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Red Rag weekly column: The Hour of the Right
By: Gideon Spiro
10 July 2014 (English translation 12 July 2014)

Hour of the Right

This is the hour of the vengeful Right and its murderous mirror-image Hamas. It is the hour of corpses and the cult of death. That is what fills them with adrenalin. I hear the solutions proposed by the Establishment experts that proliferate in television studios like mushrooms after the rain as they compete with each other over who can shed the most blood. They all offer up the same menu of more and more of the same – more murder, more killing, more destruction, more collective punishment, blowing up the homes of more families that were convicted of no crime, and more extrajudicial executions of Hamas leaders. Knesset Member Feiglin repeats his proposal to the implement the death penalty. From Gaza they threaten us with hell and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzahi Hanegbi threatens Hamas with his own hell. This bloody mixture is a festival for rabbis immersed in racism and hatred of Gentiles on both sides of the Green Line. The incited and inflamed masses absorb very well the message from the neo-Nazi slogans that flood the social media. If I had to choose the most representative one, it would be “Hatred of Arabs is not racism; it is principle.” This is a translation into Hebrew of slogans that were widely used against Jews in Nazi Germany. There are imams who pay back in the same currency with sermons full of hatred. At this point religious fanaticism is triumphant on both sides. We have seen all this before, and the lesson has not been learned.

The three kidnapped and murdered yeshiva students were born into the Occupation, or were taken to the Occupied Territories by their parents, and were filled with the venomous belief that everything belonged to them, for it is written in the Bible, after all: God promised and we are His emissaries. They paid with their lives, their faith intact.

And on the other side, the suspects in the murder too are children of the Occupation. They have not experienced one single day of freedom. Their entire lives have been lived under the yoke of the Occupation. They are witness to humiliations, their relatives arrested, tortured and killed. They are young in age but have already undergone the initiation of Israeli prison. The scars accumulate and the flames of hatred and revenge became a huge conflagration. With no light at the end of the tunnel, faith in God becomes an escape, and from there the road to Hamas is a short one. They too were poisoned to believe that everything belonged to them, for it is written in the Holy Scriptures.

Against these two camps of fanatics stands the Israeli peace camp, and I mean peace; not the agents of the Occupation like Peres, Rabin, Herzog, Fuad [Binyamin Ben-Eliezer] and their ilk, but those who oppose the Occupation without any “if”s, “and”s or “but”s, or “however”, or “we are all one family”, whose opposition to the Occupation is not motivated only by “what it is doing to us” (Israelis), but also “because of what it is doing to them” (Palestinians). In other words, the crimes and the injustices that are embodied in the superstructure called the Occupation are cause enough to oppose it even if you can prove to them in black and white that the Occupation does us nothing but good. Which it doesn’t.

The power of the racist incitement against the Arabs has reached nearly 10 on the Incitement Scale, much to the satisfaction if the Israeli Right. Burning hatred of Arabs is one of the fuels that feed the colonization project.

It was clear to all whose eyes had not been dazzled that this wave of hatred that flooded the Internet would not remain within the digital realm and that some would translate it into permission to attack Arabs. And then came the worst of all: six Jews kidnapped the young Muhammad Abu Khdeir from his home in Jerusalem and murdered him with indescribable cruelty – burned him alive, for the sole crime of being an Arab.

A filthy wave of incitement is passing over Israel, which is reminiscent of the waves of incitement against Jews in Germany on the eve of the Krystallnacht pogroms. The way Muhammad was murdered is reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan. The mayor of Jerusalem said that the murder of Muhammad “is not Jewish”. Why? The murderers implemented what is written in the book The King’s Torah, [1] the first fruit of the rabbis of the Yizhar settlement, which permits the murder of babies lest they join the ranks of the enemies of Israel in the future. That is the Judaism that is taking over Israel – the Judaism of real-estate agents, racist Judaism, colonial Judaism, the Judaism of institutionalized discrimination against Arabs in which the mayor of Jerusalem is also a partner. That is the Judaism from which they derived inspiration, power and glory: Judaism that burns bodies. Off to one side stands humanistic Judaism, still trying to struggle, but the Bennett Brigade is stronger, so it is keeps getting worn down and burnt out, until the day will not be far when it becomes Judaism of silence. In line with the well-known statement by the German Jewish Poet Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), that “Where they have burned books, they will end up burning human beings”, we can add that where they burn human beings, they will end up committing genocide.

