Israeli feminist peace activists arrested

This is a video about Israeli peace activist Teddy Katz.

From the Gush Shalom peace movement in Israel:

Witchhunt against peace seekers


Uri Avnery: Police offensive against New Profile activists – a violation of the Freedom of Speech.

This assault on the adherents of peace and democracy follows after Lieberman took over the police and state prosecution.

“The police assault on activists of ‘New Profile’ and ‘The Center for the Defence of the Individual‘, the detention of activists, among them grandmothers, and confiscation of computers constitutes a severe attack on the Freedom of Speech in Israel” warns Uri Avnery of the Gush Shalom movement. “The activity of New Profile – an organization which opposes the militarism of Israeli society and gives counseling to Conscientious Objectors – is considered by the police to be ‘incitng to shirking’ – a severe legal charge.

Just a few weeks have passed since the Netanyahu-Lieberman government took office (or should one say Lieberman-Netanyahu) – and already a brute offensive is launched against the adherents of peace and democracy. Indeed, the appointment of the new Minister of Police was from the ranks of the party headed by Lieberman.

Details from the New Profile press release:

This morning police descended upon the homes of activists in New Profile, a feminist movement whose proclaimed aim is “civil-ization of society in Israel” and “opposition to the undue influence of the military on daily life”. Five activists were detained and interrogated in the Ramat Hachiyal Police Station. Amongst those interrogated: Analeen Kish, aged 70, a ceramics artist, daughter of a family of the “Righteous among the Nations” who converted to Judaism after her marriage to Holocaust survivor Dr. Eldad Kish, active in organizations of Dutch Holocaust survivors in Israel. Additionally detained for interrogation were Amir Givol, a resident of Jerusalem, Sergei Sandler, a resident of Be’er Sheva, and Roni Barkan, a resident of Tel Aviv. ‘ The computers of all those interrogated were taken by the police, as were computers belonging to their partners and children – in once case the computer of a fourth grade pupil, the daughter of one of those interrogated. The computers of family members were returned after the activists were released on bail.

See also here.

PEACE activists revealed on Monday that Israel’s previous government built or issued bids for 9,000 homes for Israelis in Jerusalem and the West Bank, despite its pledge to work for peace with the Palestinians: here.

A LEADING Swedish think tank warned on Monday that the volume of weapons exported to the Middle East has risen sharply in the last four years, here.

Israel and gays: here.

Israeli cinema: here.

20 thoughts on “Israeli feminist peace activists arrested


    Here follow the April 28, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    Obama seeks changes in US law allowing funding PA including Hamas
    Haviv Rettig Gur and Hilary Leila Krieger – Jerusalem Post – Senior Israeli officials “concerned” at the prospect of the US funding a Palestinian Unity Government that includes Hamas. Conversely, the dovish J Street lobby stated that “Palestinian reconciliation could make ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more likely” and urged Congress to back President Obama`s efforts “for the sake of Israel and America”.

    The Ahmadinejad doctrine
    Sever Plocker – Ynet – The Iranian president`s narrative is not perceived as delusional or crazy in the Second and Third World (nor among the radical European Left.) On the contrary, it is perceived as legitimate within the confines of post-colonial discourse – the amelioration of a historical injustice caused by the UN in 1947. (…) In order to fundamentally curb the “Ahmadinejad solution” the Israeli government should secure peace agreements with the Palestinians and with moderate Arab regimes, in order to safeguard the State of Israel.

    PA: Olmert received an offer, then bombed Gaza
    Ali Waked – Ynet – Chief negotiator Erekat says written plan for long-term peace was also submitted to President Bush in late December

    The ball is in Obama`s court
    Yossi Beilin – Bitterlemons – Obama believes and speaks like members of the peace camp in the US and the Middle East: the only question is, how determined is he to realize this vision. (…) The coming weeks will be critical.

    Police arrest seven suspected of inciting IDF draft-dodging
    Yuval Goren, Amos Harel, Tomer Zarchin – Haaretz – “According to the law this is a criminal violation that is punishable by five years imprisonment,” says Superintendent Nimrod Daniel, chief of investigations in the Yarkon District Police.

    Who is next?
    Ad in Ha`aretz – On Sunday this week police investigation was started against activists of “New Profile”. This severe violation of the Freedom of Speech and the Freedom of Association threatens all of us. Today New Profile is the target – tomorrow, all who dare to think independently, express themselves freely, and promote justice and equality.

    Israel releases former Palestinian finance minister
    Ma`an – Omar Abdel Razeq had been arrested by Israeli forces last December. He was sentenced to 26 months for being “active in the terrorist organization Hamas” (i.e. being a parlimentarian and a Finance Minister” but released after five months only.

    Free Gaza: “Disabled Europeans join Hope convoy heading to Gaza”
    Saed Bannoura – IMEMC – Convoy spokesman Ramy Abdu said that the convoy will also be bringing a number of “micro-electrical vehicles for disabled Gazans”, in addition to hearing and medical kits, and medical equipment.

    Not all is vanity
    Yitzhak Laor – Haaretz – (…) time for the bad-taste festival -replete with motifs of death and inflationary panic at the service of national politics.

    Remembering victims on both sides
    Josh Lichtenstein – YNET – Combatants for Peace to hold Memorial Day service commemorating Israeli, Palestinian victims of conflict


  2. Uri Avnery

    The Emperor?s Old Clothes

    EVERYBODY IS talking about the first 100 days of Barack Obama. And there?s a lot to talk about.

    Like a young bull he stormed into the arena. A deluge of new ideas in every direction, a tsunami of practical initiatives, some of which have already begun to be implemented. Clearly he had been thinking about them for a long time and intended to put them into practice from his first moment in office. He put his team together long ago, and his people started to act even before his triumphal entrance to the White House. During the first days he appointed the ministers, most of whom he had designated long before – this seems to be an effective cabinet, whose members are up to their tasks.

    Everything according to a rule that was laid down long ago: what a new president does not initiate in his first 100 days, he will not accomplish later on. In the beginning everything is easier, because the public is ready for change.

    An Israeli cannot, of course, resist comparing Obama to Binyamin Netanyahu, our old-new Prime Minister, who did not exactly storm into the arena. He crawled into it.

    ONE COULD have expected that Netanyahu would trump even Obama in this respect.

    After all, he has already been there. Ten years ago he was sitting in the Prime Minister?s chair, gathering experience. And from experience ? especially bad experience ? one can and should learn.

    Moreover, Netanyahu?s victory was no great surprise. The only unexpected part of the election results was that his opponent, Tzipi Livni, won slightly more votes than he, but not enough to prevent him from attaining – together with his partners – a majority.

    He had, therefore, a lot of time to prepare for his ascent to power, consult experts, perfect plans in every field, choose his team, think about the appointment of ministers from his own and allied parties.

    Yet, incredibly, it appears that nothing, really nothing, of all this happened. No plans, no assistants, no team, no nothing.

    To this very minute, Netanyahu has not succeeded in putting together his personal team ? a fundamental precondition for any effective action. He does not have a chief of staff, a most important position. In his office, chaos reigns supreme.

    The choice of ministers threw up one scandal after another. Not only did he put together a hideously bloated cabinet (39 ministers and deputy ministers, most of them flaunting fictitious titles) but almost all the important ministries are stuck with totally unsuited persons.

    At a time of world-wide economic crisis he appointed to the Treasury a Minister who has no idea about economics, apparently thinking that he himself would manage the treasury ? quite impossible for a man who is responsible for the state as a whole. The Ministry of Health got an orthodox rabbi as Deputy Minister. In the middle of a world-wide epidemic, we have no Minister of Health, and according to law the Prime Minister has to exercise this function, too. In almost all the other ministries ? from Transportation to Tourism ? there are incumbents who know nothing about their fields of responsibility and don?t even pretend to be interested in them ? they are just waiting for an opportunity to move on to higher and better things.

    No need to waste many words on the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman to the Foreign Ministry. This professional scandalmonger provokes a daily scandal in this most sensitive area of government. The bull in the china shop has already succeeded into turning all the diplomats into small bullocks, each of which is running about and smashing the dishes in his vicinity. At the moment, they are busy messing up Israel?s relations with the EU.

    All these appointments look like the desperate efforts of a cynical politician who does not care about anything other than returning to power, and then quickly putting together a cabinet, whatever its composition, paying any price to any party prepared to join him, sacrificing even the most vital interests of the state.

    AS FAR as plans are concerned, Netanyahu does not resemble Obama either. He has come to power without any plans in any field. One gets the impression that he has spent his years in opposition with his head in hibernation

    A week ago he presented a grandiose ?economic plan? for saving our economy from the ravages of the world economic crisis. Economists raised their eyebrows. The ?plan? consists of little more than a collection of tired old slogans and a tax on cigarettes. His embarrassed assistants stuttered that it was only a ?general outline?, not yet a plan, and that now they would start working on a real plan.

    The public did not really worry about the lack of an economic plan. They have faith in improvisation, the wondrous Israeli talent that makes up for the inability to plan anything.

    But in the political field, the situation is even worse. Because there the unpreparedness of Netanyahu meets the overpreparedness of Obama.

    Obama has a plan for the restructuring of the Middle East, and one of its elements is an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on ?Two States for Two Peoples?. Netanyahu argues that he is not in a position to respond, because he has no plan of his own yet. After all, he is quite new in office. Now he is working on such a plan. Very soon, in a week, or a month, or a year, he will have a plan, a real plan, and he will present it to Obama.

    Or course, Netanyahu has a plan. It consists of one word, which he learned from his mentor, Yitzhak Shamir: ?NO?. Or, more precisely, NO NO NO – the three no?s of the Israeli Khartoum: No peace, No withdrawal, No negotiations. (It will be remembered that the 1967 Arab summit conference in Khartoum, right after the Six-day War, adopted a similar resolution.)

    The ?plan? which he is working on does not really concern the essence of this policy, but only the packaging. How to present to Obama something that will not sound like ?no?, but rather like ?yes, but?. Something that all the serfs of the Israeli lobby in Congress and the media can swallow painlessly.

    AS A taster for the ?plan?, Netanyahu has already presented one of its ingredients: the demand that the Palestinians and other Arabs must recognize Israel as ?the State of the Jewish People?.

    Most of the media in Israel and abroad have distorted this demand and reported that Netanyahu requires the recognition of Israel as a ?Jewish State?. Either from ignorance or laziness, they obliterated the important difference between the two formulas.

    This difference is immense. A ?Jewish State? is one thing, a ?State of the Jewish People? is something radically different.

    A ?Jewish State? can mean a state with a majority of citizens who define themselves as Jews and/or a state whose main language is Hebrew, whose main culture is Jewish, whose weekly rest day is Saturday, which serves only Kosher food in the Knesset cafeteria etc.

    A ?State of the Jewish People? is a completely different story. It means that the state belongs not only to its citizens, but to something that is called ?the Jewish People? ? something that exists both inside and outside of the country. That can have wide-ranging implications. For instance: the abrogation of the citizenship of non-Jews, as proposed by Lieberman. Or the conferring of Israeli citizenship on all the Jews in the world, whether they want it or not.

    The first question that arises is: what does ?the Jewish People? mean? The term ?people? – ?am? in Hebrew, Volk in German ? has no accepted precise definition. Generally it is taken to mean a group of human beings who live in a specific territory and speak a specific language. The ?Jewish People? is not like that.

    Two hundred years ago it was clear that the Jews were a religious community dispersed throughout the world and united by religious beliefs and myths (including the belief in a common ancestry). The Zionists were determined to change this self-perception. ?We are a people, one people?, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, wrote in German, using the word Volk.

    The idea of ?the State of the Jewish People? is decidedly anti-Zionist. Herzl did not dream of a situation in which a Jewish State and a Jewish Diaspora would coexist. According to his plan, all the Jews who wish to remain Jews would immigrate to their state. The Jews who prefer to live outside the state would stop being Jews and be absorbed into their host nations, finally becoming real Germans, Britons and Frenchmen. The vision of the ?Visionary of the State? (as he is officially designated in Israel) was supposed, when put into practice, to bring about the disappearance of the Jewish Diaspora ? the Jewish people outside the ?Judenstaat?.

    David Ben-Gurion was a partner to this vision. He stated that a Jew who does not immigrate to Israel is not a Zionist and should not enjoy any rights in Israel, except the right to immigrate there. He demanded the dismantling of the Zionist organization, seeing in it only the ?scaffolding? for building the state. Once the state has been set up, he thought quite rightly, the scaffolding should be discarded.

    NETANYAHU?S DEMAND that the Palestinians recognize Israel as ?the State of the Jewish People? is ridiculous, even as a tactic for preventing peace.

    A state recognizes a state, not its ideology or political regime. Nobody recognizes Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Hajj, as ?the State of the Muslim Umma? (the community of believers.)

