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Red Rag column: Ezra Nawi`s arrest; Tair Kaminer; Natali Cohen Vaksberg
By: Gideon Spiro
21 January 2016 (English translation 06 February 2016)

To inform or not to inform?

Ezra Nawi is a friend of mine, and I am not in the habit of throwing friends
to the dogs just because fascist contamination has entered the system.
My first acquaintance with Ezra was not connected to politics but to his
trade, when as a plumber he repaired pipes in my house. With time I got to
know of his political opinions and activities against the Occupation, which
elevated the relations between us above the level of the relationship
between a client and service-provider. He has devoted more and more of his
time to helping the impoverished Palestinian population of the South Hebron
Hills, which the Occupation, with its soldiers and settlers, has treated with
cruelty and abused so much that one might get the impression that the
Occupation was a sadist that took pleasure in tormenting defenceless people.

The activism of Ezra and his friends from Taayush to help and to show
solidarity with the occupied population in face of hostile and trigger-happy
soldiers and settlers constitutes lifesaving in the most basic sense. For
similar activism Mother Theresa received the Nobel Peace Prize.

I do not know how many Israelis are willing to give shelter in their homes to
Palestinians from the territory of the Palestinian Authority whose lives are
in danger (not collaborators). Ezra did that, and confronted the police who
decided to evict the asylum-seeker.

The attempt to represent Ezra as one who hands over Palestinian land-
speculators to the Palestinian Authority as the television programme “Uvda”
has done is not consistent with the person I know. And furthermore, the
programme did not give any factual findings to indicate that Ezra had done any
such thing.

The failure of Ilana Dayan, a lawyer and the programme’s presenter, was a
double one: professional and in terms of values. She completely divested
herself of the sublime principles she expressed when a few days before to the
broadcast she accepted the Sokolov Prize for journalism. She uttered fine
words about freedom of expression, independent journalism un-beholden to the
government and journalistic fairness. All that was forgotten in the wretched
and shameful broadcast devoted to Nawi. She handed the programme over the
McCarthyist incitement of an extreme right-wing provocateur that no decent
journalism would tolerate. Ilana Dayan’s cooperation with the fascist Right
supplied a pretext for the Israel Security Agency to arrest Nawi for no crime
he committed, as part of its policy of bashing the Left as a whole. We are
witness to a wondrous irony: ISA agents whose hands are dripping with the
blood of Palestinians they have tortured, killed and liquidated, have now
arrested an activist against the Occupation on the pretext of protecting
Palestinian lives. Utter madness.

Ilana Dayan’s professional failure in what was supposed to be an investigation
was no investigation. If she wanted to act as a fair and decent journalist,
she would have said to the imposter who brought her blurry and unclear
photographic material: thank you very much for the material. Now we will do a
journalistic investigation as required, to see if there is any substance
behind this. She knows how to do investigatory journalism if she wants, but
right-wing DNA overcame professionalism and fairness. This causes me much
distress, because I think Ilana is a great journalistic talent. The depth of
my disappointment is commensurate with the heights of her ability. And yet for
all that, I still hope that we have not lost her in the struggle against
fascism.

The programme strengthened the campaign of media terrorism against the Left.
One such terrorist is the media thug Amit Segal of Channel 2, who also
broadcasts on the military radio station. In a telephone interview with Meretz
head MK Zehava Gal-On, he flung at her, “why don’t you say that Nawi is simply
scum?” The called-for answer (mine) is this: the Jewish terror underground
that murdered innocents in the 1980s are scum. And you are conducting media
terrorism. The terrorist Hagai Segal can take satisfaction that the apple did
not fall far from the tree. [1]

None of what I have written above excuses me from answering the question I
have been asked by more than one person: what is my opinion about informing to
the Palestinian Authority about land-pimps who make deals with settlers?
I call them pimps [Heb. “sarsurim”] because there are no legitimate business
exchanges under occupation between the occupier and the occupied. The deals
involve often shady schemes, falsification of documents and suchlike things.

