|Red Rag Weekly Column|
By: Gideon Spiro
12 July 2011 (English translation 16 July 2011)
Still a long way to go
Those who thought that Israel was losing ground on the international stage and was headed for leper status will have to wait some more. In the recent flotilla affair, Socialist-led Greece agreed to play the role of enforcer for the government of Israel and blocked the departure of the flotilla to Gaza. In the “flytilla” affair, the airlines that fly to Israel agreed to screen travellers on the basis of a list of names provided by Israel’s security services. Not even one airline said “we are not a branch of the Israel Police, and we will not bar passengers on the basis of their political affiliation.”
As a citizen of Germany I had hoped that Lufthansa, at least, would hand back to Israel the list of citizens to be barred, on the grounds that in the 1930s left-wing human rights advocates, Jewish and non-Jewish, were arrested on the basis of lists compiled by agents of the Gestapo (an abbreviation for the German words meaning “Secret State Police”), and therefore the company would not participate in the banning of passengers whose only “crime” is their activism for human rights and their opposition to the terror of the Israeli Occupation that has been imposed on the Palestinian people for over 40 years. To my dismay, that did not happen.
The government of Israel reacted to the “flytilla” affair with hysteria. The fear that a few opponents of the Occupation from Europe and the USA would try to go to the territories of Palestine caused the government of Israel to lose its equilibrium. Hundreds of police were deployed in the airport to catch those who managed to evade the Israeli elimination list and board planes. Israel scored a “crushing victory” after 130 travellers were identified as “dangerous leftists”, arrested as they got off planes, and taken to jails in Israel pending their deportation. The “Jewish and Democratic” state is afraid of tourists armed only with an ideology the essence of which is opposition to Israeli apartheid and support for human rights for everyone.
A regime that fears the spirit of freedom is destined to disappear. That was the fate of the McCarthy witch-hunts in the USA, it was the fate of the fascist regimes in Spain, Italy and Germany, it was the fate of the Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it was the fate of Mubarak’s regime, and it will be the fate of the Israeli Occupation regime. It will take time, but it will come.
The Boycott Law
The Boycott Law that has been passed in the Knesset, which, among other things, makes it illegal to call for a boycott of settlement products, is a product of the school of totalitarian regimes. The Knesset did not act as a democratic sovereign but as an instrument for the majority to crush the minority. The settlements, which are a war crime under international law, and which are very controversial within Israeli society, have now been given additional protection. Every Israeli citizen who calls for a boycott of the illegal settlements is now liable to be sued by any settlers who claim that they or their business enterprises have been harmed.
I predict that the law will not help. It will only increase the international criticism of the settlements. As an Israeli and a German I scoff at this law. It is a duty to disobey it, because it violates basic principles of freedom of expression. I will continue as before to call for a boycott of the settlements and their supporters as well as the regime of apartheid and suppression of human freedom in the Occupied Territories. It is time for a wave of civil disobedience.
Mitzna and Peretz
The Labour Party was once the ruling party in Israel. Its fortunes declined, politically and economically, and it is now a medium-sized to small party. A few months ago its former leader, Defence Minister Ehud Barak, left the party with five of his soldiers in a kind of midnight palace coup that befits generals. The Labour Party shrank from 14 Knesset Members to eight. Now five candidates are contending for the position of party leader.
Two of the contenders are Amram Mitzna, a retired general, and former defence minister MK Amir Peretz. Recently there was a small media furore about the two. Amram Mitzna said that Amir Peretz comes from “another planet”. Some interpreted that as the racism of a “cultured European Ashkenazi” against the “primitive Moroccan Mizrahi” Peretz.
In the 1980s Mitzna was the chief of the Central Command. For my readers outside Israel: that means that he was the military ruler of the West Bank. He was the sovereign in the Territories, the king whose word was law. He commanded the Occupation army during the first two years of the First Intifada (1987-1989). He employed all the means of oppression that were at his disposal, such as: blowing up the houses of Palestinian families as a collective punishment, killing civilians, including women and children, dispatching Palestinians to torture chambers in close collaboration with the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), administrative detentions, and of course protecting the settlers and the settlements.
Since Mitzna had the image of an officer from the Zionist Left with a conscience (at that time he lived in Kibbutz Ein Gev, where his wife worked as a teacher), he served as a tranquilizer and a launderer of war crimes for those Zionist leftists who were uncomfortable with what was going on in the Occupied Territories, who could say to themselves, “if Mitzna is doing these things, I guess there’s no choice.”