    Moreover, the demand puts the Jews all over the world in an impossible position. If the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as ?the State of the Jewish People?, then all the governments in the world must do the same. The United States, for example. That means that the Jewish US citizens Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, Obama?s closest advisors, are officially represented by the government of Israel. The same goes for the Jews in Russia, the UK and France.

    Even if Mahmoud Abbas were persuaded to accept this demand ? and thereby indirectly put in doubt the citizenship of a million and a half Arabs in Israel ? I would oppose this strenuously. More than that, I would consider it an unfriendly act.

    The character of the State of Israel must be decided by the citizens of Israel (who hold a wide range of opinions about this matter). Pending before the Israeli courts is an application by dozens of Israeli patriots, including myself, who demand that the state recognize the ?Israeli nation?. We request the court to instruct the government to register us in the official Population Registration, under the heading ?nation?, as Israelis. The government refuses adamantly and insists that our nation is Jewish.

    I ask Mahmoud Abbas, Obama and everyone else who is not an Israeli citizen not to interfere in this domestic debate.

    Netanyahu knows, of course, that nobody will take his demand seriously. It is quite obviously just another device to avoid serious peace negotiations. If he is compelled to drop it, it will not be long before he comes up with another.

    To paraphrase Groucho Marx: ?This is my pretext. If you don?t like it, well, I have a lot of others.?


  3. Anger, bias, negligence & the age of deceit

    Here follow the May 5, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    Israel angered over `biased` UN report on Gaza war
    AFP – – UN chief Ban Ki-moon softened some of the wording in the three-page document, submitted to the Security Council. But Israeli officials worried that the current wording is still too critical

    Hamas: seeks ceasefire / wants to be part of (two-state) solution
    Taghreed El-Khodary and Ethan Bronner – New York Times – “We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees.” (…) Regarding recognition of Israel, Mr. Meshal said the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Mr. Abbas had granted such recognition, but to no avail. “Did that recognition lead to an end of the occupation?” – with links to the references in Jerusalem Post, Ynet, IMEMC

    `Police negligent in probing fence protest casualties`
    Dan Izenberg and Yaakov Katz – Jerusalem Post – The death of Palestinian Bassem Ibrahim in Bil`in two-and-a half weeks ago might have been prevented had the police carried out orders to investigate previous incidents in which protesters against the separation barrier were hurt by grenade canisters, a senior Justice Ministry official told the police on Monday.

    The village of Jayyous asks Norway to divest from Lev Levievs Companies
    Jayyous broad coalition – Leviev is the co-owner of Leader Management and Development, the company that is building the Israeli settlement of Zufim on our villages land. According to media reports, Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Levievs company Africa-Israel, has also built Israeli settlements on Bilins land, as well as the settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem

    Israel loses prized `Free` Press status; Kuwait tops Arab World
    The Media Line – Washington-based non-profit Freedom House lowered Israel`s rank from 59 to 72 out of 195 countries surveyed, citing restrictions on journalists` freedom of movement, increased self-censorship during wartime and “biased reporting

    Revisiting The Age Of Innocence
    Zeki Ergas – It may appear naïve, just when Israel has sunk so low in what can be described only as an Age of Deceit — and Conceit, to wish for the emergence – before it is too late — of a new zeitgeist inspired from the Age of Innocence

    Obama and Two States-seamless continuity from Bush time
    Ellen Cantarow – Counterpunch – Obama’s reference to the Arab Peace Initiative was crucial for what it omitted

    Obama gets tougher with Israel on Palestinians, Iran
    Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya – Haaretz – “There is a chance for the most serious dispute between the U.S. and Israel in the entire 61 years of relations

    An Appeal to the EU – Petition

    End Palestinian demolitions in Jerusalem, UN tells Israel
    Rory McCarthy – The Guardian – Report increases pressure over displaced families but mayor says planning policy even-handed

    Recommended earlier articles

    Noam Chomsky: `Exterminate all the brutes`: Gaza 2009

    David Shulman: Pogrom at Umm Safa

    Uri Avnery: The emperor�s old clothes

    B. Michael: Let us remember and not forget

    Palestinian women settlement workers` plight
    Sarah Irving – EI – “We get no vacations, no sick pay, not even pay slips. Once when Umm Ahmad made a mistake, the manager made her stay and fix it without paying her for the time. There is no air conditioning or heating in the factory, so it`s hot in summer and very cold in winter and animals get in through the open windows — I once found a mouse in the material. And the managers are always screaming and shouting at us, trying to pressure us to work harder”

    Mairead Maquire: Stand Up to Israeli Apartheid
    (An Open Letter to Barack Obama from a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)

    Change meets challenge
    Ghassan Khatib – – “There is no credibility in talking about two states as long as Israel continues to undermine that very possibility by expanding settlements”

    Sadly, Israel is no longer democratic
    Shulamit Aloni – Haaretz – ” Is there really a democracy that is not a state of all its citizens? After all, Jews living today in democratic countries enjoy the full rights of citizenship.”


  4. The pope visits Jerusalem & the usefulness of mud

    Here follow the May 12, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    Palestinians rebuild with mud
    Eva Bartlett – Inter Press Service/ISM – At the donor conference months ago, no less than 4.5 billion dollars were solemnly pledged for reconstruction of the ruined Gaza Strip. But the Israeli authorities continue to prevent entry of construction materials, the houses remain ruined, and the money remains in the banks. Instead of waiting for Godot, homeless Gazans begin helping themelves by the construction of housing from the available mud and straw

    The Israeli military kidnaps a mother of “Wanted” Palestinian in northern West Bank **** PPP declines participation in new government **** US, Israel boycott Security Council Session **** Peace Now files an appeal against Israeli railway plan that digs deep into Palestinian lands **** Israel angered by statements of Sheikh Tamimi in front of the Pope **** Israel kidnapped 2350 Palestinians since the beginning of this year **** Netanyahu concludes visit to Egypt with nothing to offer [IMEMC May 12, 2009]

    King Abdullah of Jordan : Netanyahu-Obama meeting decides Mid-East’s future
    Michael Binyon and Richard Beeston – Times of London – “All eyes will be looking to Washington. If there are no clear signals, there will be a feeling that this is just another American Government that is going to let us all down. The tremendous credibility that Mr Obama had built up in the Arab world would evaporate overnight, and there might soon follow another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel, with implications far beyond the Middle East.”

    While the pope visits Jerusalem a Catholic Worker team delayed on the way to Gaza
    Scott Schaeffer-Duffy-Catholic Worker Peace Team – Randall Beach-New Haven Register – The goal: getting through Egypt to the Gaza Rachel Corrie Center to give out toys and letters from American children, and delivering six large suitcases of medical supplies to the al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. A journey report.

    Israel angered by statements of Sheikh Tamimi in front of the Pope
    Saed Bannoura/Matti Friedman – IMEMC/Associated Press – At a “dialogue meeting” where no controversial issue were supposed to be heard, Sheikh Tamimi voiced the full range of Palestinian grieveances. On the morrow, when the Pope arrived at the Wailing Wall, Palestinian activists nearby released clusters of balloons holding a Palestinian flag and the yellow-white Vatican flag.

    Israeli Government`s Plans to Deepen hold over Jerusalem – May 2009 Settlement Watch report
    Link to Peace Now website – the report includes maps

    Campaign urging Leonard Cohen to nix T.A. show co-signed by a hundred Israelis
    Cnaan Liphshiz – Haaretz – Organizers confident that “the situation in Palestine and Israel is quite clear to Leonard Cohen, to judge by his song entitled Questions for Shomrim. The poem begins with the words “And will my people build a new Dachau and call it love, security, Jewish culture.” It also reads: “You were our singing heroes in `48, do you dare ask yourselves what you are now” and: “now my son must die for he`s an Arab.”
    Haaretz title: Anti-Israel activists urge Leonard Cohen to nix T.A. show

    Palestine envoy prevented from attending inaguration of new South African president
    Maï؟½an News – Abdul Rahim Mallouh, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbasï؟½ envoy, was invited to attend the inauguration of new South African President Jacob Zuma. However, Israeli forces at the Allenby Bridge prevented Mallouh from leaving the country, with no reason given.
    [This incident underlines the meaning of Netanhyahu`s demand that Israeli control of all Palestinian borders remain as a permanent fixture. ed.]

    National Security Adviser Jones: Iran Threat reinforces need for Two-State Solution
    Hilary Leila Krieger – Jerusalem Post – “We understand Israel`s preoccupation with Iran as an existential threat. We agree with that. By the same token, there are a lot of things that you can do to diminish that existential threat – by working hard towards achieving a two-state solution”.

    UN Security Council calls for two-state solution in Mideast
    Silobreaker – The News International – The UN Security Council adopted a presidential statement, drafted by Russia, calling for “renewed and urgent efforts” to achieve “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East” on the basis of two-states.

    Earlier recommended articles

    Ramzy Baroud: Fatah, Hamas and Flawed Language – War Without Context

    Taayush:Hill 26

    Max Hastings: The paradox of Israel`s pursuit of might

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew


  5. Uri Avnery

    Quarrel on the Titanic

    ONE OF THE HAPPIEST moments in my life occurred in a restaurant.

    It happened before the second intifada. I had invited Rachel to celebrate her birthday with dinner at a famous restaurant in Ramallah.

    We were sitting in the garden under strings of colorful lights, the air was fragrant with the perfume of flowers and the waiters were hurrying back and forth with laden trays. We ate Mussakhan, the Palestinian national dish (chicken with tahini baked on pita bread), and I drank arak. Our waiter, who had overheard us talking, took our order in Hebrew. We were the only Israelis there. At the nearby tables, Arab families with the children in their best clothes, as well as a bride and groom with their wedding guests. Bursts of laughter punctuated the murmur of Arabic conversations, and spirits were high.

    I was happy, and a sigh escaped me: “How wonderful this country could be, if only we had peace!”

    I THINK of that moment every time I hear sad news from Ramallah. The news is depressing, but the memory helps me to keep alive my hope that things could be different.

    The most depressing news concerns the split between the Palestinians themselves. This split is a disaster for them, and, I believe, also for Israel and the world at large. That?s why I dare to comment on a matter that seemingly does not concern us Israelis. It does.

    It is easy to blame Israel. Easy and also justified. In their struggle against the national aspirations of the Palestinians, successive Israeli governments have applied the old Roman maxim divide et impera, divide and rule.

    Since the Oslo agreement, the central component of this policy has been the physical separation between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    Article IV of the Oslo Agreement of September 1993 says: “The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, whose integrity will be preserved”.

    Article X of Annex 1 of the Interim Agreement of September 1995 says: “There shall be a safe passage connecting the West Bank with the Gaza Strip for movement of persons, vehicles and goods?Israel will ensure safe passage for persons and transportation during daylight hours?in any event not less than 10 hours a day.”

    In practice, the safe passage was never opened. Among all the blatant violations of the Oslo agreements, this was the most severe. Its consequences have been disastrous for both sides.

    True, there was a lot of talking about the passage. Ehud Barak once fantasized about constructing a giant bridge between the West Bank and the Strip, after seeing such a 40 km long bridge somewhere abroad. Others spoke about a tunnel underneath Israeli territory. Yet others proposed an extraterritorial highway or railway. None of these ideas was ever implemented. On the contrary, while before Oslo there had been free movement for all, including the inhabitants of the occupied territories, after Oslo this freedom was abolished.

    THE PRETEXT was ? as always ? security: convoys of murderers and terrorists would pack the safe passage, trucks loaded with Palestinian rockets would drive to and fro. But the consequences disclose the true aim: what remained of Palestine was cut into two disconnected parts.

    One cannot rule a territory without physical contact with it. That was proven in Pakistan, which was founded as a state with two disconnected parts separated by Indian territory. Soon enough, war between the two broke out and the Eastern part became the independent state of Bangladesh.

    According to the latest Palestinian statistics, which seem reliable, there are now 2.42 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and 1.46 million in the Gaza Strip (in addition to 379 thousand in East Jerusalem). From Yasser Arafat I once heard that more than half of the Palestinian Authority?s resources were being devoted to the Gaza Strip, in spite of the fact that the Strip amounted to only 6% (one sixteenth) of the Palestinian territories.

    Now there exist in practice two Palestinian entities: the West Bank, whose actual capital is now Ramallah, and the Gaza Strip, with its capital Gaza city. >From the political, economic and ideological points of view, the distance between them is growing.

    And from the point of view of the Israeli occupation policy, that is a great victory.

    THE ISRAELI government conducts different strategies against the two Palestinian entities.

    Against Gaza, the policy is simple and brutal: to overthrow the Hamas government by turning the life of those 1,460,000 men and woman, old people and children, into hell. They are allowed to bring in only the most basic foodstuffs. There was an international outcry when Senator John Kerry discovered the import of noodles is prohibited, because pasta is apparently a luxury. “We shall not give them chocolate when Gilad Shalit is not getting chocolate,” an army officer declared this week. It would be interesting to know how much chocolate the 11 thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are getting.

