2 thoughts on “Letter to Obama by Israeli woman

  1. עברית
    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/weekly_ad/1233350425/

    English

    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/weekly_ad/1233350371/

    HAMAS

    Israel does not recognize
    The Hamas government in Gaza –
    But holds it responsible
    For the attacks from there.

    Israel does not recognize
    The Hamas government in Gaza –
    But demands that it
    Guarantee the cease-fire there.

    That is ridiculous. That is hopeless.
    We must talk with Hamas.
    The enemy in war is also
    The partner in the cease-fire.

    Ad published in Haaretz, January 30, 2009

    ====================================================

    אורי אבנרי:הדגל השחור של אי החוקיות

    Uri Avnery: The Black flag of illegality

    עברית
    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/avnery/1233508786/

    English
    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1233508695/

    Black Flag

    31/01/09

    A SPANISH JUDGE has instituted a judicial inquiry against seven Israeli political and military personalities on suspicion of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The case: the 2002 dropping of a one ton bomb on the home of Hamas leader Salah Shehade. Apart from the intended victim, 14 people, most of them children, were killed.

    For those who have forgotten: the then commander of the Israeli Air Force, Dan Halutz, was asked at the time what he feels when he drops a bomb on a residential building. His unforgettable answer: “A slight bump to the wing.” When we in Gush Shalom accused him of a war crime, he demanded that we be put on trial for high treason. He was joined by the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who accused us of wanting to “turn over Israeli army officers to the enemy”. The Attorney General notified us officially that he did not intend to open an investigation against those responsible for the bombing.

    I should be happy, therefore, that at long last somebody is ready to put that action to a judicial test (even if he seems to have been thwarted by political pressure.) But I am sorry that this has happened in Spain, not in Israel.

    ISRAELI TV VIEWERS have lately been exposed to a bizarre sight: army officers appearing with their faces hidden, as usual for criminals when the court prohibits their identification. Pedophiles, for example, or attackers of old women.

    On the orders of the military censors, this applies to all officers, from battalion commanders down, who have been involved in the Gaza war. Since the faces of brigade commanders and above are generally known, the order does not apply to them.

    Immediately after the cease-fire, the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, promoted a special law that would give unlimited backing by the state to all officers and soldiers who took part in the Gaza war and who might be accused abroad of war crimes. This seems to confirm the Hebrew adage: “On the head of the thief, the hat is burning”.

    I DO NOT object to trials abroad. The main thing is that war criminals, like pirates, should be brought to justice. It is not so important where they are caught. (This rule was applied by the State of Israel when it abducted Adolf Eichmann in Argentina and hanged him in Israel for heinous crimes committed outside the territory of Israel and, indeed, before the state even existed.)

    But as an Israeli patriot, I would prefer suspected Israeli war criminals to be put on trial in Israel. That is necessary for the country, for all decent officers and soldiers of the Israeli army, for the education of future generations of citizens and soldiers.

    There is no need to rely on international law alone. There are Israeli laws against war crimes. Enough to mention the immortal phrase coined by Justice Binyamin Halevy, serving as a military judge, in the trial of the border policemen who were responsible for the 1956 massacre in Kafr Kassem, when dozens of children, women and men were mown down for violating a curfew which they did not even know about.

    The judge announced that even in wartime, there are orders over which flies “the black flag of illegality”. These are orders which are “manifestly” illegal – that is to say, orders which every normal person can tell are illegal, without having to consult a lawyer.

    War criminals dishonor the army whose uniform they wear – whether they are generals or common soldiers. As a combat soldier on the day the Israeli Defense Army was officially created, I am ashamed of them and demand that they be cast out and be put on trial in Israel.

    My list of suspects includes politicians, soldiers, rabbis and lawyers.

    THERE IS not the slightest doubt that in the Gaza war, crimes were committed. The question is to what extent and by whom.

    Example: the soldiers call on the residents of a house to leave it. A woman and her four children come out, waving white handkerchiefs. It is absolutely clear that they are not armed fighters. A soldier in a near-by tank stands up, points his rifle and shoots them dead at short range. According to testimonies that seem to be beyond doubt, this happened more than once.

    Another example: the shelling of the United Nations school full of refugees, from which there was no shooting – as admitted by the army, after the original pretexts were disproved.

