Cameras as weapons

After the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem handed out more than 100 cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank to document their harassment by Israelis, it didn’t take long for the investment to pay off. This month, Muna Nawajaa of Khirbet Susiya recorded an attack by masked men, believed to be Israeli Jews, beating members of her family with clubs.

The video of the incident, which took place in the South Hebron hills, prompted Israeli police to take action. Three suspects from the nearby Jewish town of Susiya already have been arrested. Tuesday’s New York Times carries a feature on the June 8 incident and its aftermath.

While the project, called “Shooting Back,” is a good way to root out the thugs among Israeli Jews who live in the West Bank, it shouldn’t be limited to the West Bank – or Israel, for that matter.

Imagine if this project were expanded throughout the Middle East. Just as Israel has taken action against this thuggish and criminal activity, authorities from Riyadh to Cairo would take action against thugs in their societies who target Arab innocents.

There’s just one problem: Nobody’s interested in how people in those places are beaten, murdered and maimed – and, in some cases, the persecution is carried out by their own governments. B’Tselem, or at least the United Nations, would do well to protect those innocents as well.

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