Thesis: Cohen, Israeli Judges in a Jewish State and the Decline of Refugee Protection

Cohen, Iftach. Israeli Judges in a Jewish State and the Decline of Refugee Protection, LL.M. Thesis. Florence: European University Institute, 2015.
 
URL: http://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/39068/2015_Cohen_LLM.pdf (PDF)
 
Abstract

In this L.L.M thesis I am following a number of eminent scholars who have attributed those ideological and political motivations to the mainly Jewish and Israeli actors who devote themselves to the furthering of the uniqueness thesis in their respective fields of knowledge. In my view, from the culmination of those corresponsive activities emerges a pattern that can and should be applied to the Israeli judges in their abnormal reluctance from interfering in administrative decisions by recognizing present day asylum seekers as refugees.

In the larger scope, there is a lot in common between Jewish and Jewish-Israeli historians, diplomats or museum directors, with their persistent effort to reject the calls of other victim-groups for recognition of their own tragedy as a genuine genocide, and the Israeli judges that in the same vain derogate from the constitutive theoretical principles of their field of work when it comes to the dealing with the Holocaust.

As much as the Jewish-Israeli genocide scholar may fear the decline in value, morally and politically, of the Holocaust, as a result of possible recognition of other tragedies as additional valid examples in line with the Holocaust, which all belong to the general category of the definition ‘genocide’, the Israeli judge must also believe that the Holocaust would lose its uniqueness if the legal definition of ‘refugee’ is applied to the situation of contemporary asylum seekers. Conceptually situating them in the same group of the Jewish -refugees who fled from Nazi-Germany, might then dissipate the “Israeli advantage” in “justifiably” keeping the whole moral capital to itself.

In the second chapter I shall present and elaborate about the Holocaust’s uniqueness thesis, and its promotion by its proponents in different fields, and especially within history studies.

What might make the definition ‘refugee’ intimately associated with the Holocaust in the Israeli judges’ mind is the Jewish context of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the conventional wisdom about Israel’s historical commitment to the refugee protection regime it has established. For them, the Refugee Convention connotes so strongly to the Holocaust, that when they examine its applicability and implementation in a specific case, the memory of the Jewish-refugee who fled his Nazi perpetrators is being instantly evoked. In other words, the Jewish context of the Convention serves as a nexus between the Holocaust with its Jewish refugees and the contemporary forms of persecution and the refugees resulting from them. Rather than considering the international refugee law as their only valid point of reference, the judges are more attached – consciously or not – to the Holocaust framework and to what lies at its center, the Holocaust’s uniqueness. Compelled by the ideological imperative to distinguish the Holocaust from any other historical atrocity, and so to avoid such possible implication if comparing the legal situation of the Holocaust’s refugees to the contemporary asylum seekers, the judges seem to mistake the unique form of persecution witnessed by the Jewish-refugees for the actual yardstick with which to measure the appellant’s entitlement for the refugee status.

In the third chapter I examine the involvement of Israel and Jewish organizations in the drafting and acceptance of the Refugee Convention, as well as the sources for the conventional wisdom about Israel’s historical commitment to the Convention, and its fallacy.

In the last chapter of this thesis I conduct an analysis of the figurative language used by the judges in trying to establish – through the allusions occasionally made by them to the Holocaust at large and more commonly to the Jewish context of the Refugee Convention – that when thinking about the asylum seeker appellant standing before them, they also bear in mind a phantom of the Jewish refugee, whose suffering’s magnitude overshadows any possible fear of being prosecuted proclaimed by the actual appellant. Since present day asylum seekers do not withstand the unique standards of persecution witnessed by those poor phantoms of Jewish refugees, their asylum claims are inevitably being discarded and consequently they all pass for nothing but mere economical migrants, a fact that is exemplified in the inexistent refugee recognition rate both at first instance and at the Court level.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Thesis: Sahhar, On Western Media Collusion with Israel’s ‘Wars’ and Recovering the Palestinian Story

Sahhar, Micaela. Occupied Narrative: On Western Media Collusion with Israel’s ‘Wars’ and Recovering the Palestinian Story, PhD thesis. Melbourne: School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne, 2015.