Every activist against the Occupation identifies to some extent with the
suffering of the Palestinian people and sees the land-pimps as greedy people
who have turned their backs on their people. The issue is not the refusal to
sell land to Jews, as the settlers and their supporters would have you
believe, but the refusal to sell land to settlers whose aim is to expel the
Palestinians from their land.

I will spare no effort to convince Palestinians who own land not to sell it to
settlers, but I would not turn them over to the Palestinian Authority, because
it is an undemocratic entity that does not respect human rights, and which
practices torture and the death penalty. Under these circumstances informing
to the Palestinian Authority is not to be done, and those who inform should be
held to account – but not in Israel, which is afflicted those same evil
pathologies; rather, in a state that respects human rights and does not rule
over another nation. One of the Scandinavian countries, for example.


Tair Kaminer

Tair Kaminer is serving a sentence in a military prison that was imposed on
her for refusing to enlist in the army of Occupation. Like her name [2] she is
a ray of light in the dark, the embodiment of enlightenment. Tair and those
like her are like oxygen for the optimistic side of me that has required
intensive care recently. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel, after
all.


A letter I sent to the commander of the Ayalon District of the Israel
Police

21 December 2015
To Commander Natan Bozna
Ayalon District Commander
Israel Police
18 Fichman Street
Holon

I am writing to you regarding the playwright and artist Natali Cohen Vaksberg,
whom you arrested and handcuffed for her art. A few days ago she was summoned
for the fifth time for interrogation at the police in Bat Yam, which is in
your district. This is a scandal, an act of villainy the gravity of which is
hard to exaggerate. Her repeated police interrogation for her art is a kind of
attempted rape, that is, an attempt to force her to stop her activities, which
are also her profession, by means of intimidation and abusive interrogations.
[3] When it comes to rape, the Israel Police has proved that it is a world
champion.

Since when do you concern yourself with censoring art? Are you the Israel
Police or have you become the Regev Police or the Bennett Police? I am a
refugee from a country, Germany of the 1930s, where the police used to summon
for interrogation artists who had called into question the wisdom of the
government. Is that the path you want to follow?

The report on Natali’s interrogations bespeaks interrogators who combine
ignorance, stupidity and McCarthyism as well as an unacceptable invasion of
the private domain.

Natali is a radical artist with an elevated social and political conscience
based on humane, liberal and democratic principles. Radical art is an
inseparable part of the infrastructure of artistic life in a democratic state
and an ally of those who struggle against racism, religious fanaticism,
nationalism and war. Radical artists from various countries are an
international community that meets in international conferences. Their art has
no holy cows and uses unconventional means to mock and ridicule things held
sacred by the nation. When Natali defecates on a flag of Israel, which is
nothing but a rag made of cloth, as the late Professor Yeshayahu Liebowitz
pointed out, she is saying in effect: “what is more terrible? Defecating on a
flag or the willingness to kill and to be killed for it in groundless wars?”

No one has to love this kind of art, but it is strictly forbidden to persecute
her. And if she decides to shit into a police cap she will be within her
rights, because in this affair the Israel Police are acting like a shitty
police force. I suggest you close the file, ask her for forgiveness and
concentrate on tasks for which the police exist, such as – for example –
finding those who are threatening her life and putting them on trial.

Gideon Spiro

Cc: MK Zehava Gal-On and Attorney Dan Yakir Chief Legal Counsel, Association
for Civil Rights in Israel.


Translator’s notes

1. Amit Segal is the son of Hagai Segal, who served 2 years in prison for his
part in a terrorist campaign against Palestinians in the West Bank in the
1980s. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Underground

2. `Ta’ir” means “illuminate”, “shine”, “enlighten”.

3. The Hebrew word for rape can also mean “compulsion”, “forcing” or
“violation”.


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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