The following is my latest piece for Al Jazeera.
Lima, Peru – Last week, Israel’s High Court voted to uphold a law denying Israeli citizenship or residency not only to Palestinians married to Israeli Arabs, but also to spouses of similarly distasteful nationality (Lebanese, Iraqi, etc).
I read the news of the court verdict on the Haaretz website, where it was offset by another breaking headline of a more compassionate nature: “Serbian vulture set free after treatment at Israeli veterinary hospital”.
According to the article:
The vulture was found injured at Kibbutz Lehavot Habashan in northern Israel, and was rushed to an Israeli veterinary hospital specializing in wild animals. There, the bird was diagnosed with multiple gunshot wounds.
Following two months of treatment, the vulture was set free. The Serbian embassy in Tel Aviv was reportedly “delighted to hear about the bird’s recovery, and Serbian diplomats attended the release of the Serbian ‘patient’ back into the wild”. Haaretz offered the following assessment:
Flying in the Middle East can be perilous for the scavenger birds, as they are sometime [sic] shot by people ignoring the international treaties protecting these birds.
As for other creatures imperiled by ignorance of international treaties, these might include Palestinian populations regularly subjected to collective punishment in violation of the Geneva Conventions. The inferior urgency of Palestinian medical conditions vis-a-vis avian ones is additionally underscored by the Israeli tradition of firing missiles at Palestinian ambulances, as well as by Haaretz headlines such as “IDF investigating death of diabetic Palestinian delayed at checkpoint” and “Palestinians: Ailing woman dies after IDF denies her ambulance”.
A 2004 Guardian article chronicling an Israeli bulldozing rampage in Gaza meanwhile reveals that the value of avian life also fluctuates in accordance with ethnogeographic determinants. The following description is of the aftermath of the demolition of the Rafah zoo:
One of the ostriches lay half buried in the rubble. Guinea fowl and ducks were laid out in a row. Goats and a deer struggled with broken legs … [Zoo co-proprietor Mohammed Ahmed] Juma accused Israeli soldiers of stealing valuable African parrots.
According to the article, after initially denying the destruction of the zoo and then conceding that a tank may have perhaps backed into it, the IDF eventually acknowledged having driven through the establishment, but “a spokesman said the soldiers had released the animals from their cages in a compassionate gesture to prevent them being harmed”.
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