    The war against Gaza (“Molten Lead”) was intended to wreak death and destruction upon the civilians, so that they would rise up and overthrow their elected government. The dead are already buried, but the piles of rubble remain. The Israeli government does not allow building materials to be brought in, and the inhabitants have started to build homes of mud, as their ancestors did centuries ago. (To make the whole thing even more depressing, it is forbidden to bring in toys, books and musical instruments.)

    The Egyptian government cooperates with the Israeli army in enforcing the blockade on the inhabitants of Gaza. Lately it has intensified its efforts to choke the essential supply line through the Rafah tunnels (“smuggling” in Israeli and Egyptian parlance). The campaign recently started by the Egyptian authorities against Hizbullah agents in Sinai has the aim, among others, of cutting this pipeline.

    The Gaza people have not toppled the Hamas government. On the contrary, their opposition to the Ramallah government seems to be growing, and some say that it is turning into pure hatred.

    AGAINST THE Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, the occupation authorities employ a different, but no less destructive, strategy. They make every effort to present it as a kind of Palestinian Vichy regime, in order to prevent the healing of the Palestinian rift.

    The Israeli government declares this openly and loudly. This week, the Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, wondered publicly how the Palestinian Minister of Justice could sue Israel before the International Criminal Court for war crimes committed in Gaza.

    How come, Ashkenazi complained, when throughout the Gaza War there was such close cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority?

    In other words, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli army declares publicly before the Palestinian people and the entire world that the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah cooperated with the Israeli government in the war against their Palestinian brothers in Gaza, in which – according to the Ramallah Minister of Justice – systematic war crimes were committed. A more damaging blow to the standing of Mahmoud Abbas can hardly be imagined.

    Other Israeli officers do not spare their praise for the Palestinian security forces, which ? they allege – cooperate with the Israeli army in eliminating Hamas sympathizers in the West Bank. It is hard to imagine that such statements by the occupation officers will do anything to elevate the standing of Abbas in the eyes of the Palestinians, who see with their own eyes how the settlements on their land grow daily.

    This week, a friend told me about a conversation he had with a Palestinian official from Ramallah. If Israel attacks Iran, he said with great enthusiasm, the Hamas regime in Gaza will collapse.

    For an outsider looking in, this is incomprehensible. When the entire Palestinian people is facing a danger to their very existence, when the Israeli government is working tirelessly to make it impossible for a Palestinian state to come into being and there is a real threat that the Palestinian people will be eventually driven out of Palestine altogether, the split resembles a quarrel on the bridge of the Titanic.

    THERE IS an old Jewish saying that “the destruction of the temple (in the year 70 A.D.) was caused by mutual hatred.” When the Romans were already besieging Jerusalem, the various Zealot factions in the beleaguered city burned each other?s stocks of food. Among the Palestinians, such things are happening right now.

    Disunity has always been a curse. In 1948, when they were fighting for their survival, they were unable to form a unified leadership and a unified military force. In practice, every village fought alone, without coming to the aid of its neighbors. Otherwise, perhaps, the Naqba would not have happened, and the untold suffering that continues to this very day would have been prevented.

    The main result of the disunity 61 years ago was that the Palestinians were unable to establish the State of Palestine next to the State of Israel, and the territory allotted for it by the UN was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

    Yasser Arafat understood this well. He made a huge effort to maintain the unity of his people at almost any cost. As long as he was alive, this unity was maintained. The secret services that planned his murder obviously wanted to sabotage this unity, much as Yitzhak Rabin?s murderers wanted to destroy the peace process. The two murders complemented each other, and not by accident.

    Anyone who believes that peace is essential for the two peoples and for the entire world must fervently hope for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.

    I believe that this is still possible.

    IT SEEMS that in this matter, too, Barack Obama must play a leading role. He must put an end to the stupid and disastrous policy of boycotting Hamas and employ his full power to bring about the creation of a Palestinian unity government. Perhaps it will have to be, in the beginning, a kind of super-government under which both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip keep some kind of autonomy.

    Peace among the Palestinians themselves is a necessary precondition for peace between Israel and Palestine. Only Israeli-Palestinian peace can also bring about reconciliation between the two peoples and perhaps restore the atmosphere of that magic evening in the Ramallah restaurant ? so that it will not remain just a sweet memory.




    15/05/2009 16:41:00
    Denial of Workers Rights: A Means to Enforce the Blockade of Gaza?
    Israeli company tells Tel Aviv labour court that compensation claims of enemy workers from Gaza must not be heard in court

    download report in pdf:

    In December 2008, Sawt el-Amel filed compensation claims on behalf of 13 workers from Gaza who used to work in the former Israeli-controlled Erez industrial zone. Since then, hundreds of men and women from Gaza who before closure and disengagement used to work in Erez, in the Israeli settlements in Gaza, and inside Israel have contacted Sawt el-Amel with their claims for labour and social-security rights. The question of Gazan workers who lost their jobs and social security rights due to the hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip in 2004 has gigantic economic dimensions: compensation claims for the first 13 workers amount to almost 1.5 million shekels (USD 365,000) of minimum-wage claims, severance pay and other social benefits.

    In light of these enormous amounts, Israeli employers fear that the pending cases could set a precedent. A letter sent by the company in question to the labour court in Tel Aviv exemplifies this fear, using the single most striking argument: granting rights to Gazan workers promotes terror.

    The letter, dated April 19, 2009, neglects legal arguments for the sake of political ones. Calling on the court to delete the cases, the companys lawyers present the presiding judge with the following scenario:

    The claimants are residents of Gaza, which is ruled by a terror organisation. This organisation Hamas is at war with Israel and does not recognise its right to exist. The fact that Hamas is still in power means that all residents of Gaza agree with its ideology, and therefore, all people in Gaza are enemies of Israel. Thus, it is beyond chutzpah (boldness) that residents of Gaza would demand to appear before an Israeli court, and accordingly the Israeli legal system must not open its doors to them. Moreover, the company argues, hearing the cases of Gazan workers would undermine the efforts by the National Security Committee to uphold the economic blockade of Gaza. For if the workers won their cases, financial resources would flow into Gaza, an enemy entity. In conclusion, preventing workers from Gaza from claiming compensation would help Israel to crush Hamas and to liberate the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who is being held captive by Hamas. Therefore, the company calls on the labour court as an organ of the Israeli state to behave in the interest of the state. (1)

    Sawt el-Amel is taken aback by the interpretation offered by the companys lawyers, as, while it may reflect popular sentiments prevailing in Israel, it offers little legal substance. Moreover, and more importantly, it is questionable to suggest that a states legal system should act in accordance with political ends.

    In this context, it should be noted that the labour court has already agreed to suspend the court fees of seven of the 13 workers because they provided evidence that they are unable to pay. The court accepted proof of the workers economic dependence on aid from UNRWA.

    In contrast to the employers assessment of the situation, Sawt el-Amel maintains that workers rights are unalienable and that economic suffocation is a cause of violence rather than a remedy. Sawt el-Amels lawyers are currently preparing a reply to be submitted to the Court.

    The case of Mr. Ehab Abu Tayyieh, Gaza

    Mr. Ehab Abu Tayyieh used to work as a carpenter for an Israeli company in Erez from June 1999 to July 2005. He worked six days a week for 10 hours per day and received 1,488 shekels per month (Israeli national minimum wage in 2005: 3,200 shekels).

    Sawt el-Amels lawyers investigated his case and filed a claim in the Tel Aviv labour court requesting 219,000 shekels (USD 54,000) compensation from his former employer. The sum corresponds to the amount he is entitled to according to Israeli labour standards, including minimum wage, overtime, holiday and severance pay.

    Today, Mr. Abu Tayyieh and his family are dependent on humanitarian aid from UNRWA, and the Israeli company he worked for exports its products all over the world and appears to be in excellent financial shape.

    (1) The paragraph paraphrases the arguments presented to the court in the companys letter dated April 19, 2



    Jeff Halper

    May 25, 2009

    Would Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu say the magic words “two states” after his meeting with President Obama? All Israel held its breath. (He didn’t). The gap between the two is wider than those words could ever have bridged, however. Obama, I believe, sincerely – perhaps urgently – seeks a resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, a pre-condition, he understands, to getting on with larger, more pressing Middle Eastern issues. Netanyahu, who rejects even the notion of a Palestinian mini-state as grudgingly accepted by Barak, Sharon and Olmert, is seeking a permanent state of “warehousing” in which the Palestinians live forever in a limbo of “autonomy” delineated by an Israel that otherwise encompasses them. The danger, to which we all should be attuned, is that the two sides might compromise on apartheid – the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan that has neither genuine sovereignty nor economic viability.

    For his part, Obama seems to understand the strong linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hostility towards the West so prevalent in the Muslim world. His administration has been quite candid about the need to move forward on Palestine in order to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue, and his ability to withdraw from Iraq, stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan and deal with the challenge political Islam poses to the “moderate” Arab states also depend, to a meaningful degree, on forging a new relationship with the Muslim world , which requires an end to the Israeli Occupation.

    Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have already presented the outlines of their new “reframing” of the conflict:

    (1) The Iran threat is preeminent, uniting the US and Israel into a strategic alliance and completely overshadowing the Palestinian issue;

    (2) Such “slogans” (as Lieberman characterized them) as occupation, settlements, settlers, land for peace and even the “simplistic” two-state solution must be abandoned in order to “go forward” according to a new slogan: “economy, security, stability” – meaning improving the Palestinian economy while ensuring Israel’s security. The stability that results (Lieberman invokes the “stable” situation between the Greek and Turkish populations of Turkish-occupied Cyprus as his model) will then somehow facilitate some future and vague peace process;

    (3) Israel will continue to expand its “facts on the ground.” Just the day before the Netanyahu/Obama meeting the building of a new settlement was announced – Maskiot, in the Jordan Valley, the first settlement to be officially established in 26 years. Two days after returning from Washington, Netanyahu further declared: “United Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided.” It then announced that it will continue building within the “settlement blocs.” Just a month before, on the day Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell were to arrive in the country, the Israeli government announced that it would conduct massive demolitions of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. This “in your face” approach signals the Administration that Israel is not about to accept dictates, as the Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya’alon put it, testing just how assertive Obama will be.

    (4) Both the US and Israel seek broader involvement in the peace process by the Arab states, but once again, Israel has its own particular spin on that. While the US is formulating a comprehensive approach to peace and stabilization in the entire Middle East region (which King Abdullah of Jordan calls a “57-state solution” whereby the entire Arab and Muslim worlds would recognize Israel in return for a genuine end to the Occupation), Israel’s formula of putting “economic peace” before any politically defined peace agreement tries to create a state of normalization between Israel and the Arab/Muslim world that would relegate the Palestinian issue indefinitely to the back-burner. Given the record of the so-called “moderate” Arab states, and given the opposition to a rising Iran they share with Israel, their involvement does not necessarily bode well for the Palestinians.

    Then there all the mechanisms for delaying or undermining negotiations:

    · Creating insurmountable political obstacles, such as the demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state.” Netanyahu well knows that the Palestinians will not accede to that, the fact that such recognition would prejudice the equal status of Palestinian citizens of Israel, a full 20% of the Israeli population, being an important consideration. The fear of further ethnic cleansing (“transfer” in Israeli parlance) is a real one. When she was Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livni stated clearly that future of Israel’s Arab citizens is in a future Palestinian state, not in Israel itself. And remember, last year the Israeli Parliament passed a law requiring a majority of two-thirds to approve any change in the status of Jerusalem, an impossible threshold. Similar legislation, supported by the government, will be passed on other issues such as dismantling settlements and ratifying any peace agreement.

    · Delayed implementation. OK, the Israeli government says, we’ll negotiate, but the implementation of any agreement will wait on the complete cessation of any resistance on the part of the Palestinians. “Security before peace” is the way the Israeli government frames it. Since, however, there has never been any indication that Israel would agree to a viable Palestinian state, and since Israel views any resistance, armed or non-violent, as a form of terrorism, “security before peace” actually means “stop all resistance and you may get a state.” The catch here is that if Palestinians do stop their resistance they are lost. Without Palestinian pressure, Israel and the international community would lack any motivation for making the concessions necessary for a genuine solution. And even if an agreement is reached, “security before peace” means that it will not be implemented until Israel unilaterally decides the conditions are ripe. This so-called “shelf agreement” erects yet another insurmountable obstacle before any peace process.

    · Declaring a “transitional” Palestinian state. If all else fails – actually negotiating with the Palestinians or relinquishing the Occupation not being an option – the US, at Israel’s behest, can manage to skip Phase 1 of the Road Map and go directly to Phase 2, which calls for a “transitional” Palestinian state before, in Phase 3, its actual borders, territory and sovereignty are agreed upon. This is the Palestinians’ nightmare: being locked indefinitely in the limbo of a “transitional” state. For Israel, such a situation is ideal, since it offers the possibility of imposing borders and expanding into the Palestinian areas unilaterally while seeming to respect the Road Map process.

