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Red Rag column: letters to judges and politicians

This column is dedicated to a project I began nearly 30 years ago of sending personal letters – mainly to judges, but also to other people in authority who have made decisions contaminated with human-rights violations, racism, backing crimes of the Occupation or other crying injustices such as lenient punishments for rapists of children or turning a blind eye to serious crimes.

I started out with the assumption that an unjust judge is not to be called “your honour”, and should be treated like a corrupt politician. Hence the non-judicial language I use. Cumulatively I have written hundreds of letters to all judges at all levels, from magistrates’ courts to the Supreme Court, and the picture that emerges is not very flattering to the judicial sector, which generally holds itself in very high esteem. Another interesting finding is that when it comes to racist judgeship that supports the Occupation or submits nearly a hundred percent to all the caprices of the Israel Security Agency (ISA), judges on all levels are all playing from the same score and in that regard there is no real difference between male judges and female ones. The letters that are reproduced in this column are the harvest of the last two months.

I do not know if another column will be published before the elections, so I will now call upon all who find themselves to the left of the Labour Party to vote for one of the lists there. At this stage I do not share the view of those who on the Left who call for a boycott of the elections. As long as it is possible, and I do not know for how much longer that will be, it is important that clear voices are heard in the Knesset that will combine opposition to the Occupation and racism and support for human rights with the struggle against reckless privatization and that serves the interests of the tycoons and who also support a downward redistribution of the national income that will eliminate the revolting social and economic inequality. And another hope – that at long last an anti-nuclear lobby will appear in the Knesset that will put the issue the vast an insane quantities of nuclear and hydrogen bombs in Israel’s possession as well as its chemical and biological arsenals onto the public agenda. Israel has become a garbage-can for weapons of mass destruction, and that is a recipe for self-destruction and regional destruction. A lobby that will struggle for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. The time has come to break the conspiracy of silence and to say clearly that Israel has launched the Middle East onto a nuclear arms race, and Israel must contribute to cleansing our volatile region of those weapons, that so that no leader will have a red button to push.



*** *** ***

15 January 2013

16 November 2012
To Asher Grunis
Supreme Court
Shaarei Mishpat Street
HaKirya, Jerusalem

I read your ruling that was handed down on 11 November 2012 (Civil Appeal 7427/12), in which you rejected the appeal of Lawyer Eldad Yaniv, the playwright Shmuel Hasfari and the writer Dr. Gadi Taub to disqualify the judge Malka Aviv of the Jerusalem Magistrates’ Court from ruling on libel suit that the settler Aharon Domb filed against them. I had not thought that a Supreme Court President could write document so shallow that in that in popular language it might be called a “joke from work”. Or maybe it is a conscious attempt to ridicule the public.

The settler Aharon Domb filed a libel suit against the three for the sharp criticism they levelled against the settlements and the settlers in a pamphlet (or “booklet”, as you called it) they published. There is here an attempt clear of the settler Domb to harm /strike a blow by means of the court to strike at freedom of expression. As soon as it came out that Judge Aviv is herself a settler, an intolerable convergence of interests between two criminals who live outside of Israel and are partners in a colonization enterprise that is defined in international conventions (Geneva, Rome) as a war-crime was created. The two of them, the judge and the plaintiff, are also partners in the regime of Occupation and apartheid, human rights violations and theft of Palestinian lands. Judge Aviv is a founder of the settlement of Gitit, which was built on the lands of the Palestinian village of Aqraba.

In this state of affairs not only is justice not appearing to be done, it faces the danger of annihilation. It is so obvious that it is hard to understand how was concealed the thing how you could not see it? in your decision to reject the appeal you rely on a 1964 ruling by Judge Landau that state that Judges are assumed to know how to ensure that their opinions and believes about international and social events and issues will not distort their faithfulness to the laws of the State “in letter and in spirit”. 1964 was “before the deluge”: before the June 1967 war, before the rule over another people, before 45 years of Occupation and human-rights violations, before murder of a prime minister with the blessing of the rabbis of the Occupied Territories, before the settlers’ pogroms against Palestinians (some of which seem to have been inspired by the Krystallnacht pogrom against Jews) and before settlers living outside of Israel started serving as judges within it – before judges became party to war-crimes.

What’s more, judgeship in the “letter and the spirit” of the law is a very fluid concept. The number of interpretations of the spirit of the law is matched by the number of judges. The issue of libel is a classic example in which every judge can according to their own interpretation, because a suitable quote from some Supreme Court ruling can be found to back every interpretation.

