were present in Sheikh Jarrah as Palestinian families were ousted from their homes to allow Jewish civilians to move into East Jerusalem. These evictions are part of the Israeli government’s larger effort to change the region’s demographic makeup to one that is completely Jewish- a goal that involves ethnically cleansing East Jerusalem to be free of indigenous Palestinians. The concept of apartheid has also long been attached to Israel, with Israel’s actions of arbitrary arrests, seizure of property, and overall systematic oppression of Palestinians fitting with many of the 1973 Apartheid Convention’s defining factors of apartheid.
Further, according to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, the illegal Israeli settlements forcibly displacing Palestinian families amount to war crimes, and Israel’s annexation of the West Bank is widely regarded as a violation of international law. As seen recently in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah and throughout occupied Palestine, state-sponsored violence, uneven civil liberties, and restriction of movement are rampantly violating Palestinian human rights and are all risk factors of mass atrocities. A recent Human Rights Watch report showcases the extent to which Israel has forced the movement of thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, denied residency rights, and suspended basic civil rights for Palestinians. Moreover, Genocide Watch states that Israel has limited the spread of Palestinian culture and identity by removing Arabic as the official language.
Noting the United States’ complicity in aiding Israel to continue a pattern of some of the most telling signs of mass atrocities, leaving Israel’s human rights violations unaddressed would be hypocritical given STAND’s position as a U.S.-based atrocity prevention organization. STAND also notes that Hamas, an armed Palestinian group, is guilty of inciting violence through various rocket attacks and acknowledges these actions as deeply condemnable. However, there is an obvious power imbalance that works to the advantage of the Israel Defense Forces, as evidenced by the disproportionate amount of attacks against and casualties amongst Palestinians.
We recognize the lasting impact that atrocities, namely the Holocaust, have had on Jewish people and recognize Israel’s role in allowing self-determination and safety for Jewish people. However, this does not negate the plight of the Palestinian people facing human rights abuses at the hands of the Israeli government. STAND has advocated against the forced displacement of the Rohingya, actively takes a role in raising awareness for the ongoing genocide in East Turkistan, and notes U.S. complicity in the crimes occurring in Yemen. We refuse to remain silent about the violence that the Palestinians endure under the Israeli government.
The Managing Committee is STAND’s central decision-making body.