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Kamala Harris says Israel meets human rights standards ‘overall’ (days after its forces wound 92 Palestinian civilians at protest)

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In an interview with the New York Times, Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris said she believes Israel meets international human rights standards “overall.” The declaration comes less than a week after Israel wounded ninety-two Palestinian civilians during a weekly protest at the Gaza border, including twenty-eight children and four medics.

Harris made the comments about Israel during a New York Times feature, in which the paper asked a number of the candidates twenty-one questions. One of those questions was, “Do you think Israel meets international standards of human rights?”

Harris: I think that Israel as a country is dedicated to being a democracy, and is one of our closest friends in that region and that we should understand the shared values and priorities that we have as a democracy, and conduct foreign policy in a way that is consistent with understanding the alignment between the American people and the people of Israel.

New York Times: Does Israel meet human rights standards to your personal satisfaction?

Harris: Well, talk in more detail, what specifically are your referring to?

New York Times: As a country overall in terms of how they–

Harris: Overall, yes.

Among Democratic presidential hopefuls, Harris has charted one of the least-critical stances toward Israel, rarely criticizing the country and hewing close to the AIPAC line.

On June 14, Israeli forces wounded 92 Palestinian civilians, including twenty-eight children and four paramedics during a protest at the Gaza border. Palestinians have been protesting every Friday for the last sixty-one weeks, demanding displaced refugees be allowed to return their homeland. According to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, 207 Palestinian civilians have been killed and 12,707 have been wounded since the protests began last March. The deaths include 44 children, 4 paramedics, and 9 disabled people. On one day in May 2018, when the US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem, Israel killed over 60 protesters.

Michael Arria

Michael Arria is the U.S. correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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16 Responses

  1. LiberatePalestine on June 19, 2019, 1:14 pm

    Harris «answered» the question with a lot of irrelevant rhetoric about being «friends» with the Zionist entity. Then, when the question was repeated with only a slight change, she asked for «more detail» only to cut the interviewer off.

    • genesto on June 20, 2019, 1:02 pm

      How about informing her of how African immigrants are treated by Israel. Maybe she will tweak her answer a bit when she realizes that black people, at least those seeking asylum in Israel, are treated nearly as horribly by the Israeli government as are the Palestinians.

      • LiberatePalestine on June 20, 2019, 7:01 pm

        The Zionists treat even Black Jews abominably. Zionism elevates Jews above all others, but in practice it also sets up a hierarchy among Jews, with the Ashkenazim at the top and the Blacks at the bottom. The Æthiopian Jews who were famously «rescued» by the Zionist entity were forced to undergo «conversion» to Judaism, even though they were already Jewish.

  2. eljay on June 19, 2019, 1:59 pm

    Harris: I think that Israel as a country is dedicated to being a democracy …

    Despite what she thinks (or pretends to think), Israel remains dedicated to being:
    – a religion-supremacist “Jewish State”;
    – primarily of and for Jewish Israelis and non-Israeli Jews; and
    – comprising as much as possible of geographic Palestine.

  3. JWalters on June 19, 2019, 7:41 pm

    Harris is a disgrace to the US Constitution. It is not credible today that she is unaware of Israel’s long campaign of ethnic cleansing, terrorism, murder, and robbery of the innocent people of Palestine. Quite clearly she is betraying America’s fundamental ideals for money from a foreign country. I know she was only recently elected to the US Senate, but she deserves to be impeached.

    • Nathan on June 19, 2019, 9:42 pm

      JWalters – You’d be surprised to learn that there are many people out there in the big world who don’t see things through your eyes. You claim that “it is not credible” that Senator Harris doesn’t have your view of reality. I would imagine that a person who has finished high school (and has read more than one newspaper throughout the years) has probably experienced a disagreement at some point in life. You and Senator Harris don’t agree. Moreover, you think that you are right, yet at the same time she thinks that she’s right. For some strange reason, there are quite a few people commenting here who think that the anti-Israel world has a monopoly on the truth, and they can’t imagine that someone is pro-Israel.

      • JWalters on June 20, 2019, 12:23 am

        “You claim that “it is not credible” that Senator Harris doesn’t have your view of reality.”

        False. I claim it’s not credible that she is unaware of thoroughly documented facts. Your switch here is a cheap debating trick, debunked in Logic 101.

        “You’d be surprised to learn that there are many people out there in the big world who don’t see things through your eyes.”

        False. I’m not at all surprised. I’ve been in far too many discussions and debates for that.

        “Moreover, you think that you are right, yet at the same time she thinks that she’s right.”

        You are assuming here that when two people disagree, they have an equal claim on being right. That is true for matters of personal taste, like whether chocolate or vanilla tastes better. But it is not true in matters of objective fact. There, FACTUAL EVIDENCE plays the decisive role. You are omitting the factual evidence factor in your assumption.

