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Red Rag Weekly Column
By: Gideon Spiro
9 January 2011


The year 2010 was a year of deterioration of democratic values in Israel and it ended with particularly distressing occurrences such as the ruling by dozens of government-employed rabbis that forbade the sale and leasing of apartments to Arabs and the letter by rabbis’ wives warning Jewish women against befriending Arabs.

Nor does the beginning of 2011 bode well. The Knesset decided to set up a commission of inquiry into the funding of human rights organizations. First of all, this is a superfluous decision because the funding of those bodies is public information and available to all to see. Moreover, such a commission does not have subpoena powers and I hope that the human rights organizations will refuse to cooperate with it. The objective of the establishment of the commission is clear: the right-wing majority in the Knesset is proceeding in their efforts to restrict the activities of human rights organizations and to increase the public’s hostility towards those organizations and to represent them as “traitors and collaborators with the enemy,” all in order to prepare the ground for legislation that will ban their activities.

The ongoing campaign of incitement and delegitimization of human rights organizations has left its mark on some of the organizations. Not all of them possess the same power of resistance against the putrid wave. The leaders of the New Israel Fund, which finances more than a few human rights organizations, recently decided that the Fund would stop financing organizations that call for a boycott of Israel. That decision will be brought before the management of the Fund for ratification at the end of January of this year. The leaders of the Fund are thereby announcing that those who believe that the same measures should be taken against Israeli apartheid policy as were taken against the Apartheid policy of South Africa – measures that proved to be effective – will no longer receive support. In other words, the Fund is saying that it is permissible to speak out against the Occupation, discrimination and apartheid, but it is forbidden to implement effective measures against them. This is shameful submission to Israeli fascism. I hope that the management of the Fund will come around.

It is not by chance that the initiative for the Knesset decision came from the ranks of the party of Foreign Minister Evet Avigdor Lieberman (“Ivan the Terrible”), many of the members of which are from the Soviet Union. They have combined Bolshevik techniques adopted from the Communist regime with McCarthyism adopted from the USA. We are dealing here with an Israeli invention I call “Bolshitism” – a combination of Bolshevist and McCarthite: “Bolshite” for short. This Bolshite is dangerous and it now looks like Israeli society’s democratic immune system has been greatly weakened. The way things look today, we are on our way to the regime of the first Israeli Czar.

The army as a haven for neo-Nazis

Three years ago a gang of racists were caught in Petah-Tikvah who were labelled the neo-Nazi gang. Could it be? Neo-Nazis in Israel?

Apparently nothing racist is foreign to Israel, and there are racists of all kinds here. A gang of youths were labelled neo-Nazi because not only did they violently and cruelly attack migrant workers and homosexuals, but their victims included religious Jews as well. Some of the gang members had SS uniforms.

The leader of the gang managed to escape to Russia, and recently he was extradited to Israel, where he is standing trial. Gang members have been tried and sentenced to prison terms.

On the occasion of the extradition of the gang leader, one of the gang members who has already been tried was interviewed on television, and among other things he said that he wanted to atone for his acts by joining the Israeli army.

This young neo-Nazi understood, in his racist wisdom, that there is no better place than the Israeli Occupation Army to find release for his violent racist impulses and at the same time to be accepted in Israel. He will do it with the permission, authority and backing of the State. The army will permit him to kill, beat, humiliate and abuse, and instead of seeking out migrant workers, three million Palestinians – babies, children, youths, women and old men – will be at his disposal as potential victims. And no less important, military service will convert religious Jews from “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” to allies instead of being victims of his frustrations.

Palestinians have been casually killed only recently. Sixty-six year old Omar Qawasmeh of Hebron was killed by soldiers of the Israeli Occupation while he was sleeping in his bed. “An error occurred,” announced the military spokesman. Mahmoud Muhammad Daraghmeh, 21, from the town of Tubas, was on his way to work, which he didn’t reach because soldiers at a checkpoint perforated him with ten bullets. He was armed with a bottle of water. Two days earlier Jawaher Abu-Rahmeh, 36, from Bil’in village, was killed by inhaling gas that had been fired by soldiers of the Occupation. The army published many lies about her death, such as the attribution of her death to an imaginary cancer. There is no doubt that this neo-Nazi youth will thrive in the army.

The racism does not end

Fourteen Palestinian women from all over the West Bank, members of the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families Forum, went to visit Yad Vashem. [1] The Forum works for Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement. The visit was organized as part of a program of familiarization with the historical narratives of both sides.