    These are ”simple” cases. But the spectrum of cases is far wider. A serious judicial investigation has to start right from the top: the politicians and senior officers who decided on the war and confirmed its plans must be investigated about their decisions. In Nuremberg it was laid down that the starting of a war of aggression is a crime.

    An objective investigation has to find out whether the decision to start the war was justified, or if there existed another way of stopping the launching of rockets against Israeli territory. Without doubt, no country can or should tolerate the bombing of its towns and villages from beyond the border. But could this be prevented by talking with the Gaza authorities? Was our government’s decision to boycott Hamas, the winner of the democratic Palestinian elections, the real cause of this war? Did the imposition of the blockade on a million and a half Gaza Strip inhabitants contribute to the launching of the Qassams? In brief: were the alternatives considered before it was decided to start a deadly war?

    The war plan included a massive attack on the civilian population of the Strip. The real aims of a war can be understood less from the official declarations of its initiators, than from their actions. If in this war some 1300 men, women and children were killed, the great majority of whom were not fighters; if about 5000 people were injured, most of them children; if some 2500 homes were partly or wholly destroyed; if the infrastructure of life was totally demolished – all this clearly could not have happened accidentally. It must have been a part of the war plan.

    The things said during the war by politicians and officers make it clear that the plan had at least two aims, which might be considered war crimes: (1) To cause widespread killing and destruction, in order to “fix a price tag”. “to burn into their consciousness”, “to reinforce deterrence”, and most of all – to get the population to rise up against Hamas and overthrow their government. Clearly this affects mainly the civilian population. (2) To avoid casualties to our army at (literally) any price by destroying any building and killing any human being in the area into which our troops were about to move, including destroying homes over the heads of their inhabitants, preventing medical teams from reaching the victims, killing people indiscriminately. In certain cases, inhabitants were warned that they must flee, but this was mainly an alibi-action: there was nowhere to flee to, and often fire was opened on people trying to escape.

    An independent court will have to decide whether such a war-plan is in accordance with national and international law, or whether it was ab initio a crime against humanity and a war-crime.

    This was a war of a regular army with huge capabilities against a guerrilla force. In such a war, too, not everything is permissible. Arguments like “The Hamas terrorists were hiding within the civilian population” and “They used the population as human shields” may be effective as propaganda but are irrelevant: that is true for every guerrilla war. It must be taken into account when a decision to start such a war is being considered.

    In a democratic state, the military takes its orders from the political establishment. Good. But that does not include “manifestly” illegal orders, over which the black flag of illegality is waving. Since the Nuremberg trials, there is no more room for the excuse that “I was only obeying orders”.

    Therefore, the personal responsibility of all involved – from the Chief of Staff, the Front Commander and the Division Commander right down to the last soldier – must be examined. From the statements of soldiers one must deduce that many believed that their job was “to kill as many Arabs as possible”. Meaning: no distinction between fighters and non-fighters. That is a completely illegal order, whether given explicitly or by a wink and a nudge. The soldiers understood this to be “the spirit of the commander”.

    AMONG THOSE suspected of war crimes, the rabbis have a place of honor.

    Those who incite to war crimes and call upon soldiers, directly or indirectly, to commit war crimes may be guilty of a war crime themselves.

    When one speaks of “rabbis”, one thinks of old men with long white beards and big hats, who give tongue to venerable wisdom. But the rabbis who accompanied the troops are a very different species.

    In the last decades, the state-financed religious educational system has churned out “rabbis” who are more like medieval Christian priests than the Jewish sages of Poland or Morocco. This system indoctrinates its pupils with a violent tribal cult, totally ethnocentric, which sees in the whole of world history nothing but an endless story of Jewish victimhood. This is a religion of a Chosen People, indifferent to others, a religion without compassion for anyone who is not Jewish, which glorifies the God-decreed genocide described in the Biblical book of Joshua.

    The products of this education are now the “rabbis” who instruct the religious youths. With their encouragement, a systematic effort has been made to take over the Israeli army from within. Kippa-wearing officers have replaced the Kibbutzniks, who not so long ago were dominant in the army. Many of the lower and middle-ranking officers now belong to this group.

