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Last Friday, a teenager was slain apparently by the private security forces of the Beit Yonaton settlement in Silwan:

The circumstances of the death of Milad Ayyash, 16, on Saturday morning in East Jerusalem raise many questions. Ayyash was apparently killed by shots fired from the Beit Yonatan apartment complex, inhabited by Jewish settlers, in the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan.

Apartment complex? 60 Minutes when they visited Beit Yonaton last fall called it and I quote "an armed camp".

Beit Yonaton is named after the convicted spy Jonathan Pollard. It not only violates the Fourth Geneva Conventions but it also has been declared illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court, twice!

Just for the sake of clarity, I'll quote the Fourth Geneva Convention and will leave it to you to see if it applies to the settlements:

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.


The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the said occupation meets with no armed resistance.

The question of applicability of East Jerusalem was raised by the High Contracting Parties in 2001 and this was their conclusion:

1. This Declaration reflects the common understanding reached by the participating High Contracting Parties to the reconvened Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Conference of 15 July 1999, recommended by United Nations' General Assembly Resolution ES-10/6 in an Emergency Special Session, issued a statement as follows:

"...The participating High Contracting Parties reaffirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. Furthermore, they reiterated the need for full respect for the provisions of the said Convention in that Territory. Taking into consideration the improved atmosphere in the Middle East as a whole, the Conference was adjourned on the understanding that it will convene again in the light of consultations on the development of the humanitarian situation in the field."

2. The participating High Contracting Parties express deep concern about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the field. They deplore the great number of civilian victims, in particular children and other vulnerable groups, due to indiscriminate or disproportionate use of force and due to lack of respect for international humanitarian law.

When I visited Israel I was shocked by the Blackwateresque militias that surround the settlements. In the West Bank settler militias attack school children trying to get to school and the IDF has to protect those children from the settlers.

Just as your Justice Department rightly stands up to so-called Islamic charities that are fronts for killing children you should stand up to Jewish charities that fund these illegal settlements.

This letter is not about whether we have a one state or two state solution or whether or not we negotiate with the Palestinians. On that regard I believe J-Street's advise to you is sound: Get a comprehensive proposal out there by September, leaving the details up to you.  Rather, it's about basic human decency and fairness. We condemn Hamas when they kill innocent children but will we do the same with Israeli settlers? You need to speak that message when you speak with PM Netanyahu. An entire generation of Arabs who heard your inspiring words in Cairo are listening.  Those brave young people last Friday both affirmed protection of the Coptic minority and solidarity with the Palestinian people. They will be seeing if you really meant those words. If we don't take the moral high ground soon not only will Israel be delegitimized but so will the United States.

A Concerned American

P.S. As a Christian, I will be praying for the peace of Jerusalem and I am sure you are doing the same. I will also be praying for you as you make difficult decisions not only for the good of our country but also for the entire World.

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Comment Preferences

  •  State Dept, not DOJ (5+ / 0-)

    The DOJ is able to prosecute front groups for Islamic terrrorists because those terrorists are on the State Dpt-created list of Specially Designated Terrorist Groups.  In order for the DOJ to prosecute these Jewish charities, then, the State Dpt would have to designate the settler groups as SDTGs.

    re: international law: I don't think it's relevant in this context.  If Congress made the violation of international law as determined by the UN (or some other body) fatal to tax exemption, then it would be relevant, but AFAIK international law has no bearing on the activity of charities.

    •  Criminalizing is not the answer (0+ / 0-)

      When I said stand up I didn't mean prosecute which in addition to the problems listed above has other issues that include distinguishing the various kinds of settlements. (I was focusing on the ideological ones.) Declaring them all (or even any) as terrorist groups redefines the term into meaninglessness.

      Generic reform that provides greater transparency for charitable giving would address this issue, the Islamic charities I mentioned in the letter, and the abuses of the Koch brother astroturf organizations.

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