This Al Jazeera video says about itself:
As Israeli police arrest two settlers charged with assaulting a Palestinian family, Inside Story asks if this is a sign of a more serious investigation into settler violence by the Israeli police.
From the daily Haaretz in Israel:
Settler admits to murder, series of bomb attacks
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent
A resident of the West Bank settlement outpost Shvut Rachel was arrested last month for suspected murder and for his alleged role in a string of attempted murder plots, according to details of an investigation revealed on Sunday after a gag order on the case was lifted.
Yaakov “Jack” Teitel, 37, is suspected of killing two Palestinians, for rigging the package bomb which left the child of a Messianic Jew seriously wounded, for attempting to kill left-wing professor Ze’ev Sternhell, and for his alleged role in a series of warning attacks against Israel Police at the time of the Gay Pride Parades.
According to the Shin Bet and Israel Police, Teitel has confessed to most of the allegations against him. …
Teitel, a resident of the northern West Bank outpost, was born in Florida and has moved back and forth between the United States and Israel over the last two decades. In 2000, he returned to Israel to live permanently.
During a search of his home, police discovered rifles, handguns and explosive materials; they were unable, however, to find the gun which he allegedly used to kill the Palestinians.
He even apparently claimed during his investigation to involvement in the attack on a gay-lesbian youth club in Tel Aviv, in which two people were killed. …
Teitel was arrested on October 7 in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, in Jerusalem, after posting signs around town praising the attack on the Tel Aviv gay club.
His posters were signed with the name ‘Shleisel,’ referring to the ultra-Orthodox man who stabbed and wounded a number of marchers during the Jerusalem pride parade a couple of years ago.
Police also found posters in his neighbourhood offering a one million shekel reward to anyone killing a member of Israel’s Peace Now movement, that opposes West Bank settlement activity. …
Teitel has confessed to murdering a Palestinian shepherd near Mount Hebron in 1997 and to killing an Arab taxi driver in East Jerusalem some two months later. He said that he came to Israel precisely to carry out attacks against Palestinians as revenge for suicide bombings.
‘There are Jewish terrorists still at large in Israel’: here.
Israel Divided Over ‘Illegal’ Children: here.
They earn NIS 2000 per month, are dismissed every nine months, and have few rights: meet the manual laborers of the Israel Antiquities Authority, employed via the personnel agency Brick: here.
- West Bank settlement population growing rapidly: report (dailystar.com.lb)
- Israeli Settlers Torch Hebron Family’s Property for Eighth Time! (socioecohistory.wordpress.com)
- Blog linked to Israeli army calls for murder of Palestinian childre (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Israeli police intervened against Palestinian activists (worldbulletin.net)
NO PARTNER FOR PEACE: OUR AMERICAN PROBLEM
It was as if some official, perhaps one of President Obama’s “czars,” like the Czar for Demolishing American Credibility, had orchestrated a systematic campaign to isolate the US from the rest of the world, make it a political laughing-stock and, finally, render it a second-rate power capable of throwing around tremendous military weight but absolutely incapable of leading us to a better future. The Israel-Palestine conflict, while not the world’s bloodiest, constitutes, for many people of the world, a unique gauge of American interests and intentions. So consider the messages this string of actions sent out to the world:
· On August 10th, a letter was send to the President initiated by Democratic Senator Evan Bayh and Republican Senator Jim Risch, both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and backed by AIPAC, the Israeli lobby. Signed by seventy-one senators, it called on Arab states to normalize relations with Israel even though Israel has not frozen settlement building, has not stopped expropriating Palestinian land or demolishing Palestinian homes, and has not lifted the severe restrictions on Palestinian life that has impoverished the majority of the population. The letter reaffirmed to Israel that it has widespread bi-partisan support in Congress and does not have to be overly concerned with demands from the Administration, while signaling to the Arab and Muslim worlds that they are not taken seriously.