A fair ruling would have had to accept the appeal. In my opinion you should make a rule that no case related to the Occupation and its appendages will be heard by a judge who is also a settler. I emphasize this because the settler-judge Solberg is a member of the panel that will hear the appeal submitted by the Yesh Gvul movement against use of the army’s use of phosphorus bombs in populated areas, which will be heard in March 2013. It is shameful enough that a settler who lives in the Occupation zone ruled by a cruel and oppressive military administration and who is a party to war crimes has been chosen to sit in the highest judicial forum. The least you can do is to remove him from any panel of judges that rules on issues related to the Occupation.

Gideon Spiro

Cc: The settler-judge Malka Aviv

*** *** ***
21 November 2012
To Amos Shapira
President of the University of Haifa


As one who studied at the University of Haifa in the 1970s, was editor of the student newspaper and took part in public and political activities on campus, I add my voice to the protest against your decision to suspend all public activism in next two weeks. This decision falls under the category of restrictions on freedom of expression, which was activated in order to silence the minority that disagrees with the opinion of the majority. Now in particular, as Israel bombs Gaza , hurts innocents, wipes out entire families including their women and children, and when residents of Israel too suffer from Palestinian return fire, is the time to respect the right of those who disagree with the government’s policies to be heard.

I appeal to you to cancel the suspension and respect freedom of expression and association, and not to give in to the right-wing circles that demand the silencing of the voices that oppose the war and proponents of human rights, both Arabs and Jews.


Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

25 November 2012

To Moshe Drori,
Judge in the District Court
40 Salah al-Din Street
Jerusalem 95908

I read the main points of your long judgement of 15 October 2012, too long in my opinion, it could have been cut by half at least, but as has been written about you in Wikipedia, you are known for liking to write long judgements. I read it with enthusiasm mixed with astonishment. Enthusiasm, because the judgement is a poetic tribute to human rights, against abduction and unjustified imprisonment and against torture. Astonishment, because I asked myself, what happened to Drori, whom MK Shlomo Molla of the Kadima faction called “racist and wicked”; has he changed is ways? Has he repented of his evil ways of religious and national extremism and become a knight for human rights?

I found the answer in the preface to the ruling: “Unidentified Male against the Palestinian Authority and Jibril Rajoub”, the Unidentified Male being represented by none other than the settler lawyer, Attorney Nadav Haetzni. The two of you are not known for your militant commitment to human rights in the universal sense. According to the ruling, the case involves an Israeli citizen, apparently a Palestinian from East Jerusalem, who claims that he was kidnapped by people working for Jibril Rajoub, imprisoned and tortured. He filed a claim for compensation against the Palestinian Authority for false imprisonment and torture. I will not now get into the issue of whether an Israeli court has standing to rule on the actions of another political entity or not. You ruled that it does; we will wait for the Supreme Court’s ruling on the appeal that will certainly come.

Of course Attorney Haetzni, a sworn enemy of the Palestinian Authority, would not pass up such a golden opportunity to represent the Palestinian Authority in its full nakedness as a cruel entity that abuses innocent people, and if he can also make some money in the process, so much the better. It must be said right away that unjustified imprisonment and torture are completely unacceptable under any circumstances. As a member of Amnesty International, Physicians for Human Rights, the Association for Civil Rights, the Society for the Assistance and Defence of the Bedouin in Israel and a supporter of the Israeli Committee Against Torture, I am a participant in the global struggle against torture, for its elimination and the putting on trial of all torturers. And Even though I completely disagree with the Haetzni’s global outlook and opinions, if his client was falsely imprisoned and tortured, then – as the popular metaphor says – “torturers need to be cut down to size.” In your ruling you found that the testimony of the plaintiff was credible and that he was indeed abducted, imprisoned without cause and tortured. Now we await to the second part of the ruling, regarding the scale of the compensation that will be awarded. Meanwhile you awarded 50 thousand shekels to Attorney Haetzni, and far be it from me to begrudge him that, for he surely worked hard on the brief, which dates back to 2002.