    The most outstanding example is the “Chief Army Rabbi”, Colonel Avichai Ronsky, who has declared that his job is to reinforce the “fighting spirit” of the soldiers. He is a man of the extreme right, not far from the spirit of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose party was outlawed in Israel for its fascist ideology. Under the auspices of the army rabbinate, religious-fascist brochures of the ultra-right “rabbis” were distributed to the soldiers.

    This material includes political incitement, such as the statement that the Jewish religion prohibits “giving up even one millimeter of Eretz Israel”, that the Palestinians, like the Biblical Philistines (from whom the name Palestine derives), are a foreign people who invaded the country, and that any compromise (such as indicated in the official government program) is a mortal sin. The distribution of political propaganda violates, of course, army law.

    The rabbis openly called upon the soldiers to be cruel and merciless towards the Arabs. To treat them mercifully, they stated, is a “terrible, awful immorality”. When such material is distributed to religious soldiers going into war, it is easy to see why things happened the way they did.

    THE PLANNERS of this war knew that the shadow of war crimes was hovering over the planned operation. Witness: the Attorney General (whose official title is “Legal Advisor to the Government”) was a partner to the planning. This week the Chief Army Attorney, Colonel Avichai Mandelblut, disclosed that his officers were attached throughout the war to all the commanders, from the Chief of Staff down to the Division Commander.

    All this together leads to the inescapable conclusion that the legal advisors bear direct responsibility for the decisions taken and implemented, from the massacre of the civilian police recruits at their graduating ceremony to the shelling of the UN installations. Every attorney who was a partner to the deliberations before an order was given is responsible for its consequences, unless he can prove that he objected to it.

    The Chief Army Attorney, who is supposed to give the army professional and objective advice, speaks about “the monstrous enemy” and tries to justify the actions of the army by saying that it was fighting against “an unbridled enemy, who declared that he ‘loves death’ and finds shelter behind the backs of women and children”. Such language is, perhaps, pardonable in a pep-talk of a war-drunk combat commander, like the battalion chief who ordered his soldiers to commit suicide rather than be captured, but totally unacceptable when it comes from the chief legal officer of the army.

    WE MUST pursue all the legal processes in Israel and call for an independent investigation and the indictment of suspected perpetrators. We must demand this even if the chances of it happening are slim indeed.

    If these efforts fail, nobody will be able to object to trials abroad, either in an international court or in the courts of those nations that respect human rights and international law.

    Until then, the black flag will still be waving.

    Like

  2. Ad in Haaretz, on Friday

    Two sides of the coin

    WE say:
    It is impossible for
    The inhabitants of Ashkelon
    To live under rocket fire.

    THEY say:
    It is impossible for
    The inhabitants of Gaza
    To live in demolished homes
    While the crossings are
    Closed for building materials.

    Impossible to… read more http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/weekly_ad/1233951897/

    Uri Avnery

    Dirty Socks Full text Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/

    On the Gush Shalom Forum:

    Who deserves our votes – and who doesn’t?
    Adam Keller – comment on Avnery 07/02/09 article http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/archive/1234117065

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    http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/he/channels/archive/1234117940

    Uri Avnery
    7.02.09

    Dirty Socks

    ?I have some good news and some bad news,? the sergeant in the joke tells his men. ?The good news is that you are going to change your dirty socks. The bad news is that you are going to exchange them among yourselves.?

    I am not the only person who is reminded of this old British army joke by the current elections.

    We are faced by a sorry lot of politicians, some of them documented failures and some completely free of any past achievements. There is no meaningful discussion between them about the issues. Not one of the main contenders offers real solutions to our basic problems. The differences between them are invisible without a magnifying glass.

    The instinctive reaction: ?To hell with the lot of them. Let?s not vote at all!?

    But that is childish. We cannot afford not to vote, or to vote out of spite or as a protest. Even if the differences are tiny ? they may turn out to be important.

    Therefore, let?s hold our nose and vote. If necessary, let?s take some medicine against nausea. If all of them are bad, let?s look for the lesser evil.

    FOR ME, the greatest evil is Binyamin (?Bibi?) Netanyahu.

    If he gets one vote more than his rivals, the President will entrust him with the task of setting up the next government. Netanyahu has already committed himself to inviting Avigdor Liberman, the pupil of the fascist Meir Kahane, as his first partner, as well as Shas, which has now become an extreme right-wing party. Perhaps he will also take in the ?National Union?, which is even more extreme, and the remnants of the National Religious party, together with the Orthodox.