· When, on September 17th, the Human Rights Council of the UN accepted the Goldstone Report, the UN’s fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict. Despite the mission’s charges over Israeli war crimes, South African jurist Richard Goldstone actually bent over backwards to protect Israel as much as possible. Thus the report does not mention Israel’s 42-year occupation of Gaza or its three year siege which has left a million and a half Gazans without adequate food, medical care or the basic necessities of life. Nor does it mention the fact that, rather than defending itself, it was Israel which violated the cease-fire with Hamas and refused repeated appeals by Hamas to renew it. Indeed, the Report also speaks of Hamas’s violation of international law and demands that it, too, be investigated. Notwithstanding, the American representative to the UN, Susan Rice, immediately condemned the report (whether or not she actually read its almost 600 pages) and promised Israel that the US would stand behind its fight against the Report. Judge Goldstone asked the American government “to indicate where the report is flawed or unbalanced,” but never received a response.
· On October 31st, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shows up in Israel and, in a press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu, hails as “unprecedented” the Israeli government’s readiness to “restrain” its settlement building. After months of begging Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction – including a dozen visits by envoy George Mitchell – the US simply caved in. Israel will continue expanding its settlements in East Jerusalem, will build another 3000 housing units in the Occupied Territories, will continue to build “public buildings” in the settlements and respond to their needs of “natural growth,” and will continue to approve additional construction – a dubious policy of “restraint” that will last only nine months or so. By thus abandoning the Palestinians Clinton opened the way for Israel to accuse them of presenting “unreasonable preconditions” for starting negotiations — which Netanyahu promptly did in the same press conference.
· On November 3rd, the House of Representatives passed, by a vote of 344-36, a resolution calling on the President and the Secretary of State “to oppose unequivocally any endorsement or further consideration of the ‘Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ in multilateral fora” (i.e., the UN). Sponsored by four vociferously but well-placed pro-Israel members of Congress – Howard Berman (D-CA), the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee, Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chair of the Foreign Relations’ Sub-Committee on the Middle East and Dan Burton (R-IN), the Sub-Committee’s ranking Republican member – the resolution calls the Goldstone report “irredeemably biased and unworthy of further consideration or legitimacy” and “supports the Administration’s efforts to combat anti-Israel bias at the United Nations.”
· And just what haven’t American officials and members of Congress responded to? How about the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s call on Israel, on the same day the anti-Goldstone resolution was passed, “to end its provocative actions” in east Jerusalem. “The Secretary General,” the UN reported, “is dismayed at continued Israeli actions in occupied east Jerusalem, including the demolition of Palestinian homes, the eviction of Palestinian families and the insertion of settlers into Palestinian neighborhoods.”
Underlying the growing alienation between the United States and the rest of the world community, including Europe, is America’s failure, even under Obama, to embrace human rights as a guide to its foreign policy. At a time when many of the world’s people suffer from impoverishment, conflict and a sense that their governments have failed them, have left them unprotected, the promise of universal human rights means a lot. Human rights language has yet to reach the US. When, recently, I did the rounds of Congress and the State Department promoting a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I was told that “justice” is not an active element in American foreign policy. I was advised by seasoned lobbyists not to even mention the term “human rights” in my meetings with senators and congress people, because it sounds anti-American, as if something trumps American law and policy (which human rights indeed does). But remove justice and human rights from foreign policy and you are left with short-range conflict management and damage control which, in the end, offers peace and security to no one. You certainly remove yourselves from the concerns of most people of the world.
The degree to which American policy regarding Palestinian rights diverges so sharply from even that of its European allies, not to mention from the Muslim world with which it is attempting to achieve a modicum of stability and accommodation that will allow it to remove its troops, has implications far beyond that particular conflict itself. When the US stands, as it often does, with Israel but against the entire international community on matters of human rights (as it did in regards to apartheid South Africa and support for the contras in Nicaragua, among others), it’s isolation is highlighted, rather than its leadership. All of its other slogans, such as “spreading freedom and democracy,” are rendered hollow. Neither America nor its erstwhile ally Israel can avoid accountability for their policies and actions. Realpolitik cannot replace a policy based on human rights. If the US wishes to rejoin the international community and genuinely pursue its interests, there is no better place to start than carving out a foreign policy based on justice. Until then, America remains part of the problem, not the solution.
(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:
Here follow the November 6, 2009 press picks of Occupation Magazine (Today, we posted new articles.) OM is updated each day of the week by different editors – in English http://www.kibush.co.il and in Hebrew ?????? http://www.kibush.co.il/index_h.asp You can also search for older information using the powerfull search function & scrolling down through the sections.
