Pro-peace Israelis persecuted

Francisco Goya, Execution of defenders of Madrid by the French army, 3 May 1808

By Uri Avnery in Israel:

The new face of Israel

Saturday 12th September 2015

Israel’s savage occupation and McCarthyite persecution of citizens who want peace have ruined its reputation, perhaps forever, says URI AVNERY

THE MISDEEDS of Napoleon’s occupation army in Spain were not photographed. Photography had not yet been invented. The valiant fighters against the occupation had to rely on Francisco Goya for the immortal painting of the resistance.

The partisans and underground fighters against the German occupation of their countries in World War II had no time to take pictures. Even the heroic uprising of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw was not filmed by the participants. The Germans themselves filmed their atrocities, and, being Germans, they catalogued and filed them in an orderly way.

In the meantime, photography has become common commonplace. The Israeli occupation in the Palestinian occupied territories is being filmed all the time. Everybody now has mobile phones that take pictures. Also, Israeli peace organisations have distributed cameras to many Arab inhabitants.

Soldiers shoot with guns. The Palestinians shoot pictures.

It is not yet clear which are more effective in the long run: the bullets or the photos.

A test case is a short clip taken recently in a remote West Bank village called al-Nabi Saleh.

This is the 28 August 2015 video from al-Nabi Saleh village.

Every Israeli has seen this footage many times by now. It has been shown again and again by all Israeli TV stations. Many millions around the world have seen it on their local TV. It is making the rounds in the social media.

The clip shows an incident that occurred near the village on Friday two weeks ago. Nothing very special. Nothing terrible. Just a routine event. But the pictures are unforgettable.

The village al-Nabi Saleh is located not far from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. It is named in honour of a prophet who lived before the time of Mohammed and is said to be buried there. His extensive tomb is the pride of the 550 inhabitants.

Al-Nabi Saleh is build on the remains of a crusader outpost, which in its turn was built on the remains of a Byzantine village.

Its history probably goes back to ancient Canaanite times. They were in turn Canaanites, Judaeans, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and finally Arabs.

The latest occupation (until now) is Israeli. These new occupiers have no interest in converting the locals.

They just want to take their land, and, if possible, induce them to go away. On part of the lands of al-Nabi Saleh an Israeli settlement called Halamish (“flint”) was set up.

The conflict between the village and its new “neighbours” started immediately. Between them is an ancient well, which the settlers have renovated and claim as their own. The village is not ready to give it up.

Like in many other villages in the area, such as Bil’in, on every Friday, right after the prayers in the mosque, a demonstration against the occupation and the settlers takes place.

A few Israeli peace activists and international volunteers take part in them. The demonstrators are generally non-violent, but on the fringes teenagers and children often throw stones. The soldiers shoot rubber-covered steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades, and sometime live bullets.

As in many small Arab villages, most inhabitants belong to one extended family, in this case the Tamimis. One Tamimi boy was shot dead in one of the demonstrations, a girl was shot in the foot. It is a Tamimi boy who features in the recent event.

The clip that rocked the world starts with one lone soldier, who was obviously sent to arrest a boy who had (or had not) thrown a stone.

The soldier jumps across the rocky terrain, looks for the boy who is hiding behind a rock and catches him. It is 12-year-old Muhammad Tamimi, with one arm in a plaster cast.

The soldier puts his arm around the neck of the boy, who cries in terror.

Soon his 14-year-old sister appears, and soon after that his mother and other women.

They all tear at the soldier, who tries to push them away with his other arm. During the wild struggle, the sister bites the arm of the soldier, the one which holds his gun.

The soldier is masked. This is a new thing. Why are they masked? What are they hiding? After all, they are not Russian policemen who fear the revenge of the gangsters. When I was a soldier, long ago, masks were unknown.

During the melee, one of the women succeeds in ripping the soldier’s mask off. We see his face — just an ordinary young man, recently out of high school, who is obviously at a loss of what to do. There seem to be photographers all around. One sees their feet.

