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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.

Regards,

Gideon.


*** *** ***

15 January 2013

16 November 2012
To Asher Grunis
President
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

Greetings,

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.

Sincerely,

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
Jerusalem.

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
Hebron

Greetings,

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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