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Red Rag Column
Red Rag Column
By: Gideon Spiro
5 January 2010
(English translation 13 January 2010)

Still a long way to go

The first decade of the 21st century in the third millennium brought no good tidings to humanity. Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya, genocide in Darfur, millions killed in Congo along with mass rape, terrorism by al-Qaeda and its affiliates, global economic crisis, intolerable gaps between the poor South and the rich North, trade in human beings in general and children for the sex industry in particular, global warming – those are only some of the problems that humanity is contending with.

Israel, as a part of the global village, has made its contribution to the unsolved problems of that decade. Three wars: the West Bank War of 2002, the Second Lebanon War of 2006 and the Gaza War of December 2008-January 2009. War crimes were committed in all of them, the worst of them being committed in the Gaza War. From war to war the Occupation continued, as well as human rights violations, the construction of the apartheid wall and the proliferation of settlements and settlers. At the end of the decade peace is more remote than ever.

Cannibalistic capitalism tightened its grip during that decade. Israel became a leader in the Western world in the gap between the poverty of the lower ten per cent and the wealth of the upper thousandth. The Right consolidated its control of Israel, racism struck roots, the trade in women continued, crime increased and violence rose to new heights in Israeli society.

The strength of the peace and human rights camp was greatly diminished, and found itself in disturbing retreat at the end of the decade.

But despite all that, life in Israel is tolerable. The Palestinian armed resistance has been successfully suppressed by the iron fist of the Israeli Occupation; our health-care system is more advanced than that of the USA; the number of students relative to the population is among the highest in the Western world; our universities enjoy international prestige; the high-tech industry is advanced; first-rate international artists perform in Israel; Israeli artists are invited to cultural events all over the world; the Israeli currency is stable; despite the apartheid regime Israel is not being boycotted; so far all attempts to boycott Israeli exports have failed; all attempts to declare an academic boycott on Israel have failed; countries like Spain and Belgium have changed their laws in order to spare Israel the embarrassment of having its war criminals put on trial; the British foreign minister apologized to Israel for a British court’s issuance of a warrant for the arrest of Tzipi Livni, Israel’s foreign minister during the Gaza War, on suspicion of war crimes; hundreds of thousands of Israelis travel abroad every year and the Israeli passport today permits entry into over a hundred countries; generous foreign assistance from the USA and Europe continues to flow towards Israel, and Israel enjoys freedom of action to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.

True, there has been some erosion in Israel’s position among segments of international public opinion, but so far that has had no influence among the ruling establishments: governments, industrialists, bankers, armies and intelligence agencies of the Western world. In those circles Israel enjoys the status of an ally.

Israeli right-wingers truly have cause for satisfaction. They are entitled to come to the conclusion that the Occupation, settlements and wars have not compromised Israel’s position. The typical Israeli settler relates to the Palestinians in a way that is reminiscent of the way White immigrants treated the Indians in the USA in the 19th century – with the arrogance of those who have God on their side, and so everything is permitted and possible, including expulsion and elimination.

There is no doubt in my mind that Israel will eventually pay dearly for that arrogance and boastfulness. Meanwhile the warnings from the Left that Israel’s policies will lead to disaster, collapse and isolation are heard in Right-wing ears as the impotent barking of dogs – as the caravan of the Occupation haughtily passes.

Love – approved by the police and the ISA

Prisoner of conscience Mordechai Vanunu was arrested by the police because he has a girlfriend who is not Israeli. His girlfriend was arrested with him. For that terrible crime he was forced to spend a night in the police lock-up. After that he was confined to house arrest for three days on orders of Judge Yitzhak Shimoni of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. His Honour the dishonourable judge forbade the two from meeting without permission of the police.

I know his girlfriend. She is a professor of religious studies from Norway who specializes in the Bible, especially the Books of Ezra and Nehemia. A noble woman who believes in human rights, including the right to love and to be loved. Love transcends borders. She is not a journalist, and the issue of Israel’s nuclear weapons does not interest her. She loves Mordechai the man, the person. They have been meeting for two years. Suddenly the ISA (Shin Bet) people and the police became alarmed and decided to sabotage their love. Another stage in the harassment of Mordechai Vanunu.

Love with the authorization of the police and the ISA is reminiscent of regimes of the most sinister kind. In Nazi Germany it was forbidden for Germans to have romantic relationships with Jews. In Apartheid South Africa it was forbidden for Blacks and Whites to have romantic relationships, and there was a similar prohibition in the USA during the era of slavery.

Israel too is joining that abominable and repulsive club.

Hopefully someone in the governmental or judicial elite will finally exhibit a flicker of wisdom and humanity, and Vanunu will be released from the baseless restrictions that have been imposed on him and he will be permitted to leave Israel, to follow his heart and to rebuild his life as a free man.

Immigrants

Dan Margalit is a famous journalist in Israel. To me he is a despicable and loathsome journalist. After the London Sunday Times published Vanunu’s revelations on the reactor in Dimona in 1986, Margalit suggested to Prime Minister Shimon Peres that he bring Vanunu to Israel “dead or alive”. To me, a journalist who proposes that a government murder a person because he provided information to the free press, is a journalist of the basest and most shameful kind, of the type who generally serve tyrannical and dictatorial regimes. Journalists of that kind are putting the profession into the toilet.

As in other things, here too I am in the minority opinion. Dan Margalit is a very successful journalist in Israel, both in print and television journalism.

A few days ago (31 December 2009) Knesset Member Dr. Jamal Zahalka of the Balad faction (National Democratic Assembly) was a guest on a talk show on the Education Ministry’s educational channel. The interviewer was Dan Margalit. The interview was conducted after a demonstration had taken place at the Erez Checkpoint on the occasion of the first anniversary of the criminal Gaza War.

In the course of the interview Dr. Zahalka said that Defence Minister Ehud Barak listens to classical music and then kills 400 children. That statement angered Dan Margalit, and he forgot his role as an interviewer, put on his hat as Barak’s spokesman, and told MK Zahalka that he was being impudent. After an exchange of words between the two of them, he ordered Zahalka out of the studio. That incident exposed Margalit as just another Israeli racist who permitted himself to treat an Arab MK with rudeness and contempt – which he would never dare do with a Jewish MK.

In the course of the exchange of words between the two, MK Zahalka told Dan Margalit that he was Mephisto – that’s OK; that he was a “court journalist” – which is correct; and that he was a nullity – and I have no problem with that either.

He reminded him that he was sitting in Sheikh Muwannis – and the studios of educational TV are in fact located in Ramat Aviv, which was the village of Sheikh Muwannis until 1948. Why did he say that? I do not know; was it a hint that it should be returned to the Palestinian Authority? Not clear.

Among other things, Zahalka taunted Dan Margalit by telling him that he was an immigrant. I think he is a native of Tel Aviv – but he is certainly the son of an immigrant.

I behoves me to tell my friend Jamal that we are all immigrants – or children of immigrants – or grandchildren of immigrants – or great-grandchildren of immigrants. Not only Jews, but also Palestinians, and there’s no shame in that.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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