        “For some strange reason, there are quite a few people commenting here who think that the anti-Israel world has a monopoly on the truth, and they can’t imagine that someone is pro-Israel.”

        Again, you ignore the factor of FACTUAL EVIDENCE. And I don’t have to imagine some people are pro-Israel, because I see their writing and hear them speaking.

        In short, your articulate response is devoid of evidence and logic.

      • Donald on June 20, 2019, 1:27 am

        It’s true that people rationalize away human rights violations when it suits their interests or when they are attached to some ideology. It happens all the time.

        In Harris’s case she has to know Israel shoots unarmed protestors and that the occupation can’t be justified even in liberal Zionist terms, but she must feel that her political future is best served by pretending Israel has a decent human rights record. With politicians it hardly matters what she might privately believe.

      • Sibiriak on June 20, 2019, 9:14 am

        @JWalters

        Excellent post.

      • Misterioso on June 20, 2019, 10:36 am

        @Nathan
        “For some strange reason, there are quite a few people commenting here who think that the anti-Israel world has a monopoly on the truth, and they can’t imagine that someone is pro-Israel.”

        Given its well documented brutal past history and the horror of current events on the ground in gross violation of international humanitarian law, I confess that I cannot “imagine that someone is pro-Israel.” Apart from basic morality, it defies logic.

        Furthermore, Senator Harris is behind the wave:

        https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-growing-number-of-u-s-jews-support-evacuation-of-west-bank-settlements-study-finds-1.7314699

        “Growing Number of U.S. Jews Support Evacuation of All West Bank Settlements, Survey Finds” by Judy Maltz, Haaretz, June 2/19

        EXCERPT:
        “AJC poll exposes deepening divide between American and Israeli Jews on issues like Trump’s policies and the importance of ‘caring about Israel'”

        “Fewer American Jews consider ‘caring about Israel’ an important part of being Jewish, a survey published on Sunday by the American Jewish Committee finds. Those questioned also indicated that they do not believe a thriving state of Israel is ‘vital” to the long-term future of the Jewish people.’

        “A growing number of American Jews, the survey shows, are also unhappy with Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and support a full evacuation of West Bank settlements.

        “This was first ever survey conducted by the veteran Jewish organization to examine attitudes concurrently in the three largest Jewish communities in the world: the United States, Israel and France. (Israel was included in last year’s survey, but this was the first time for France). The questions asked of members of the three communities were not identical, however.

        “In last year’s survey, 70 percent of American Jews questioned said that caring about Israel was ‘a very important part of my being a Jew.’ In this year’s survey, their share had dropped to 62 percent. The percentage that ‘strongly disagreed’ with this statement had risen from 9 to 15 percent.

        “Moreover, the share that considered a thriving Israel vital for the long-term future of the Jews dropped from 79 to 72 percent.

        “This trend of disengagement from Israel was most pronounced among younger and secular American Jews. Only 44 percent of people between the age of 18 and 29 and 42 percent of the secular respondents said that Israel played a significant role in their Jewish identity.”

      • LiberatePalestine on June 20, 2019, 11:50 am

        → Given its well documented brutal past history and the horror of current events on the ground in gross violation of international humanitarian law, I confess that I cannot “imagine that someone is pro-Israel.” Apart from basic morality, it defies logic.

        There’s no logic to petty bigotry, which is all that Zionism is.

        The noxious weed that is Zionism exists in several common varieties:

        * supporting the Zionist entity because oneself is Jewish (as if one’s identity were relevant to appropriate geopolitical arrangements)

        * supporting the Zionist entity because one favours Jews over others (as if one’s group-related prejudices were relevant to appropriate geopolitical arrangements)

        * supporting the Zionist entity because one disfavours Muslims or Arabs or brown-skinned people (ditto)

        * supporting the Zionist entity because the Jewish or Christian religious dogma learnt at Mother’s knee leads one to believe that Zionism represents the fulfilment of god’s will (as if one’s religious prejudices were relevant to appropriate geopolitical arrangements)

        * supporting the Zionist entity because one thereby advances one’s career in politics, business, &c (as if one’s private interests were relevant to appropriate geopolitical arrangements)

        Notably absent is any concern about justice, especially the rights and welfare of the Palestinians taken individually and collectively.

      • genesto on June 20, 2019, 1:05 pm

        Good job, JWalters! Nathan reads like a high school debater totally ignorant of the facts on the issue, or intentionally obfuscating an argument that he knows he cannot win.

  4. calisson on June 19, 2019, 9:27 pm

    Harris, Buttigieg, Booker… they all have made absurdly ignorant comments about Israel as a moral entity. Do the Democrats believe that unless they kiss up to AIPAC et al they will never win the Jewish vote? How discouraging, if so.

