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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Red Rag column
By: Gideon Spiro
29 March 2011 (English translation 2 April 2011)

New chief, same methods

Addressing a conference of the Jewish National Fund, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of the new head of the Israel Security Agency (ISA � Shin Bet), Yoram Cohen. The JNF, a racist organization the constitution of which forbids the sale of land to Arabs, is undoubtedly an appropriate forum to announce the appointment of the person who will be responsible to a great extent for the perpetuation of the racist regime that has been imposed on the Palestinian people.

It has become an established ritual in Israel that the appointment of a new head of the ISA is accompanied by fairly uniform texts in praise of the appointee. This time was no different. The reports about the new chief saw fit to emphasize the fact that he wears a kippa [i.e. he is a religious Jew], and that this is the first time that a kippa-wearer has been appointed as the head of that organization.

The kippa itself does not necessarily make a difference; after all, there are kippa-wearers who are proponents of peace and human rights. They are a minority among the kippa-wearers, but in that regard they are no different from the secular population. What is noteworthy in this context is that before his appointment a lobby of rabbis and settler leaders organized itself to apply pressure on the Prime Minister to choose Yoram Cohen. The pressure was effective. The rabbis felt that he would understand them and back their crimes.

The settlers� hopes that the new chief will support them in all their actions are well-founded � not because of the kippa, but because of his record so far. Yoram Cohen is a product of the Occupation and its loyal servant. Most of his years in the ISA have been spent in the Occupied Territories. He was at the scene in the torture chambers, the extrajudicial executions, the administrative detentions and the night-raids in Palestinian homes: �a man with experience on the ground,� as his supporters like to call him. To sum up: the settlers see him as one of their own, who understands their language and their aspirations and who will help them spread Israeli terror in the Occupied Territories. That is a good reason for peace-loving people and proponents of human rights to be concerned and apprehensive about what we can expect from the new head of the ISA.

Syria is here

The uprising in the Arab world has also reached the gates of Syria. The tyrannical Syrian regime is trying to save itself by horrific means. There are more than a few lines of similarity between the Syrian dictatorship and the Israeli dictatorship in the Occupied Territories (which is gradually seeping into Israel itself).

First, the time-frame: this year the Syrian dictatorship headed by the Assad family will commemorate its 41st anniversary � almost as old as the 44-year-old Israeli dictatorship. Second, the methods: both dictatorships employ similar techniques of oppression: emergency laws under which people are detained without trial; torture chambers; the cultivation of informers and collaborators; shooting at civilian populations that are revolting against oppression; deploying the army against civilians; arresting proponents of human rights and leaders of non-violent struggle.

Third, it doesn�t last forever: just as the Syrian dictatorship is destined to fall, sooner or later the Israeli dictatorship too will meet the same fate.

South Africa (of the past) is here

In the past two weeks the Knesset has passed four laws that are reminiscent of tyrannical regimes in general and the Apartheid-era South African regime in particular.

1. The �Admissions Committees� law � intended to prevent Arabs from living in community settlements [Yishuvim Kehilatiyim] in the Galilee and the Negev that were usually established on expropriated Arab land, thereby ensuring Jewish purity.

2. The �Nakba Law�, the purpose of which is to prevent Palestinian citizens of Israel from commemorating their disaster, the Nakba, the mass expulsion of Palestinians on 15 May (the date of the founding of the State of Israel by the civic calendar). In today�s terminology, it was ethnic cleansing. The law stipulates that any Arab community that commemorates the Nakba will be denied budgetary support from the State.

What does that resemble? � a German law that would withhold government funding from Jewish communities if they commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day. A harsh blow to freedom of expression.

3. The Law of Citizenship: the courts will have the authority to cancel the citizenship of anyone who has been convicted of espionage, treason or aiding a terrorist organization. Another method of denying citizenship to Arabs, whom it is very easy to convict under the flexible provision of �aiding a terrorist organization�. Jewish terrorists from the settlements, on the other hand, will continue to enjoy all the rights and economic support that the State showers on them.

4. The cancellation of former MK Azmi Bishara�s pension. The former President of the State [Moshe Katsav] who was convicted of two counts of rape and several other charges will continue to receive a pension of 45 thousand shekels a month, and rightly so, because a pension is a right that a person has accumulated for his or her family too, and it is not to be touched. But Azmi Bishara, who has not been convicted of anything, will lose his pension, because he is an Arab, and violating the rights of Arabs is one of the hallmarks of the present racist Knesset. If the Liebermanization of Israel persists, the day will not be far off when detention camps are be filled with thousands of Israelis of liberal and leftist persuasion.

How to defeat Hamas?

The Israeli theory that the Arabs understand only the language of force has crashed into the reality of the tensions on the Gaza border. Two years after what was called �Cast Lead�, Israel�s power of deterrence has dissolved. Once again we are witnessing clashes between the missiles of the Israeli air force and those of Hamas, which are reaching as far as Beersheba.

I am not in the minority in everything. I do not want to see Hamas victorious in a conflict between the Hamas regime in Gaza and the State of Israel. I do not know many Israelis who are willing to live under a regime of religious fundamentalism as expressed in the Hamas Charter, which sees the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a reliable document that is instructive about the nature of the Jews.

Instead of filling the prisons with thousands of Hamas members, it would be preferable to come to an agreement with them in the form of a long-term hudna. In his time, Sheikh Ahmad Yasin proposed such a hudna, which would last for a hundred years � longer that the lease issued to Israeli tenants on State land. And of course, the siege should be lifted and the residents of the Strip should have free passage to the West Bank. In view of the fact that the two-state solution is becoming more and more impracticable (unless by some miracle Israel comes to its senses and evacuates the West Bank including the settlements), the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be part of the new State of Israel-Palestine that will undergo a transformation from being Jewish and undemocratic to a multinational, multiconfessional and multicultural state. That will mean the end of the Zionist dream, and the hudna will no longer be relevant either, for we will all be citizens of one state.

The Occupation: a phenomenon that transcends borders

An Israeli newspaper has published photos of two soldiers of the US army in Afghanistan who will be put on trial after they were photographed with the corpses of Afghans. It was �contrary to the standards and values of the US army,� said a US army spokesman.

This brings to mind similar episodes in Israel. Soldiers of the Israeli Occupation army were photographed beside the corpses of Palestinians and then uploaded the photos to the Internet. �This is contrary to the values of the IDF,� said a spokesman for the Israeli army.

Occupation, my friends, does just that: it brings out the animal in people. Because there is no enlightened occupation, neither in occupied Palestine nor in occupied Afghanistan.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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