Thursday, December 15, 2011

Military Courts To Try Violent Settler Extremists

Among several measures aimed at combating a spike in extremist "price tag" settler activity, Bibi Netanyahu has announced that settlers arrested for these sorts of crimes will be tried in military courts, same as violent Palestinian militants (one measure Bibi rejected, over the protests of quite a few members of his cabinet, was officially charging the extremists with terrorism). This created an amusing strange-bedfellows scenario between far-right settler nationalist parties like National Union, and left-wing human rights groups like B'Tselem, both of which are uncomfortable with the usage of military courts (though for the former, of course, it's only a problem when the settlers are subjected to it).

My own position on this is somewhat similar to the stance I took when Iran sentenced a man who had blinded a woman with acid to be himself blinded. As I said then, clearly I think putting out someone's eye as a punishment is barbaric. But there are plenty of attributes of Iran's judicial system I find barbaric, and certainly I don't find it any worse when they're used to punish crimes against women as opposed to punishing women themselves. And in general one of the ways one sees reforms of unjust practices is by ensuring they're enforced against the majority as well as the minority. Here, I'm generally uncomfortable with over-reliance on military courts and am sympathetic to the notion that they do not provide fully fair trials. But if they're going to be the forum by which violent Palestinian attacks against the IDF are tried, then I see no reason to treat violent Israeli settlers any differently.

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