From Glenn Greenwald’s article “Khader Adnan and normalized Western justice“:
Writing today about the Adnan case in The National, Joseph Dana explains that Israel imprisons Adnan and so many like him pursuant to “a framework of laws and statutes to govern all aspects of life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” and “many, if not most, of the laws governing movement of Palestinians, freedom of speech and association are draconian in nature; none is more alarming than the administrative detention order. The order enables Israel to hold prisoners indefinitely without charging them or allowing them to stand trial.” Behold the principles of justice driving this Israeli behavior:
Mr Adnan’s story is emblematic of the administrative detention experience of many Palestinians. He claims to have been beaten and humiliated by Israeli soldiers while in custody, and began his hunger strike in protest. On January 8, Mr Adnan was given a four-month administrative detention order, which can be renewed indefinitely, after a military judge reviewed classified information against him. Evidence and allegations have not been made available to Adnan or to his lawyer.
According to the Israeli military, information in administrative detention cases is kept classified in order to protect sources of intelligence. To this day, the only claim that Israel has made about Mr Adnan’s detention is that he is a high risk to Israeli security.
Of course, the U.S. has its own system of indefinite detention now firmly in place. Both within war zones and outside of them, the Obama administration continues to hold hundreds of prisoners who have never been charged with any crime even as they have remained captive for many years. Put another way, both the U.S. and its closest client state have completely normalized exactly the type of arbitrary, due-process-free imprisonment the U.S. has long condemned as the defining attribute of despotism. And, of course, the U.S. Congress just enacted, and President Obama just signed, a law that expressly permits indefinite detention.
Worse, these countries have has normalized this practice not merely in terms of government policy, but also the expectations of their own citizens. A recent Washington Post/ABC New poll found widespread support across the American ideological spectrum for maintaining Guantanamo, where more than 150 prisoners are still held without any charges of any kind, while Dana today writes that “to date, Mr Adnan’s hunger strike has stirred little debate in the Israeli press about the legitimacy of administrative detention” (this is the seventh time Adnan has been imprisoned without charges). The hallmark of the Supremely Authoritarian Citizen — dutifully reciting unproven Government accusations as Truth to justify due-process-free punishment (he’s a Terrorist!) — is now extremely commonplace in the citizenries of both countries.
Even random glances at State Department Human Rights reports will lead one to the most suffocatingly hypocritical denunciations by the U.S. Government. It condemns China, for instance, for the harsh detention conditions of one detainee who “was repeatedly subjected to solitary confinement. . . . The longest period of such confinement reportedly lasted 11 months.” Accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning, convicted of no crime, spent 10 months in extreme solitary confinement; the U.S. prison industry is teeming with prisoners who are subjected to this abuse (as one American held for 10 years in solitary confinement by China put it last month in an Op-Ed: “Imagine how shocked I was to find years later that we, the United States of America, hold more human beings in long-term solitary confinement than any other country in the world. I had supposed it would be China — but, no, it’s us”); meanwhile, Israel routinely uses harsh solitary confinement for Palestinian prisoners and even places Palestinian children in solitary confinement for weeks on end.
The State Department report on China also accuses the Communist state of “extrajudicial killings, including executions without due process.” That, of course, is exactly what the Obama administration has been doing continuously with its manic fixation on drone murders in at least six Muslim countries and its targeted, due-process-free execution of its own citizens (and their children). Again, not only does this provoke very little controversy among Americans, this power long cited by the State Department as the ultimate indiciator of tyranny — “executions without due process” — now provokes widespread cheers from majorities of all American political factions. Israel, of course, has been using due-process-free “targeted assassinations” for many years.
What’s so notable here isn’t merely that the U.S. and Israel are engaged in the very practices which the U.S. annually and flamboyantly condemns as “human rights abuses” when done by others. It’s that these abuses have now been going on for so long in the two countries, are so entrenched, that they have been absorbed into the political landscape as barely noticed accoutrements. They have become completely normalized — not just legally and politically but culturally – to the point where they are scarcely controversial.
Earlier today, Foreign Policy Managing Editor Blake Hounshell wrote about the Palestinian hunger striker: “If Khader Adnan is really a member of Islamic Jihad, he should be charged and tried in court. If he’s committed no crime, release him.” That this even needs to be said at all is a potent sign of how severely our conceptions of justice have collapsed