Israeli authorities’ announcement that they would grant an early release to Khader Adnan, widely believed to have been a spokesman for the Palestinian terrorist group Islamic Jihad, sparked international attention, particularly in light of Adnan’s 66-day hunger strike.
The mechanism used to arrest Adnan, administrative detention, is the holding of a person by the state without a trial and is explicitly legal under strict conditions, according to international law. Article 78 of the fourth Geneva Convention states that if an occupying nation “considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take safety measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.” Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, moreover, allows for measures such as administrative detention during times of public emergency that threaten the life of a nation.
Whether Adnan’s case rose to this level is an important debate. It is not nearly as important, however, as maintaining the moral clarity never to call the spokesman of one of the most brutal terrorist organizations in the world a hero.
Adnan is now being lauded in the pages of The New York Times, The Guardian, and other major newspapers for undertaking a hunger strike to protest his detention. Funny how neither Adnan nor most of those praising him protested when Islamic Jihad blew up cafés in Haifa, shopping malls in Tel Aviv, buses in Nazareth, and markets in Hadera. Why was not a peep raised when the organization he’s believed to speak for maimed and murdered hundreds of innocent men, women, and children in a war of suicide terror?
Not only did Adnan not protest, he is said to have risen to become a spokesman of the group. The job was to incite and sell terror. “Who among you will carry the next explosive belt?” Adnan demanded at a 2007 rally. “Who among you will fire the next bullets? Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?”
Though always couched in the rhetoric of liberation, there can be no mistaking the essence of Islamic Jihad. To this day the organization actively works to impose dictatorship and destroy a member state of the United Nations. It has no problem targeting civilians in the process—one of the most flagrant violations of the principles of international humanitarian law, not to mention basic morality.
Human rights and Islamic Jihad are diametrically opposed to each other. For the former to emerge, the latter must be defeated—its ideology, infrastructure, rhetoric, and leaders.
Criticizing standards and procedures of administrative detention is an entirely valid discourse. Praising the spokesman of a bloodthirsty terrorist organization that targets civilians in campaigns of suicide bombings is not. That anyone can call Adnan a hero for any reason is only a sign of the moral turpitude of our time.
Those who fear excessive use of administrative detention should be much more afraid of Adnan’s ideology and organization, which make a mockery of human rights and destroy any chance of peace. This trial is not about Adnan so much as it is about the moral clarity of the rest of the world.