    Needless to say, all of this is to avoid a real two-state solution, the very idea of which is anathema to the Likud-led government. More than a decade ago Netanyahu set out his vision of Palestinian self-determination: somewhere between “state-minus and autonomy-plus.” The best, if bleakest term for what Israel is intending for the Palestinians is warehousing, a permanent state of control and suppression in which the victims disappear from view and their situation, emptied of all political content, becomes a non-issue.

    Although the Obama Administration may truly desire viable two-state solution and even understands all Israel’s tricks, it is also clear that without significant pressure it cannot be achieved. And here is where the real problem arises. Israel’s trump card has always been Congress, where it enjoys virtually unanimous bi-partisan support. And Obama’s own Democratic Party, which received almost 80% of the Jewish vote in 2008, has always been far more “pro-Israel” than the Republicans. It may well be that Obama and Mitchell will try to take American policy in a new and more assertive direction and the leaders of his own party will balk, fearful of not being re-elected.

    In this case, the “compromise” between the desire to resolve the conflict and the inability to move Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories so that a viable Palestinian state may emerge may be nothing less than apartheid. The difference between a viable Palestinian state and a Bantustan is one of details. Already signs are that the Obama Administration will allow Israel to keep its major settlement blocs, including a “Greater” Jerusalem, and prevent the Palestinians from having sovereign borders with the neighboring Arab states. Since few appreciate the crucial meaning of such details, Israel believes that it can finesse an apartheid situation in the guise of a two-state solution. Over the past decades the job of civil society has been to force governments to fulfill their responsibilities and enter into a political process that will actually lead to a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Now that that process is upon us, our task is now to keep it honest.

    (Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at .)

    The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions is based in Jerusalem and has chapters in the United Kingdom and the United States.

    Please visit our websites:


  8. he Other Israel printed issue
    May issue is out
    selected articles online

    Here follow the May 27, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    A history of discrimination
    Yitzhak Laor – Haaretz – That which was prohibited all year was allowed for one day, so they could be allowed to celebrate on their own ruins.

    It is happening in the Jewish and Democratic State
    Amos Gvirtz – Don`t say we did not know – Checkpoints at the entrance to the village have been set up by the police, who check every vehicle entering or leaving, and ask – “Why aren’t you leaving this place?”

    ‘Their independence is our Nakba’
    Ittijah press release – We condemn the draft law and call upon Palestinian masses to continue and insist on the commemoration of al-Nakba under the banner: ‘Their independence is our Nakba’.

    MKs support arrest over denial of Israel`s existence [as a “Jewish and democratic” state – ed]
    Amnon Meranda – Ynet – Meretz KM Chaim Oron: “This crazy government – what exactly are you doing? Thought Police? Have you lost it?

    Obama meeting: Second round in a long bout
    Daoud Kuttab – Jerusalem Post – Abbas`s meeting with Obama is likely to be much more cordial than the Netanyahu visit

    Israel takes down two more settler outposts
    Haaretz – Netanyahu has resolved to move against the outposts in a bid to stave off pressure from the Obama administration

    News from IMEMC
    May 27 – – Police arrest a Palestinian worker over clams of attacking security gourds at a West Bank settlement***Army dismantles two illegal setters’ outposts***Hamas fighter killed in Gaza ***Code Pink Delegation enters the Gaza Strip***Critically-injured peace activist Tristan Anderson moved into Rehab***Israel to demolish more homes in East Jerusalem***Fateh bloc wins students elections in Abu Dis University***Israel says Hezbollah has more rockets than before the second Lebanon war***Abbas concludes visit to Canada, heads to Washington***Jordan summons Israeli ambassador over bill calling for Palestinian state on Jordanian soil

    Abu Ala : settlers can stay on under Palestinian sovereignty and laws
    Haaretz/ANSAmed – Abu Ala reiterated that negotiations with Israel will not be resumed without without a complete stop to the settlements including the so-called “natural growth”. In his view, a Palestinian national unity government including Fatah and Hamas is a preliminary condition for peace with Israel, and acording to him much progress was already made towards forming such a government.

    High Court accepts IDF criteria for Palestinian study in Israel
    Dan Izenberg – Jerusalem Post – “Palestinians will not be allowed to study professions that have the potential to be used against Israel” – one of the IDF criteria okayed by the Supreme Court, despite strong objections from the Committee of Israeli University Heads.

    Israeli authorities must authorize access to the Gaza Strip!
    Press release – FIDH – Following testimonies made by soldiers who had participated in this military operation, a military investigation has been opened and hastily closed in March. An independent and impartial investigation remains essential. (…) FIDH joins the call of the international community to lift the blockade on Gaza and guarantee full access to human rights delegations and humanitarian organisations.

    Recommended earlier articles

    Israel wants US approval to settlement construction and expansion
    Saed Bannoura/Gil Hoffman – IMEMC/Jerusalem Post – Israeli officials stated that Israel would dismantle 26 illegal settlement outposts within a number of weeks in exchange for allowing Israel to expand its settlements under the pretext of natural growth.

    Labor rebels` bill would pay settlers who leave West Bank
    Yuval Azoulay – Haaretz – “The so-called Labor Party rebels are outflanking their party chairman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, from the left and proposing a Knesset bill that would compensate West Bank settlers who voluntarily leave their homes”

    David Bromwich:Scott Horton interviews David Bromwich

    Adam Keller/Beate Zilversmidt: THE GLOVES COME OFF

    Mirjam Hadar Meerschwam: The State of Iron Fear – Intimidation and Interrogation in Tel Aviv

    Haaretz May 24 editorial: One capital for two peoples

    Gideon Levy:A friend of Israel

    Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, Unexceptional Americans

    Jonathan Ben-Artzi: The US can bring new hope to the Middle East

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew

    Articles posted on earlier days to be found on top via the sections

    Also possibility of searching for articles back to 2004

    TOI-Billboard is the weekly (approximately) ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly (approximately) peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

    NB!: The Other Israel printed issue May issue is out selected articles online

    For a one time hard-copy (free sample), send your postal address to:

    N.B.: US addresses to: OR send the postal address of a friend whom you recommend for a free sample

    If you got this forwarded and want to subscribe, just send us an email with ‘send me TOI’ in the subject line

    To UNsubscribe, write ‘don’t send me TOI’

    THE OTHER ISRAEL pob 2542, Holon 58125, Israel
    ph/fx: +972-3-5565804


    Adam Keller’s overview of

    hundred years of conflict

    hundred years of peace efforts


  9. Uri Avnery

    “Racists for Democracy”

    HOW LUCKY we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy.

    This week, the Knesset voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State.

    The private member’s bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the “Jewish Home” party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes “a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State”, if the contents of the call might cause “actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts”.

    One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be “a state of all its citizens” – Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.

    The consequences are inevitable. The prisons will not be able to hold all those convicted of this crime. There will be a need for concentration camps all over the country to house all the deniers of Israeli democracy.

    The police will be unable to deal with so many criminals. It will be necessary to set up a new unit. This may be called “Special Security”, or, in short, SS.

    Hopefully, these measures will suffice to preserve our democracy. If not, more stringent steps will have to be taken, such as revoking the citizenship of the democracy-deniers and deporting them from the country, together with the Jewish leftists and all the other enemies of the Jewish democracy.

    After the preliminary reading of the bill, it now goes to the Legal Committee of the Knesset, which will prepare it for the first, and soon thereafter for the second and third readings. Within a few weeks or months, it will be the law of the land.

    By the way, the bill does not single out Arabs explicitly – even if this is its clear intention, and all those who voted for it understood this. It also prohibits Jews from advocating a change in the state’s definition, or the creation of a bi-national state in all of historic Palestine or spreading any other such unconventional ideas. One can only imagine what would happen in the US if a senator proposed a law to imprison anyone who suggests an amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

    THE BILL does not stand out at all in our new political landscape.

    This government has already adopted a bill to imprison for three years anyone who mourns the Palestinian Naqba – the 1948 uprooting of more than half the Palestinian people from their homes and lands.

    The sponsors expect Arab citizens to be happy about that event. True, the Palestinians were caused a certain unpleasantness, but that was only a by-product of the foundation of our state. The Independence Day of the Jewish and Democratic State must fill us all with joy. Anyone who does not express this joy should be locked up, and three years may not be enough.

    This bill has been confirmed by the Ministerial Commission for Legal Matters, prior to being submitted to the Knesset. Since the rightist government commands a majority in the Knesset, it will be adopted almost automatically. (In the meantime, a slight delay has been caused by one minister, who appealed the decision, so the Ministerial Commission will have to confirm it again.)

    The sponsors of the law hope, perhaps, that on Naqba Day the Arabs will dance in the streets, plant Israeli flags on the ruins of some 600 Arab villages that were wiped off the map and offer up their thanks to Allah in the mosques for the miraculous good fortune that was bestowed on them.

    THIS TAKES me back to the 60s, when the weekly magazine I edited, Haolam Hazeh, published an Arabic edition. One of its employees was a young man called Rashed Hussein from the village of Musmus. Already as a youth he was a gifted poet with a promising future.

    He told me that some years earlier the military governor of his area had summoned him to his office. At the time, all the Arabs in Israel were subject to a military government which controlled their lives in all matters big and small. Without a permit, an Arab citizen could not leave his village or town even for a few hours, nor get a job as a teacher, nor acquire a tractor or dig a well.

    The governor received Rashed cordially, offered him coffee and paid lavish compliments to his poetry. Then he came to the point: in a month’s time, Independence Day was due, and the governor was going to hold a big reception for the Arab “notables”; he asked Rashed to write a special poem for the occasion.

    Rashed was a proud youngster, nationalist to the core, and not lacking in courage. He explained to the governor that Independence Day was no joyful day for him, since his relatives had been driven from their homes and most of the Musmus village’s land had also been expropriated.

    When Rashed arrived back at his village some hours later, he could not help noticing that his neighbors were looking at him in a peculiar way. When he entered his home, he was shocked. All the members of his family were sitting on the floor, the women lamenting at the top of their voices, the children huddling fearfully in a corner. His first thought was that somebody had died.

    “What have you done to us!” one of the women cried, “What did we do to you?”

    “You have destroyed the family,” another shouted, “You have finished us!”

    It appeared that the governor had called the family and told them that Rashed had refused to fulfill his duty to the state. The threat was clear: from now on, the extended family, one of the largest in the village, would be on the black list of the military government. The consequences were clear to everyone.

    Rashed could not stand up against the lamentation of his family. He gave in and wrote the poem, as requested. But something inside him was broken. Some years later he emigrated to the US, got a job there at the PLO office and died tragically: he was burned alive in his bed after going to sleep, it appears, while smoking a cigarette.

    THESE DAYS are gone forever. We took part in many stormy demonstrations against the military government until it was finally abolished in 1966. As a newly elected Member of Parliament, I had the privilege of voting for its abolition.

    The fearful and subservient Arab minority, then amounting to some 200 thousand souls, has recovered its self-esteem. A second and third generation has grown up, its downtrodden national pride has raised its head again, and today they are a large and self-confident community of 1.5 million. But the attitude of the Jewish Right has not changed for the better. On the contrary.

    In the Knesset bakery (the Hebrew word for bakery is Mafia) some new pastries are being baked. One of them is a bill that stipulates that anyone applying for Israeli citizenship must declare their loyalty to “the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State”, and also undertake to serve in the army or its civilian alternative. Its sponsor is MK David Rotem of the “Israel is Our Home” party, who also happens to be the chairman of the Knesset Law Committee.

    A declaration of loyalty to the state and its laws – a framework designed to safeguard the wellbeing and the rights of its citizens – is reasonable. But loyalty to the “Zionist” state? Zionism is an ideology, and in a democratic state the ideology can change from time to time. It would be like declaring loyalty to a “capitalist” USA, a “rightist Italy”, a “leftist” Spain, a “Catholic Poland” or a “nationalist” Russia.

    This would not be a problem for the tens of thousands of Orthodox Jews in Israel who reject Zionism, since Jews will not be touched by this law. They obtain citizenship automatically the moment they arrive in Israel.

    Another bill waiting for its turn before the Ministerial Committee proposes changing the declaration that every new Knesset Member has to make before assuming office. Instead of loyalty “to the State of Israel and its laws”, as now, he or she will be required to declare their loyalty “to the Jewish, Zionist and Democratic State of Israel, its symbols and its values”. That would exclude almost automatically all the elected Arabs, since declaring loyalty to the “Zionist” state would mean that no Arab would ever vote for them again.

    It would also be a problem for the Orthodox members of the Knesset, who cannot declare loyalty to Zionism. According to Orthodox doctrine, the Zionists are depraved sinners and the Zionist flag is unclean. God exiled the Jews from this country because of their wickedness, and only God can permit them to return. Zionism, by preempting the job of the Messiah, has committed an unpardonable sin, and many Orthodox Rabbis chose to remain in Europe and be murdered by the Nazis rather than committing the Zionist sin of going to Palestine.