I had a correspondence on this issue with his wife, Aliza Mitzna, who had come out in defence of her husband in response to my activities against the Occupation. She called me a “bad man”. I wrote to her among other things: “I would ask you to do a small simulation exercise. How would you feel if any army of occupation did to Kibbutz Ein Gev what your husband did to the village of Beita.  How would you feel, there on the shore of Lake Kinneret, if they destroyed 15 houses in the kibbutz at one blow, rendering another 30 uninhabitable because of the shock wave of the explosion, all because your son or your daughter and a few of their friends threw stones?” (The correspondence was published in the weekly Haolam Hazeh on 25 January 1989)
Seventeen years passed, and in 2006 MK Amir Peretz, then the chairman of the Labour Party, was appointed defence minister in Olmert’s government. The hopes that were pinned on him reached the heavens. He had the image of a dove, a man of peace, and it was expected that he would open a new page in relations with the Palestinians. But like Mitzna, Peretz too disappointed.
Not two months had passed after the swearing-in of the government when it launched the Second Lebanon War. A superfluous and failed war in which many war crimes were committed. To this day Lebanese children are being killed by cluster bombs that the IDF dropped on populated areas. Peretz, as the minister responsible for the military, is one of those who bear direct responsibility for those war crimes.
Nor did Peretz make any breakthroughs in relations with the Palestinians. Peretz’ deputy, MK Ephraim Sneh, was responsible for the perpetuation of the routine of Occupation – extra-judicial executions, collective punishment, humiliation at checkpoints, torture in the ISA basements, night-raids in the homes of Palestinian families, building settlements, erecting outposts, theft of lands, the cutting down of Palestinians’ olive trees by settlers – in short, there’s nothing new under the Occupation sun.
It was not for nothing that MK Peretz had to flee from England recently after the Israeli embassy there warned him that a warrant for his arrest for war crimes was being prepared.
In conclusion: Ashkenazi Mitzna, a descendant of German Jewry, and Mizrahi Peretz from the Jewry of Morocco, come from the same planet: the State of Israel’s planet of war and aggression.
Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara
MK Ayoub Kara is the deputy minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee from the Likud Party. He is a rather strange bird in Israeli politics. From his name it is clear that he is not Jewish. But I fear that Ayoub will be offended if anybody says he’s an Arab. He is a Druze, and official Israel endeavours to emphasize the difference between Arabs and Druze in the best tradition of divide-and-rule. Some Druze reject this distinction and consider themselves Arabs, but they are the minority. This divisive tendency is expressed in military service. The duty of obligatory military service applies to the Druze but not to the Arabs. Kara too served in the army.
Ayoub Kara is not just a Druze. He is a Zionist Druze. And not just a Zionist Druze, but he is more Zionist than the Zionists, as some are more Catholic than the Pope. Some would say that Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, would not pass Ayoub Kara’s test for Zionist-ness. Herzl’s book The Jewish State contains various democratic deviations that would disqualify him, and Ayoub Kara would not give him an entry-ticket to the Zionist club.
Ayoub Kara takes Zionism, as expressed by the Israeli Right today, to its logical conclusion. Recently Ayoub Kara met with neo-Nazi leaders in three countries: Germany, Austria and Belgium. The Israeli ambassadors in those countries considered that it was a tactical error for an Israeli deputy minister to meet with leaders of neo-Nazi parties, that would not contribute to Israel’s good name – at least, not in the eyes of the political establishments in those countries.
Ayoub Kara didn’t understand what they wanted from him. After all, he had met with friends of Israel. In Germany there is a neo-Nazi organization that flies the Israeli flag along with that of Germany. Those are our friends these days. Ayoub Kara reflects the face of Zionism as it is expressed in the Boycott Law, the Nakba Law (which denies budgets to municipalities that commemorate on Independence Day the catastrophe of the expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948), the Community Settlement Reception Committee Law (the objective of which is to prevent Arabs from living in Community Settlements) and Citizenship Law amendment that bars Palestinian citizens of Israel from uniting in Israel with their spouses from the Occupied Territories: racist, speech-suppressing, neo-Nazi-befriending, xenophobic and warmongering Zionism.
A State is Born
After 50 years of struggle, two million dead, hundreds of thousands wounded and horrible destruction, Southern Sudan has been born. Even the war-criminal and murderer Omar al-Bashir, the leader of Northern Sudan, understands what Israel’s leaders do not yet understand: that it is impossible to choke off a people’s aspirations for freedom forever. We have learned by now that independence does not always bring with it freedom and democracy, but it does remove the yoke of foreign rule from the people. It is a starting-point from which I wish recovery, democracy and equality for the people of Southern Sudan.
1. Severe collective punishment was imposed on Beita after a group of Israeli youths from settlement of Elon Moreh crossed the village’s land while on a hike on 6 April 1988. When they came into conflict with villagers, the group’s armed escort killed two Beita residents and also a 15 year old Israeli girl who was part of the group he was escorting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beita,_Nablus