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Red Rag column
By: Gideon Spiro
18 March 2011 (English translation 21 March)

Nuclear disaster in Japan

“The world rethinks nuclear energy” – that is the headline in the economic supplement of the newspaper Haaretz (18 March 2011) following the frightening developments at the nuclear reactors in Japan. And indeed, all over the world voices of regret have been raised over the unbearable lightness of the construction of nuclear plants despite many warnings from proponents of Planet Earth.

Along with “rethinking”, there are those who will be deterred by nothing, not even a nuclear disaster. They are criminals against the environment. It would be well worth investigating whether there is a correlation such that the more right-wing people are, the less democratic they are, and more willing to gamble with the lives of millions of human beings. Recently, even as a radioactive leak is endangering millions of people, an accord was signed between Belarus and Russia to invest billions of dollars for the construction of a nuclear reactor to generate electricity – and that in a country that experienced the Chernobyl disaster. There is no limit to the stupidity, the cynicism or both.

And not only Belarus. Israel as well. The two people in Israel who are responsible for the electricity system, the chairman of the electric company, the settler general Yiftah Ron-Tal and National Infrastructure Minister Dr. Uzi Landau, a member of the Israel Beiteinu party led by the “Duce” Evet Lieberman, announced recently that despite the disaster in Japan, a new electricity-generating nuclear reactor will be built in the Negev within 10 years. (newspapers of Wednesday 16 March 2011).

With such a state of affairs there is no chance that Israel will take measures to close the reactor in Dimona, which is an ecological time-bomb.

I cannot but repeat several sentences that I contributed to the book Vanunu and the Bomb (published by the Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological and Chemical weapons, 1998), in which I pointed to the three main dangers posed by the Dimona reactor:

“The first danger: a disaster along the lines of Chernobyl. The reactor in Dimona was built nearly 40 years ago. It is old. [Since then 13 years have been added to its age and it is now 50 years old] We do not know what security systems have been installed there. Everything is concealed from us in the name of the rotten sacred cow of security. We know from bitter experience that we cannot rely on ‘Big Brother’.

“A second danger: an earthquake. The Dimona reactor sits near the Great Rift Valley. It is an area prone to earthquakes. If, God forbid, the area is shaken by an earthquake high on the Richter Scale, not only will the reactor be destroyed, but everything inside it will permeate the air, the soil and the water. In many ways the situation will be similar to a nuclear attack on Israel. When that happens, it will no longer be possible to call the criminals to account. Who knows, maybe they have already planned their escape routes. The rest of us are condemned to annihilation.

“A third danger: nuclear waste. The issue of the storage of nuclear waste preoccupies all states that have built nuclear facilities. The harmful effects of nuclear waste will persist for many hundreds of years.” (Pages 162-3)

We must hope that the environmental criminals who rule Israel today are replaced before there is a disaster.

The murders at the Itamar settlement

The slaughter of the Fogel family in the Itamar settlement – two parents and three of their small children while they were sleeping, was an act that had nothing to do with the noble objective of national liberation. Those whose springs of tears have not dried up cannot remain indifferent in the face of that monstrous crime. We must hope that the murderer or the murderers are caught and put on trial, contrary to the advice of several journalists that they should be killed extra-judicially. Murder at the hands of the State will quench some people’s thirst for revenge but it has nothing to do with justice.

The murder did not advance any objectives or bridge any differences; maybe on the contrary it sharpened them. The settlers saw to that. The funerals of the five murdered people became a political rally, which negated the possibility of my participation. The bodies had not yet been buried and the eulogizers, both rabbis and politicians alike, were already exploiting the funeral to promote the crimes of the settlements, as if one crime justified another. The murders were converted into legal currency. In response to the murders the Prime Minister authorized the construction of 400 houses in the settlements. Interior Minister Eli Yishai thought that would was too low an exchange-rate and suggested five thousand, a thousand houses for each murdered person. Yishai revealed himself to be a more intransigent broker of real estate for blood.

Israelis of various right-wing tendencies exploited the murders to collectively slander Arabs. For example, Gilad Sharon, the son of the former Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, who is still in a coma, published in the highest-circulation newspaper in Israel an article in which he writes with great sanctimony, “Look at who we’re dealing with. They are simply not a society like ours.” (Yediot Aharonot, 13 March 2011) They are the barbarians, we are the civilized ones.

It would behove Gilad Sharon, of all people, to tone down that kind of talk. Because it was none other than his father Ariel Sharon who in the 1950s commanded Unit 101, the most infamous action of which was a night-attack on the village of Qibya in Jordan, [1] where they blew up dozens of houses on top of their residents, thereby killing babies, children, women and old people as they slept. The cruel outcome of the attack provoked so much anger worldwide that the Prime Minister of the time, David Ben Gurion, tried to dissociate himself from it by issuing an announcement that the attack had been carried out by Israeli civilians acting on their own initiative. Sharon, as Defence Minister during the First Lebanon War, was found responsible for failing to prevent the massacre in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut. After that as Prime Minister he was responsible for some of the cruellest actions of the Israeli Occupation army.

The Arab-Israel conflict in general and the Occupation in particular are an incubator of hatreds that sometimes find expression in the most extreme forms of cruelty, on the part of the occupier and certainly on that of the occupied. Is there a cruelty-meter that can determine that the murder of 30 Palestinian worshippers by the settler-murderer Dr. Baruch Goldstein was more or less cruel than the murder of five members of the Fogel family?

