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Red Rag Weekly Column
By: Gideon Spiro
27 May 2011 (English translation posted 2 June)


The Israeli Empire and the American Dwarf

In the lead-up to the Israeli prime minister`s visit to the United States, the press created the impression that Netanyahu`s visit would be characterized by conflict and deteriorating relations with the US. That was the mood after Obama`s speech on the Middle East. And why was this the expectation, exactly? Because the president had dared to allow the two words: `1967 lines`, which should be the basis for a peace accord with the Palestinian people - to pass his lips.

What happened in fact was that Netanyahu treated President Obama as if he were some disenfranchised Hussein from the Occupied Territories, whose opinion counts for nothing and who must be taught what`s what. And accordingly we witnessed the surrealistic performance in which Netanyahu gave Obama a short course on the History of the Jewish People in front of the whole world, as the pupil Obama listened in silence, occasionally nodding his head.

The short course was as full of holes as a piece of Swiss cheese, but the pupil Obama, whether out of embarrassment or from the awe inspired by the presence of the Israeli Emperor, did not reply. For example, Netanyahu lectured Obama that the 1967 borders were indefensible, and so there can be no withdrawal to them. Obama, who had perhaps not done his homework, did not ask Netanyahu the question that begged to be asked: if those borders were so terrible, how did it happen that it was from precisely those borders that you won a great victory and conquered lands from three neighbouring countries, while the worst setback Israel suffered was in the Yom Kippur War when it was in control of territories several times larger than itself?

After the lecture from the roaring lion Netanyahu, Obama did his homework. Who wants to be exposed to Netanyahu`s scolding again? And indeed in his appearance at the AIPAC conference Obama did some `Jewish rectification`, maybe as a gesture towards the ritual of `rectification for the night of Shavu`ot`, [1] when the Book of Ruth is read, in which Ruth the Moabite says, `thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.` (Ruth 1:16) He massaged the Jewish and Israeli ego to an embarrassing degree. He proudly stated that no president had done as much to arm Israel as he. The USA will always protect Israel`s security. No return to the 1967 borders, the occupier must be permitted to enjoy the loot he stole. Not one word about the Occupation, about the fact that the Palestinians too are entitled to human rights. No negotiations with a government that is supported by Hamas. In addition to all that, warm words about two democracies that have shared values. Your God is my God. Why upset the thousands of Jews who finance a substantial proportion of the members of Congress from both parties?

The climax of the visit was Netanyahu`s speech before the joint houses of Congress. I had not seen such a bizarre show in a long time. Netanyahu uttered countless lies - though in excellent English. Like for example, that the half percent of the Arabs of the Middle East who enjoy democratic rights are the Arabs of Israel. Not a word about the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories who are subject to an oppressive military administration, not a word about the privileges enjoyed by the settlers in the Occupied Territories, who are converting the military administration into apartheid. Nor do the Palestinians who are citizens of Israel enjoy equal rights with Jews. They are discriminated against in everything: housing, health, employment, justice and education. None of that prevented the assembled members of Congress from rising to applaud Netanyahu dozens of times, like a bunch of brainwashed idiots.

While Netanyahu was speaking, and under the cover of empty democratic rhetoric, Israel`s police demolished the Bedouin village of al-`Araqib in the Negev for the who-knows-how-manyth time, Palestinian children continued to be detained under humiliating conditions at the Ofer detention camp in the Occupied Territories in violation of international law, the settlers continued to rob the lands of the Palestinian people and the soldiers of the Occupation continued to abuse and shoot at an occupied people stripped of rights.

The repeated applause of the members of Congress reminded me of congresses of the Soviet Communist Party whose delegates applauded every lie and stupidity that passed from the lips of the General Secretary. Are these people the leaders of the Free World? The ignorance that has become part of right-wing political conservatism is shocking and alarming.

Without a doubt, Netanyahu returned to Israel as a conquering hero. America is now with him. Public-opinion polls in Israel have shown that his popularity has risen dramatically. But in the longer run, if the Politics of No continues, we’d better get the bomb-shelters ready.

