Wednesday, August 17, 2011

We published in The Hill today: "Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law."

Our National Advocacy Director, Josh Ruebner, has a great op-ed today in The Hill, supporting Sen. Leahy's efforts to hold Israel accountable for its violations of U.S. weapons laws. Josh touched a raw nerve with his hard-hitting analysis. Lots of people are attacking him (but not his arguments). Check it out and leave YOUR comment!

Hold Israel accountable with Leahy law

By Josh Ruebner
August 17, 2011

Apologists for Israeli occupation and apartheid claim that advocates for holding Israel accountable for its human rights abuses of Palestinians are “singling Israel out for extra scrutiny” or “holding Israel to a higher standard than other countries.”

Yet, ironically, Israel’s supporters also claim that U.S. military aid to Israel is sacrosanct and, unlike every other governmental program on the chopping block these days, cannot be questioned due to the “special U.S.-Israeli relationship." Dan Carle, a spokesperson for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), has noted correctly that you cannot have your cake and eat it too.

In response to an article in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz suggesting that the Vermont Senator will attempt to apply sanctions to certain units of the Israeli military for human rights violations, Carle explained that “the [Leahy] law applies to U.S. aid to foreign security forces around the globe and is intended to be applied consistently across the spectrum of U.S. military aid abroad. Under the law the State Department is responsible for evaluations and enforcement decisions and over the years Senator Leahy has pressed for faithful and consistent application of the law.”

The possibility of Senator Leahy consistently applying this eponymous legislation and holding Israel to the exact same standard as every other country has Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose office may have leaked the story in an effort to kill the initiative, in a tizzy.

The “Leahy Law,” as it is commonly known, prohibits the United States from providing any weapons or training to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.” In the past, this law has been invoked to curtail military aid to countries as diverse as Indonesia, Colombia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Along with other provisions in the Foreign Assistance Act, of which it is a part, and the Arms Export Control Act, it forms the basis of an across-the-board policy that is supposed to ensure that U.S. assistance does not contribute to human rights abuses.