You now have an opportunity to convert this ruling into a milestone with if you insist on a universal application of its principles. In the 45 years of the Occupation the Israeli Occupation authorities have been guilty of the unjustified imprisonment and abduction and illegitimate imprisonment of tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, including women, children and old people, and some of them underwent hellish torture in ISA basements. Read the reports and the annual reports of the Israeli Committee against Torture and Physicians for Human Rights, and you will see a shameful and incriminating picture of cruelty. It does not take much courage as an Israeli to rule against the Palestinian Authority – quite apart from any questions about jurisdiction. But there is no doubt that regarding Israel you do have jurisdiction, and so I call upon you to implement the principles of the ruling judgment under discussion here to Israeli kidnappers and torturers, as well as their sponsors. You will need a little courage and commitment to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Israel has signed, but violates every day. If not you do this, you will be seen as a small hero against Palestinians and as a big coward against Israelis. You now have the opportunity to correct the label of evil and racism that has been stuck on you following the ruling in which you declined to convict a Yeshiva student who deliberately and with premeditation struck a young Ethiopian woman with his car; and if you do not do it, you will always be remembered with shame as just another judge who became desensitized to the norms of the Occupation and oppression, and all the pathos of the ruling “Unidentified Male vs the Palestinian Authority” will sound vacuous and false.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

13 December 2012

To the Settler Noam Solberg
Judge (to our shame) in the Supreme Court
Shaarei Mishpat Street

It has come to my attention that you have been named as a member of the judicial panel that will deliberate on the appeal of the Yesh Gvul movement which is asking the High Court of Justice to bar the army from using white phosphorus in areas where a civilian population lives. The appeal came in response to the army’s use of white phosphorus during Operation Cast Lead in civilian-populated areas. White phosphorus creates vast blocs of fire and the injuries it causes are unbearable. Those who have been hit by it suffer from terrible burns. The bodies of children who have been struck by white phosphorus are burnt and twisted. The pictures of children and other civilians in Gaza who have been struck by phosphorus, provoke horror and anger. They are reminiscent of the pictures I saw when I visited the memorial for the victims of the atom bomb in Hiroshima. Whoever has been exposed to them will not forget those atrocious sights.

You are not an objective judge, nor are you expected to be one. As a settler who lives outside Israel, in the Occupied Territories, you are a party to the crimes and injustices of the Occupation. You are a criminal under international law, and you are party to violation of international conventions to which Israel is signatory, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. you violate that Convention every day when you travel on the apartheid roads and in your willingness to live in an area that is governed by an apartheid regime, in the framework of which you enjoy the privileges of a master nation and collaborate with the system of oppression and violation of human rights. In a word: you are a thug-judge.

You proved your commitment to racism and the values of the Occupation when you acquitted a policeman who had murdered an Arab, and when you acquitted the fascist Ben Gvir from of assaulting MK Dr. Ahmad Tibi, and when you backed an officer of the Occupation army who was involved in the “kill-check” of a Palestinian girl who was on her way to school. By my lights you are also a criminal against Judaism, and the kippa on your head will not protect you from God’s wrath, if indeed He is watching you from above. From the Jewish religion you adopted all the racist garbage, unlike the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, which has implemented the enlightened parts of the Holy Book.

Yesh Gvul is a pole apart from you. It is a movement that opposes the Occupation and the settlements, and its members refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories. Your sitting on the judicial bench in an appeal by Yesh Gvul is like a Nazi judge hearing an appeal from an honest Jew. If any shred of fairness remains within you, you must recuse yourself from hearing this appeal. If fairness is a foreign language to you, then even according to the codes of the crime-world (about which I occasionally read in the newspaper) to which you belong, you must disqualify yourself whenever organizations of peace and human rights come to the Supreme Court to seek justice.

About you and your ilk it is written: “How long shall the wicked triumph?” (Psalm 94:3) The end, even if it tarries, will come. The people will wake up and condemn you and vomit you onto the pillory. Unless a Hanukkah miracle happens first, and you repent of your ways.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

31 December 2012

To Cjana Miriam Lomp
Judge at the Magistrates Court
6 Heshin Street
Jerusalem 91156

On 21 December 2012 the newspaper Haaretz published a report/story according to which the human-rights activist Ezra Nawi, who devotes time and resources against the Occupation army’s and the settlers’ harassment of the Bedouin of the South Hebron Hills, was convicted by you of “insulting a public employee” for having called Major Idan Morag a “war criminal”. For that you deserve to be reprimanded on various points.

Your willingness to use the that provision of the law shows a flawed understanding of basic rights with regard to freedom of expression. It is a blanket provision used to silence people. Do you know a public employee who has not been offended by sharp criticism? It is an inheritance from the British colonial regime, which wanted sought by means of it to defend the bureaucracy and office-holders of the Empire.

And regarding the heart of the matter, your behaviour calls for rebuke as well. Nawi said the truth. Major Morag can pretend to be offended as much as he wants, but nothing will change the fact that the harassment of the Bedouin in the South Hebron Hills and filling in their wells are war-crimes, and protecting rampaging settlers is also a war-crime. By my lights there is no settler who is not an outlaw based on the international conventions to which Israel too is signatory but which has been violating them every day for 45 years of the Occupation.