What Israeli courts do investigate
Ma`an News – Nahed Al-Aqra, a Gaza resident, was convicted and sentenced to three life terms by the Beersheba military court. He was found guilty of placing 7 years ago an explosive device under the tank of the soldiers near the Netzarim base in Gaza.
Organizations from US, Palestine & Israel call on baseball?s NY Mets to cancel Hebron settlers` fundraiser
Patrick Connors – ?The New York Mets will be facilitating activities that directly violate international law and the Obama administration?s call for a freeze in settlement construction, and that actively promote racial discrimination, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homes in Hebron.?
U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society
Akiva Eldar – Haaretz – Israel discriminates against groups including Muslims, Jehova`s Witnesses, Reform Jews, Christians, women and Bedouin. The protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but “the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites.
More than 300,000 immigrants who are not considered Jewish under rabbinical law are not allowed to marry and divorce in Israel or be buried in Jewish cemeteries.
British students protest during lecture of Israeli envoy – similar news from Turkey and Holland
Hagit Kleiman – Eggs hurled at Israel`s ambassador to Turkey; at the University of Nottingham a rude welcome for Ron Prosor, ambassador to England; at Erasmus University, Holland, protestors attempt to disrupt Minister Daniel Hershkowitz`s address.
International law is key
Sam Bahour – opendemocracy – Without a third party baseline, we are left with backroom wheeling and dealing, a model that no matter how well intentioned, will reflect the existing balance of power. In other words, Israel, being the regional military might, and its key ally the US, will impose a resolution that fits their liking and narrow interests. No need to note that such a “resolution” is no resolution at all, and thus the six decade conflict survives.
Palestinians who see nonviolence as their weapon
Richard Boudreaux – LA Times – His message is a hard sell: Mohammed Khatib, 35, is a modern-day Gandhi in a culture that enshrines the language of the gun, even if most Palestinians have never used one. And the risks of his activism are enormous.
Goldstone and Gaza
Jimmy Carter – NYT – Another winter is now approaching, and neither the Israelis nor the international community has taken steps to alleviate the Gazans? plight. Several hundred thousand homeless people suffered through last winter in a few tents, under plastic sheets, or huddled in caves dug into the debris of their former homes. Now and for the past 10 months, Israel has not permitted cement, lumber, panes of glass, or other building materials to pass their entry points into Gaza.
Israel`s worst enemies are those who support its policies, claims Chomsky
PAUL CULLEN – The Irish Times – ISRAEL?S GREATEST enemies are those who support its decline into moral degeneration and destruction, philosopher and political activist Noam Chomsky has told an audience in Dublin. Chomsky, who is retired professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said Israel was once a civilised society similar to those found in Scandinavia. Now, however, that has changed. There is high inequality just as in the US, and the social security system has collapsed, he said.
Military`s investigations into Operation Cast Lead focus on individual soldiers, not unlawful policies
B`Tselem – MPIU, which is the only body currently investigating Operation Cast Lead, has no authority to investigate the responsibility of decision-makers outside the military who were involved in policy setting. Therefore, even if these investigations result in the filing of indictments against soldiers, they will be directed against the lower echelon, and the persons responsible for the policy will not be held accountable for their acts.
UN set to call for investigations into Gaza war by Israel and Palestinians : General assembly expected to back resolution endorsing Goldstone report on alleged war crimes
Rory McCarthy -The Guardian – A resolution from the general assembly would not be legally binding, but would be easier to reach than one before the security council, where it is likely to be opposed by the US and China.
Recommended earlier articles
Sarah Liebovitz-Dar: Our Arab affairs expert: Dan Schueftan
Jeff Halper: No partner for peace: Our American problem
Lazar Simeonov: How To Create A Terrorist
Gideon Levy: The doomsday weapon
Henry Siegman: Israelis and Obama
Akiva Eldar: It is a tree of life, unless you are Palestinian
Aya Kaniuk: Conformity and us
Eilat Maoz: Gaza First
* 4 new entries at Adam’s blog
· Legal Smuggler
· Legal Smugglers
· Rabin’s Heritage
· Extremist weeds in the settler garden
Dutch Jews, Israelis clash over Lieberman visit to Holland
Cnaan Liphshiz – Haaretz – Group of Dutch ex-Israelis critical of Israel – to picket
building where Lieberman addresses his hosts from the prominent “Center for Information and Documentation on Israel” (CIDI).