    If this is to be the core of the next coalition, we shall have an extreme nationalist-racist government, a government that will reject outright any possibility of ending the occupation, setting up a Palestinian state and evacuating the settlements.

    After that, Netanyahu could invite Kadima and Labor, but that would not matter anymore. Since he will be able to set up a government without them, he will get them for next to nothing. In such a government, their only function will be to serve as fig leaves, camouflage for the Americans.

    One must also remember who would come with Netanyahu: types like Limor Livnat, Benny Begin and Bogie Yaalon.

    Some people have brought up a Machiavellian idea: let the Likud come to power. That way, the entire world will see the true face of Israel and boycott it. The government will fall, and we can start all over again.

    Sorry, that is too risky a bet for me. I am not ready to gamble with the future of Israel. To use an old catch-phrase: I don?t have another country.

    Some try to cheer us up with another thought: Netanyahu is a weak person. If the Americans exert pressure on him, he will give in. In the end he will do whatever Obama tells him to do.

    I am not so sure. I am not ready to bet on that either. His partners will not let him submit. For me, the first decision is: No Netanyahu.

    TZIPI LIVNI has one enormous advantage: she is not Bibi.

    It may seem that this is also her only advantage.

    At this moment, she is the only person who could ? perhaps, perhaps ? block the road to a coalition headed by the Likud. For many, that is reason enough to vote for her.

    Is there any other reason? Hard to see one. She could have risen above the murky waters and presented a clear and focused message: peace with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. That would have separated her from Netanyahu and also from Ehud Barak and given her the status of a statesperson. It would have turned the elections into a referendum on war and peace.

    She has missed this opportunity. Like all the other candidates, she is afraid of the word ?peace?. Her advisors have probably warned her that the shares of peace in the stock exchange of public opinion are way down.

    If she were a real leader, if peace had been burning in her bones (as we say in Hebrew), she would have ignored the advice and stood up as a woman of principle.

    Instead, she is trying to be more macho than all the machos, ?The Only Man In The Government?. She cries to high heaven against any dialogue with Hamas. She objects to a mutually agreed cease-fire. She tries to compete with Netanyahu and Liberman with unbridled nationalist messages.

    That is bad. That is also stupid. Someone who is looking for a he-he-man will not vote for a woman. Someone who is longing for a brutal warlord will not vote for a female civilian who, in the words of Barak, ?has never held a rifle in her hands?.

    It was a test of leadership. And Tzipi flunked it.

    True, here and there she has voiced some vague ideas about ?two nation-states?, but in all her years in office she has not taken the smallest real step in this direction.

    Therefore, there is no reason to vote for her, except one: if she gets one vote more than Netanyahu, the President will call on her to try to set up a government. Such a government will surely include Netanyahu, and probably Liberman too. Yet it will be different from a government headed by Netanyahu. Under heavy American pressure, it might even move towards peace.

    I CANNOT vote for Ehud Barak. Even if my head wanted to, my hand would not obey.

    The inhuman Gaza War was a reflection of Barak?s own inhuman character. He waged the war as a part of his election campaign. When the anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of Tel-Aviv and shouted: ?Don?t buy votes / with the blood of babies? they were not so far off the mark.

    Like Netanyahu, Barak is a documented failure. I was among the masses who celebrated his triumph in Rabin Square in 1999 when he was elected Prime Minister, and, hardly a year later, I sighed with relief when his government collapsed. In his short term of office he convened the Camp David conference and sabotaged it, spread the poisonous and mendacious mantra ?We have no partner for peace?, provoked the second intifada and destroyed the peace camp from within.

    Contrary to Livni, Barak does not even pretend to have a perspective of peace. He sees before him an endless landscape of mountain chains of war, mountain after mountain, stretching well beyond the horizon.

    Unlike the Kadima and Likud lists, the Labor election list does include some good people. But these will have no influence at all on things to come. Effectively, it?s a one-man list, and that one man is deeply flawed.

    FOR A MOMENT it seemed that Meretz was going to transform itself into something bigger. They included in their list some attractive new people. Men of letters recommended them warmly.

