A case about the torture & murder of a Palestinian in the W. Bank the Guardian won’t report

A guest post by AKUS

The Guardian never misses an opportunity to publish one-sided articles about what it perceives as abuses Arabs living on the West Bank suffer at the hands of Israelis. Although the mindless Harriet Sherwood has picked up the baton, one of her predecessors was Chris McGreal, now the Guardian’s Washington correspondent. McGreal was responsible for the fabrications the Guardian has repeated whenever an opportunity arose that Israel provided the apartheid-era South African government with nuclear weapons. He still contributes to negative articles about Israel from his desk in Washington.

Oddly enough, McGreal seems to have missed the following fascinating story occurring a few blocks from his office in Washington – one he would never overlook, I am sure, if any of the actors were Israelis.

The Supreme Court of the United States has been asked to rule on a request for damages in a human rights case brought before it by the family of a naturalized US citizen tortured and murdered by representatives of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO on the West Bank.

Azzam Rahim was born on the West Bank. He emigrated to the US in the 1970s and became a naturalized US citizen. After the Oslo accords were signed in 1993 he would periodically revisit the village where he was born, only to become yet another victim of those accords.

According to his family, Rahim was with his 20-year old son Shahid in a café in his village in 1995 when he was taken away by a group of four men who represented themselves as Palestinian policemen. According to his son, they were PA intelligence officers. Whatever their true motives, Shahid has said that they claimed that they wanted Rahim to identify some stolen jewelry. Two days later Rahim’s body was returned after he died in their custody in Jericho. The report of his torture and death was confirmed by the US Department of State.

According to a report in National Public Radio, he had suffered horrifying torture:

“The first thing I saw was cigarette burns all over his body,” Shahid says. “The bottom of his feet, his chest, his stomach, his hands.” His face and body were badly bruised, and his ribs broken.

Three intelligence officers were sentenced for their role in the case. Two were sentenced to one-year terms and one for seven years. Rather light terms for torture and murder by any standard.

The family has sued the Palestinian Authority and the PLO for damages under the “Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991” (TVPA). However, lawyers for the PA and PLO have used a quirk of the law to defend their clients against the charges. The Act refers only to “individuals” –i.e., “natural persons”. Therefore, they argue, it cannot be applied to organizations such as the Palestinian Authority and the PLO.  The family’s suit was dismissed by a lower court on those grounds, and they have appealed to the Supreme Court.

It appears that based on a technicality in the wording of the law the PA and the PLO have a case, as ludicrous as it may seem to anyone with a modicum of common sense. The relevant section is given in the family’s filing to the Supreme Court, a copy of which can be found here, and reads:

“Sec. 2. Establishment of civil action.

“(a) Liability. An individual who, under actual or apparent authority, or color of law, of any foreign nation

“(1) subjects an individual to torture shall, in a civil action, be liable for damages to that individual; or

“(2) subjects an individual to extrajudicial killing shall, in a civil action, be liable for damages to the individual’s legal representative, or to any person who may be a claimant in an action for wrongful death.

It is not at all clear that the Supreme Court will rule against the PA and PLO, even unwillingly. This despite the fact that clearly the law was enacted to allow redress to victims of torture and extra-judicial killings or their families. In fact, Rahim’s family’s petition to the Supreme Court points out that:

Though TVPA § 2(a) refers to an action against “[a]n individual,” district courts in the Eleventh Circuit, and the Eleventh Circuit itself have explicitly held that a TVPA action may be brought against organizational defendants.

If this were not the case, damages could be limited, in this case as an example, to what a PA police or intelligence officer could pay rather than the damages that could be extracted from the organization that employs him and that he holds himself out to represent.

One can only imagine how McGreal, Sherwood, and the Guardian would have pounced on an issue like this had it involved Israelis. We have seen them printing article after article about a terrorist’s hunger strike as an example of Israeli “brutality”, yet clear torture and murder by the PA and PLO seems to go unnoticed.

The journalists’ anti-Israeli omerta (code of silence) against Palestinian misdeeds will continue to be scrupulously observed by the Guardian and its representatives (and other MSM journalists with an anti-Israeli agenda) to preserve access to stories, real or fictional, in the West Bank, Gaza, or Israel that can be used to blacken Israel’s name, as Stephanie Gutmann pointed out in her book “The Other War”.

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