Scoundrel With Permission
WHEN THE TV news starts with a murder, people are relieved.
This means that no war has broken out, no suicide bomb has exploded, no Qassam rocket has been launched at Sderot. Ahmadinejad has not test-fired a new missile that can reach Tel Aviv. Just another murder.
Not that Israel is the world’s murder capital. We shall have to work much harder to reach the heights of New York or Moscow, not to mention Johannesburg. Statistics even show our murder rate is declining.
But lately Israel has been shocked by a series of exceptionally brutal murders. A husband took revenge on his wife by killing his little daughter and burying her in a forest. A man who lived with the wife of his son killed her daughter, his own granddaughter, put her little body in a suitcase and threw it into Tel Aviv’s Yarkon river. A son who quarreled with his wife killed her and her mother, cut up both bodies and dispersed the parts in garbage bins. A young man who had a quarrel with his mother killed her, and then went off to kill his brother, too. A man in his 70s killed his wife in her sleep with a hammer.
In recent weeks, there were two cases that trumped even these atrocities.
Damian Karlik, an immigrant from Russia who worked as head waiter in a Russian restaurant, was dismissed for theft and decided to take revenge on the owners, Russian immigrants like him. He went to their apartment and stabbed to death six people, one after another – the owner and his wife, their son and his wife and their two small grandchildren.
An immigrant from the US called Jack Teitel, an inhabitant of one of the most extreme West Bank settlements, has now confessed to the killing some years ago of two random Palestinians. He returned briefly to America, and, after coming back, put bombs into police cars. Why? Because the police were protecting gays and lesbians. He is also suspected of killing two traffic policemen for the same reason. He also claimed responsibility for the mass killing of gays in a Tel Aviv club (though that may be empty bragging). He planted a bomb in the home of some Messianic Jews (Jews who regard Jesus as the Messiah) and grievously injured a 15-year-old. He tried to kill the leftist professor Ze’ev Sternhell with another bomb which wounded him.
WHAT IS so special about these two cases is that they involved new immigrants who were allowed into Israel in spite of already being under investigation for crimes in their homelands.
The Law of Return accords every Jew the right to immigrate (“make Aliyah”) to Israel, where he or she automatically receives Israeli citizenship on arrival. But even according to this law, the Minister of the Interior can reject people suspected of serious crimes.
This makes the case of Karlik especially interesting. He was suspected in Russia of armed robbery, but the organization in charge of issuing Israeli immigration permits in Russia asserts that they did not know about it.
This organization, Nativ (“path”), was active in the Soviet Union as one of the Israeli secret services, like the Mossad and Shin Bet. Its particular job was to infiltrate Jewish communities and induce Jews to come to Israel.
Apart from this, Nativ was also engaged, of course, in espionage. It is no secret that for decades immigrants arriving from the Soviet Union were interrogated exhaustively by the Shin Bet about military, economic and other installations in their former homeland. The precious information thus gathered ensured Israel a high standing in the Western intelligence community.
After the collapse of the Communist regime, Nativ was to be disbanded, but like every threatened organization it fought for its life. It was decided to leave it intact and put it in charge of immigration to Israel from all the former Soviet republics.
The religious credentials of the immigrants interest Nativ much more than any criminal record they may have. It seems Nativ has no contacts with the Russian police, who probably suspect it of other activities.
Thus it happens that a person like Karlik, a man under investigation for robbery with violence, was found suitable for immigration. His ethnic pedigree was impeccable. After his arrival in Israel, the Russian authorities officially applied for his extradition for robbery, but the request was denied. The escaped robber was issued a license for a gun and allowed to work as a guard.
Teitel’s case is similar. True, in the US there is no Nativ, but the logic of those in charge of emigration to Israel is the same: to bring immigrants without asking unnecessary questions. According to religious law, a Jew remains a Jew even if he sins.
THESE AFFAIRS shine a spotlight on one of the guiding principles of the Zionist establishment: to bring Jews to Israel, whatever the price. Statistics must show that this year – or any other year – a record number of Jews have “made Aliyah”. In many communities, the bottom of the barrel is scraped in order to bring more Jews. Emissaries find “lost tribes” of Jews in Peru and Ethiopia, India and China.