The report says that Major Morag received a medal for distinguished service in the Second Lebanon War, another Israeli absurdity. Evidently he has no problem serving the Israeli war machine, and many war crimes were committed in the Second Lebanon War too, like the indiscriminate dropping of cluster-bombs on a civilian population. To this very day children in Lebanon are being killed and wounded by unexploded cluster bomblets.

While Morag struts around with his medal, Lebanese children are hobbling around without limbs. If you were equipped with the principles of human rights as expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Union Convention on Human Rights, you would say to Morag: “You have no legitimate reason to be in Lebanon or in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. If you do not want to bear the stigma of war crime, you there is a very solution simple solution: dissociate yourself from the Occupation and its crimes.” Of course you will not do as I proposed here, because you too serve the Occupation and war crimes in your capacity as a judicial shield.

Morag said in court that he sees his role as a “mission” and that the appellation “war criminal” is “hurtful and humiliating”. What crocodile-tears. A brutal soldier of the Occupation who sees the control over another people and contempt for their human rights as a mission, no wonder if they it is not to be wondered at that he would be accused of acting as a war criminal in the service of war crimes. It is important to emphasize that based on the Geneva and Rome Conventions, the Deputy Battalion Commander Major Morag is a small war criminal; the big criminals are sitting in spacious offices in the General Staff HQ and in the meeting-rooms of the ministers of the governments of Israel which send Morag and his soldiers to execute the dirty work in the field.

What really hurts and humiliates is the Occupation, and it must be ended. The Occupation has completely twisted the conceptual world of a democratic, civilized and cultured society. Under the influence of that distortion you referred to Morag as a “man of the law”. Not so. He is a man of lawbreaking – the laws of human dignity and freedom. He is the emissary of the masters of war who succeeded in confusing his conceptual world. If you had acted according to the values of a democratic society you would have acquitted Nawi and told him, “go in this thy might and save Israel”; [1] but you too are a part of the distortion whereby tyranny and racism and humiliation have taken precedence over the values of human rights.

In his wartime diary, published as Notabene 45 (Hebrew translation from German by Dov Quastler), [2] the German anti-Nazi German writer Erich Kastner mocks the submissive and obedient German outlook that led to catastrophe (article by Avner Shapira in the Haaretz literary supplement, 26 December 2012). I fear that Israel finds itself on a similar path of submissiveness and obedience that will also lead to catastrophe. Apparently both you and Major Morag have been infected by that dangerous syndrome, and if you do not wake up, our end will be a bitter one.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

Christmas, 25 December 2012

MK Eli Yishai
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior
2 Kaplan Street
Kiryat Ben Gurion
Jerusalem 91950

I read your letter of 10 December 2012 to Mordechai Vanunu in which you turned down his request that his Israeli citizenship to be cancelled. To me it is more than symbolic that your letter which proceeds on the path of violating Mordechai Vanunu’s human rights was written on International Human Rights Day. I assume that did not occur to you at all, for you and human rights are two parallel lines that will never meet. You pretend that Vanunu’s appeal was not clear to you, though he was acting on the advice of judges of the High Court of Justice regarding cancellation of citizenship. Vanunu’s letter to you was clear and written in basic Hebrew so that even someone who has difficulty understanding the language can understand it. In any case, the least that you could have done was to inform him what in your view would be the correct way to go about procuring a cancellation of citizenship. For that purpose you have a large contingent of employees and counselors, some with legal expertise, whom you can consult.

The truth is that the pretext for your refusal to agree to Vanunu’s request stems from your effective subjugation of your own independent judgement to the ISA. You rely on the position of the security establishment which opposes cancelling Vanunu’s citizenship because that would hasten his departure from Israel. The security establishment wants to continue to control Vanunu’s life. Not enough for them that he spent 18 years of his life in prison, including 11 and a half years in solitary confinement, and another eight years in a more open prison (for his enforced stay in Israel converts the State, within the Green Line, into an extension of the Ashkelon Prison). The claim that his departure from Israel would harm Israel’s security is utter nonsense. Everything he knew he reported in 1986 to the British newspaper Sunday Times. For twenty-four years he has been unconnected to the reactor in Dimona and he has not the faintest idea what is going on there now. There can be no avoiding the conclusion that restrictions imposed on him are the result of the desire for revenge on the part of the security establishment, which cannot digest the fact that Vanunu has expressed no remorse for what he did, and despite the harsh conditions of his imprisonment and the ongoing harassment of him, he stands behind his actions like a solid rock.

