good ass music
While human rights organizations, specifically Amnesty International, abstain from aligning themselves with political assertions or positions, the maneuvers of politics nonetheless have a tangible impact on the very subject these institutions work so closely to monitor and ameliorate. With this relationship in mind, activists cannot resist speculating on the potentially salutary effects that positive political moves can contribute to bolstering human rights across the globe. The recent bid for non-member observer status in the United Nations by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas offers an opportunity for such speculation. The condition of human rights as they pertain to the ongoing crisis of conflict between the state of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain in a disastrously vulnerable state, with room for much improvement.
Experts and activists have discussed the human rights implications of the Palestinian bid at great length. Should the bid be met with success at the UN, it would undoubtedly make a wealth of privileges accessible to the Palestinian people, including access to the UN Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court. Statehood offers a new framework for the Palestinian people to assert themselves as a sovereign nation, enjoying the essential protections sovereignty offers, namely to self-assert itself and protect the citizens which inhabit its borders. This is significant when discussing the ongoing issue of Israeli settlements in the OPT, the presence of which are blatant manifestations of illegality which violate a number of international humanitarian laws, including but not limited to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Amnesty International describes these imposing settlements in the occupied West Bank territory as “inherently discriminatory and results in continued violations of the rights to adequate housing, water, and livelihood for Palestinians”.
In addition, the opportunity materializes for Palestine to ratify treaties such as the ICCPR, ICESCR, as well as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, thereby submitting to the obligations inherent therein. More important, regardless of whether it chooses to ratify any of the aforementioned treaties, the Palestinian government would be bound to international human rights law, thus subjecting the governing body to regular review and scrutiny by appropriate monitoring bodies. This is especially important considering the human rights atrocities sanctioned by Hamas, which assumed administrative governance in Gaza after elections in 2006, inflicted against both Israel and its own constituents. Examples of such violations, endorsed by Hamas, include wanton arrests, torture, mistreatment of detainees, inadequate due process, executions, officious restrictions on freedom of expression, and deliberately lax control over active militants who fire rockets into southern Israel (a war crime in itself).
A successful bid for updating Palestinian status additionally offers the Israeli government a reprieve from the onus of single-handedly dealing with repeated assaults on the Israeli population. A recent paper published by the Reut Institute outlines the benefits Israel might experience resulting from further Palestinian recognition. The paper indicates that eventual statehood is an innovative way of “diluting the refugee problem” (rendering the UNWRA as redundant by changing the status of refugees to something more synonymous with that of an expatriate), potentially lowers the prospects of confrontation between the IDF and the Palestinian population, and injects the Palestinian government with a much-needed dosage of accountability for crimes under international law committed against Israeli civilians.
Palestinian statehood does not ensure that the intricate political animosity automatically dissipates, nor does it exculpate or otherwise exonerate those responsible for the violations of human rights committed by rogue agents against both Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations. The legitimization of Palestinian autonomy would have, at best, a palliative effect on the current intractability of Israeli-Palestinian relations. To assume that such political efforts would provide an immediate outcome of absolution for either side is idealistic. This essay neither seeks to endorse nor perpetuate such ideals, nor is it inherently Pro/Anti either national body. Instead, this essay attempts to highlight any avenues that might bolster human rights in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel, in addition to facilitating and maintaining a sense of accountability for all involved; if statehood has the potential to facilitate better human rights conditions on either side of checkpoint, then it is an avenue that warrants further exploration.
An essay I wrote last Fall, after Abbas’s unsuccessful bid for UN member status. Oh the times, they are a’changin’.
Palestine’s UN bid for observer status: The country-by-country voting breakdown — via Vuk Jeremić, the UNGA president, on Twitter.
I can’t believe; really, I cannot.
I don’t know why the announcement is making me cry, but it is. I’m not in the field. I’ve never even been to Israel, much less the OPT. This was a cause so near and dear to me throughout college, but never, ever in a million years did I believe any real progress would be made to reverse the intractability of the decades long crisis.Intractability: the trait of being hard to influence or control. When you hear in all your classes and in your research of the Intractable Crisis, it’s hard to hold out for hope (I’m ashamed to admit). Over the last two years, I’ve grown firm in my assessment that the Palestinian cause was a rather lost one, autopiloting down a course devised by outsiders and careless governing bodies. It made me angry to my core thinking about; I stopped believing that progress would be made on a global level. I desired and yelled out for recognition on some level, but my true faith had waned. Thank you, UN, for proving me wrong. For proving the whole world wrong.
After a lengthy and heated hearing, an Ohio bill meant to defund Planned Parenthood cleared a House committee on Wednesday by an 11-9 vote along party lines. House Bill 298, ostensibly about re-prioritizing federal family planning money, seeks to strip $1.7 million from Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. According to Planned Parenthood Ohio CEO Stephanie Knight, nearly 100,000 Ohio women depend on the organization for health care — overwhelmingly for preventative care including cancer screenings and birth control.
As Innovation Ohio notes, just two Planned Parenthood affiliates out of 36 family planning organizations received the federal grants in question, undermining the bill’s false pretense that other organizations are being overlooked in favor of Planned Parenthood.
Every single medical professional present testified against the bill. Dr. Grant Morrow of Nationwide Children’s Hospital decried HB 298 as the result of a “political agenda” that would have a devastating impact, primarily on poor and young women. Planned Parenthood is frequently a punching bag for many conservative politicians, despite the fact that abortions comprise only 3 percent of services provided by the women’s health organization. And as Dr. Kimberley Shepherd, a Columbus-based OB-GYN, testified during the hearing, defunding Planned Parenthood in Ohio would jeopardize cancer prevention screenings, STI care, hypertension testing, and many of the preventative measures the organization provides to low-income women.
Religious groups also sent multiple representatives to testify against HB 298. Former state representative Marian Harris of the National Council of Jewish Women argued that no one religious viewpoint should receive preferential treatment under the law, and pointed out that the legislation would gut funding for family planning clinics. Religious leaders also testified in support of Planned Parenthood, including a rabbi, a Lutheran minister, and a United Methodist minister.
And a rape survivor named Emily Shaw gave an emotional testimony about how she relied on Planned Parenthood services after she was raped at 13.
According to State Senator Nina Turner (D-OH), exit polls from Election Day showed that 56 percent of Ohioans support legal abortion all or most of the time, while just 39 percent thought it should be illegal. Nevertheless, HB 298 is just one example of the radical anti-choice legislation currently being considered by the Republican-controlled legislature in Ohio. Republicans in the state are also reviving a “heartbeat” bill that would categorically criminalize abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, representing the most restrictive ban in the country.
“I’m ready to see. I’m not insisting that we be brimming with hope. It’s OK not to be optimistic. Buddhist teachings say feeling that you have to maintain hope can wear you out, so just be present.”
~Joanna Macy from A Wild Love For the World
photo by Lauren F.
"In an astounding, little-reported act of hubris, Senate Republicans apparently killed a study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service when its findings contradicted their favorite economic myth: that giving tax cuts to the rich helps anyone but themselves. After the study found that lower tax rates for the wealthy “do not appear correlated with economic growth” - though they do increase economic disparities - Senate GOP leaders protested the study’s “methodology,” tone, and use of terms like “tax cuts for the rich,” and removed it from public view. Charging the move had “the hues of a Banana Republic,” Democrats have re-published it. Read all about it.”
The report is 23 pages long, download available through the last link.