Guest columnist Julie Paris is “disappointed and shocked at [Rep. Mike] Doyle’s continued support of H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act” (“Rep. Mike Doyle, a friend of Israel, should take his name off H.R. 4391,” Aug. 17). She claims the bill is only intended “to single out and demonize the Jewish state.” The rest of her argument makes two claims.
First, she impugns the motives of the sponsors of the bill, claiming they want to “restrict funding critical for Israel’s continued existence.” The motives of the sponsors are irrelevant. The substance of the bill is what is relevant. Furthermore, she agrees that Doyle’s motives are “caring when it comes to Israel’s security needs.”
Second, she asks, “What about Israel’s enemies?” They engage in bad and possibly worse behavior. The column engages in what can best be described as “what aboutism.” That’s the tactic of changing the subject from the question on the table (detention of Palestinian children in this case) to something else. I would never deny that there are Palestinian abuses, but that does not excuse Israel’s behavior.
The question on the table is about Israeli behavior. Why? Because the United States can influence Israeli behavior more than the other side. Because Israel can and should be held to this high standard, regardless of the behavior of others in the region. The State Department reported “a significant increase in detentions of minors in 2016, and that Israeli authorities continued to use confessions signed by Palestinian minors, written in Hebrew.” It also highlighted the “renewed use of administrative detention against Palestinians, including children, a practice in which a detainee may be held indefinitely, without charge or trial, by the order of a military commander or other government official.”
No one is excusing others who violate human rights, but we expect Israel to meet its own high standards. I expect my congressman to do that as well, and am glad he is courageous enough to take a position on this issue.
J Street Pittsburgh board member