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Why I believe that Palestinians are holding up the world

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Why does Palestine matter to me? Why do I have the sense Palestine is holding up the world?

There’s a voice inside of me that will not allow fear to conquer in my lifetime. It’s an imperative that we move forward as a civilized people. I don’t mean civilized in terms of our better homes and gardens, I mean in terms of the world I was born into in 1953. No, I was not a child whose family members survived ethnic cleansing, either the Nakba or the Holocaust, but we still matter. My father served and my uncle died fighting that war. 80 million died (thereabouts). It was so horrible my dad never talked about it til the end of his life. It ripped families, countries, peoples and everything apart. Hiroshima, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, massive unimaginable death and pain. Personally for me…there was my mother’s permanent scar. Her rock, her brother Bill, he was gone forever in that war. She never knew her mother. Bill was everything to her.

When I was a child it seemed to me this had all taken place light years before my birth but now in retrospect I realize how fresh it was to her, this inner pain. I was born during this pain in my mother’s life. So that is just my little story, one little girl.

From that war, what did humanity gain? What did civilization gain? I rack my brain but the only thing that stands out for me is International Law. Rules that mean… Never Again. This is not a slogan for me, it is this residue that represents our gain from the utter waste of millions of lives who did not offer theirs in sacrifice but were lives stolen unfairly by an ugly hideous all pervasive all encompassing world war.

If I’ve learned one thing from the internet is that I know nothing compared to so many of you. But none the less my takeaway from that war that rocked humankind (and my family) was we grew as a global community because of advances in international law with the creation of the United Nations, the International court of Justice, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Fourth Geneva Convention Rules of War adopted in 1949 by the international community specifically in response to Nazi atrocities during World War II. Because of international law as it pertains to treatment of civilians and prisoners of war in territory under military occupation, destruction of property, indiscriminate military attacks, biological or chemical warfare, civilization advanced…supposedly.

That is why I think Palestinians are literally holding up the world and our human rights at the same time.

What happens if one little country named Israel continues to defy international law? Does the law change? Does the gain we earned or accomplished as a civilized people from the devastation of hundreds of millions of lives, the supposed advancement of mankind, does it matter? Does their sacrifice matter or does it all wash away because some little country defies it over and over and over again? Do we risk loosing the only gain we made for those countless millions..does international law incinerate into waste like some old charred last century relic?

As Eyal Weizman explains in Lawfare in Gaza: legislative attack

International law can be thought of not as a static body of rules but rather as an endless series of conflicts over this border. The question is not which interpretation is right, but who has the power to force their interpretation into becoming authoritative. In this sense, international law does not merely legitimate violence but actually relies on it.

In the section titled The elastic limits of law Weizman quotes the former legal adviser to the Israeli military, Daniel Reisner explaining that his job was about finding

“untapped potential in international law” that would allow military actions in the grey zone: “International law develops through its violation… an act that is forbidden today becomes permissible if executed by enough countries..”

Palestine is more than an experiment, a test case. As far as I am concerned it is the case. If you fall Palestine..we all fall. Hang on dear ones, you are on the frontlines of humanity, you are holding up the world.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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