Would the soldier have used his gun if the photographers had not been there?

Hard to say. Recently a brigade commander shot and killed a boy who had thrown a stone at his car. The army condones and even lauds such acts of “self-defence.”

For some minutes the scene goes on — the boy crying and pleading, the women pushing and hitting, the soldier pushing back, everybody shouting. Then another soldier approaches and tells the first soldier to release the child, who is seen running away.

We don’t know who the soldier is. It is hard to guess his background. Just a soldier, one of many who enforce the occupation, who face the demonstrations every week.

Another angle to the event is provided by one of the protesters off camera, so to speak, who was caught for a fleeting moment. He was recognised.

He is a teacher who bears the names of two illustrious persons, the zionist founder Theodor Herzl and the composer Franz Schubert. Herzl Schubert is a veteran left-wing peace activist. I have met him on many demonstrations.

On the morrow of the showing of the footage on all Israeli television stations, the cry went up to dismiss him. What, a leftist peace demonstrator in the schoolroom?

Schubert was not accused of preaching his opinions in class. His peace activities did not take place during working hours. The very fact that he took part in a demonstration in his own free time was enough. His case is now “being considered” by the Education Ministry.

This, by the way, is no exceptional case.

A respected female educator who was chosen as headmistress of an art school was blocked by the discovery that many years ago she had signed a petition calling on the army to allow soldiers to refuse service in the occupied territories.

The petition did not call for refusal but only respect for the moral decision of the refusers.

That was enough. The ministry, now led by nationalist-religious demagogue Naftali Bennett, promised “to consider the matter.”

These cases of a new McCarthyism concern, of course, only leftists.

No-one demands the dismissal of the rabbi who prohibits the selling or renting of apartments to Arabs. Or the rabbi who wrote that under certain conditions it is permissible to kill non-Jews, including children. Their salaries are paid by the state.

Many millions around the world must by now have seen the al-Nabi Saleh footage. It is impossible to assess the extent of the damage.

It is not that this clip is especially revolting. Nothing terrible happens. It is the face of the occupation, the present face of Israel, that imprints itself on the minds of the viewers.

For many years now, almost all news footage coming out of Israel has concerned the deeds and misdeeds of the occupation.

Gone and forgotten is the face of Israel as the progressive state created by the victims of the most hideous mass crime in modern history.

The state of pioneers who “made the desert bloom.” The bastion of freedom and democracy in a turbulent region.

That picture has long been wiped out. The Israel that presents itself to the world now is a state of occupiers, of oppressors, of brutal colonisers, of soldiers armed to the teeth who arrest people in the middle of the night and persecute them during the day.

This face changes the perception of Israel throughout the world.

Every TV clip and news item adds imperceptibly to this change. The attitude of ordinary people around the world, also including Jews, is changed. The damage is lasting and probably irremediable.

The terrified face of young Muhammad Tamimi may well haunt us for a long time to come.

• Uri Avnery is a former Knesset member and founder of Gush Shalom ( For more of his writing visit

Israeli government abuses racist violence for attacking civil liberties

This video from Israel says about itself:

We are the majority – marching the streets

28 June 2012

Israeli social protest is taking a more assertive approach as a response to the latest homophobic remarks of MK Anastassia Michaeli, the refusal of the Tel-Aviv city hall to allow the re-opening of tents on Rothschild Boulevard, and the aggressive arrests of protesters that have become common lately.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Israelis will also be jailed without trial

Today, 10:36

The Israeli inner cabinet has made it possible for Israelis suspected of violence against Palestinians to be jailed without trial. The measure was announced following the arson last week in two houses of Palestinians in the West Bank, where a Palestinian child was killed.

Suspects can be held for months under the measure. This so-called ‘administrative detention’ was so far only for Palestinians. The measure has been criticized internationally because the suspects have no rights in those circumstances.