In this situation, there is an understandable temptation to overlook the criminal past of would-be immigrants. So what if somebody, a kosher Jew, has robbed a bank or mistreated children? In Israel he will perhaps mend his ways. Or if somebody was put on trial abroad for illegal arms deals, money laundering and/or selling blood-stained diamonds – he is welcome, and if he brings his millions with him, the leaders of the state will be happy to be photographed in his company.
That is true, of course, only for an immigrant who is a Jew according to the Halakha (religious law). If he is a Goy, the story is quite different. That is the province of the leader of the Shas party, Eli Yishai.
IN THE present Israeli government there are several candidates for the title of Racist in Chief. An objective jury would be hard put to choose between them.
The favorite is the Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, a certified racist whose entire career in Israel is built on hatred towards Arabs and foreigners. It was he who appointed as Minister of Justice the kippa-wearing lawyer Ya’akov Ne’eman, who is now busily engaged in securing the all-important position of Legal Advisor to the Government (practically the Attorney General) for a judge educated in a Yeshiva (Orthodox school), who lives in one of the more extreme settlements and who has become notorious for several rightist judgments. Binyamin Netanyahu himself, of course, is also an excellent candidate.
But the King of Racists is the Minister of the Interior. He is more dangerous than his colleagues because he has absolute power over the civil status of every person in Israel, immigration and emigration, the Register of Residents and the expulsion of foreigners. In this position he is now doing to foreigners what others have done to Jews in many countries. He is untiring in his efforts to guard the real Israel – not the “Jewish and democratic state” as it is officially defined, but rather the “Jewish and demographic state”. For this purpose he has recently created a special para-police force for the detection and deportation of illegal foreigners.
It is difficult to decide whether Yishai is an extreme fanatic or a complete cynic, or some strange combination. As matter of fact, when Shas was still a moderate party, in those distant days when its guru, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ruled that it is permissible to give back the occupied territories, and its former leader, Aryeh Deri, was the darling of the left, Yishai, too, declared “Yes to Oslo, Yes to the evacuation of Jews from Hebron, Yes to Arafat!” But since then much dirty water has flowed down our polluted rivers, Shas has turned into a radical right-wing party and Yishai is now the most extreme rightist in the government.
His unshakable devotion to the purity of the race arouses admiration. Hardly a day passes without some shocking news about his activites. He fights like a tiger for the expulsion of 1500 children of foreign workers who were born in Israel, who speak Hebrew and attend Israeli schools, who have no other homeland. Yishai is ready to lay down his life for their deportation.
The Interior Ministry prevents the entry of American and European citizens who bear Arab names. Officials of the UN and the EU in charge of projects for the Palestinians are normally unable to enter from Jordan (or anywhere else outside Israel), and if they somehow do obtain permission – they are then forbidden to cross the Green Line into Israel. Foreign women married to Israelis are expelled without mercy. There is no end to the examples.
In the eyes of Yishai, every son of a Thai is an enemy of the Jewish state, every daughter of a Colombian worker is a threat to the purity of the Jewish people. He has declared that the foreign workers are an “infection”, and warned that Tel Aviv is “becoming Africa”. He has disclosed that the foreigners carry frightening diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis and such. (And in this respect they resemble gays and lesbians, who, according to Yishai, are “sick people”.
Such a person would not remain a minister in the cabinet of the US or most European countries. In the homeland of the Nuremberg laws he would not even come close to a government position.
Recently, during the operation “Cast Lead”, Yishai demanded that we “bomb thousands of houses, to destroy Gaza” – which does not hinder him from denouncing Judge Richard Goldstone as an abominable anti-Semite. He himself, by the way, never risked his skin as a combat soldier – this national hero served as an NCO for religious services in a transport unit.
800 years ago, Rabbi Moshe Ben-Nahman, called Nahmanides, coined the phrase “Scoundrel with the permission of the Torah” – meaning a person who does despicable things which are not expressly forbidden in the Bible. I am not sure if even this appellation would fit Yishai, since the Bible forbids more than once the mistreatment of strangers – “Ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow” (Jer. 7:6), “He…loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment” (Deut. 10:18) and many other commandments to this effect.
BUT More important than Yishai himself is the phenomenon that he represents: the invocation of the demographic demon, which terrifies the country.