When they entered Yad Vashem they were greeted by a group of Jewish schoolchildren who were visiting the place as part of their Holocaust studies, who yelled “Sharmutot!” (“whores” in Arabic) It is clear that not only does a visit to Yad Vashem not uproot racism among schoolchildren, it deepens it. The managers of Yad Vashem have never seen fit to criticize or condemn the Israeli Occupation, the apartheid regime in the Occupied Territories, torture or racist legislation in the Knesset. That is not surprising, because the army, by means of retired generals, has taken control of Yad Vashem.

Dr. Yitzhak Arad retired from the army with the rank of Brigadier General. He was the chief education officer during the first five years of the Occupation, up to 1972. He was catapulted directly from the army to the position of chairman of Yad Vashem, which he held until 1993. He was replaced by another general, Brigadier General Avner Shalev, who retired from the Occupation army in 1980, and like his predecessor he too served as the chief education officer. When two generals who come from the Occupation and oppression establishment run Yad Vashem for decades, militarist and nationalist messages, covert and overt, will find expression and we can hardly expect to hear any condemnation of the policies which they had played a part in shaping. Against that background, it is but natural that Yad Vashem should be the very place where Jewish schoolchildren see fit to curse and humiliate Palestinian women, for based on the education they have received there is no need to know Arabs, their language, culture or aspirations, for when all is said and done they are all “sharmutot,” just like the Jews were in the eyes of the Nazis.

And I, a refugee from Nazi Germany, shed tears over the lesson that has not been learned.

His hands are unclean

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ascended to the Knesset podium and read with pathos the letter he had sent to US President Barak Obama requesting amnesty for the spy Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard, who while working for US naval intelligence sold secret information to an Israeli intelligence agency, was caught and sentenced to life imprisonment. During his incarceration he embellished his actions with the ideological halo of service to Israel.

The Pollard affair is a monument to Israeli stupidity. To spy on the USA is to bite the hand that finances, arms and feeds you. After Israel’s shame was revealed, Israel tried to minimize the damage by returning the documents that Pollard had supplied, thereby contributing to his conviction and his harsh sentence. In short, they threw him to the dogs, just as Israel has done to Palestinian collaborators.

Israel needed several years to recognize Pollard as an Israeli agent, but did not go out of its way to seek his release. Meanwhile Pollard became a religious Jew, close to the Israeli extreme Right which also adopted him as a hero of Israel. Now, 25 years into his sentence, Netanyahu has also adopted him and is asking the American President to have mercy on Pollard and to permit him to go to Israel.

I have no problem with freeing Pollard. Twenty-five years is more than enough, besides the fact that the US justice system has not dealt that harshly with others who committed similar crimes. But Netanyahu is not approaching Obama with clean hands.

Mordechai Vanunu, who unlike Pollard was not a spy but a whistleblower who realized the democratic principle of the public’s right to know, is still a prisoner of Zion. Twenty-five years have passed since he was kidnapped by Mossad agents in violation of international law. He was imprisoned for 18 years, 11 of them in complete isolation (Pollard’s conditions are much better), and since his release in April 2004 he has been subject to draconian conditions, which among other things forbid him from leaving Israel and living in another country as a free man.

I ask all American readers who read this column in English translation to write to President Obama and ask him to send a letter to Netanyahu requesting that the prime minister lift the restrictions on Vanunu and permit him to leave Israel.

Letters to three judges

1. To Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel

Shaarei Mishpat Street
Hakirya, Jerusalem

8 January 2011


The Movement for Freedom of Information and the Yesh Din organization asked the Israel Intelligence Agency (Shin Bet) to provide statistical information about the extent of the practice of restricting meetings between lawyers and Palestinian detainees from 2004 to 2008. The ISA refused and so an appeal was filed asking the “High Court of Justice” (the “high”-ness and its “just”-ness of which has been distressingly eroded) to compel the ISA to provide the requested data. (High Court of Justice 2662/09). Meetings between lawyers and detainees is a basic right, and their restriction seriously compromises that right. The refusal to provide the data was based on that hackneyed pretext called “security reasons.”

A reasonable democrat (which in Israel is different from a “reasonable person” – a term the court employs a great deal) will ask himself what security harm could be caused to the State if the ISA handed over the requested statistics? The answer is clear: no harm would be caused to security, but it would be a great blessing to democracy if the arbitrariness of the ISA were restricted.

Much to my disappointment the panel of judges on the appeal – yourself, Eliezer Rivlin and Salim Jubran, rejected the appeal and it was you who wrote the judgement, your colleagues Rivlin and Jubran adding that they concurred. (Handed down on 4 January 2011) As in other appeals involving the ISA, the judges met separately with ISA agents, who tell them fairy-tales about “harm to national security” if the requested information is handed over. A contemptible and shameful process, which contradicts every principle of democratic justice.