So, now ‘legal equality’ for Israeli citizens and Palestinians by, after first undermining civil liberties for one group, undermining them for another group as well. While there is a clear danger that this policy will not just be applied against ‘Israelis suspected of violence against Palestinians’, the only category of Israelis which the NOS report mentions. Might it not also be applied against ‘Israelis suspected of OPPOSITION TO violence against Palestinians‘? Against Israeli opponents of homophobia, including homophobia in Israeli political parties in the coalition government; against people like the recently murdered girl Shira Banki? Against some of the many Israeli opponents of the Netanyahu government’s ‘austerity’ economic policies? Etc.

Wouldn’t it be better to have ‘legal equality’ for Israeli citizens and Palestinians by not having arbitrary jailing for anyone? And by thorough investigation, which there has not been so far, of the violent extreme right in Israel, their anti-Palestinian crimes, their bigotry against African refugees, their homophobia, etc.? Including their relationships to some politicians in Israeli coalition government political parties?

Israel’s Netanyahu government widens use of anti-democratic detention orders: here.

Forbidding Asylum Seekers From Living in Tel Aviv or Eilat Reeks of Racism. Israel’s government continues to abuse African asylum seekers without offering any kind of solution: here.

Even with an imperfect knowledge of Dutch, it was not difficult to make out that the article, covering an entire page, was referring to the murderous attack on the Gay Pride Parade in Jerusalem and the immediately following arson of a Palestinian family home at the village of Duma near Nablus, where a father and his baby son died. From Jerusalem, correspondent Derk Walters informed the Dutch readers of the alarming increase of violent extreme right groups upholding a Nationalist-Religious Messianic ideology. He recounted the openly voiced explicit calls for attacking Arabs and homosexuals and for the torching of Christian churches, and quoted extensively the sharp denunciations made from all parts of the Israeli political spectrum. The article ended with a question: “Is the Netanyahu Government capable of taking serious measures against the settlers, when some of the cabinet ministers are themselves settlers?”. Quite a few Israelis are asking themselves the same question.
Read more: here.

Occupied Palestine and ecology

This video, recorded in Palestine, says about itself:

Ecological Tour in the West Bank

21 December 2014

Ecological tour in rural Nablus following the occupation hazards and route of the barrier in Wadi Qana.

By Social TV in Israel on this:

December 23, 2014

Take a (virtual) ecological tour of the occupied West Bank

From the separation barrier’s effects on animal migration and plant-life to insufficient sewage infrastructure to the discriminatory use of nature reserves, the occupation’s impact goes far beyond the personal and political — it’s also an environmental hazard. Social TV takes you on an ecological tour of the occupied West Bank.

Holocaust survivors oppose Gaza war, get reaction: ‘Hitler didn’t finish the job’

This video about Hitler’s mass murder of Jews is called Shoah part 1 – A Film By Claude Lanzmann, 1985 with subtitles: ENG, SPA, PL, GER, FR.

By Bill van Auken in the USA:

26 August 2014

In a letter published as an advertisement Saturday in the New York Times, over 350 survivors of the Nazi Holocaust and descendants of survivors issued a stinging condemnation of “the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.” …

The correctness of this assessment found speedy confirmation in the form of Facebook postings by Israeli rightists telling those who had signed the declaration to “go back to Auschwitz” or “go die in the gas chambers,” and lamenting that “Hitler didn’t finish the job.”

These disgusting reactions to the Holocaust survivors prove that the extreme Right lunatic fringe in Israel, unfortunately, are not any better than the extreme Right lunatic fringe in some Arab countries, or among ‘white nationalist’ anti-Semites in the USA, in Europe or elsewhere.

Indefinite ceasefire commences in Gaza: here.

An Israeli reservist asks: What did I fight for in Gaza? For now, writes the soldier, the well-brought-up Zionist young people continue to show up dutifully for reserve duty. But they are also filled with despair: here.