    And then something happened to them, the same thing that happened to them the last time. A war broke out, and Meretz supported it enthusiastically. Their three literary musketeers – Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua and David Grossman ? went out of their way to call for the war and laud it, each one in his turn. Exactly as they had done in Lebanon War II.

    True, after some days the three ? together with Meretz and Peace Now ? called for the end of the attack. That call was not accompanied by an apology for the preceding one. This showed a lot of Chutzpa. After helping in breaking the dam, they thought that they could stop the flow with their fingers. But after they had legitimized the war of atrocities, no one listened to them anymore. Every woman and child who was killed in that war, up to the very last day, should weigh on their conscience.

    Of course, some will say: you don?t vote to punish and take revenge. In spite of the crime, one has to vote for Meretz because among the ?Zionist? parties they are the lesser evil. They speak about peace and social justice, and some of their representatives, like Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, did a good job in the Rabin government. Meretz also did some good parliamentary work for the right causes.

    QUITE ANOTHER problem is posed by the three so-called ?Arab? parties, one of which is the communist Hadash, which has a small Jewish component.

    The Hadash program is closer to the consistent peace camp than any other. Some would say: That?s close enough. I vote according to my beliefs, and not tactical considerations. Hadash should also be credited for advancing some positive causes in the Knesset.

    The problem of the ?Arab? lists is that they have not succeeded in playing a meaningful role in the political arena, which has remained an exclusive fiefdom of the ?Zionist? parties (?Zionist? in this context means ?non Arab?). In order to break into the Jewish street, Hadash could have put at the head of its list, or at least in the No. 2 slot, Dov Khenin, who has risen to stardom in the recent Tel-Aviv municipal elections. By not doing so, they have lost at least some of the votes that could have strayed from Meretz and Labor.

    The impact of the ?Arab? parties on Israeli policy is next to nil. It is limited to one point in time: on the day after the elections, the question will arise whether all the center/left parties together, from Kadima leftwards, can muster enough votes to block a right-wing government. In this context, and only there, the ?Arab? parties do play a role.

    THERE REMAINS the Liberman phenomenon.

    Liberman has created a party that is simply and thoroughly racist. Its election campaign is centered on the demand to annul the Israeli citizenship of ?non-loyal? people. Meaning: the Arabs, who constitute 20% of Israel?s citizens.

    In every other country, Liberman?s program would be called fascist, without quotation marks. Nowhere in the Western world is there a large party that would dare to advance such a demand. The neo-fascists in Switzerland and Holland want to expel foreigners, not to annul the citizenship of the native-born.

    The core of the party is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom have brought from their homeland an utter contempt for democracy, a desire for a strong leader (a Stalin or a Putin), a racist attitude towards brown-skinned citizens and a taste for brutal, Chechnya-style wars. They have now been joined by young, native-born Israelis, who have been radicalized by the recent war.

    When Joerg Haider was taken into the Austrian cabinet, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest. But compared to Liberman, Haider was a raving liberal, and so is Jean-Marie le Pen. Now Netanyahu has announced that Liberman will be ?an important minister? in his government, Livni has hinted that he will be in her government, too, and Barak has not excluded that possibility.

    The optimistic version says that Liberman will prove to be a passing curiosity. Every Israeli election campaign has featured a trend-party that reflects a passing mood, achieves a resounding success and then disappears. In 1977 it was the Dash party, which rode the horse of ?changing the system?. It won 12.5% of the vote, broke apart and disappeared before the next elections. Later it was the Tzomet party of Rafael Eitan, on the horse of uncorrupted purity. Another was the Shinui (Change) party, which rode the horse of anti-religious hatred and disappeared without leaving a trace. In the last elections it was the pensioners? list, with tens of thousands of youngsters voting for it as a prank. In the current elections, Liberman?s party has caught the trend, riding on the primitive emotions of the masses which broke free in the Gaza War.

    There is also a pessimistic version: Fascism has become a serious player in the Israeli public domain. The three main parties have now legitimized it. This phenomenon must be stopped before it is too late.

    SO, HOW shall I vote this coming Tuesday?

    I intend to draw up a list that will start from the worst down to the least evil. The last one on the list gets my vote.

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    Recommended occupation related reading & data :

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