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Brown: Ending political bias in terrorism protocol

BY MARCUS BROWN | AUGUST 05, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Israeli Cabinet approved the detention of Jewish citizens suspected of perpetrating terrorist acts against Palestinians on Sunday. This move is in response to the death of a Palestinian toddler by the name of Ali Dawabsha, who was killed in an act of arson that occurred July 31.

Ordinarily, this action is reserved for Palestinians committing violent acts against Jewish citizens, but after the July 31 arson, the need for such a measure to be applied to all has become apparent. The death of Dawabsha clearly demonstrates that terror is not unilateral, and for this reason, actions taken to prevent and punish terror cannot be, either. 

The use of administrative detention cannot be labeled the most desired course of action, because detainees can be denied due process for months, but if it is to be designated as a necessary evil, it must be applicable to all. While not ideal, the use of administrative detention has been deemed necessary as a means of preventing escalating violence in the time it would take for a proper trial to be arranged.

However, when used exclusively on Palestinians, it becomes less of a safety precaution and more of a political tool used to strip away the rights of the Palestinians in custody.

What differentiates the implementation of a seemingly heavy-handed judicial measure from deliberate discrimination is the unbiased application to all parties deserving of the measure.  

When determining if the use of administrative detention is necessary, the deciding factor should not be the nationality of the accused but rather the threat posed to the public. The violence occurring in Israel is not one-sided and cannot be treated as such. Furthermore, the legislative body of any country should adhere to a goal of protecting the entirety of its constituency equally under its policies.

A blind eye cannot be turned toward part of the population by cultivating an us-versus-them mentality that results in extensive measures exclusively levied towards a select group of people. A disproportionate use of the law creates disparities in protection and an increase in resentment by those who feel neglected or persecuted.

While the use of administrative detention may not be the ideal solution to combat the rise of violence in the country, the decision to include Jewish citizens in the scope of its application demonstrates a willingness to move toward equal treatment for all under the law, as well as eliminating the reactionary nature of unilateral terrorism punishment.

Stringent policies aimed solely at one section of the populace, such as Palestinians, for example, will prove to be counterproductive and breed further distrust in what is already a high-tension environment.


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