    THE FACTORY of racist laws with a distinct fascist odor is now working at full steam. That is built into the new coalition.

    At its center is the Likud party, a good part of which is pure racist (sorry for the oxymoron). To its right there is the ultra-racist Shas party, to the right of which is Lieberman’s ultra-ultra racist “Israel is our Home” party, the ultra-ultra-ultra racist “Jewish Home” party, and to its right the even more racist “National Union” party, which includes outright Kahanists and stands with one foot in the coalition and the other on the moon.

    All these factions are trying to outdo each other. When one proposes a crazy bill, the next is compelled to propose an even crazier one, and so on.

    All this is possible because Israel has no constitution. The ability of the Supreme Court to annul laws that contradict the “basic laws” is not anchored anywhere, and the Rightist parties are trying to abolish it. Not for nothing did Avigdor Lieberman demand – and get – the Justice and Police ministries.

    Just now, when the governments of the US and Israel are clearly on a collision course over the settlements, this racist fever may infect all parts of the coalition.

    If one goes to sleep with a dog, one should not be surprised to wake up with fleas (may the dogs among my readers pardon me). Those who elected such a government, and even more so those who joined it, should not be surprised by its laws, which ostensibly safeguard Jewish democracy.

    The most appropriate name for these holy warriors would be “Racists for Democracy”.


    Occupation related reading & data


  10. Israel and U.S. Can’t Close Split on Settlements
    Isabel Kershner – NYT – According to the newly disclosed data, about 58,800 housing units have been built with government approval in the West Bank settlements over the past 40 years. An additional 46,500 have already obtained Defense Ministry approval within the existing master plans, awaiting nothing more than a government decision to build.

    [The settlers`] Yesha Council: US using political terror against Israel
    Efrat Weiss – Ynet – If Israel will not refuse to freeze the settlements this “will snowball and then we won`t be able to stop (Obama) on the division of Jerusalem either,” according to the settlers` “Yesha Council” chairman Danny Dayan.

    Report by Hebron Youth Against Settlements from May 10 — May 23 2009
    Issa Amro & Badia Dwaik – On the Lag Ba’omer holyday settlers had their bonfire on Palestinian land in Tell-Rumeida, the wood they had stolen from Palestinians and Palestinian children were attacked by them

    Obama lectures Israel on tough love; U.S. denies it will stop U.N.. support for Israel
    The Media Line – (…) While denying the U.N. veto threat, the administration nevertheless got the message across along with another message equally or more important: that the Obama administration would not necessarily adhere to promises its predecessor made to the Israelis.

    U.S. Weighs Tactics on Israeli Settlement
    Helene Cooper – NYT – The measures under discussion include stepping back from America’s near-uniform support for Israel in the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel does not agree to a settlement freeze, administration officials said.

    News from Palestine (IMEMC)

    Obama: U.S. will be `honest` with Israel on settlements
    Barak Ravid and Natasha Mozgovaya – Haaretz – “The Israelis want us to commit to oral understandings we have never heard about, but at the same time they are not willing to commit to written agreements their government has signed, like the road map and commitment to the two-state solution.”

    Yes, freeze settlements
    Haaretz Editorial – “Netanyahu wants to get something for nothing. He remains steadfast in his opposition to a Palestinian state, and also wants to expand the settlements”

    The Committee for Solidarity with Samieh Jabbarin – Petition

    Palestinians injured by veiled settlers
    Ali Waked – YNET – Dozens of settlers hurl stones at Palestinian vehicles near West Bank settlements of Kedumim, Karnei Shomron early Monday. Palestinians report four drivers wounded after being assaulted. Police: One person lightly hurt; no suspects arrested

    Earlier recommended articles

    Stephen Zunes: Defending Israeli war crimes

    Uri Avnery: “Racists for Democracy”

    :J Street: Tell Obama: Freeze means Freeze

    Peter Baumont: Death and devastation in Gaza neatly filed and documented

    Rachel Shabi: Israel should remember Nakba day : Trying to erase Palestinian history by banning Nakba day would not strengthen Israel but undermine it

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew

    Articles posted on earlier days to be found on top via the sections

    Also possibility of searching for articles back to 2004

    TOI-Billboard is the weekly (approximately) ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly (approximately) peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

    NB!: The Other Israel printed issue May issue is out selected articles online


  11. Press releases Gush Shalom, 04.06.09


    Uri Avnery:”The President of the US understands the interests of Israel much better than Israel’s own government. Obama offers a real hope to Israelis and Palestinians while Netanyhau’s ‘Government of Yesterday’ has nothing to offer”

    “As an Israeli patriot I must say, without the shadow of a doubt, that at this moment the President of United States understands the interests of Israel much better than Israel’s own Prime Minister and his ministers” says Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc. “In his memorable Cairo speech, as in his entire career so far, President Obama has opened up a horizon of real hope to the citizens of Israel as to the Palestinians and to all Arabs and Muslims — as he brought hope to the citizens to the US, who elected him. Conversely, Netayahu’s is ‘Yesterday’s Government’ offers no solution of any kind, and whose policy consists of clinging blindly to continued occupation and settlement expansion.

    Each year in the beginning of June, Israeli peace seekers demonstrate, in order to remind their fellow- citizens that our country is maintaining a cruel occupation rule over millions of Palestinian inhabitants, already for more than two-thirds of Israel’s total history. This year we are also demonstrating in the concrete hope that the end of the occupation is near, the beginning of peace between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine to arise, between Israel and the entire Arab world.

    On the short term, the demand for ending settlement expansion, made so forcefully by President Obama, is a correct and justified demand. Not only because the President of the United States is demanding and pressuring, but mainly because that is the true and vital Israeli interest. Construction should be halted in all settlements without exception — not a house and not hut, not in isolated settlements and not in settlements blocks, neither natural growth nor artificial growth.

    What has no right to exist naturally has no right for natural growth, either. The settlements should never have been built in the first place, and should not continue to exist. Young settlers should be told that they cannot build homes in an occupied territory which would not remain under Israeli rule, and that they must find their future within the recognized borders of Israel — the Green Line borders. Soon, their parents would join them. ”

    Uri Avnery 0505-306440, Adam Keller 0506-709603


    Israeli peace Groups to hold protest march in Tel Aviv, Saturday night, June 6 Will call “End the Occupation – Start Living”

    On the night of Saturday, June 6, Gush Shalom members will join with those of other peace groups to hold a protest march marking 42 years to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The rendezvous point would be at Tel-Aviv’s Rabin Square at 6.00 pm, from where demonstrators will march along the Ibn Gvirol Street until the Tel Aviv Museum Plaza.

    In their joint call for the Saturday march, the peace groups say that ongoing occupation caused a violent narrative of anti-Arab racism and fascism to become prevalent in Israeli society, as manifested in the “Nakba Bill” (aimed at forbidding Arab Israeli citizens commemorating their 1948 disaster), or the “Loyalty Law” (aimed at disenfranchising them altogether). The end of the occupation is needed in order to protest basic democratic rights, also within Israel’s own borders.

    Also, occupation and frequent wars have brought about a government budget of which half is devoted to pay for past and present military expenditures and settlement maintenance. The 2009-10 budget, too, is marked by sharp slashing of the education and welfare budgets, while military and settlement expenditures are increased. This reinforces the message of the demonstration’s main slogan: “End the occupation – Start living”.


    Adam Keller (Gush Shalom) 0506-709603

    Yoav Goldring (Hadash) 054-6634443

    Eilat Maoz (Coalition of Women for Peace) 0508-575729


  12. Ultra-Orthodox riot in Jerusalem

    ISRAEL: Ultra-Orthodox Jews pelted Israeli riot police with stones and vegetables on Saturday during a protest against a car park lot the city is seeking to open on the Sabbath.

    Police did not say how many people were involved, but witnesses said around 3,000 protesters marched to the parking garage at Jerusalem City Hall.

    Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said that officers had pushed the protesters back to surrounding streets where they hurled stones.


  13. FYI – Gush Shalom sent out the following call.
    Here is something you can do, wherever you are

    The holders of an Isracard and/or Mastercard credit cards in Israel have received in the past weeks an offer for a “City of David tour” with “attractions for the entire family” – an innocuous sounding offer, making no mention of the fact that this tour is to be conducted by the Elad settlers – the ones who are, for more than a decade, making life for Palestinians in Silwan into hell.

    Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc, has written to the Directors of the MasterCard Company
    (A similar letter in Hebrew was sent to the Israeli provider of Mastercard “Isracard”.)

    You are requested to send your own protest, using our letter or making your own.
    You could also phone to the Mastercard company. Contact data is provided in the end, as well as links to background material about the activity of the Elad settlers in Silwan.

    The letter.
    Dear Sir or Madam

    I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Isracard Company, entrusted with issuing MasterCard credit cards in Israel, is at present involved in supporting extreme-right Israeli settlers who are actively dispossessing the Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem’s Silwan Neighbourhood. Moreover, Isracard has been using the MasterCard name and logo in this campaign of support for the settlers.

    Two weeks ago, Isracard sent to its customers a gift coupon providing a large reduction in entry fees to the so-called “City of David National Park”, managed by the highly controversial Elad settler association. The reduction is dependant upon the customer paying with a MasterCardPlus card.

    In providing such coupons to its customers, Isracard has taken a clear position in support of the extreme right in Israeli politics – and has implicated MasterCard in the same. “The City of David National Park” is administered by the settler association “Elad” whose members have established themselves since 1991 in East Jerusalem’s Silwan Neighbourhood, since which time they are constantly extending their foothold by means of entering Palestinian homes and expelling their inhabitants. The proclaimed aim of the Elad settlers is to “Judaise” the village of Silwan, which they call “The City of David” and where they assert the Biblical King David had his palace 3000 years ago (a claim strongly disputed among historians and archaeologists). The tens of thousands of Palestinians who live for generations in this location are for the Elad settlers no more than “a nuisance” to be expelled. Among other things, it was the Elad settlers who initiated – and got the Jerusalem Municipality to adopt – the plan of demolishing 88 Palestinian homes in Silwan in order to establish in their place “The King’s Garden”, where according to the settlers King David had his garden. As you may recall, this plan was strongly condemned by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on her visit to Jerusalem in March this year.

    Visitors to the “City of David National Park” are not only directly contributing to the Elad setters’ coffers, but are also exposed to an intensive dose of extreme-right nationalistic propaganda and a highly biased and one-sided description of Jerusalem’s history, almost completely ignoring the part of non-Jews – especially, the part of Arabs and Muslims – in the city’s history. Such a distorted depiction of history also appears on the settler website to which the Isracard coupon, emblazoned with the MasterCard logo, refers the company’s customers:

    Isracard’s issuing this coupon and promoting the Elad settlers clearly cannot be considered a legitimate commercial activity. Rather, it is a political act with far-reaching implications. As the MasterCard name and logo were directly used, implicating your company with its world-wide business network, I feel it is incumbent upon your company to take up the matter with your “Isracard” business partners and firmly ask them to sever immediately and completely all connections with the Elad settlers.

    As you have taken care to make widely known, your company has taken the initiative to create “The MasterCard Foundation” whose proclaimed aim is to help and empower poor, isolated and disadvantaged people in such countries as Tajikistan and Rwanda, and whose leadership includes such distinguished people as Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland, known for her great devotion to the promotion of Human Rights . Obviously, this is the polar opposite of what the Elad settlers are doing in the Palestinian parts of Jerusalem, and I am sure you will take quick steps to remedy this discrepancy.