62 years after its foundation, the State of Israel is still living in fear of the “demographic danger”. It is afraid of its Arab citizens, and therefore discriminates against them in every sphere. It is afraid of the 400 thousand Russians who have come to this country with their Jewish relatives in accordance with the Law of Return, but whose mothers were not Jewish. Here is a built-in contradiction: while the Nativ operators are interested in maximizing the number of immigrants, Yishai and his people deny these very same immigrants the right to marry Jews or to be buried in Jewish graveyards. They serve in the army, but if they fall in action they cannot be buried next to their comrades.
Practically all Hebrew Israelis want a state with a Hebrew majority, where the Hebrew language, culture and tradition are cultivated. But many of us do not want a man-hunting, woman-hunting and child-hunting state, closed to asylum-seekers, where foreign workers who outstay their welcome must live in permanent fear, like our ancestors in the ghettoes.
In order to exorcise the demographic demon, my friends and I have applied to the courts and requested that the registration “Nation: Jewish” in the Ministry’s Register of Residents be replaced with “Nation: Israeli”. Our application was rejected by Judge Noam Solberg – the very same person the Minister of Justice is moving mountains to get appointed as Attorney General.
The Height of Kitsch
IT WOULD have been the epitome of political kitsch.
Binyamin Netanyahu and ten of his ministers were to hold a joint meeting with Angela Merkel and ten members of the German cabinet.
What for? To demonstrate Germany?s love for Israel.
At the last moment, Netanyahu announced that he was sick, and the meeting was canceled. I imagine that Netanyahu was not very sorry about this. What did he need it for? In any case the Israeli government is already getting from Germany anything it wants.
A German journalist asked me about the reaction in Israel to the visit of the new German foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle. I had to disappoint him: most Israelis did not even hear about it. Another dignitary laying flowers in Yad Vashem. Another traffic jam in Jerusalem.
As so often happens, there is no equality in this marriage. The German bride loves the Israeli groom much more than he loves her.
FROM TIME to time, the relationship between Germany and Israel needs a review.
The Germans do not forget the Holocaust. They are steeped in this subject all the time. It appears on TV programs, cultural discourse and art.
That is as it should be. This monstrous crime must not be allowed to slip from memory. Young Germans must ask themselves again and again how it came about that their grandfathers and grandmothers were accessories to this enormous deed ? those who took part in it, those who agreed silently and those who were silent out of fear or indifference.
The German government ? the present one like all its predecessors ? draws from the Holocaust an unequivocal conclusion: Israel, the “state of the victims”, must be pampered. All its actions must be supported without reservation. Not a single word of criticism must be allowed.
When the new German republic was founded, this was a calculated policy. The terrible war, which had been imposed on humanity by Adolf Hitler, had just come to an end. The Nazi crimes were fresh in the memory of mankind. Germany was a pariah nation. Konrad Adenauer decided that massive support for Israel (in addition to the indemnities paid to the individual victims) would open the doors to the world.
He found a loyal partner in his Israeli colleague. David Ben-Gurion believed that the consolidation of the State of Israel was more important than the memories of the past. He provided the “Other Germany” with an Israeli kosher certificate, in return for massive German aid to Israel.
Since then, much water has flown down the Rhine and the Jordan. The time has come to ask some questions.
QUESTION 1: While the German friendship with us is a moral imperative, does it have to include support for immoral actions?
I have heard more than once the argument: “After the terrible things done by the German people to the Jews, we Germans have no right to criticize the Jewish State. The descendents of the perpetrators cannot criticize the descendents of the victims!”
I have said it before: there is something in these sentences that disturbs me very much. Somehow they remind me of the German word Sonderbehandlung (“special treatment”), which has terrible associations. In the concentration camps, it was the code-word for execution.
The attitude of the German government towards Israel is a Sonderbehandlung. It, too, says: the Jews are something special. The “Jewish State” must be treated differently than all other states. That is to say, the Jews are different from all other peoples, their state is different from all other states, their morals are different from those of others.
A German audience was very amused when I recently told them about a demonstration of communists in New York. The police came and started to beat them up. Somebody shouted: “Don?t hit me! I am an anti-Communist!” To which the policeman replied: “I don?t care what kind of a communist you are!” Extreme philo-Semites remind me of extreme anti-Semites. One wonders whether somebody who is capable of one sort of special treatment is also capable of the other sort.