 

URL:https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/58374

 

Abstract

This thesis seeks to capture the effects of decline in normative narrative structure about the Israel–Palestinian conflict. By engaging in analysis of Western media, the work illuminates the reliance of Western media coverage on Israeli narrative, and the way in which the media has conditioned Western publics to view the conflict. It argues that, historically, privileging a perception in which Palestinians are primarily defined through an Israeli optic has been key to the dissolution of Palestinian narrative internationally and has diminished the weight of contemporary Palestinian claims in diplomatic process. However, it is argued that the first decade of the 21st century saw a growing critique on how Israel-Palestinian relations are defined.

Accordingly, the project takes as its source material the reports and editorials of three different newspapers during two Israeli assaults on the Occupied Palestinian Territories: Operation Defensive Shield (2002) and Operation Cast Lead (2008–9), to document both the way in which certain kinds of narratives are privileged in portraying the Israel–Palestinian conflict, and the decline in narrative dominance which Israeli narrative had previously enjoyed. Both events occurred at the start of a radically different media age for capturing and disseminating information, which created an environment in which depiction of the operations in Western media could not be received as absolute, but circulated alongside other, contestable, narratives. This expanded traffic of information, and Israeli and Western media’s command over and response to this, evince a growing friction between Israeli-driven perspective and emerging alternatives in mainstream discourse. Thus, this thesis seeks to interrogate the inadequacies of received knowledge about the Israel–Palestinian conflict in the West at a moment in which the edifice of dominant narrative has become untenable, and simultaneously a moment in which new narratives might be advanced with hope of a willing reception.

The thesis concludes by evaluating the impact of, and response to, these operations on narrative about the conflict, and considers how this change in narrative direction since Operation Cast Lead could contribute to transforming the dynamic of Israel–Palestinian relations. It argues that shifts in media representation are indicative of the external pressures which have forced Israel to engage in a battle for legitimacy. It considers how certain discourses, such as securitisation and terror, which have privileged Israeli objectives through a matrix of deflection, could be (re)incorporated into an analytical rather than political framework to transform the current discourse on Israel–Palestinian relations, in particular by enabling the international community to scrutinise Israeli action and hold Israel to account. Finally it considers what effect these signs of narrative transformation could have on Israel’s relations with the Palestinians. However, it is concluded that work towards reconciliation will ultimately require radical shifts in the Israeli subjectivity in order to create a willing partner in Israel for meaningful change.

 

 

 

New Article: Bleibleh, Walking Through Walls. The Invisible War

Bleibleh, Sahera. “Walking Through Walls. The Invisible War.” Space and Culture 18.2 (2015): 156-70.

 

URL:

 

Abstract

This article presents the implications of modern urban warfare through ethnographic research of the Palestinian lived experience of the 2002 Israeli invasion Edjteyah. It is a scholarly attempt to document, investigate, and analyze the community’s response to Israel’s new military strategy of “walking through walls” as invisible urban warfare. This article connects the community experience in the old town of Nablus with the broader experience of warfare and political uncertainty. It is structured in three parts. The first discusses “walking through walls” as a modern warfare strategy, the second presents the methodology to capture the consequences of war with a case study of suspended everyday life, and the third narrates the participants’ “making-do” emergent tactics to counter the oppressor’s strategies. Following an analysis that encompasses qualitative ethnography and storytelling, it provides an interdisciplinary perspective of people’s temporal, spatial, and behavioral aftermath based on the participants’ narrations and experiences. In conclusion, the colonial power’s extended contemporary war delays any long-term planning, development, and sovereignty statehood by suspending the Palestinians’ everyday life.