Instead of being watchdogs for democracy, you became lapdogs for the ISA.

I am particularly disappointed in you personally. You are an immigrant from the USA, where you received your judicial training, and it was expected that you would bring with you the enlightened part of US justice and judgement. My lawyer friends hoped that you would adopt the principle expressed by the Jewish US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Instead you have adopted the ISA policy of compromising human rights in the gloom of the enclosed room and the darkened basement.

This ruling raises another depressing point in the form of your colleague Salim Jubran, the only Arab judge in the Supreme Court. Instead of taking a stand to defend the rights of his tortured fellow Palestinians, he collaborates with the ISA and obediently plays his part as a “good Arab” as categorized by the ISA.

So what do we have here? A “good Arab” has joined two “bad Jews” in the composition of a worse judgement.

Gideon Spiro

Cc: Supreme Court President Beinish
Attorney General Weinstein

2. To Judge Yitzhak Yitzhak

Magistrate’s Court
1 Weizmann Street
POB 34000, Tel Aviv 61340

1 January 2011

“Dear Yitzhak”!!!

From reading the newspaper I learned that on 27 December 2010 you sentenced the peace activist Jonathan Pollak to 3 months in prison for the terrible crime of a bicycle demonstration against the siege of Gaza that obstructed traffic.

Instead of acting like a democratic judge and defending freedom of expression and freedom to demonstrate, all the more so when the protest is against war crimes and human rights violations, you acted like an obedient petty police bureaucrat. For such rulings we don’t need you as intermediary; we could do away with all that and just go straight to the police.

Judges of your type are the judicial raw material from which judges in totalitarian regimes, who say “amen” to the crimes and caprices of the regime, are formed.

You and your kind are worthy of contempt.

Gideon Spiro

Cc: Supreme Court President Beinish
Attorney General Weinstein

To Judge Zakaria Yemini

Magistrate’s Court
3 Weizmann Ave., Ramleh 72415

28 December 2010

Your Dishonour,

Subject: Judgement – Nuri al-‘Uqbi

Yesterday, 27 December 2010, you sentenced the human rights activist Nuri al-‘Uqbi, the chairman of the Association for Aid and Protection of Bedouin Rights in Israel, to seven months in prison (Municipal Bylaw Trial Option 40579-08 – Lod Municipality versus al-‘Uqbi)

The case itself deals with a very routine matter, a disagreement over the registration of a business, for which people are not sent to prison. In any case, Nuri al-‘Uqbi has not managed that business for years, because he has dedicated all his time to the struggle for the rights of the Bedouin that have been abused by governments of Israel. Nuri al-‘Uqbi is the Martin Luther King of the Bedouin population. He meticulously adheres to non-violent democratic struggle for human rights in general, and those of the Bedouin, the most discriminated-against group in Israel, in particular.

Instead of praising his activism, you took advantage of the municipality’s complaint to settle accounts with Nuri and in the ruling you invoked his activism as an aggravating factor for sentencing purposes. This is a racist ruling by a racist judge in the settlers’ state, not a judicial proceeding by a judge in a democratic state.

The maliciousness and the injustice of your ruling are particularly despicable because with premeditation you imposed seven months in prison in order to deny Nuri the possibility of community service.

You even denied the suspension of the serving of the sentence in order to permit an appeal – a basic right – by imposing draconian conditions like the immediate deposit of 30 thousand shekels in cash, when the man obviously could not raise such a vast sum. You showed yourself to be a scoundrel in the service of justice.

Nuri al-‘Uqbi is nearly 70 and suffers from heart disease. Those facts were known to you, but nevertheless your racist heart of stone did not soften and you sent him to prison. He was sent directly from court to prison. Currently he is hospitalized at the Assaf Harofeh hospital.

I see your ruling as an attempt to murder Nuri. It is more than symbolic that you and the murderer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Amir, are both products of nationalist education accompanied by religious fanaticism and former students of the faculty of law at Bar-Ilan University. Whereas Amir assassinated the prime minister with pistol shots, you are endangering the life of the noble Nuri al-‘Uqbi with the judicial sword.

In the Nuremberg trials that were conducted by the Allies after the Second World War, the concepts of judicial crimes and criminal judges were introduced. In my opinion, sending Nuri al-‘Uqbi to prison comes under the category of judicial crime, and for that, supporters of human rights will demand that you be brought to justice.

Gideon Spiro

Cc: Supreme Court Beinish
Attorney General Weinstein

Translator’s note

1. Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, museum and institute.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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