    Adam Keller
    Gush Shalom spokesperson

    The following Isracard / Mastercard gift coupon was received in the past week by Israeli holders of such cards

    If you can’t see it, click on the following link

    Translation of the coupon’s Hebrew text:

    City of David – Attractions for the entire family!
    130 Shekels for a Segway tour and entry into the City of David National Park (instead of 185 Shekels)
    To coordinate your visit, contact: [or phone] *6033
    Offer in force until 30.06.09
    Isracard, MasterCard Plus
    Offer valid for those paying by MasterCard Plus cards* Additional 5% reduction upon debiting * With prior coordination* Segway trip will be conducted at Ya’ar HaShalom and the Armon Hanatziv Walkway * For 18 year olds and older * Entry into City of David upon presentation of payment for the Segway tour * Photo for illustration *

    MasterCard Incorporated contacts:

    Joanne Trout, 914-249-6644, (Media contact)

    Nancy Tully +1-636-722-7782, (MasterCard Worldwide)

    Louise Herbert, Tel. +32 498 585 647, (MasterCard Europe)

    Jennifer Reed, (416) 365-6664 (MasterCard Canada)

    The MasterCard Foundation:

    Paul Massey +1 (202) 585-2799,

    Linda Whitmore +1 (519) 725-1853, ext. 32,

    Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland – Board member of The MasterCard Foundation

    Isracard Company in Israel,,,,

    Phone +972-3-7188555 (Ruthi Ronstein, Media relations)

    Phone +972-3-6364636,

    Fax +972-3-6364262

    Please send copies of correspondence to

    Background material:

    Settlers Move Into 4 Homes in East Jerusalem

    Elad in Silwan: Settlers, Archaeologists and Dispossession

    Israeli Settlers, Archaeologists and Dispossession in Palestinian Silwan

    Israeli Supreme Court Intervenes in Silwan

    11 Jewish families move into J’lem neighborhood of Silwan



  14. June 12, 2009

    The Isracard Company threatens to sue Gush Shalom
    Company directors: Gush Shalom activities cause us great damage
    Gush Shalom: Isracard violated basic norms
    by promoting extreme right settlers
    “Isracard” also implicated “Mastercard” in International Law violations

    The credit card company “Isracard” reacted sharply to the public protest initiated by Gush Shalom. Gush Shalom Spokesperson Adam Keller got this morning an angry fax from Ayala Tidhar and Orit Hangali of the Isracard Marketing & Foreign Relations Section, including the complaint that “The activities of Gush Shalom is causing us great damage”. Rani Rahav, the Isracard public relations director, phoned Keller and threatened to sue Gush Shalom. All this followed upon the public protest, in Israel and abroad, against Isracard sending to its customers a gift coupon for ‘a family outing’ at the ‘City of David National Park’ which is run by extreme right settlers in East Jerusalem.

    “It is a bit surprising to hear that we are supposedly ‘causing great damage’ to the Isracard Company ” said Adam Keller. “How come one email message to our list of supporters would cause so much damage to one of the biggest companies in the Israeli economy? It would be good for them to consider if the damage was caused by us, or perhaps by the truth about them which we have uncovered”.

    In its answer to the Isracard Company, Gush Shalom stated: “Indeed, the site known as ‘The City of David National Park’, just outside the Old City of Jerusalem, officially belongs to the National Reserves and Parks Authority, a supposedly neutral body. But this is in no way enough to whitewash Isracard’s involvement with the place. It is well known that the administration of the place in practice has been transferred to the settler association Elad – a body which has a clear political and ideological identity on the extreme right side of the spectrum. The Elad people are openly and explicitly promoting the aim of “Judaizing (East)Jerusalem” – not simply by talking but also by constant and intensive activity, creating ‘facts on the ground’, dispossessing Palestinian inhabitants and violating International Law.

    Isracard cannot wash its hands off the nefarious settler activity by claiming that this is ‘a governmental site’. In Israel, as in many other countries, a company must tell consumers what is the nature of the product or service which it is offering for sale. Isracard is not at liberty to offer its customers ‘entertainment for the entire family’ at a park run by extreme right people, without disclosing that, once arriving there, the customers would be exposed to extreme right propaganda.

    If Isracard goes through with the threat of judicial proceedings against us we won’t be afraid. We have available plenty of testimonies and witnesses regarding the ‘City of David National Park’ – what it is, who runs it and how, what kind of ‘guidance’ is given to visitors and what is the political slant of that ‘guidance’.

    The gift coupon sent by Isracard to its customers includes the name and logo of MasterCard, an international company conducting world-wide business. Despite their extensive and long-standing business relationship, Isracard did not bother to let MasterCard know of the use made of its name and reputation in promoting extremist settlers who violate International Law. We in Gush Shalom decided to fill the vacancy and inform the MasterCard directors, with the help of our friends abroad.

    Meanwhile, there is a continuing wave of protest messages sent by Israeli peace activists to the Isracard offices and by Americans and Europeans to MasterCard.


    Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson, +972-506-709603



    Israel pushes out its own people

    Netanyahu’s insistence on the term ‘Jewish state’ signals a rejection of Israeli Palestinians as rightful citizens

    o Dimi Reider
    o, Wednesday 10 June 2009 16.30 BST

    “The reason why Netanyahu is talking over the heads of Palestinian Israeli citizens is precisely because most of them (over 70%) want to remain part of a sovereign democracy rather than the vague and improbably West Bank statelet. The reason he’s trying to create a fictional outside leadership for them in the character of the Palestinian Authority they so despise is precisely because their real leadership — their mayors, intellectuals, politicians and NGOs — persistently call for internal, Jewish-Arab dialogue over their rights and the role each community should play in a joint and truly democratic state.”

    Whenever Barack Obama speaks of the Middle East these days, there’s one thing that worries “senior Israeli officials” most. “He didn’t say ‘Jewish state’,” they mutter to reporters. “He had all the time to say these two words, and didn’t. Why didn’t he?”

    Binyamin Netanyahu himself utters this phrase at every opportunity. He even went as far as turning this coveted idea into a precondition for negotiating with the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, before being shushed by Washington.

    But why this sudden insistence on what is supposed to be an internal Israeli matter, the self-definition of the state? As Abbas rightly commented, Israel can call itself the Hebrew Socialist Republic for all he cares. Why bring up this internal matter with Obama and Abbas, Israel’s primary foreign policy objectives?

    The truth is that Netanyahu is speaking neither to Abbas nor to Obama. He is speaking to world public opinion, as he prepares for confrontation with a fourth party to the conflict, one that is as crucial as it is overlooked: the Israeli-Palestinian minority.

    Israeli Palestinians, most of them native Palestinians who remained in what became Israel after 1948, constitute 21% of the population. Their very existence poses a critical reality check on Israel’s self-perception as Jewish and democratic, and if one throws in the population of the West Bank and Gaza, the proportion of Jews in Israeli-controlled areas shrinks to a mere 51%.

    Despite discrimination in all walks of life — education, housing, civil service, politics — the Palestinian minority in Israel is slowly gaining ground. The number of Palestinian students on Israeli campuses is growing from year to year, discrimination is actively challenged both in court and in public life, and the years of housing neglect are biting back at Jewish hegemony as they push more and more young Palestinian professionals into previously Jewish-only areas.

    So as almost any honest Zionist will tell you, here’s the dilemma. Israel’s proclaimed raison d’etre is maintaining a rigidly ethnocentric Jewish state, one in which Jews will never be in a minority. Being a minority must be understood in the emotional sense rather than the numerical one. This is important to our own historic memory as persecuted minorities, but even more so because maintaining a democracy is quintessential to Israel’s standing in the world community. On the other hand, given Palestinian advancement within Israel, an open democracy that plays by the rules will inevitably result in the erosion of the purist nation-state. So in the three-part Jewish, Palestinian and democratic conundrum, one element has to be dismissed. Netanyahu’s new catchphrase seems to indicate that that element will be the Palestinian minority in Israel.

    Avigdor Lieberman is much maligned for his racism, but his line exemplifies one that had become very mainstream in Israel: a Palestinian state needs to be established — the sooner the better, before Palestinians in the occupied territories despair of nationalism and begin requesting the vote. Yet the geopolitical situation as it stands will, in such a scenario, still leave Israel as a bi-national state. His solution is annulling the citizenship of about half the Israeli Palestinians and redrawing the maps so that they find themselves within the new Palestinian state.

    Lieberman’s position is widely shared; even self-proclaimed dove Tzipi Livni said, on several occasions, that “once a Palestinian state is established . . . we will be able to tell any Palestinian wishing to realise his national identity that he is now able to do it elsewhere”. More ominously, recent developments on the ground suggest the machinery for carrying out such an unprecedented task is already in motion.

    The interior minister, Eli Yishay, had launched a legislative project to allow him the annulment of anyone’s citizenship without the authorisation of the attorney general. The IDF announced it would be allocating a special infantry brigade “to deal with a potential Arab uprising in case of war”. Last week’s national defence drill included just such a scenario — while most Israelis practised going into bomb shelters, army and police practised “suppressing a large-scale Arab revolt in the north” — the exact area of Lieberman’s proposed geographical experiment. And the outlandish bills recently tabled at the Knesset, ranging from banning commemoration of the Nakba to making citizenship conditional on a loyalty oath to a Jewish state, contribute to further alienation between the two communities and attach new fuses to an already much-rattled powder keg.

    Are we facing the prospect of an ethnic cleansing? To a degree, ethnic cleansing has always been part and parcel of Israeli political life. Despite its bloody connotations, ethnic cleansing can be carried out in many ways. Family-by-family expulsion from “illegal housing” and discriminative economic pressure to emigrate is ethnic cleansing, too. We appear to be marching towards a nasty and brutal escalation on that front.

    The reason why Netanyahu is talking over the heads of Palestinian Israeli citizens is precisely because most of them (over 70%) want to remain part of a sovereign democracy rather than the vague and improbably West Bank statelet. The reason he’s trying to create a fictional outside leadership for them in the character of the Palestinian Authority they so despise is precisely because their real leadership — their mayors, intellectuals, politicians and NGOs — persistently call for internal, Jewish-Arab dialogue over their rights and the role each community should play in a joint and truly democratic state.

    Netanyahu’s efforts to throw in Israeli Palestinians with the West Bankers must be resisted. If he wants to make them part of the regional process, they should be heard speaking for themselves; if he doesn’t open the door for them as partners, they must be let in through the window, with every discussion of the peace process featuring exploration of the Israeli Palestinians’ exclusive plight. Most importantly, powerful international defence of their rights as Israel’s equal must be mounted and persistently ensured.


  16. Presidents for peace & facts on the ground

    Here follow the June 16, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine. Today TOI-staff posted new articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    U.S. could yield on settlement freeze, says government source
    Barak Ravid – Haaretz – Netanyahu government officials claim that the Americans might agree that existing construction projects be completed since “the government has no legal power to stop them, once contracts were already signed”. Meanwhile, despite Lieberman`s efforts the upgrading of Israel`s relations with the EU remains deadlocked.

    Obama sees `positive movement` in Netanyahu speech – but reminds that settlements are illegal
    Paula Wolfson – Associated Press/Voice of America – In the first personal reaction to Netanyhau`s speech, President Obama welcomed the PM`s willingness to accept a Palestinian state – but stated that Netanyhau`s numerous conditions be discussed in negotiations rather than be preconditions to talks. And Obama stated that “In past agreements, settlements have been categorized as illegal” – a term which had been avoided by several of Obama`s predecessors who preferred much milder terms such as “settlements are unhelpful” and the like. [Ed.].

    Palestinian June 16 headlines
    IMEMC – Warplanes airdrop soldiers into northern West Bank*** Ten Palestinian men lifted from their beds and taken*** A man beaten by soldiers at the entrance of Beit Ummar village*** Outpost evacuated again, settlers pledged to rebuilt*** Carter arrives in Gaza carrying a letter to Shalit*** Blair welcomes speech of Netanyahu, demands Hamas to change policies*** Qorea`: “No peace talks without halting settlements*** Palestinian People Party expressed sorrow for the death of Hamas prisoner Haitham Amro, who died at a Palestinian prison in Hebron*** Carter to meet Haniyya Tuesday

    Bill Clinton: Netanyahu speech is opening act
    AP – Ynet – Tough terms laid out by prime minister in Bar Ilan speech `just the opening play in a drama that will have a few more acts.`

    Blair: Don`t rule out right of return
    Ynet News – Quartet`s Mideast envoy tells Sky News return of Palestinian refugees to Israel should be resolved through negotiation, calls on Jerusalem to lift Gaza blockade

    Jimmy Carter meets peace group representatives
    Gush Shalom – “I am spending considerable effort to get Gil`ad Shalit free. I am sorry to say that citizens of Israel hardly pay attention to the fact that 11,700 Palestinians are at present incarcerated in Israeli prisons, among them nearly four hundred minors.

    The Emperor has no clothing
    Peace Now demonstrators hoping “Bibi to be Brave like Menachem Begin” not satisfied with PM`s speech.

    Israeli Police Brutalize Peaceful Protesters at Netanyahu`s Speech
    Ann Wright – Huffington Post – Heavy handed police treatment of the CODEPINK: Women for Peace delegation began immediately after members of the group unfurled several pink banners that read “Free Gaza” and “End the Occupation.”

