Someone once told me that Israel has more lawyers per capita than any other country. I don’t know whether it’s true, but it should be. In the West Bank alone, Israel applies Ottoman, British Mandate, Jordanian and Israeli military laws, cherrypicking them to make life as oppressive as possible for Palestinians.
A new Israeli movie, The Law In These Parts, arrives in New York tomorrow garlanded with awards. I haven’t seen it yet but the clip below makes it look pretty intriguing.
It turns the tables on the lawyers who devised the hundreds of military orders that govern life in the occupied territories, putting them in the dock to justify military courts that convict 99.7 per cent of Palestinians before them. I examine this system in detail in Chapter 3 of my book Disappearing Palestine.
Today, these lawyers’ successors are rewriting international law to justify not the occupation but the crimes against humanity committed by Israel when it wages a war of aggression as a form of collective punishment, as we’ve seen repeatedly in Gaza. The attempt to expose these crimes is labelled “lawfare” by Israel’s supporters.
Providing a veneer of legitimacy to this legal despotism is the Israeli Supreme Court, which Palestinians in the occupied territories can petition. I consider the myth of the court’s liberalism in this article: