|By: Gideon Spiro|
11 March 2012 (English translation 18 March 2012)
Israel as Auschwitz?
If we remove the masks of flattery and ongoing ringing mutual praise from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to the US, we are confronted with the extraordinary phenomenon of a small state trying to goad a global power into initiating a war. For that was Netanyahu’s objective: to cajole President Obama to open a new military front against Iran. Not only is the Israeli dwarf trying to dictate policy to the US; it adds the threat that “if you don’t do it, we will launch a war with Iran and get you involved against your will.”
Netanyahu is taking advantage of the fact that this is an election year in the US. President Obama will run for a second term. Netanyahu has enlisted US Jewry as well as Obama’s Republican adversaries to advance his war position, and those fools are going along with it. The last thing Obama needs in an election year is to open a new front that could bring disaster on the US. He has just gotten out of Iraq and he is still stuck up to his neck in Afghanistan. He needs a war with Iran like he needs a hole in his head.
As we have seen, the leaders spoke politely in their public appearances. Obama lays the praise thickly on Israel, he commits to its security and rules out an Iranian Bomb, but also he adds very politely that the diplomatic process and the sanctions have not yet been exhausted. I do not know what Obama said to Netanyahu in private conversations behind closed doors. If he said to him, “listen little Churchill, if you launch a war against Iran, I’ll rip your image to shreds. I arm you and you will not make trouble for me – certainly not in an election year. You will not get new planes to replace the ones that get shot down, we will not replenish your reserves of armaments like we did in the Yom Kippur War, and relations between us will become chilly if not hostile.” If that’s what he said, I breathe easy. Israel will not launch a war. And I also hope that the US won’t do it after the elections, either. Someone somewhere within the Obama Administration has learned, maybe, the bitter lessons of American military involvements in foreign fields, which have generated so much blood, tears and war crimes and served so little public interest.
Netanyahu has enlisted the Auschwitz extermination camp in his campaign to launch a war against Iran. The context is incorrect. Ahmadinejad is not Hitler, Obama is not Chamberlain and Netanyahu is not Churchill. Moreover, we must bear Auschwitz in mind when where nuclear weapons are concerned. Nuclear weapons are indeed an existential threat, to those who possess them as well as their neighbours. Israel`s nuclear arsenal of hundreds of atom and hydrogen bombs is an existential threat to Israel, to Iran and to our neighbours, and the same would be true of an Iranian nuclear arsenal. The use of doomsday weapons would cause mass destruction to human beings on a scale similar to that of Auschwitz. The solution is not the nuclear arms race that Israel has initiated in our region, nor is it in a war of choice against Iran the consequences of which would likely be disastrous; but rather nuclear disarmament, of both Israel and Iran.
The regime in Iran is a dreadful one from point of view of human rights. But such a regime can also act rationally, as outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan pointed out in an interview with an American television network. Israel’s arrogant stance, to the effect that Israel is democratic and sane and responsible unlike the unpredictable tyrannical Iranian regime, does not currently withstand a critical examination. First, because Israel too maintains a dictatorial regime that violates human rights every day, and secondly because, since the Khomeinist revolution in 1979 Iran has not initiated a war against any other state. So-called “democratic” Israel, on the other hand, has initiated and accumulated 3 wars during the era of the Ayatollahs: the First Lebanon War, the Second Lebanon War and Gaza (Operation “Cast Lead”), to which should be added the war on the Palestinian people to suppress the First and Second Intifadas.
When it comes to nuclear weapons I do not want to rely on any government, however rational it may be. Already we have seen and learned that governments that enjoyed the labels of rationality and democracy have had serious lapses of judgment, and woe to us if it happens with nuclear weapons. In my columns I have pointed out more than once that the very existence of these weapons in the hands of a government creates the temptation to use them. This danger lurks at our door all at all times. The correct prescription, therefore, is nuclear disarmament for everyone.
For years this column has been promoting the struggle to remove nuclear, biological and chemical weapons from this region, and I am happy to see that the writer David Grossman has now joined in this campaign. (article in Haaretz, 11 March 2012) I am convinced that President Obama knows in his heart that converting the Middle East into a region free of nuclear weapons of mass destruction is the right thing to do, for it is surely clear to him that if these weapons are dangerous in the hands of any government, they are surely all the more so in the Middle East, where so many of the leaders in the region have a direct line to the Almighty, and everything is done “with God’s help” – to the constant background music of the Apocalypse. Better to have a rational Israel and Iran that are not tested by the temptation of the red button. Unfortunately, it looks like internal American pressures have not yet matured enough to produce the desired action on Obama’s part to achieve that end. To sum up: whoever wants to prevent a second Auschwitz must do all they can to destroy weapons of mass destruction.
“Pavlov’s dog” syndrome
“Silence is filth”, said Netanyahu’s leader, Ze’ev Jabotinsky.  Sometimes it is important to maintain silence and sometimes it is important to break it. When it comes to an armed conflict, silence is positive. But it is precisely that which irritates the Netanyahu-Barak government. There were several months of quiet on the Gaza-Israel border, and the Israeli regime could not stand that. Like Pavlov’s dog, who was conditioned to salivate when he heard the ringing of a bell, here in Israel we have a conditioning to make aggressive use of the army in order to break the silence. What’s the point of possessing this mighty arsenal, if not to use it? The pilots of the air force were getting antsy because they had not dropped any bombs or missiles on Gaza for some time. Therefore Barak and Netanyahu decided to do something: they ordered the execution of the general secretary of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zoheir al-Qaisi. The Palestinians, as expected, responded with a barrage of rockets at southern Israel.