    Israel: Stop Demolishing Palestinian Homes
    Human Rights Watch – West Bank Homes of 18 Families Destroyed; Others Given 24 Hours to Evacuate

    Israel’s Foreign Minister Cozies Up to Moscow
    Clifford j. Levy – NY Times / International Herald Tribune – “This week, Mr. Lieberman is to visit Washington for talks with American officials, but Mr. Obama is not scheduled to see him. In Russia, by contrast, Mr. Lieberman had a parade of meetings with Prime Minister Putin, President Dmitri A. Medvedev and others. And Mr. Lieberman went to Russia before Washington”

    Recommended articles previous days

    Akiva Eldar: Netanyahu, Mideast peace and a return to the Axis of Evil

    Hava Halevi: Report from Ofer Military Court

    Gush Shalom: ISRACARD threatens to sue Gush Shalom

    J Street: Tell Obama: Freeze means Freeze,Send a message

    DCI:Video & Report : Ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children

    Associated Press: US Mideast envoy presses for Palestinian state

    Julien Bousac: The Archipelago of Eastern Palestine by Julien Bousac

    Max Blumenthal:Video: Feeling The Hate In Jerusalem on the Eve of Obama’s Speech in Cairo

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew

    Articles posted on earlier days to be found on top via the sections

    Also possibility of searching for articles back to 2004

    TOI-Billboard is the weekly (approximately) ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly (approximately) peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

    NB!: The Other Israel printed issue May issue is out selected articles online



    Auschwitz survivor: “I can identify with Palestinian youth”
    Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 2 June 2009
    Hajo Meyer (Christiane Tilanus)

    “One of the major annoyances in my life is that Israel by means of trickery calls itself a Jewish state, while in fact it is Zionist. It wants the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians. I have four Jewish grandparents. I am an atheist. I share the Jewish socio-cultural inheritance and I have learned about Jewish ethics. I don’t wish to be represented by a Zionist state.”

    Hajo Meyer, author of the book The End of Judaism, was born in Bielefeld, in Germany, in 1924. In 1939, he fled on his own at age 14 to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi regime, and was unable to attend school. A year later, when the Germans occupied the Netherlands he lived in hiding with a poorly forged ID. Meyer was captured by the Gestapo in March 1944 and deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp a week later. He is one of the last survivors of Auschwitz.

    Adri Nieuwhof:What would you like to say to introduce yourself to EI’s readers?

    Hajo Meyer: I had to quit grammar school in Bielefeld after the Kristallnacht [the two-day pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany], in November 1938. It was a terrible experience for an inquisitive boy and his parents. Therefore, I can fully identify with the Palestinian youth that are hampered in their education. And I can in no way identify with the criminals who make it impossible for Palestinian youth to be educated.

    AN: What motivated you to write your book, The End of Judaism?

    HM: In the past, the European media have written extensively about extreme right-wing politicians like Joerg Haider in Austria and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France. But when Ariel Sharon was elected [prime minister] in Israel in 2001, the media remained silent. But in the 1980s I understood the deeply fascist thinking of these politicians. With the book I wanted to distance myself from this. I was raised in Judaism with the equality of relationships among human beings as a core value. I only learned about nationalist Judaism when I heard settlers defend their harassment of Palestinians in interviews. When a publisher asked me to write about my past, I decided to write this book, in a way, to deal with my past. People of one group who dehumanize people who belong to another group can do this, because they either have learned to do so from their parents, or they have been brainwashed by their political leaders. This has happened for decades in Israel in that they manipulate the Holocaust for their political aims. In the long-run the country is destructing itself this way by inducing their Jewish citizens to become paranoid. In 2005 [then Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon illustrated this by saying in the Knesset [the Israeli parliament], we know we cannot trust anyone, we only can trust ourselves. This is the shortest possible definition of somebody who suffers from clinical paranoia. One of the major annoyances in my life is that Israel by means of trickery calls itself a Jewish state, while in fact it is Zionist. It wants the maximum territory with a minimum number of Palestinians. I have four Jewish grandparents. I am an atheist. I share the Jewish socio-cultural inheritance and I have learned about Jewish ethics. I don’t wish to be represented by a Zionist state. They have no idea about the Holocaust. They use the Holocaust to implant paranoia in their children.

    AN: In your book you write about the lessons you have learned from your past. Can you explain how your past influenced your perception of Israel and Palestine?

    HM: I have never been a Zionist. After the war, Zionist Jews spoke about the miracle of having “our own country.” As a confirmed atheist I thought, if this is a miracle by God, I wished that he had performed the smallest miracle imaginable by creating the state 15 years earlier. Then my parents would not have been dead.

    I can write up an endless list of similarities between Nazi Germany and Israel. The capturing of land and property, denying people access to educational opportunities and restricting access to earn a living to destroy their hope, all with the aim to chase people away from their land. And what I personally find more appalling then dirtying one’s hands by killing people, is creating circumstances where people start to kill each other. Then the distinction between victims and perpetrators becomes faint. By sowing discord in a situation where there is no unity, by enlarging the gap between people — like Israel is doing in Gaza.

    AN: In your book you write about the role of Jews in the peace movement in and outside Israel, and Israeli army refuseniks. How do you value their contribution?

    HM: Of course it is positive that parts of the Jewish population of Israel try to see Palestinians as human beings and as their equals. However, it disturbs me how paper-thin the number is that protests and is truly anti-Zionist. We get worked up by what happened in Hitler’s Germany. If you expressed only the slightest hint of criticism at that time, you ended up in the Dachau concentration camp. If you expressed criticism, you were dead. Jews in Israel have democratic rights. They can protest in the streets, but they don’t.

    AN: Can you comment on the news that Israeli ministers approved a draft law banning commemoration of the Nakba, or the dispossession of historic Palestine? The law proposes punishment of up to three years in prison.

    HM: It is so racist, so dreadful. I am at a loss for words. It is an expression of what we already know. [The Israeli Nakba commemoration organization] Zochrot was founded to counteract Israeli efforts to wipe out the marks that are a reminder of Palestinian life. To forbid Palestinians to publicly commemorate the Nakba. … they cannot act in a more Nazi-like, fascist way. Maybe it will help to awaken the world.

    AN: What are your plans for the future?

    HM: [Laughs] Do you know how old I am? I am almost 85 years old. I always say cynically and with self-mockery that I have a choice: either I am always tired because I want to do so much, or I am going to sit still waiting for the time to go by. Well, I plan to be tired, because I have still so much to say.

    Adri Nieuwhof is consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.


  18. Uri Avnery


    NOT EVERY day, and not even every decade, does the Supreme Court rebuke the Military Advocate General. The last time this happened was 20 years ago, when the Advocate General refused to issue a proper indictment against an officer who ordered his men to break the arms and legs of a bound Palestinian. The officer argued that he considered this to be his duty, after the Minister of Defense, Yitzhak Rabin, had called for “breaking their bones”.

    Well, this week it happened again. The Supreme Court made a decision that was tantamount to a slap in the face of the army?s current chief legal officer, Brigadier Avichai Mendelblit.

    The incident in question took place in Ni?alin, a village which has been robbed of a great part of its land by the Separation Fence. Like their neighbors in Bilin, the villagers demonstrate every week against the Fence. Generally, the army?s reactions in Ni?alin are even more violent than in Bilin. Four protesters have already been killed there.

    In this particular incident, Lieutenant Colonel Omri Borberg took a Palestinian demonstrator, who was sitting on the ground, handcuffed and blindfolded, and suggested to one of his soldiers “let?s go aside and give him a rubber”. He ordered the soldier to shoot a rubber bullet, point blank.

    For those who do not know: “rubber bullets” are steel bullets coated with rubber. From a distance, they cause painful injuries. At short range, they can be fatal. Officially, soldiers are allowed to use them at a minimum range of 40 meters.

    Without hesitating, the soldier shot the prisoner in the foot, although this was a “manifestly illegal order”, which a soldier is obliged by army law to disobey. According to the classic definition of Judge Binyamin Halevy in the 1957 Kafr Kassem massacre case, the “black flag of illegality” is waving over such orders. The prisoner, Ashraf Abu-Rakhma, was hit and fell on the ground.

    Veterans of the Ni?alin and Bilin demonstrations know that such and similar incidents happen all the time. But the Abu-Rakhma case was special for one reason: it was documented by a young local woman from a balcony near the crime scene with one of the cameras provided to villagers by B?tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

    Thus the Lt. Col. committed an unforgivable sin: he was photographed in the act. Generally, when peace activists disclose such misdeeds, the army spokesman reaches into his bag of lies and comes up with some mendacious statement or other (“Attacked the soldier”, “Tried to grab his weapon”, “Resisted arrest”). But even a talented spokesman has difficulties denying something that is clearly seen on film.

    When the Military Advocate General decided to prosecute the officer and the soldier for “conduct unbecoming”, Abu-Rakhma and some Israeli human rights organizations applied to the Supreme Court. The judges advised the Advocate to change the indictment. He refused, and so the matter reached the court again.

    This week, in a decision unusual for its severe language, the three justices (including a female judge and a religious one) found the “conduct unbecoming” charge itself unbecoming. They ordered the indictment of both officer and soldier on a far more serious criminal charge, in order to make it clear to all military personnel that mistreating a prisoner “is contrary to the spirit of the state and the army”.

    After such a slap in the face, any decent person would have resigned in shame. But not Mendelblit. The bearded and kippa-wearing brigadier is a personal friend of the Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and is expecting promotion to Major General at any moment.

    Recently, the Advocate General refused to indict a senior officer who asserted in court, while testifying on behalf of a subordinate, that it is right to abuse Palestinians physically.

    Ashkenazi owes a lot to his Advocate General, and for other reasons. Mendelblit has made a huge effort to cover up war crimes committed during the recent Gaza War, from Ashkenazi?s war plan itself to the crimes of individual soldiers. Nobody has been put on trial, nobody even seriously investigated.

    ON THE day the Supreme Court decision concerning Mendelblit was published, another brigadier also made the headlines. Curiously enough, his first name is also Avichai (not a very common name), he is also bearded and wears a kippa.

    In a speech before religious female soldiers, the Chief Rabbi of the army, Brigadier Avichai Rontzky, expressed the opinion that the army service of women is forbidden by the Jewish religion.

    Since every Jewish young woman in Israel is bound by law to serve for two years, and women perform many essential jobs in the army, this was a seditious statement. But nobody was really surprised by this Rabbi.

    Rontzky was chosen for this post by the former Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz. He knew what he was doing.

    The Rabbi was not born into a religious family. Indeed, he was quite “secular”, a member of an elite army unit, when he saw the light and was “reborn”. Like many of this kind, he did not stop halfway but went to the furthest extreme, becoming a settler and setting up a Yeshiva (religious seminary) in one of the most fanatical settlements.

    Rontzky is a man in the spirit of the person who appointed him. It will be remembered that, when asked what he felt when dropping a one-ton bomb on a residential area, Air Force General Halutz answered: “a slight bump on the wing”. In a discussion about whether to treat a wounded Palestinian on the Shabbat, Rontzky wrote that “the life of a goy is certainly valuable?but the Shabbat is more important.” Meaning: a dying goy should not be treated on Shabbat. Later he retracted. (In modern colloquial Hebrew, a goy is a non-Jew. The term has distinctly derogatory connotations.)

    The Israeli army has something that is called the “Ethical Code”. True, the spiritual father of the Code, Professor Asa Kasher, did defend the atrocities of the “Molten Lead” operation, but Rontzky went much further: he stated unequivocally that “When there is a clash between?the Ethical Code and the Halakha (religious law), certainly the Halakha must be followed.”

    In a publication distributed by him, it was said that “the Bible prohibits us from giving up even one millimeter of Eretz Israel”. In other words, the Chief Rabbi of the army, a Brigadier of the IDF, asserts that the official policy of the Israeli government ? from Ariel Sharon?s “Separation” to the recent speech by Binyamin Netanyahu on a “demilitarized Palestinian State” ? is a mortal sin.

    But the peak was reached in a brochure that the army rabbinate distributed to soldiers during the Gaza War: “Exercising mercy towards a cruel enemy means being cruel towards innocent and honest soldiers. In war as in war.”

    That was a clear incitement to brutality. It can be seen as a call for acts that constitute war crimes ? the very same acts that his colleague, the Military Advocate General, has done everything possible to cover up.

    NEITHER OF the two bearded brigadiers would have remained in office for a single day had they not enjoyed the full support of the Chief of Staff. The army is a hierarchical institution, and full responsibility for everything that happens falls squarely and entirely on the Chief.

    Unlike his predecessors, Gaby Ashkenazi does not show off and does not speak in public frequently. If he has political ambitions, he is hiding them well. But during his term in office, the army has assumed a certain character, which is perfectly represented by these two officers.

    This did not start, of course, with Ashkenazi. He is continuing ? and perhaps intensifying ? a tendency that started long ago, and that has been changing the Israeli army beyond recognition.

    The founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, famously wrote in his book “Der Judenstaat”, the founding document of the movement: “We shall know how to keep our clerics in the temples, as we shall know how to keep our regular army in the barracks?they will not be allowed to interfere in the affairs of the state.”

    Now the very opposite is happening: the rabbis have penetrated the army, the army officers come from the synagogues.

    The hard core of the fanatical settlers, which is almost entirely composed of religious people (many of whom are “reborn Jews”) decided long ago to gain control of the army from within. In a systematic campaign, which is in full swing, they penetrate the officers? corps from below – from the junior ranks to the middle to the senior ones. One can see their success in statistics: from year to year the number of kippa-wearing officers is growing.

