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Red Rag: `Europe indirectly finances the Israeli Occupation`
Gideon Spiro
30 November 2010 (English translation 3 December)

Wikileaks: an important contribution to freedom of the press and information

The great nation of America, which so often expresses pride in its democracy and freedom of the press, cannot deal with the leak of hundreds of thousands of internal State Department communication documents that Wikileaks has exposed and continues to expose as these lines are being written. The Administration and its agents forgot the American Supreme Court judge Louis Brandeis’ insight that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The founder of the site, Julian Assange, changes his place of residence and his cell-phone number nearly every day because the US covert services are pursuing him, and whether their objective is to assassinate him or to abduct him is not clear. The New York Times, sometimes called the most important newspaper in the world, is coordinating the publication of the documents with the US State Department, which is providing the newspaper with guidance on what documents should not be published for reasons of “national security” – code words under the cover of which governments commit their crimes.

Some of the information that has been published so far is gossipy in nature, but not without interest, for it provides a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes. But it does not rise to the level of the disclosures of Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers, or of Mordechai Vanunu, who exposed Israel’s nuclear secrets. Those two belong to the big league of leakers and whistleblowers. But the Wikileaks disclosures too have revealed important information that had been concealed from us. Following the leak we now know that North Korea provided Iran with long-range missiles with a range of up to 3,000 kilometres that can carry nuclear warheads. That information strengthens the position, which I share, that the use of military force against Iran’s nuclear programme would likely cause a nuclear holocaust, for nobody knows what Iran has in its basement. I assume that Iran is probably acting like Israel did, covertly developing nuclear weapons while mouthing the slogan “we will not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.” A slogan that proved to be mendacious.

This column calls down blessings on all who expose covert information, thereby permitting the public with a democratic consciousness to enhance their supervision over what their government does. All leakers deserve blessings for that. Blessed is Daniel Ellsberg, the leaker of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which exposed the lies of the Nixon Administration about the war in Vietnam; blessed is Mordechai Vanunu who exposed the lies of Israeli governments about the nuclear issue and who contributed to heightening the pressure on Israel to give up its nuclear arms; blessed is Anat Kamm, whose disclosure of military documents has enabled Yesh Gvul [1] to recently file an appeal to the High Court of Justice against the appointment of General Yair Naveh as Deputy Chief of Staff because of the assassination of Palestinians in contravention of a ruling by that same court; blessed is Private First Class Bradley Manning of the US Army who gave Wikileaks thousands of documents on the grounds that they reveal “almost criminal political back-dealings” and show “how the First World exploits the Third.” Manning declared that “I want people to know the truth, because without this information it is impossible for the public to make intelligent decisions.” (Haaretz 29 November 2010 [Hebrew]). Blessed is Julian Assange for distributing that information to the whole world.

They fulfilled their role as whistleblowers, and in so doing they endangered – and some of them sacrificed – their liberty for the exalted and democratic principle of the right of the public to know. As the Bible says: “You shall surely rebuke your neighbour.” (Leviticus 19:17) The more people expose covert and secret information, the easier it will be to throw a wrench into the gears of governmental crimes. Imagine if one of those who were privy to the secrets of the First Lebanon War in advance had published the entire war plan, thereby preventing its outbreak. That person would have saved the lives of 1,500 Israeli soldiers and tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, and prevented the environmental damage that that war caused.

The voice of the Consensus

In my opinion Ilana Dayan is the most influential journalist in Israel. She is the presenter of the most-watched investigative programme on Channel 2, which is the most-watched television channel in Israel. She has a talk-show, on Channel 2 of course, with various guests from the world of culture and politics. Every Thursday she presents the morning talk-show on the military radio station Galei Tzahal. She is also active in the academic world. She has a doctorate in law and she is a lecturer in the law faculty of Tel Aviv University.

For non-Israeli readers who will read this column after it is translated into English, I can illustrate Ilana Dayan’s importance in the Israeli media by saying that she is a female Israeli edition of Thomas Friedman of The New York Times

The weekend supplement of Haaretz, the most important newspaper in Israel, dedicated its main article to Ilana Dayan – seven pages, including a very nice picture on the cover (26 November 2010).

