Photo Credit: Congresswoman Betty McCollum's Facebook page
Congresswoman Betty McCollum (Democratic Farmer Labor-Minn.)

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (Democratic Farmer Labor-Minn.) on Tuesday introduced legislation she dubbed Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, to stop “US tax dollars from supporting the Israeli military’s ongoing detention and mistreatment of Palestinian children.” The bill is co-sponsored by Democrats Mark Pocan, Earl Blumenauer, André Carson, John Conyers, Jr., Danny K. Davis, Peter A. DeFazio, Raul Grijalva, Luis V. Gutiérrez, and Chellie Pingree.

“This legislation highlights Israel’s system of military detention of Palestinian children and ensures that no American assistance to Israel supports human rights violations,” McCollum said in a press release. “Peace can only be achieved by respecting human rights, especially the rights of children. Congress must not turn a blind eye the unjust and ongoing mistreatment of Palestinian children living under Israeli occupation.”

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According to NGO Monitor, starting in 2015 in the US, in 2016 in Australia, and in August 2017 in Canada, NGOs led by Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-P) have been conducting a campaign under the label of “No Way to Treat a Child” (NWTTAC). They call on governments “to use all available means to pressure the Israeli government to end the detention and abuse of Palestinian children,” which should “continue until the occupation is ended.”

The language of the allegation, suggesting there is “widespread and systematic ill-treatment of Palestinian children in the Israeli military detention system,” echoes a March 2013 UNICEF report, “Children in Israeli Military Detention,” which has been extensively quoted in the context of NWTTAC, as well as by European parliaments, UN frameworks, and other NGOs.

However, as demonstrated in an NGO Monitor study, the 2013 UNICEF report was thoroughly discredited. When examined in detail, and despite numerous references, the 2013 UNICEF report, written by political and ideological actors rather than experts, reflects a complete distortion of international law and of rudimentary criminal law concepts and procedures.

Crucially, the UNICEF report was almost entirely based on unverified claims made by the NGOs behind the NWTTAC campaign, which now, in loop fashion, cite UNICEF as an independent assessment.

UNICEF provides significant funding to many of these same groups.

According to NGO Monitor, the factually inaccurate and misleading content, produced in close collaboration with DCI-P and other Palestinian advocacy groups, demonstrates UNICEF’s own political agenda, rather than careful research aimed at enhancing the protection of children, reducing conflict, and promoting positive change in the region.

NGO Monitor points out that DCI-P claims to be a human rights group fly in the face of their habit of minimizing or completely ignoring the consequences and criminal nature of their clients’ violent acts—age notwithstanding—such as throwing rocks at cars moving at high speeds on highways.

In addition, many of the claims made in DCI-P’s “No Way to Treat a Child” report are self incriminating. For instance, the report states that innocent minors accused of involvement in violent crimes accept plea bargains, even if they are innocent. If this is the case, someone should sue their DCIP staff lawyers for ethical violations, if not outright malpractice. Where are their Supreme Court petitions over such coerced confessions? The Israeli high court is not known for ignoring cases of alleged abuse of Arab defendants.

The DCI-P report claims that Palestinian minors’ confessions were acquired through violence and torture. If true, DCI-P had a duty to report this, too, to the proper authorities and raise it before the court to get a dismissal. Again, failure to do so would be an ethical violation, if not malpractice.

In 2013, the IDF Military Prosecution suggested to DCI-P attorneys, among others, to be included on a list of provided to Arab minor suspects, but DCI-P refused to be part of this initiative.

The analysis shows that DCI-P misstates international and domestic law, particularly jurisdictional concepts, criminal adjudication, and juvenile justice standards. DCI-P’s research methodology is inherently flawed, and many of the statistics provided are either meaningless, without context, or irrelevant. This suggests that DCI-P is deliberately presenting a highly selective, biased and/or false interpretation of the law.

The DCI-P report falsely claims that Arab minors are placed in solitary confinement. In reality, international and domestic law forbids minors from being held with the adult population. Therefore, if a lone minor is arrested, they must be held separately.

Also, the same report condemns Israel’s use of military courts in the disputed territories. But under the legal paradigm used by DCI-P regarding legal standards in an occupied area under international humanitarian law, Israel is required to use such courts exclusively.

And so, should you be inclined to educate your Congressman or Congresswoman regarding the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, which requires that the Secretary of State certify that American funds do not support “Israel’s military detention, interrogation, abuse, or ill-treatment of Palestinian children,” kindly send them the URL to this report, and reassure them that American taxpayer dollars already do not support the Israeli military’s “abuse of Palestinian children.” Even those children who occasionally murder Israeli motorists driving outside their villages.

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