Once it was clearly established that Muhammad Abu Khdeir was murdered on national-racial-religious grounds, it was but natural to expect that the Arab public would take to the streets to express their anger. Instead of exhibiting flexibility and understanding and permitting spontaneous demonstrations to take place, the police mobilized hundreds of personnel equipped with weapons, batons, shields and helmets, and their violence astonished the demonstrators, both in East Jerusalem and in Wadi Ara. We saw on television a shocking scene in which police brutally beat a 15 year old boy whose only crime was to be a cousin of the murdered boy. After all that, the Minister of Public Security, Czar Lieberman’s emissary to the police, was not ashamed to declare on television that the police would have zero tolerance for violence, not by police, but by demonstrators. Faced with such violent and aggressive police, throwing objects at police is an act of self-defence. But – in Israel as in Israel: since the dozens of demonstrators the police arrested are Arabs, we can count on the courts to pick up where the police left off. Occupation justice.

Following the horrifying murder of the Palestinian youth, a number of Israeli celebrities got the idea that we must strongly come out against extremism “on the Right and the Left”. Thus said former Supreme Court Chief Justice Dorit Beinish, as did the journalist Ari Shavit of Haaretz, who carries a level with him wherever he goes, so he can inspects himself every day to ensure that the bubble is exactly in the middle. The learned celebrities will forgive me, but this is a misleading comparison. The Right does not look like the Left, nor vice-versa. None in the Israeli Left can be defined as more extremist than the extremist who assassinated a prime minister, who set up a murderous terror underground, who killed the settlers they hate, who planted an explosive device next to a religious girl’s school in a settlement in order to kill and wound as many students as possible, who yell “death to settlers and to the Right!” at demonstrations or have bomb-making laboratories in their homes. But all that and more such plums are found in dangerous abundance on the Right, sometimes with the support and encouragement of right-wing ministers and Knesset members. I do not know any man or woman of the Left, in Israel or outside it, who wants to be in a live in a state that is ruled by ministers of religion. Not ayatollahs, not imams or rabbis or priests.

On this specific matter I am one who holds to the vision of Herzl, who wrote in his book that the rabbis would stay in their houses of prayer and concern themselves with the spiritual needs of the believers, and the military men would stay in their barracks and not interfere in politics. If Herzl were with us today and spoke modern Hebrew, he would say to Rabbi Piron, Minister of Education, “Get out of my sight, go back to your synagogue and take care of your congregation’s religious needs!”

Members of the Left in Israel, however extremist they may be, will always hold to means of struggle that do not transgress the bounds of the realm of democracy.

And another thing of no small importance: the murder of Muhammad proved just how vacuous and mendacious is that day called “Jerusalem Unification Day”. [2]


There will be peace?

While Israel conducted violent and destructive searches for the three kidnapped yeshiva students, an operation that combined searches with acts of collective punishment, during which hundreds of Palestinians, they too kidnap victims, were arrested on suspicion of membership in Hamas or association with it, I was troubled by two fears. The first: the fate of the kidnap victims. If it was a kidnapping for bargaining purposes, then the intensive search operations created a choke-ring around the kidnappers, who would panic, and the three hostages would become a burden to get rid of. In other words, the searches endangered their lives. When the bodies were found, the military correspondent of Israel Radio broadcast a commentary stating that it was not clear if it had been a kidnapping for negotiation purposes that went awry or if the objective had been to murder the victims. I have a long-standing position according to which, when a kidnapping has taken place there must be negotiations to save the lives of the victims, and any military action must be avoided. Since the two kidnappers suspected of the murder have not yet been caught and no one has reliable information but only conjectures, I incline towards the hypothesis that it was a kidnapping that went awry.