It worked like a golden bullet. National unity prevails again. Newspapers that are normally bitter rivals are suddenly prophesying as one, and all the news broadcasters of the three television channels jumped to attention and started broadcasting as if they were IDF spokespersons. There are no question-marks, everybody accepts the Israel Security Agency (ISA)’s version, according to which al-Qaisi was planning an action against Israel. As one who knows from other experiences the ISA’s disinformation techniques, I greet all reports from that quarter with skepticism. As we have seen, the Israeli forecast that Palestinian organizations in Gaza would respond by launching missiles and rockets at Israel after the execution has come true. Once again we can speak of “poor Israel, the victim of Palestinian terror”, and “the disruption of the lives of a million Israelis” and calls to “teach the Palestinians a lesson” are again heard and the Israeli airplanes start bombing again and civilian victims fall, and it is forgotten that it all started because the heads of the military establishment in Israel were itching for “action”.
And moreover: executions don’t work. Already al-Qaisi has been replaced.
Her Honour the President has retired
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch retired a few days ago. There were ceremonies for her departure and replacement as President, and many words were said in her praise, especially about her contribution to the preservation and advancement of human rights. In her farewell message at the traditional ceremony at the President’s residence, Dorit Beinisch shed a tear or two and got choked up with emotion, mentioned her relatives who had perished in the Holocaust, and stressed the importance of human rights. This looks all very nice – but it just looks that way. Because Dorit Beinisch, like her predecessors in office, does not deserve to be described as the keeper of the seal of human rights. At the most she was concerned to preserve the rights of Jews, but human rights have meaning only if they are applied universally. Dorit Beinisch did not pass that test. Space constraints prevent me from enumerating all her rulings that backed the Occupation and the forces of the Occupation. Here are a handful: she ruled in favour of expropriating agricultural land belonging to a Palestinian farmer whose livelihood depended on it, for the construction of a fence around the settlement of Efrat. An illegal expropriation for an illegal settlement. She upheld the Attorney Aeneral’s decision not to press charges against Border Guard police who shot to death Abir Aramin, an 11-year-old Palestinian girl from Anata village, who had just left her school to go to a kiosk to buy candy. She ruled against Yesh Gvul’s appeal to press charges against those responsible for dropping a one-ton bomb on a densely-populated area in Gaza, which caused the death and injury of dozens of Palestinians, including women and children (Supreme Court, Shehadeh). In another ruling she supported the apartheid roads for Jews only. She supported the State of Israel’s violations of the human rights of Mordechai Vanunu. In the Judges Selection Committee she voted in favour of the appointment of the settler Noam Solberg as a judge in the Supreme Court. On the whole, it can be said that whenever it came to the Occupation and deference to the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the army, she was disciplined, like her colleagues.
In praise of Hillary Clinton
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued an appeal to Syrian soldiers to refuse to obey orders. She should be supported for that. That is what should be done when soldiers receive orders to violate human rights. But her appeal lacks a certain degree of credibility as long as she does not also call on Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories, where their mission consists entirely of policing to protect war criminals and to oppress the indigenous Palestinian population.
Letter sent to the President of the Supreme Court
To the Honourable Asher Grunis
President of the Supreme Court
In the newspaper Haaretz (9 March 2012) a report appeared under the headline, “Judge acquits defendants of smuggling drugs to settlements because they are not Israel”.
The body of the report states that two youths, residents of the settlements of Ofra and Tekoa were put on trial for “importing a dangerous drug”. Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court judge Haim Liran accepted the defence’s claim that the settlements are not part of the State of Israel and therefore the accusation of “importing to Israel” did not apply in this case.
The judge is right, and his ruling should also apply to the settlement of Noam Solberg who has recently begun to serve as a judge in the Supreme Court. Since Solberg lives outside Israel, in the Settler State in the Occupied Territories, it is your duty as the President of the Supreme Court and as a member of the Judges Selection Committee to take action to annul Solberg’s appointment as a judge.
1. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, 1880-1940, was the founder of Revisionist Zionism, of which the current incarnation is Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party. The most notable feature of Revisionist Zionism was the belief that not only all of Palestine, but all of Transjordan (today the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan) too should become a Jewish state. A poem by Jabotinsky, which became a popular Revisionist song, contains the refrain, “The Jordan River has two banks; one is ours, and so is the other” (Hebrew: Shtei gadot la-Yarden, zo shelanu, zo gam ken). The Likud subsequently renounced the old Revisionist claim to the east bank of the Jordan. `Silence is filth` (Hebrew: `Sheqet hu refesh` is a line from another of his poems, `The Song of Betar`, which was also set to music and adopted as the anthem of the Revisionist youth movement, also called Betar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ze%27ev_Jabotinsky