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Red Rag weekly column: terrorist ping-pong
By: Gideon Spiro
29 July 2012 (English translation 6 August 2012)

Terrorist ping-pong

The terror attack at the airport in the Bulgarian tourist city of Burgas, in which a suicide bomber ignited an explosives belt beside a bus full of Israeli tourists, reminds us again of the bitter truth that it is ordinary citizens who pay the price for the whims of their leaders. The sad consequence was five killed and dozens wounded. That act was without doubt a war crime.

In Israel a debate has begun over whether this was an act by Hizbollah or an initiative of Iran. There is no clear answer. Both Hizbollah and Iran deny involvement in the crime. Those denials are not being bought in Israel, for Israel’s leaders know from personal experience the patterns of denials after terror attacks. After a successful Mossad attack (denied, of course – with a wink) that cost human life in Tehran, Beirut or Damascus, the denials are immediately issued, which nobody believes. In that regard there is no difference between Israel, Hezbollah and Iran. The deniers deny and the victims threaten the response that will come.

It was clear to the leaders of the army and the government in Israel that Hizbollah would not let the killing in Damascus in 2008 of Imad Mughnieh, the commander of the organization’s operations branch, go unanswered, nor would Iran let go unanswered the murder of physicists on the streets of Tehran – attacks that were attributed to Israel. The attack in Burgas is the response by Iran or Hezbollah or both to assassinations by Israel.

In the past I wrote in one of my columns that the execution of Iranian physicists, who are part of the academic staffs at Iranian universities who also work in the Iranian nuclear industry, is a political mistake and a moral crime, and also ineffective, for the Iranian nuclear industry does not depend on any one scientist, and moreover, those acts of murder perpetuate the cycle of blood. Israeli tourists in Bulgaria paid the price for the all-too-clever adventurism of a group of assassins from the Israeli Mossad. Iranian scientists are no different from their Israeli counterparts in academia who cooperate with work at the reactor in Dimona. Does anybody want to see them murdered when they step out the door to go to work in the morning?

Israel has already announced that it will respond to the act of terror in Burgas. And thus the cycle of blood turns, for the Israeli response will surely be met with another response from Iran or Hizbollah, and we will count the victims and say Amen.

There’s no chemistry with chemical weapons

A wave of fear is now sweeping over Israel over the arsenal of chemical weapons in the hands of the Assad regime. There are good grounds for fear, because that tottering regime is in possession of a vast number of missiles that carry chemical warheads that can cover all Israel. Israelis ask themselves: what will Assad do if his back is to the wall? Could he initiate a war with Israel as a last resort, and launch his chemical and biological arsenal at us? Whose hands will these weapons fall into in the event of victory by the coalition fighting Assad and his army, which includes representation of al-Qaeda? What should Israel do? Should it launch a pre-emptive strike in an attempt to destroy the chemical arsenal, an attempt that could fail and cause a regional war with Israel exposed to a counter-strike? These dilemmas in the tangled and sensitive reality of the Middle East point to the great importance of creating a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, biological and chemical.

Without playing down the dangers embodied in Syria’s chemical weapons, nor those of Israel’s nuclear weapons, I hope that Israel will stand aside quietly and avoid provocation. That is still the wise choice.

How the cycle of history turned

What follows is a story from real life: a young German from East Germany discovered that there were Jews in his family. This made such a profound impression on him that he decided to convert to Judaism. He underwent a process of Orthodox conversion, took a Jewish name, Shmuel Ben-Avraham, and in religious terms became a kosher Jew with the right to immigrate to Israel and receive immediate citizenship under the Law of Return. And indeed, at a certain point in his life he abandoned Germany for Israel and became part of the “Jewish and democratic” state, with all the privileges it accords to Jews.

Shmuel Ben Avraham has homosexual inclinations, and in Jerusalem he met a Palestinian homosexual and fell head over heels in love with him. The plot thickens. The two of them cannot live a full life together as a couple. The Palestinian partner cannot tolerate the repeated harassment at the military and police checkpoints. I do not know if the former German convert was reminded of the persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany in the 1930s, who were treated with particular harshness if they were mixed German-Jewish couples. The Jewish-Palestinian couple did what mixed couples did in Germany back then: they sought a tolerant refuge, and found it in Canada. The Palestinian no longer has to fear the checkpoints of the army of Occupation, and the Jew found there a Jewish community that accepts them both, and as for the Israeli Occupation regime and the community of racists in the Knesset, they can make a “V for victory” sign: another Arab has left the country. But like in the ballad about the man who left a kibbutz – he’ll be back.