In your letter you accuse Vanunu of slandering Israel. That bespeaks a combination of chutzpah and ignorance on your part. What sullies the name of Israel is the harassment of Mordechai Vanunu. In several countries on both sides of the Earth, committees in support of Mordechai Vanunu have been created, which see him as an exemplary human being who has made an important contribution to the global struggle against weapons of mass destruction, and which demand that the government of Israel permit him to live outside Israel as he requests. Among Vanunu’s supporters are members of parliament, ministers, writers, playwrights, scientists and Nobel Prize laureates. It is not by chance that Vanunu has received peace prizes and international awards and is a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize every year. It is your refusal to comply with their request that is sullying Israel’s name.

It is hard to compete with you when it comes to slandering Israel. The fact that there is in the government of Israel a Minister of the Interior and Deputy Prime Minister who is a xenophobe and homophobe who represents benighted, obscurantist and racist Judaism is what gives gives Israel a bad name. The fact that a man in your position proposes to erase Palestinian villages from the map, proposes to the air force that it take Gaza back to the Middle Ages, takes pride in the establishment of prison camps for asylum-seekers, takes action to expel African children who were born in Israel, enters the bedrooms of Israeli citizens who have married non-Jews in order to prove that the marital tie is bogus, is a slander against Israel which renders you an enemy of Israel. [3]
You quote from from the Book of Proverbs to express scorn for Vanunu. “A man shall eat good from the fruit of his mouth; but the desire of the faithless (Heb. “boged – also “traitor”) is violence.” (Proverbs 13:2) You set out to scorn him but ended up scorning yourself. Those who make use of the Bible should know how to find the correct passage, even in the Book of Proverbs. A few lines down you will understand (maybe) why. Vanunu is not a traitor, and the original ruling of the court was not acceptable to believers in human rights. Vanunu realized the democratic principle of the right of the public to know when he gave the democratic press important information relating to the lives of everyone in our region while the government of Israel was concealing it from us and lying to us.

The passage which correctly represents the actions of Vanunu is “thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour.” (Leviticus 19:17) A man must love rebuke. The Talmud (Masechet Tamid, 28a), tells us: “It is taught, Rabbi says: What is the straight path that a man should choose for himself? That he should love rebuke. For as long as rebuke exists in the world, ease of mind will come to the world, goodness and blessing will come to the world and evil will depart from the world, for it is said, ‘But to them that decide justly shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.’ (Proverbs 24:25)”

And Maimonides himself said in Hilchot Deot 5:7: “He who sees that his fellow has sinned or has taken a bad path is commanded to return him to right and to inform him that he is sinning against himself through his bad deeds, for it is written, ‘though shalt surely rebuke thy neighbour.’”

Governments of Israel have sinned a great sin by converting Israel into a garbage pail for weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, biological and chemical, without ever once holding a public discussion on the dangerous implications of that policy, by concealing this important information from the public. Governments of Israel have sinned and committed a crime against Vanunu by kidnapping him from abroad like a terrorist organization.

In short, Mr. dishonourable Minister: take off your shoes when you stand before Mordechai Vanunu, because you are in the presence of a just and righteous man.
Your positions as they have been detailed in this letter are consistent with the principles of the Nazi ideology in the 1930s, and if you had lived in Germany then, you would have fit in well with the supporters of the Nazi leadership. Even the methods of punishment that you propose are consistent to a great extent with those of the German occupation army: the collective punishment of innocents, erasing communities from the face of the Earth and/or setting them back to the Middle Ages. (Look at the two well-known cases of collective punishment in the Second World War when the Nazis wiped out communities and murdered their residents: the village of Oradour-sur-Glane in France and Lidice in Czechoslovakia. And there were others)

My family, and myself among them, took up the wanderer’s pack and left Germany two minutes before the beginning of World War II, after we had experienced the Krystallnacht pogrom (November 1938). It is a jest of fate that the place that was supposed to be a safe shelter for me is putting me in contact with people like you, from whom I had fled in Germany and who are again threatening me with racist tyranny, and so once again I am forced to prepare the wanderer’s pack and seek a shelter from you and those who share your values and your mentality in the government, the army, the bureaucracy and the justice system. We are living in the age of the rhinoceroses. You take pride in the “achievement” that nearly 3,000 asylum-seekers are locked up in concentration- and detention-camps in the Negev for years without trial.