Special treatment? Thanks, but no thanks. That was not our intention when we founded this state. We wanted to be a state like all other states, a nation like all other nations.
QUESTION 2: What does friendship really mean?
When your friend is drunk and insists on driving his car ? should he be encouraged? Is that the expression of true friendship? Or does friendship oblige you to tell him: Listen, you are smashed, lie down until you sober up?
Intelligent Germans know that our present policy is disastrous for Israel and the entire world. It leads towards permanent war, the empowering of radical fundamentalist Islam throughout the region, the isolation of Israel in the world and an occupation-state in which the Jews will become an oppressing minority.
When your drunken friend is driving straight towards a cliff ? what does friendship tell you to do?
QUESTION 3: Friendship towards Israel ? but which Israel?
Israel is a far from monolithic society. It is a vibrant, fermenting mix, with many tendencies, from the extreme Right to the extreme Left. At present we have a government of the extreme right, but there is also a peace camp. There are soldiers who refuse to remove settlements, but there are also soldiers who refuse to guard settlements. Quite a number of people devote their time and energy to the struggle against the occupation, sometimes exposing themselves to physical danger in the process.
Of course, a government has to deal with governments. The German government has to deal with the Israeli government. But from there to kitschy gestures, like a joint session of the two cabinets, the distance is great.
The Netanyahu government has paid lip-service to the Two-State principle and is violating it every day. It has rejected a full freeze of settlement activity in the territories, the very territories which all governments ? including the German one ? agree should become the State of Palestine. It is building at a crazy pace in East Jerusalem which – even according to the German government – must become the capital of Palestine. It is carrying out in Jerusalem something which comes very close to ethnic cleansing. Should Ms. Merkel hug this government and smother its face with kisses?
There are many ways for the German government to show its friendship to the Other Israel, the Israel that seeks peace and human rights for all. Pity that it does not do so.
THERE IS another German way. Two weeks ago, I saw it.
An audience of hundreds gathered in Berlin for a ceremony in which I was awarded the “Blue Planet Prize”. The name reflects the fact that from outer space the Earth looks like a blue globe.
The prize was awarded by the Ethecon foundation, which believes that the ideals of peace, human rights, the preservation of the planet and an ethical economy should be joined together into one whole. This is my view, too.
The award of this year?s prize to an Israeli peace-activist expressed, I believe, real friendship for Israel ? the friendship of the Other Germany for the Other Israel. Revulsion at the Nazi crimes has led these Germans to engage themselves in the struggle for a better world, a more moral world, in which there is no place for the racism that is rearing its head in many places in Europe.
THAT LEADS us, of course, to what has happened just now in the land of Wilhelm Tell.
The Swiss have decided in a referendum to forbid the building of minarets. That is bad. It is abominable.
Anti-Semitism, it appears, has moved from one Semitic people to another. In post-Holocaust Europe it is difficult to be anti-Jewish, so the anti-Semites have become anti-Muslims. As we say in Hebrew: the same lady in a different robe.
From an aesthetic point of view, that is a stupid decision. In all anthologies of the most beautiful buildings in the world, Islamic architecture occupies a place of honor. From the Alhambra in Granada to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, not to mention the Taj Mahal, hundreds of Islamic architectural creations arouse admiration. A minaret or two would do wonders for the urban landscape of Bern.
But this is not a matter of architecture, rather of primitive, brutal racism, the one the Germans are escaping from. The Swiss, too, have much to atone for. Their grandfathers and grandmothers, too, behaved abominably during the Holocaust, when they declared that “The Boat Is Full” and returned the Jews who managed to reach the Swiss border to the Nazi executioners.
(This memory should induce us Israelis to protest against the behavior of our own government towards the desperate Sudanese refugees who manage to reach our borders from Egypt. It is returning them to the Egyptians, who, on more than one occasion, have shot them.)
By the way, the Swiss referendum should give pause to those who have been tempted to think that the system of referendums is preferable to the Parliamentary system. A referendum opens the gates to the vilest demagogues, the pupils of Joseph Goebbels, who once wrote: “We must appeal again to the most primitive instincts of the masses.”
Jean-Paul Sartre once said that we are all racists. The difference, he declared, is between those who recognize this and struggle against their racism, and those who surrender to it. The majority of the Swiss, I am sorry to say, have just failed this test. What about us?
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