    • genesto on June 20, 2019, 1:18 pm

      It’s not really about winning the Jewish vote. It’s about the Benjamins, i.e. attracting those billionaire Zionist campaign contributions to have any chance of winning

  5. Misterioso on June 20, 2019, 10:26 am

    Just received from Canada:

    http://www.palestinechronicle.com/toronto-raptors-please-skipthetrip-to-israel/

    “Toronto Raptors: Please #SkipTheTrip to Israel” The Palestine Chronicle, June 18/19, by Marion Kawas

    “On June 13, 2019, the Toronto Raptors won the NBA (National Basketball Association) Championship. A few days earlier, news had broken in the Israeli media that one of the team’s billionaire co-owners, Larry Tannenbaum, had made an announcement in April of this year, that if the team won, he would take them on a trip to Israel.

    “Tannenbaum is also one of the founders of the leading pro-Israel advocacy group in Canada, CIJA Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (note how the Zionist lobby seamlessly merges Israel and Jewish!).

    “The reaction to this proposed trip was, initially, shock by progressive fans and then a commitment to push back on such a blatant attempt to sports-wash Israel’s war crimes. The Canadian BDS Coalition started a petition on June 14, calling on team members to not be part of such infamy, a petition that has already gathered over 3000 signatures to date.

    “An open letter was also sent the following day to the Raptors by BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish’s coordinator, asking them to use their stature and influence to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and liberation.

    “There is precedent here, as the previous NBA champs have declined the traditional White House visit for the last 2 years in opposition to the policies of Donald Trump. There have also been tensions between Trump and National Football League NFL players that have negatively impacted visits to the White House, especially over Trump’s antagonistic reaction to the ‘Take a Knee’ protest.

    “And in February 2017, over half of a delegation of NFL players pulled out of an all-expense paid trip to Israel, following comments by the Israeli tourism minister claiming they would become ‘ambassadors of goodwill for Israel.’ Michael Bennett, the first player to withdraw, noted in a public statement:

    “I will not be used in such a matter. When I do go to Israel—and I do plan to go—it will be to see not only Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza so I can see how the Palestinians who have called this land home for thousands of years, live their lives. One of my heroes has always been Muhammad Ali. I know that Ali always stood strongly with the Palestinian people, visiting refugee camps, going to rallies, and always willing to be a ‘voice for the voiceless.’ I want to be a ‘voice for the voiceless,’ and I cannot do that by going on this kind of trip to Israel.”

    “All of this is happening in an atmosphere of increased repression of Palestinian activism and condemnation and even criminalization of BDS support, both in Canada and the U.S. A recent article in Canada’s National Post even went so far as to suggest the BDS movement represented a ‘national security threat;’ one can only imagine the trajectory from ‘security threat’ to further punitive actions for those who dare to call out Israel’s brutal policies against Palestinians.

    “Such heavy-handed tactics will not stem the global movement to reject Israel’s violations of international law and will not stop grassroots campaigns from speaking up. Toronto Raptors fans and activists are asking the new NBA champs to #SkipTheTrip to Israel, be on the side of history and social change, and take a stand for not just Palestinian rights, but the rights of oppressed people all over the world.

    “Open Letter to Toronto Raptors
    “We are writing to you as long-time fans to urge you to uphold Palestinian human rights and not to travel to Israel. Since 2004 Palestinian civil society organizations have called for the academic and cultural boycott of Israel until such a time as Israel recognizes the Right of Return of over 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants displaced in the process of Israeli colonization and occupation of Palestine; ends its occupation and colonization of the West Bank and its siege of Gaza; and dismantles the Apartheid system of racial discrimination and segregation for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    “Around the world, poor and oppressed people have embraced basketball as a sport of the people, and basketball players, many of whom come from poor and struggling backgrounds, have an important history of taking progressive positions and giving back to their communities. From Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Bill Russel’s stand with Mohammed Ali against the draft and the Vietnam War to public and collective statements against police brutality against Black people in America, NBA players have stood on the side of social and racial justice.

    “Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, its settlements and its Apartheid Wall are a war crime. The siege of Gaza and the death and misery meted out on an effectively jailed civilian population is a crime against humanity. And its system of racial discrimination and segregation is a form of Apartheid, as articulated by survivors of South African Apartheid including Desmond Tutu and Mandla Mandela (grandson of the great freedom fighter Nelson Mandela).

    “As NBA Champions, you have the opportunity to use your stature and influence to make the world a better place for young people all over the world who admire you. Please take this opportunity to stand with Palestinians in their struggle for freedom and liberation, and do not travel to Israel.”

    Aiyanas Ormond,
    Coordinator, BDS Vancouver-Coast Salish Territories”
    – Marion Kawas is a member of the Canada Palestine Association and co-host of Voice of Palestine.

  6. genesto on June 20, 2019, 1:30 pm

    I can’t see Kawhi Leonard or Kyle Lowery going on such a trip. Without these two stars, the two best players on the team, the trip would clearly lose it’s glamour. I could even see the thin-skinned Trump ‘dis-inviting’ the team under such circumstances, as he did with Stephen Curry and the G.S. Warriors previously.

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