In addition to her abilities and talents, which are many, she has extraordinary command over the Hebrew language. She speaks fluently and effortlessly in a very radiophonic voice.

Ilana is the voice of the Consensus. That was also stated in the article. Otherwise she would not have gotten a show on the army radio station and she would not be the presenter of an investigative programme on Channel 2, which is a commercial channel that stupefies the masses with entertainment programmes some of which are on an infantile level, and which takes great care not to diverge from the Consensus.

And indeed, Ilana Dayan is careful not to cross the centre line. A study of her programmes over 16 years will show that if there is a show that inclines slightly to the Left, a Rightward-facing show follows soon after. (Parenthetically, it should be emphasized that when it comes to the “Left” in the context of Channel 2, what we often get is a savage economic right-winger whose “Leftism” is expressed in some degree of willingness to compromise with the Palestinians. Compromise of that kind, even if it does not envision withdrawing from all the Occupied Territories but only from part of them, is immediately besmirched by the settlers as “extreme Left”).

In light of what has been said above it will be understood that great importance is attributed to Ilana Dayan’s texts, and through them we can determine which way the wind is blowing.

In the above-mentioned interview in Haaretz, it is written that “she has enormous respect for the settlers in Judea and Samaria. [2] She urges that the debate over the division of the land be conducted with the understanding that they are one of the most valuable assets we have. They are the last serving elite.” And in another place she says that “Israeli society can never be non-democratic.”

Ilana Dayan is not only a journalist who is a presence in politics and in the Israeli reality. She is a Doctor of Laws. She knows that it is forbidden for an occupying state to transfer its civilian population to the occupied territory. She knows that the military government in the Occupied Territories set up a racist regime of apartheid under the protection of which the settlers enjoy privileges. She knows about the settlers’ abuse of their Palestinian neighbours. She knows that the settlers are land-robbers who are living on Palestinian land that was stolen from its owners under the protection of the Israeli military government. She knows that that “settler elite” serves in the Occupation army and takes part in daily violations of human rights.

She knows about the villanous deeds that the Occupation, of which the settler elite is a part, commits every day against the occupied Palestinians: killing, wounding, beating, humiliating, expelling, demolishing. She knows that the settler elite today is fertile soil from which Israeli fascism is growing. She knows about the series of totalitarian laws that the Knesset has already passed or are in the legislative pipeline which are eroding what little remains of democracy within the Green Line: the Admissions Committees Law, the objective of which is to prevent Arabs from being accepted as residents in Jewish community settlements of the type in which Dayan herself lives, something that we Jews experienced with the Nuremberg Laws; the Loyalty Law that is intended to deprive Arabs of their Israeli citizenship; the law that bars Palestinian citizens of Israel from living in their own country with their spouses from the Occupied Territories. Settler Knesset Members who are members of the “elite that serves the State” play a central role in all this despicable legislation.

In the past year the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, an evil that is done under the cover of the Israeli court, has been added to this chapter of decrees. The list is long. Despite all this, Ilana Dayan sees the settlers as a “valuable asset” and firmly states that Israel cannot be non-democratic.

Either Ilana Dayan is closing her eyes, like the Germans in the collapsing Weimar Republic who did not see the Nazi danger that was threatening to drown their country – for after all, the Germany of Brecht and Kurt Weil and the other intellectual giants could not be “non-democratic” – or she raised a finger to the air, determined which way the wind was blowing, and decided to go along with the elite. It does not bode well.

This is how the Occupation is financed

Here is a story that about which the poetic words of the actor and director Uri Zohar [3] back when he was secular, “the Jewish head is inventing patents for us,” are fitting. Sheer genius.

