After more than two decades, one of the most underreported stories in Israel is at last beginning to garner the attention that it most assuredly deserves.
Thanks to a groundbreaking decision by the Jerusalem District Court in July, the sordid saga of the Palestinian Authority's treatment of alleged "collaborators" with the Jewish state is finally coming to light, and the picture is anything but pretty.
In a detailed ruling that is nearly 2,000- pages long, Judge Moshe Drori unambiguously concluded that more than 50 Palestinian plaintiffs could sue the Palestinian Authority in Israeli courts for their detention and mistreatment at the hands of the Palestinian security forces.
The "accumulation of evidence," Drori wrote, "shows that the Palestinian Authority used severe violence, including harsh torture, against the plaintiffs" because of suspicions that they been cooperating with Israel.
The cruelty which many endured is chilling and demonstrates the depths of inhumanity to which the regime in Ramallah is only too happy to resort in order to punish those whom it views as traitors.
Indeed, from the accounts offered by the plaintiffs, it would appear that the Palestinian Authority has treated detainees in ways that even the most infamous of Mafia gangsters would find appalling.
Prisoners reported being forced to drink from toilets and physically coerced to sit down on broken glass bottles and sharp objects. Fingernails were torn from their bodies and many were deprived of sleep, food and drink, as they were held incommunicado for extended periods. Others were stabbed with kitchen utensils, and some were tied to moving vehicles and dragged through the streets, adding to their pain and public humiliation. In an account published on the front page of this newspaper on Thursday, reporter Yonah Jeremy Bob movingly told the stories of two of the Palestinian plaintiffs, each of whom suffered unspeakable horrors.
One of the victims, using the pseudonym "Sami" to protect his identity, described an incident in which he was taken to the dentist after he complained of pain in his teeth. When the dentist was told that Sami had "helped Israel," he "ripped out" several of Sami's teeth, only not the ones that he said had been hurting. "This was because they said I had helped Israel," Sami said, adding that the incident prompted him to attempt suicide.
Adding insult to injury, the NRG website reported earlier this week that in the wake of the district court's ruling, lawyers for the plaintiffs could not find a single human-rights organization that would assist them with finding specialists who could determine the physical, psychological and emotional damage the Palestinian victims had suffered.
"Every NGO we turned to refused to help us. They said that they only assist people who sue Israel," said Barak Kedem, one of the attorneys involved in the case.
Well, isn't that ironic. And revealing.
After all, many of the self-proclaimed defenders of human dignity profess to be motivated by the highest ideals and deny any anti-Israel bias. They are simply defending the defenseless, they assert, when they condemn Israel for its alleged mistreatment of Palestinians.
But if that were the case, if it was truly noble principles which underpinned their work, rather than a narrow, left-wing political agenda, then one would have expected the numerous human rights groups to have gone out of their way to support the Palestinian plaintiffs.
To their lasting shame, however, apparently none of them had the courage of their purported convictions, preferring instead to give priority to their anti-Israel animus over their commitment to human dignity.
This cautionary tale merely highlights something that we already know: Many of those who parade themselves as guardians of human rights are in fact using it as a cover for ulterior purposes, exploiting the universal concern for fair treatment as a one-sided, blunt instrument with which to bash the Jewish state.
Through their actions – and selective inaction – these NGOs bring shame to the very cause they say they want to uphold. By refusing to give voice to Palestinian victims of the Palestinian Authority, they are replacing human rights with human wrongs.
And by refraining from assisting those Palestinians who have the courage to stand up to their tormentors, they betray the interests of justice and peace.
It is time to expose many of the human rights organizations for what they truly are: political wolves in sheep's clothing.
Here's hoping that the Palestinian victims of the PA get the justice and recompense which they seek and that the world finally realizes that the establishment of an oppressive and authoritarian Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will not serve to free Palestinians, but rather condemn them to lawless and unconscionable brutality at the hands of their own leaders.