(The basic facts are from the newspaper Maariv, 26 July 2012)

A letter I wrote to a judge of the Supreme Court

From a survivor of the Krystallnacht pogrom, Berlin, November 1938

July 2012

To the Honourable Professor Daphne Barak-Erez
Justice at the Supreme Court
Shaarei Mishpat Street
Jerusalem 91950

Madame Justice,

In January 2012 the press published the names of the four new judges in the Supreme Court who had been chosen by the Judicial Selection Committee. To the surprise of many, your name was included on the list. In the view of some, you were chosen in order to balance of the choice of the settler Noam Solberg. (Haaretz 6 January 2012).

Only in Israel could such a fantastical and strange situation occur, in which a judge of the Supreme Court lives outside the borders of the country in which he is serving as a judge. As a settler, Solberg is an invader in land that is not his and a partner in the oppression of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories who enjoys the privileges conferred by the regime of apartheid that Israel has set up in the Occupied Territories as well as being a criminal under international law, which bars the transfer of the population of the occupying nation to territory that has been occupied.

In the entry about you in Wikipedia it is written that the subject of human rights is a primary interest of yours. As a person committed to human rights, you are certainly aware of the absurdity and maybe also the atrociousness of Solberg’s being your colleague. The appointment of Solberg is the result of 45 years of Occupation and the denial of basic freedoms during which a dangerous erosion of respect for human rights has occurred in Israel.

That erosion did not stop at the Supreme Court. That institution, which enjoyed wall-to-wall prestige and appreciation in its time, and of which many expected that it would stand like a solid rock, like a Rock of Gibraltar in the defence of human rights, crumbled and failed. The norms of the Occupation permeated to within its premises, and from there into the judges’ chambers, and from there into verdicts. The Supreme Court has been contaminated with the germs of the Occupation and given the green light to the crimes and trickery of the State of the Settlers that has arisen in the Occupied Territories.

The racism that has permeated deeply into various layers of Israeli society was not stopped at the Supreme Court. In too many deliberations the Court served as the long arm of the Occupation.

A few days ago you began your term of service at the Supreme Court. The danger that lurks at your door is that you will be swallowed up in the routine of backing those who are called the “security forces”, who are nothing but the various arms of the Occupation (the Israel Security Agency – Shin Bet, the army and armed settlers). Judges all along the hierarchy have lowered their heads and bowed before the Moloch of Security.

Sometimes I come across judges’ verdicts that display amazing ignorance. Apparently the authors do not know the Israeli Declaration of Independence and certainly they did not read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was passed in 1948 as one of the lessons from the era of the Holocaust. I would not be surprised if there are judges who are unaware of that fact.

In order to avoid being drawn into the syndrome of moral corruption, from which the path to criminal judgeship is a short one, I suggest that you adopt a few basic rules. If you follow them, you will be recorded in the history of Israeli justice as a great beacon in a twilight period for Israeli democracy.

• Never authorize administrative detention.

• Always oppose the perverse procedure of ex parte hearings, in which the judges meet with representatives of the Israel Security Agency, who dribble whatever they feel like without the detainee or defence attorney being able to challenge the secret information. Judges always defer to the ISA, using the sanitizing term “we are satisfied”. Let us hope that you will break with this travesty.

• Never have a hand in collective punishment, which harms innocents.

• Do not have any part in the deportation of asylum-seekers and families of migrant workers whose children were born in Israel. We are a nation of refugees. Some have forgotten that and act in a way that exhibits intolerable wickedness and obtuseness.

• Have no part in the great land robbery that is taking place in the Occupied Territories as the settlers appropriate Palestinian lands by means of deception and with the help of the army of Occupation.

• Do not hesitate to come down hard on the military justice system that violates human rights every day with orders for the detention of minors.

• Fight against torture, which despite the Supreme Court’s ruling is going on even as these lines are being written.

• Hand down long sentences to settlers who burn mosques, uproot Palestinians’ olive trees and conduct pogroms against Palestinians by shooting at them and destroying their property in a way that is reminiscent of Krystallnacht.

Begin with these points, and later, if you do well, I will suggest more subjects to you. Make a practice out of re-reading the two constitutive documents – the Declaration of Independence and the International Declaration of Human Rights – before you write a verdict.

With proper respect,

Gideon Spiro

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent


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