    When the Israeli army came into being, the officers? corps was full of kibbutz members. Not only were kibbutzniks considered the elite of the new Hebrew society, which was based on values of morality and culture, and not only were they the first to volunteer for every national task, but there were also inbuilt “technical” reasons.

    The nucleus of the army came from the pre-state Palmach. The Palmach companies constituted a fully-mobilized regular army, part of the underground military organization, the Haganah. They could exist and operate freely only in the kibbutzim, where their identity could be camouflaged. As a result, almost all the outstanding commanders in the 1948 war were from the Palmach, kibbutz members or close to them.

    These did everything to imbue the new Defense Forces with the spirit of a pioneering, moral and humanist citizens army, the very opposite of an occupation army. True, the reality was always different, but the ideal was important as an aim to strive for. As I showed in my 1950 book, “The Other Side of the Coin”, our “purity of arms” has always been a myth. But the aspiration to be an army with humanist values was important. Atrocities were hidden or denied, because they were considered shameful and dishonoring our camp.

    Nothing has remained of all this, except phrases. Since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, the character of the army has changed completely. The army that was founded in order to protect the state from external dangers has become an army of occupation, whose task is to oppress another people, crush their resistance, expropriate land, protect land robbers called settlers, man roadblocks, humiliate human beings every day. Of course, it is not the army alone that has changed, but also the state that gives the army its orders as well as its ongoing brainwashing.

    In such an army, a process of natural selection takes place. People of discrimination, with a high moral standard, who detest such actions, leave sooner or later. Their place is taken by other types, people of different values or no values at all, “professional soldiers” who “just follow orders”.

    Of course, one must beware of generalizing. In today?s army there are not a few people who believe that they are fulfilling a mission, for whom the Ethical Code is more than just a compilation of sanctimonious phrases. These people are disgusted by what they see. From time to time we hear their protests and see their disclosures. However, it is not they who set the tone, but types like Rontzky and Mendelblit.

    THAT SHOULD worry us very much. We cannot treat the army as if it was a foreign realm that does not concern us. We cannot tell ourselves: “we don?t want to have anything to do with the army of a Moshe Ya?alon, a Shaul Mofaz, a Dan Halutz or a Gabi Ashkenazi.” We cannot turn our back on the problem. We must face it, because it is our problem.

    The state needs an army. Even after achieving peace, we shall need a strong and effective army in order to protect the state until peace strikes deep roots and we can set up a regional body along the lines of the European Union, perhaps.

    The army is us. Its character has an impact on all our lives, on the life of our state itself. It has already been said: “Israel is not a banana republic. It is a republic that slips on bananas.” And what bananas!



  19. Jul 5, 10:37 AM EDT

    Biden: US not stand in Israel’s way on Iran

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden seemed to give Israel a green light for military action to eliminate Iran’s nuclear threat, saying the U.S. “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do.”

    Israel considers Iran its most dangerous adversary and is wary of hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who just won a disputed re-election. He repeatedly has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and contends the Holocaust is a “myth.”

    Israel and the U.S. accuse Iran of seeking to develop weapons under the cover of a nuclear power program. Iran denies that.

    “Israel can determine for itself – it’s a sovereign nation – what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,” Biden told ABC’s “This Week” in an interview broadcast Sunday.

    “Whether we agree or not. They’re entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed,” Biden said.

    The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says it prefers to see Iran’s nuclear program stopped through diplomacy but has not ruled out a military strike.

    “If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice,” Biden said.

    While most experts are in agreement that there’s a good chance Iran could have a usable nuclear bomb sometime during his presidency, President Barack Obama told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday, “I’m not reconciled with that.”

    A nuclear-armed Iran, Obama said, probably would lead to an arms race in the volatile Mideast and that would be “a recipe for potential disaster.” He said opposing a nuclear weapons capacity for Iran was more than just “a U.S. position” and that “the biggest concern is not simply that Iran can threaten us or our allies, like Israel or its neighbors.”

    Israel is also concerned about Iran’s close support for two of its most committed enemies, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

    Obama said in May, after his first meeting with Netanyahu at the White House, that the Iranians had until year’s end to get serious about international talks on curbing their nuclear ambitions. “We’re not going to have talks forever,” he said.

    But Obama sees movement on Israeli-Palestinian peace as key to building a moderate Arab coalition against Iran, while Netanyahu says dealing with the Iranian threat must take precedence over peacemaking with the Palestinians.

    Most experts believe that wiping out the Iranian nuclear program is beyond the ability of Israel’s military. In 1982 the Israeli air force destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in a lightning strike. But Iran’s facilities are scattered around the country, some of them underground.

    Biden was asked in the interview that if the Israelis decide they need to try to take out Iran’s nuclear program, would the U.S. stand in the way militarily?

    “We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do,” the vice president replied. “Israel has a right to determine what’s in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine what’s in our interests.”

    © 2009 The Associated Press.


  20. Uri Avnery

    A Jeremiad


    I have received the distressing letter that you recently sent to a limited number of friends. You paint the Israeli reality in dark ? but true ? colors, and end by cutting your ties with it.

    “Therefore I, a 95 year old Sabra (native born Israeli Jew), who has plowed its fields, planted trees, built a house and fathered sons, grandsons and great-grandsons, and also shed his blood in the battle for the founding of the State of Israel,

    “Declare herewith that I renounce my belief in the Zionism which has failed, that I shall not be loyal to the Jewish fascist state and its mad visions, that I shall not sing anymore its nationalist anthem, that I shall stand at attention only on the days of mourning for those fallen on both sides in the wars, and that I look with a broken heart at an Israel that is committing suicide and at the three generations of offspring that I have bred and raised in it.”

    SINCE I first met you, Dov, some fifty years ago, I have always considered you the salt of the earth. You were born in a village, the son of a farmer, were a fighter in the 1948 war and later a Colonel in the army, a modest man, a moral person in every fiber.

    In the first Lebanon War, you exposed the atrocities committed against the Palestinian refugees in the Tyre-Sidon area, and your courageous report shocked me no less than those of the Sabra and Shatila massacre. You did not hesitate to break the silence, as the “Breaking the Silence” youngsters are doing now, knowing full well that your peers in the officers? corps would excommunicate you.

    You are a man of my heart, Dov. That is why your words distress me so much.

    I think it important to share the statement of a man of your caliber with those in our camp who spend sleepless nights worrying about the situation of our state.

    YOU START your letter by mentioning the founders of the Zionist movement.

    “If Herzl could come to life again and see what those who claim to carry the flag of Zionism are doing, he would flee at once, miserable and shocked, back to his grave. So would Chaim Weizmann and most of the pioneers, the fathers and mothers of my generation. They were people of conscience and morality, who held to the axiom that human beings are decent and honest.”

    Most of your fierce accusations concern Israel?s treatment of the Palestinians. “And thus, for 42 years, Israel turned what should have been Palestine into a giant detention camp, and is holding a whole people captive under an oppressive and cruel regime, with the sole aim of taking away their country, come what may!!!

    “The IDF eagerly suppresses their efforts at rebellion, with the active assistance of the settlement thugs, by the brutal means of a sophisticated Apartheid and a choking blockade, inhuman harassment of the sick and of women in labor, the destruction of their economy and the theft of their best land and water.

    “Over all this there is waving the black flag of the frightening contempt for the life and blood of the Palestinians. Israel will never be forgiven for the terrible toll of blood spilt, and especially the blood of children, in hair-raising quantities.”

    But I believe that the abysmal despair echoed in your words has other roots, too. It is a feeling that troubles the heart of many of your and my generation, the feeling that “they have stolen our state”, that there is no resemblance between the state which we dreamed of and fought for and the thing that has taken its place.

    WHEN I think of our youth, yours and mine, one scene is never far from my mind: the 1947 Dalia festival.

    Tens of thousands of young men and women were sitting on the slope of a hill in the natural amphitheater near Kibbutz Dalia on Mount Carmel. Ostensibly it was a festival of folk dancing, but in reality it was much more ? a great celebration of the new Hebrew culture which we were then creating in the country, in which folk dancing played an important role. The dancing groups came mainly from the kibbutzim and the youth movements, and the dances were original Hebrew creations, interwoven with Russian, Polish, Yemenite and Hassidic ones. A group of Arabs danced the Debka in ecstasy, dancing and dancing and dancing on.

    In the middle of the event, the loudspeakers announced that members of the UN Commission of Inquiry, which had been sent by the international organization to decide upon the future of the country, were joining us. When we saw them entering the amphitheater, the tens of thousands spontaneously rose to their feet and started to sing the “Hatikva”, the national anthem, with a holy fervor that reverberated from the surrounding mountains.

    We did not know then that within half a year the great Hebrew-Arab war would break out – our War of Independence and their Naqba. I believe that most of the 6000 young people who fell in the war on our side, as well as the thousands that were wounded ? like you and me ? were present at that moment in Dalia, seeing each other and singing together.

    What state did we think of then? What state did we set out to create?

    What has happened to the Hebrew society, the Hebrew culture, the Hebrew morality that we were so proud of then?

    YES, WE did create a state. As the old song goes: “On the battlefield, a town is now standing”. We have brought millions of people to this country. >From a Hebrew community of 650 thousand we have grown into a population of 7.5 million. A fourth and fifth generation speaks Hebrew as their mother tongue. Our economy is large and solid, even in these times of crisis. In several fields we are in the first rank of human endeavor.

    But is this the society, is this the state, which we saw in our mind?s eye on the day it was set up? Is this the army that you and I swore allegiance to on the day it was founded?

    Did we dream of this corrupt society, a society without compassion, where a handful of the very rich live off the fat of the land, with a large band of politicians and media people and other lackeys groveling in the dust at their feet?

    Did we dream of a state that is an isolated and shunned ghetto in the region, lording it over an oppressed Palestinian ghetto-within-a-ghetto?

    There were days when we could stand up anywhere in the world and proudly declare “I am an Israeli”. No one can do that now. The name of Israel has become mud. Since the Gaza War, in which our army poured molten lead onto men, women and children, many Israelis avoid speaking Hebrew in the streets of foreign cities and the IDF has ordered the faces of some of its officers ? those whose rank equals yours ? be obscured in pictures published in the media.

    WHY DID this happen? When did this happen?

    My aim is not to start a discussion with you about the fundamentals of Zionism, both positive and negative. We might not agree. Nor shall I enter into the question of whether everything really started in 1967, with the intoxicating and corruptive victory, or whether the seeds of disaster were sown earlier. On one thing I agree with you entirely: that the fatal step was taken then, on the morrow of that war, when we had the choice between the shining gold of peace and the base metal of annexation, and stretched our hands out towards the latter.

    My personal conscience is clean. I am proud that I was one of the few in the country, and the sole voice in the Knesset, who proposed even during the war to turn over the occupied territories to the Palestinian people, so as to enable them to set up their state. This unique opportunity was missed, as you point out in your letter, because of the greed of the founders of the settlement movement, the champions of a Greater Israel.

    From there things rolled on, as in a Greek tragedy, to where we are now, with an assorted crew of settlers, racists, nationalists, messianic zealots and ordinary fascists in charge of the state, turning the Knesset into a circus, undermining the Supreme Court, perverting the army, imposing obscurantist religious laws, handing the public treasury to unbridled tycoons, polluting the education system with a primitive nationalist indoctrination, persecuting poor asylum seekers, oppressing the national minority and planning military attacks that will wreak death and destruction on civilian populations.

    This is the state that you detest. I have no quarrel with you about that.

    This is the state that you despair of. About that I do have a dispute with you.

    YOU BEAR the name of the prophet who is nearest to my heart, Yirmiyahu, the prophet of anger who called out: “Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole world ? every one doth curse me!” (Jer. 15:10)

    But Jeremiah was not only an accuser, he was also a healer: “to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down ? to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:10)

    You, Dov, have invested in this state much too much to turn your back on it in a gesture of anger and despair. The most hackneyed and worn-out slogan in Israel is also true: “We don?t have another state!”

    Other states in the world have sunk to the depths of depravity and committed unspeakable crimes, far beyond our worst sins, and still brought themselves back to the family of nations and redeemed their souls.

    We and all the members of our generation, who were among those who created this state, bear a heavy responsibility for it. A responsibility to our offspring, to those oppressed by this state, to the entire world. From this responsibility we cannot escape.

    Even at your respectable age, and precisely because of it and because of what you represent, you must be a compass for the young and tell them: This state belongs to you, you can change it, don?t allow the nationalist wreckers to steal it from you!

    True, 61 years ago we had another state in mind. Now, after our state has tumbled to where it is today, we must remember that other state, and remind everybody, every day, what the state should have been like, what it can be like, and not allow our vision to disappear like a dream. Let?s lend our shoulders to every effort to repair and heal!

    You have voiced the message of Jeremiah, the prophet of anger. I beg you, give voice also to Jeremiah, the prophet of hope!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.