What starts with Arabs continues with Africans, then leftists, then on to liberals, afterwards to Reform Jews and the last in line will be the liberal secular Jews who are skeptical about the existence of God and His emissaries Rabbi Ovadia and the Lubavicher Rebbe. And then there no one will be left to speak out, in the famous words of the anti-Nazi German pastor Martin Niemöller. The bags are packed, ready for exile, refugeedom and the quest for asylum.

You have already ensured your place on the Jewish people’s scroll of shame, and to my dismay you are not alone there. With you are Knesset Members, rabbis, military people, university lecturers, mayors, men and women, judges and prosecutors and many others who cannot be named here for lack of space. I will point out only four in whose paths you tread: the settler Elyakim Haetzni, who in May 1984 published a Nazi article in the newspaper Hadashot in which he compared Arabs to mice and rats who have overrun the country, and from whom to save ourselves from them we must spread rat-poison; former MK Rabbi Meir Kahane, who used to compare Arabs to dogs; Likud MK Miri Regev, who declared “I’m happy to be a fascist”, and the settler Moshe Feiglin, who is guaranteed a Knesset seat in the coming elections, [4] and who praised Hitler in an interview with the newspaper Haaretz.

I hope that believers in human rights take care to ensure that you and those who share your views are held up to eternal shame.

I will close on an optimistic note. I am consoled by the Rabbis for Human Rights, who represent a religious Jewish alternative that is humane and that loves peace and equality and applies the rule “Beloved is man, for he was created in the image [of God]” to all human beings and not to Jews only.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

1 January 2013
To Eilata Ziskind
Judge at the Magistrates Court
6 Heshin Street
Jerusalem 91156

In the newspaper Haaretz (26 December 2012) appeared a report by the journalist Haim Levinson under the headline “Unusual conviction for an article raises debate about freedom of expression”. In body of the report it is written that you convicted the settler Rabbi Elitzur Segal of “insulting a public employee” for an article he published in 2004 on the “Jewish Leadership” (Manhigut Yehudit) website of the arch-fascist, the settler Moshe Feiglin. Segal’s conviction came to the world as 2012 came to a close, for sharp criticism Segal directed at the former chief rabbi of the Israeli Occupation army, Brigadier-General Yisrael Weiss. Yesterday you added sin to crime when you imposed on him a punishment of half a year’s imprisonment, compensation of NIS 4,000 and a fine of NIS 3,000. That whole business raises the stink of a judge who has lost her democratic judgment and her independence and has become a submissive and obedient servant of the military establishment.

The article in the criminal code about “insulting a public employee” is a legacy from the British occupier who used it to defend the functionaries of the Empire and those who did his bidding. It seems to me that in the UK today there is no such law (and if there is, it is excessive there too). Do you know a public employee who has never been offended by criticism in general and harsh criticism in particular? It is clear on its face that this is a blanket provision that is intended to silence people and permit the rulers and their functionaries to harass the citizenry, to tyrannize them and while themselves enjoying immunity. Your willingness to make use of that provision in order to suppress freedom of expression raises question-marks over your commitment to democracy and human rights.

Nor in the heart of the matter was there any justification for the trial at all. Why should a secular court get involved in a disagreement over Jewish law (halacha)? Segal believes that in terms of Jewish law the Chief Military Rabbi Weiss is a criminal in that he is not doing his rabbinical duty as stipulated in halacha. It is of course his full right to say that. Jewish tradition is replete with disagreements between sages of the Law: one says one thing and another says exactly the exact opposite, more than once and often using harsh language. Your inclination to defend those in authority empties the office of judge of democratic values and converts it into the servant of the governmental and military establishment.

I read the article and in my understanding there were no grounds for prosecution. I fear that the prosecution in its prosecutorial passion did not understand what was at issue, and you unthinkingly followed it like a “blind nanny goat” (as Rabbi Ovadia Yosef put it so graphically). Rabbi Elitzur did not threaten the military rabbi with murder or anything like that, God forbid, for then it would not be a matter of an “insult”. All he did was to state that if Weiss had lived a few thousand years ago the court dealing with capital cases, composed of 23 dayanim, would sentence him to death by stoning.
If you want, Elitzur is rendering an excellent service, apparently inadvertently, to opponents of a halacha state who would not want to see executions by stoning in the 21st century.