The other fear that has troubled me was that the leaders of Hamas in Gaza would see the mass arrests in the West Bank as a violation of the understandings that underpinned the ceasefire agreement and would respond with renewed rocket fire. And that is indeed what happened and we now find ourselves in the midst of another round of exchanges of fire.

Symbolically, the day on which the battle, which has been given the code-name “Solid Cliff” [called “Protective Edge” in English], erupted was also opening day of the newspaper Haaretz’s “Israel Conference on Peace”. To open the conference the newspaper published an article by US President Barack Obama under the headline “Peace is possible”. Without the president intending it, the article clarified why peace is not possible with this government and this president. In the article the president warmly praises the alliance with Israel, the special relationship, the military and economic aid, the unconditional support of Israel, the collaboration between the two militaries and so on. Under such circumstances, what motivation does the government of Israel have to eschew its rejectionist policy, given such sweeping support from the number one superpower in the world? Without a change in US policy, rejectionism will continue to carry the day.

The Israel of Netanyahu and Lieberman has an interest in the continued existence of the Hamas regime in Gaza. The words “existential danger” are a compulsory text for all who exercise authority in Israel, with no connection to whether it is true or not. It is embedded in the Israeli DNA. For existential danger there you need an enemy, and the world around us has given us that in abundance. Once, the existential danger was the PLO, another time, Syria, then Iran, and now that role is being generously played by the Hamas government in Gaza. In order to provide substance to that danger, we need a small or large war from time to time, which will provide adhesive to hold Israeli society together. The pounding of Gaza by the Israeli air force has only just begun, and already we are hearing reports of the destruction of entire families, including children and babies. The opposition has melted away for the most part, and supports the government. If the government had truly wanted to solve the problem of rocket fire, it would have acted through diplomatic channels and proposed, for example, to lift the siege of Gaza and permit free passage between Gaza and the West Bank in return for a long term ceasefire. But then the air force would lose a training-ground with a live population.

Recent events have not had a moderating effect on the Right in Israel; on the contrary they have made it more extreme. It has expanded the death penalty [3] and raises new death-slogans. To the long-standing cry of “Death to the Arabs!” is now added “Death to (Jewish) Leftists!” One of the big successes of the propaganda of the Right has been to associate the Left with Hamas. And you will find no bigger distortion than that.

Therefore, speaking as one who has already been sentenced to death (by burning?), I would like to remind the field court of the Right, that it was the Israeli military government and its experts who supported and encouraged Hamas, at a time when the PLO was the Great Satan. The sailor for peace Abie Nathan [4] sat in prison for a year for meeting with PLO leaders.

That was in the 1980s. I knew Faisal Husseini (of blessed memory), the senior PLO figure in the Occupied Territories and Jerusalem. We worked together on several issues. Over time our relations developed into friendship. He was a charming man, secular and very learned in the ways of Israeli society. He supported the two-state solution without renouncing the vision of a democratic Middle East in which would unite Israel and Palestine. My friends and I pleaded with the government and all who were willing to listen to us, orally and in writing: talk with the PLO, talk with Faisal, one of his advantages is that he does not have daily conversations with God. But Rabin in his wisdom responded to us by putting Faisal under administrative detention while continuing to cultivate the Islamic movement that ended up engendering Hamas. The monster kept getting stronger, it became a mass political movement and now it cannot be put back into the bottle. No help for it now, we must talk with Hamas as well. Airplanes and tanks will not help.


Translator’s notes

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_King%27s_Torah

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_day

3. Officially Israel has not carried out the death penalty since the execution
of Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abie_Nathan


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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