Every day and night the Occupation army arrests many Palestinian children and youths aged 13 to 15. They are accused of throwing stones, taken to the Ofer detention camp, interrogated by the Israel Security Agency (ISA – Shin Bet) and the police, spend some time in detention, are taken to the youth military court where they confess to throwing stones as part of a plea-bargain. Even a child who did not throw stones will confess after experiencing the ISA’s interrogation methods. The military judge sentences the children to jail terms identical to the time they were in detention, plus a fine of NIS 1,500. Ofra Ben-Artzi, an activist in Machsom Watch [4] who is part of the team that monitors trials in military courts, says that it is not unusual to see 20 or 30 children brought to trial and given the same sentence and fine based on the same plea-bargain, assembly-line style. (Ofra’s excellent article on the subject was recently published on the Hagada Hasmalit website in Hebrew. English translation here:

The number of children arrested every month by the army and the police for throwing stones is around 300. An average fine of NIS 1,500 per child gives 450 thousand shekels a month and about 5 and a half million shekels a year. A nice income that helps finance the Occupation. And where do the Palestinian families struggling with hardship get 1,500 shekels? They don’t have it. It is the Palestinian Authority that comes to their aid. And where does the Palestinian Authority get the money? From the billions that flow in mainly from the European donor countries. Thus it is that Europe indirectly finances the Israeli Occupation.

Wondrous are the ways of the occupier and the Occupation.

Shooting themselves in the foot

The referendum law that was passed in the Knesset at the initiative of the Right, according to which any territorial compromise in Jerusalem and the Golan Heights must be ratified by a referendum in addition to a Knesset vote, was intended to make it difficult to come to an agreement that involves withdrawal from those two areas. Without delving deeply into the discussion about the constitutional meaning of the law – what calls for a referendum and what does not – it seems to me that, regarding the benefit they expect to derive from the law, the people of the Right did not think the matter through. The assumption of the initiators of the law was that even if such an accord were reached through negotiations, and even if the Knesset ratified it, it would be blocked by means of a referendum. But the Right, from the point of view of the initiators of the law, was negligent, and like a parliamentary Balaam, it set out to curse the Left and ended up blessing it. Why? Because in the form in which it was passed, the law preserved Arab citizens’ right to vote. A simple calculation shows that any agreement that involves withdrawal from East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights will be approved in a referendum.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute 20 per cent of the population of Israel and from 10 to 15 per cent of the electorate. In any referendum on returning territory, the Arab public is a captive one in the positive sense of the term. They will vote nearly unanimously for withdrawal. They will be joined by about 40 per cent of the Jewish vote, who are also a captive public that will vote for any agreement that involves withdrawal from the Occupied Territories, including Jerusalem and Golan. Even an aggressive right-wing campaign financed by millionaires who support the settlers cannot negate the simple arithmetic according to which there is a guaranteed majority of fifty per cent plus one for an accord to return territories, which is a legal majority for ratification of the accord in a referendum.

Accordingly, we can expect that the day will soon come when the Right proposes a modification of the law according to which the right to vote will be granted only to those who sign a declaration of loyalty to the State of Israel as a “Jewish and Democratic” state. The working assumption of the proponents of the modification will be that the Palestinian citizens of Israel will not sign the declaration, leading to a guaranteed Jewish majority to reject the accord. But the Arabs are no less cunning than the Jews, and they too have their version of “for Jerusalem’s sake I will not hold my peace” and will sign the declaration, which will nullify the goal of the Right. Only then will they propose yet another modification to the law according to which Arabs will not be permitted to vote on matters that involve “the ceding of part of the Homeland.” The referendum may not pass, but the apartheid will be complete.

Translator’s notes

1. Yesh Gvul: literally, “there is a border/limit”: an organization that opposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Golan Heights and supports Israeli soldiers who refuse to serve the Occupation.

2. The West Bank.

3. A very popular Israeli comedian, actor, director and Bohemian who abandoned his entertainment career in the late 1970s and became an ultra-Orthodox rabbi.

4. An Israeli women’s organization whose members observe and document the abuses of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, especially at checkpoints (“checkpoint” in Hebrew: machsom).

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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