Segal and I disagree on every matter of importance the full length and breadth of the political map. He wants a halacha state, I want a secular democratic state; he wants a Jewish state without Gentiles at all and without Arabs in particular, and if their presence cannot be avoided, then with reduced status and rights; I struggle for a state of all its citizens that implements equality for all who live in it; he is a believer in Greater Israel that does not recognize the Arabs’ rights in the country, at most they are momentary guests; I support the rights of the Palestinians in this country as the indigenous people at least as much as the Jews who have immigrated to it; he lives at peace with the apartheid regime in the Occupied Territories; I see in it as a moral atrocity and political disaster. And the list is long.
Despite the disagreements, and without going into the issue of whether or not there are articles according to which it is permitted to put Segal on trial, one thing is beyond any doubt: it would never occur to me to put him on trial for insulting a public worker. Accordingly, I urge him to have no fear and to continue to mercilessly torment every public worker whom he considers to get out of line, whether morally, politically or ideologically, as is written in the Book of Leviticus: “Thou shalt surely rebuke thy neighbor”. The same must be done to judges as well, as has happened with you in this case.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

13 January 2013
To Cjana Miriam Lomp
Judge at the Magistrates Court
6 Heshin Street
Jerusalem 91156

It was with great satisfaction that I read in the newspaper Haaretz (9 January 2013) about your decision to acquit two peace activists, Michael Salisbury and Yotam Wolf, of the dictatorial charge of insulting a public worker, after you found that a Border Guard officer gave unreliable testimony in order to defend a policeman of the Occupation (“Judea and Samaria District” in sanitized Hebrew) against whom a complaint had been lodged.

The two, whom the indictment accused of yelling “Nazis” at the policemen, were members of a group of peace activists who were protesting against the destruction of a Palestinian house near Beit Jalla. This time the malicious plot cooked up by the police was exposed, with the contribution of the lawyer for the two, Attorney Gaby Lasky, and the plot was thwarted. I hope that my letter of rebuke to you of 31 December 2012 after you convicted the peace activist Ezra Nawi under the same wicked provision also contributed to the turnabout in the trial of Wolf and Salisbury. I hope that this ruling will be the beginning of a process of returning to the democratic fold on your part.
Peace activists who stand barehanded before the armed forces of the Occupation – army, police, ISA and settlers, fall victim not only to their violence but also to their lies. The culture of lies is part an integral part of the culture of the Occupation. The whole vast mechanism that has been built in the 45 years of Occupation is built on a foundation of deceit, falsehoods, lies, fabrications and fraud, which is also expressed in charge-sheets that are packed with fabrications and lies, as in the present case. And I also know this from personal experience of participation in dozens, maybe hundreds of demonstrations on both sides of the Green Line, against the Occupation, the Lebanon War, the expulsion of refugees and against Israel’s arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons. It is important to emphasize that the Palestinians are the primary victims of the culture of lies. The military courts are a vast factory for the laundering of lies and the sanitizing of language. Nor can it be otherwise, when demonstrations against the injustices and crimes of the Occupation are labeled “disorderly conduct” and gunfire by the soldiers of the Occupation on Palestinian children is justified on the pretext of “self-defence”, the robbery of Palestinian land is done under the Jewish National Fund’s slogan of “Redemption of the Land”, settlers and settlers who drive on the apartheid highways are called “law-abiding citizens”, mosque-burning settlers are “the best of our youth”, the settlement rabbis call the mass murderer Goldstein a “saint”, an organization of judicial criminals that calls itself “the Judicial Forum for the Land of Israel” attacks the right of human-rights supporters to express themselves and lodges complaints with the Attorney General against journalists and demands that they be put on trial and incites against leftists as is to be expected of supporters of apartheid. It is moral and political corruption, but that same Judicial Forum praise it to the skies “in the name of democracy” – these are only a few examples of the culture of lies that stands at the base of the Occupation and which has also seeped to within the Green Line. The indictment that was submitted against the two peace activists combines very well the culture of lies and false accusations.

In should be emphasized that left-wing demonstrators are not generally in the habit of hurling the epithet “Nazi” at police and soldiers, for they are for the most part, after all, educated people who have learned a lesson or two from history, and they know very well where the connecting-lines are between what is happening in Israel in the recent years and the twilight of the Weimar Republic and the allegedly democratic transition to the Nazi regime, and where the differences are. Those who in the habit of regularly yelling Nazi at uniform-wearers are usually settlers (and sometimes Haredim as well) who have been so spoiled by the Occupation army and its government that every divergence, even the most trivial and temporary one, from their demands frustrates them, and like every spoiled child, they burst out screaming with terrible shrieks, and “Nazi” and “kapo” are part of their usual lexicon. I add attach a picture photo from a news story in the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth under the headline “settlers abuse IDF troops with unprecedented words: traitor, murderer, they called the Command head; Nazis, kapo, they yelled at soldiers”. (10 July 1994) That is an indulgence they can permit themselves, because when all is said and done, they are the darlings of the regime.

