A Guardian article written by Corinne Redfern (“Your life is under threat. You might have to run any second. What do you take?”, April 2), on their ‘Rights and Freedom’ page, introduces the topic here:
From those at risk of wildfires to activists facing death threats – thousands of people around the world keep a bag ready to flee. What do they pack?
Human rights defender at risk of arrest, a family living in a conflict zone or a woman planning to flee domestic violence in the middle of the night, they have one thing in common: a bag packed ready with this moment in mind.
The piece includes photos of the “go-bags” of activists and vulnerable individuals from around the world, including an LGBT activist in Uganda, a domestic violence survivor in the UK, a human rights activist in Cuba, and a journalist in Somalia.
It also includes a Palestinian in Gaza named Issam Younis, who’s described as a “human rights activist”.
Here’s the relevant text:
The uncomfortable truth, Younis knows, is that the suitcases serve little purpose: in real moments of danger, it is unlikely there will be time to grab them. “An escalation could take place at any moment,” he says. “In a minute, the whole situation can change.” In 2014, Israeli armed forces bombed the house next door to his father in the middle of the night. His dad was killed instantly, still sleeping in his bed.
Even in the wider context of conflict, Younis’s work heading the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights makes him a high-profile target, he says. For the past 30 years, he has been campaigning to end the Israeli occupation of Palestine, while advocating for reparations for those whose lives have already been lost. In recent years, the death threats and accusations of antisemitism levelled against Younis and his colleagues have grown in number. “The truth is expensive,” he says sadly. “If you go for the truth, you have to be ready to pay the consequences.”
First, contrary to the journalists’s claim, Gaza is of course not occupied. Further, any real human rights activist in Gaza would be campaigning against Hamas’s authoritarian rule in the Palestinian territory.
Additionally, the suggestion that, because of his campaigning to end “the occupation”, Younis is getting death threats from Israelis/Israeli officials, or that he in any way represents a “high-profile target” for an Israeli attack, would be laughable, except that countless Guardian readers no doubt accept his fanciful narrative at face value.
In fact, the Guardian fails to reveal that though Youni’s group, Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights, claims to promote human rights, its board members, officials and employees, NGO Monitor has documented, “include members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas”, both designated as terrorist organisations by the US and the EU.
In October 2016, Younis himself led a meeting which included representatives from several terror groups, including Hamas and PFLP.
Board members, officials and employees of the NGO also speak frequently at PFLP events, with some posting material on their social media accounts promoting terror and using antisemitic imagery. One Facebook post by top Al-Mezan official Hussein Hammad on October 22, 2015, during the Stabbing Intifada, showed a caricature of a Jew looking behind his back in fear of a stabbing attack (snapshot below).
Hammad added his own comments:
“When the settler looks behind his back on all the streets… When the occupying power encourages its residents to acquire weapons… when an occupier intentionally kills another occupier for suspicion… It means that we are on the right track. The uprising has begun and will not stop… Glory to the martyrs.”
You can read this NGO Monitor report demonstrating how Palestinians affiliated with Al-Mezan have clear ties to Hamas and PFLP, with additional examples of them praising and promoting terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
There are, thankfully, many genuine rights defenders around the world, brave advocates for justice who risk their lives taking on totalitarian regimes – to promote democracy, free speech, tolerance and other truly liberal values. Al-Mazen’s band of terror supporting crusaders who actively oppose the human rights of Jews represent the polar opposite of such human rights advocacy.