Opinion |

Gazan Doctor Seeking Justice for His Slain Daughters Won't Find It in Israel

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks with Israeli Minister of Agriculture Alon Shuster at the Knesset in November
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks with Israeli Minister of Agriculture Alon Shuster at the Knesset in NovemberCredit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, too, tried the good way. For 13 years, since the massacre of his daughters in the Gaza Strip, he has traveled the world talking about hope, peace, forgiveness and coexistence. I’ve seen him at the European Parliament and in Tel Aviv. He said that he is not angry. His performances were nearly inhuman. It was hard to believe them. A man, three of whose daughters were killed by the Israel Defense Forces, speaks about error and forgiveness. Now his time for anger has come. Even the Supreme Court shamefully kicked him to the curb. Perhaps now he will realize that the path that he has chosen will not lead him anywhere.

Izzeldin, you’re not the first Palestinian who has tried this good path, and it always ends in despair. Marwan Barghouti, for example, tried the path of hope and dialogue before turning to violent resistance. It ended badly for everyone. So stop, Dr. Abuelaish. Give it up. Stop talking about hope, justice and peace. There’s no one to talk to about it. There’s no partner.

“It never occurred to me to boycott Israel. Until Arkansas told me I couldn’t”

Israel doesn’t understand that language, which is foreign to the state. Israel only knows a different language, one to which you must resort if you want to accomplish even a small portion of your goals – delayed justice for your dead daughters; a recognition of the injustice; restitution and the prevention of such acts in the future.

The physician’s case never should have come to court. The day after his daughters were killed, Israel should have contacted Dr. Abuelaish, who at the time was on the staff at the Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, outside Tel Aviv. The Israeli government should have asked his forgiveness and offered him its assistance, without any court involvement.

The soldiers who killed his daughters may not have intended to do so, but they certainly didn’t intend it enough not to kill them. Someone needs to be punished and to pay for such criminal negligence.

Palestinian Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish holds a photograph of his daughters and niece on the beach in GazaCredit: Ariel Schalit.AP

A precedent? Excellent. That’s precisely the intent. When Israel begins paying for the crimes and negligence of its soldiers, the IDF will begin to take more care with human life. In one rare instance, Israel did demonstrate generosity and humanity. It was the amazing case of a girl by the name of Maria Aman, who was paralyzed from head to toe by an Israeli missile that killed half of her family in Gaza in 2006, and the sky didn’t fall. She’s living among us with all of the rehabilitation services that she deserves. That’s not a precedent and it’s not dangerous. It’s simply humane behavior.

It’s not hard to guess what would have happened if Hamas had killed three Jewish sisters. The repulsive ultranationalist legal aid organization Shurat Hadin would have sued it, screaming “terrorism,” in half the countries of the world, and it would have won.

Abuelaish believed in the Israeli legal system. The head of the Supreme Court panel that heard his case, Justice Isaac Amit, gushed saccharine sorrow and kindness in a repellent manner – “Our hearts are with the appellant” – before ordered the grieving physician to get out of his face.

This is the court about whose future the liberals are so apprehensive, the lighthouse whose light we are meant to follow. An existential disaster would be caused to Israeli democracy if anyone tried to harm it, we’ve been told. In fact, it would not be a great disaster. No harm would be caused, other than to Israel’s deceptive reputation as being fair.

Now, dear Dr. Abuelaish, take a different path. If they do not listen to you in Jerusalem, go to The Hague. It’s true that according to protocol, your prospects are slim there as well. The International Criminal Court doesn’t deal with individual cases of negligence and has no jurisdiction with regard to anything that happens here prior to 2014.

But you can file a complaint in The Hague against the Israeli judicial system for the automatic immunity that it grants for all of the state’s war crimes. Whether or not they hear it, this injustice has to resonate in the world. And then, Dr. Abuelaish, enlist another system, one that might one day deprive Israel of a bit of the destructive weaponry that killed your daughters.

Instead of speaking about coexistence, talk about boycotts. Instead of peace, talk about sanctions. Join the BDS movement. It is only such measures that might bring about the change for which you are fighting. That’s what the Supreme Court in Jerusalem has taught you.

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