My advice is to make a habit of this: whenever the police or the State Attorney submit indictments against Occupation opponents, Palestinians or Israelis, under a blanket provision such as “insulting a public employee” or “interfering with a police officer in the fulfillment of his duty” – provisions that harm freedom of expression, which is one of the mainstays of a democratic regime, relate to them as part of the culture of lies that the Occupation has put in control over our lives and which erodes the little democracy that remains to us. Acquit the accused, thereby doing a good deed and also saving valuable judging-time. Another bonus: your name will be renowned as one who did not betray her duty as a judge.

Gideon Spiro

*** *** ***

14 January 2013
To Amir Abu Riya
Border Guard Checkpoint
Cave of the Patriarchs


The daily supplement of Yedioth Ahronoth, “24 Hours” (10 January 2013) dedicated three pages to you to mark the debut screening a the film about the rare phenomenon of a Muslim Arab citizen of Israel and resident of Sakhnin who volunteered to join the army and serves today as a Border Guard soldier at the entrance to the Cave of the Patriarchs. You are featured on the front cover of the supplement with a picture on the whole page, wearing a uniform and beret and armed with a gun and other implements of destruction as required of a member of the army of Occupation. The sympathetic article points out the heavy price you have paid – isolation in Sakhnin and separation from your girlfriend. Nor was it comfortable for you in basic training, when your Jewish comrades taunted you with how would “cleanse Israel of Arabs”.

You are quoted in the article as saying “I want to build a bridge, so we get closer together and live in Israel as friends”. That is certainly a commendable objective, but it will not be realized by willingness to be part of the army that kills your people including their women, children and old people and denies their rights, an army that commits war crimes, an army that guards fascist settlers who rob the lands of your people and are planning a second Nakba, an army that is maintaining a regime of apartheid in the occupied territories, the army of a state that discriminates against its Arab citizens in all areas of life. Your willingness to join this army in this situation makes you a participant in the injustices. You are destroying with your own hands the bridge that you wanted to build. By agreeing to serve in Hebron you are protecting the most extremist, fanatical and racist group of settlers, in many ways a Jewish version of al-Qaeda, a group of criminals who scrawled Nazi slogans like “Destroy the Arabs in crematoria” on the doors of Palestinian shops the owners of which have been expelled.

Imagine the response of the Jewish public if a Jewish citizen joined a combat unit of the Islamic Jihad.

The tragedy of your situation is that your volunteering to serve in the Israeli Occupation army – and the Border Guard is an integral part of the Occupation force –will not substantially change your status in Israel. You will be humiliated at Israeli airports with security searches that are applied to all with Arab names, and even if you show them your military ID they will make no concessions for you; you cannot become a pilot in the air force; you cannot work in places where the highest security clearance is required and you cannot live in one of the outposts in the Galilee or in one of the kibbutz expansions, because as long as the State defines itself as “Jewish and democratic”, discrimination against Arab citizens is built into it. That means democratic for Jews (though not all of them, for leftists are already feeling finding that they are being restricted), and Jewish for Arabs.

Your city, Sakhnin, is one of the victims of that discrimination. The State confiscated its land reserves for the benefit of Jewish settlements that you, as I have said, cannot live in, and so Sakhnin is bursting at the seams while its Jewish neighbours enjoy a generous reserve of land. Demonstrations by residents of Sakhnin against the theft of their lands by the State cumulated on 30 March 1976 with three killed, and since then that date has been commemorated as the Day of the Land. To them have been added those from Sakhnin who were killed in the demonstrations of October 2000. Where Arabs are concerned, the fingers of the police and the army are light on the trigger.

My advice to you is to turn in your weapon to the IDF’s Technological and Logistics Directorate and take off your uniform. If it’s not too late, forsake the army in favour of civilian service in your community. On this matter I disagree with some Arab leaders in Israel, for I believe that civilian service in the community that you come from is worthy of support. Of course I will be happy if you join one of the human rights organizations that oppose the Occupation.

Hoping that my message has found a receptive ear,

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s notes

1. Judges 6:14: “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee?”

2. The German title is “Notabene 45: Ein Tagebuch”. It is not clear if it has been published in English translation.

3. Hebrew: “’ocher Yisra’el”: one who brings trouble to Israel or to the Jews. King Ahab used the term when he asked the Prophet Elijah: “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17)

4. In Israel’s elections to the Knesset on 22 January 2013 Moshe Feiglin won a seat on the Likud Yisrael Beiteinu list.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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