Not long ago the book Torat ha-Melech (“The King’s Torah”) was published, written by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur of the ‘Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in the settlement of Yizhar, which discusses “rules for killing Gentiles”. According to the book it is permissible in time of war to kill children when it is clear that they “will grow up to harm us”. It is a jest of fate that the murderer or murderers of the Fogel children were acting in accordance with the principles of Torat ha-Melech, in Palestinian translation. That is also cause for the authors of the book and their supporters to reconsider and contemplate the meaning of its words.

The murders in Itamar did not change the Occupation routine of the settlers who have adopted the “price tag” policy according to which they harass, attack, wound and sometimes even murder completely innocent Palestinians. They did it this time as well.

Nor did the murder change the solution needed to eliminate the cycle of blood: the end of the Occupation. It can be done in one of two ways: the annexation of all the Occupied Territories to Israel and the creation of a new democratic state with equal rights for all who live within it; or Israel’s withdrawal to the borders of 4 June 1967. Itamar and the other settlements that enjoy privileges accorded to them by the regime of Occupation and apartheid are a mechanism for the perpetuation of seething hatred with all its implications.

From examining a blog I learned that more than one murderer of Palestinians came from Itamar. That fact of course does not justify the slaughter of the Fogel family, but it is information that should be brought to the attention of the public. The establishment media has ignored it.

A letter to Roger Waters, head of Pink Floyd (Alternative version)

My dear Roger,

The journalist Ben Dror Yemini has rebuked you, in an open letter to you in his column, for having joined the international artists’ boycott of Israel. (Maariv 8 March 2011) The letter contained inaccuracies, and I am expressing myself with delicacy so as to permit my letter to be published in the same newspaper. Ben Dror Yemini writes to you that “in the past decade Israel has declared its willingness to end the Occupation time after time after time. Its complete end.” He ticks off the Camp David talks, the Taba talks, the Clinton Parameters and the proposals of the former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and according to Yemini the Palestinians responded negatively to all of them.

A general observation: in all 44 years of the Occupation, Israel never once proposed to end it completely. A complete end to the Occupation would mean withdrawal to the borders of 4 June 1967 and the dismantling of the settlements, which are part of the organized and established plunder of Palestinian lands. Did you ever see a State express interest in ending an occupation by consolidating it? It is a unique Israeli patent, according to which the State transferred half a million Jews to the territories that were occupied in 1967 with the objective of creating an irreversible reality. All in contravention of the Rome and Geneva Conventions which forbid occupying states from transferring their populations to occupied territories, and which consider it a war crime.

Regarding the above-mentioned events I have the honour of bringing to your attention information that Ben Dror Yemini withheld from you. The Camp David conference of July 2000 with the participation of President Bill Clinton, Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat failed, in large part due to Barak’s arrogance. His proposals were vague and he took care not to present any written document on the Israeli peace plan. It was none other than Arafat who proposed that the conference be prepared comprehensively in advance so as to ensure its success, and Barak refused.

Robert Malley, who was the US President’s closest advisor at the conference, wrote that Clinton took a dim view of Barak’s conduct at the conference and rebuked him repeatedly. Among other things the President considered himself to be harmed by Barak’s behaviour, which violated an explicit promise he had given the Palestinians before the conference.

The Taba talks, which took place in January 2001, were in fact very successful and went a long way towards a comprehensive peace accord. Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who was a member of the Israeli delegation, wrote in his book that the talks were halted on the orders of Prime Minister Barak, soon before the convening of an election in Israel. When he was asked why he had stopped the talks, Barak replied that his objective had been to prove that there was no partner for peace. But Beilin emphasizes that the Taba talks proved exactly the opposite, and when they were stopped the two delegations issued a joint declaration, known as the “Taba Declaration”, according to which the talks were to be renewed after the election. Ariel Sharon won the election, and he decided not to resume the Taba talks. In other words, it was not the Palestinians who refused, but the Israelis.

As for the Clinton Parameters, the then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat never gave a negative reply. He had reservations, as did Israel. But at the end of the day Arafat decided to accept the Clinton Parameters, as expressed in an interview he gave to the Israeli journalist Akiva Eldar which was published on 21 June 2002 in the newspaper Haaretz under the heading: “Arafat: I accept the Clinton Parameters”. Prime Minister Sharon had no interest in coming to an agreement and he concentrated his efforts on getting Arafat out of the picture – with success.

This brings us to the negotiations that were conducted between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority head Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas).Those negotiations did not reach an advanced stage, among other reasons because of Olmert’s resignation. In this case too there is no truth to the allegation of Palestinian refusal.

Therefore, Roger, you are right when you say that Israel talks about peace at the most, while acting on the ground to thwart it by building the Separation Wall, separating family members living in the same city, evicting Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah in Palestinian Jerusalem in order to judaize the neighbourhood, and evicting Bedouin citizens from their villages where they have been living for centuries. A boycott of Israel because of the regime of Occupation, apartheid and harsh violations of human rights is every bit as justified as was the boycott against South Africa in its time, which also proved its effectiveness.

Ben Dror Yemini attributes to the proponents of BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) the objective of destroying Israel. I am a proponent of BDS and I have no such intention. On the contrary, my objective is to return Israel to the democratic path. In the past I thought that the two-state solution was the appropriate one, but Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a situation that renders that solution nearly impossible, and therefore it is necessary to adopt the South African solution of one democratic state for the two peoples, which will be implemented with international supervision and aid, until such time as the two peoples are able to live together.

Translator’s note

1. Qibya is in the West Bank, which had been annexed by Jordan when the raid took place in 1953, and has been under Israeli occupation since June 1967.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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