`Restraint`

On Nakba Day, 15 May, thousands of unarmed Palestinians from Syria, Lebanon and the Occupied Territories marched towards Israel with the objective of visiting the places from which they had been expelled. It was their own `March of the Living`. [2] Facing the Palestinian marchers was the Israeli army, and the result, according to the newspaper Haaretz was 14 killed and hundreds wounded. The mainstream Israeli media, print and electronic, described the Israeli army`s behaviour as `restrained`. When the Syrian army kills 14 civilians and wounds dozens in one day, the Israeli media come out with headlines like `Slaughter in Syria`. In Israel the same number of killed and a much larger number of wounded is defined as `the army`s restrained behaviour.` Another example of the laundering of language in Israel.

Why are residents of the Deheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem not allowed to march towards Moshav Zekharia, not far from Beit Shemesh, from whence they were expelled? Jews are having their property that was stolen from them by evil regimes restituted to them. They can go and live in their lands of origin, in Poland, Germany, Romania, Morocco and Tunisia. But the Palestinians are not even allowed to visit the villages and towns where they had lived only 63 years ago, nor can they get compensation for their property. Israeli-style democracy. For the information of the applauders of the American Congress.

Dogs

In his speech to Congress, Netanyahu painted a rose-coloured portrait of the economy of the Occupied Territories. It is a false picture. Whoever goes to Ramallah will be impressed by the cafes and the shopping centre, but that is misleading. The Palestinian elite and its civil service live in Ramallah. That is not a representative picture. The whole business would collapse without the money from the European Union donor states. The condition of the Palestinian farmers is particularly bad. They are terrorized by the settlers. Their olive trees are uprooted and their lands are confiscated by the military administration. The Occupation army, which according to the law is supposed to defend the occupied population, is doing everything it can to make the lives of the Palestinians unpleasant. Israel has created a bureaucratic governmental monster comprised of thousands of military laws that turn the lives of the Palestinians into hell. Tens of thousands of Palestinian families live in serious hardship in the Palestinian ghetto, some of them even experience hunger, and so it is only natural that many Palestinians spare no effort to find work in Israel, and feel compelled to accept measly wages without social benefits. The Israeli army is trying to prevent Palestinians from coming to Israel and to that end it employs units of dog-handlers. Terrifying dogs lunge at the work-seekers and bite them, sometimes causing lacerations and deep wounds that require hospitalization.

If the Jewish State had a little sensitivity, it would be forbidden to use dogs to attack unarmed civilians whose only crime is to try to get a piece of bread for their hungry families. But the senses of the Israeli regime and army have become so dulled that they have forgotten that the Nazis employed dogs against Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto who tried to earn a little bread outside the ghetto. A side of Israeli democracy that was not reported to the American Congress.

Transfer

The newspaper Haaretz recently published an expose that detailed how from the beginning of the Occupation in June 1967 to the middle of the 1990s, the Israeli military administration cancelled the residency and barred the return home of 140 thousand Palestinians. Those who had travelled abroad, whether for study or for other purposes, were exiled from their homeland by the administrative fiat of the Occupation authorities. In the military lexicon of acronyms, they became known as `halat` (`ceased to be resident`). [3] This exposes the real inclination of the State of Israel and all its governments since 1967: towards the quiet transfer of Palestinians, which will eventually render possible the annexation of the West Bank with a small number of Palestinians who will not endanger the Jewish demographic majority. And what will become of Gaza? Under this plan, Gaza will become Egypt`s problem.

You might say that this is what has been behind the Israeli policy of buying time, of the never-ending `peace process`. At the end of the day, Netanyahu has been merely continuing the policy of his predecessors. He does it a little more skilfully and with messianic ideological fervour. Give Israel another 44 years of Occupation, the Israeli Right believes in its heart of hearts, and we will be able, by means of various tricks and maybe with the help of a war or two, to reduce the number of Palestinians to a bare minimum. Of course there is no intention of completely eliminating the Palestinian presence, for after all, Israel needs a reserve of cheap labour; but under this Zionist consensus vision, they will be in no position to endanger what is considered here to be a solid Jewish majority.

Netanyahu did not say these things in his speech to Congress, but they are what is behind the Politics of No. As he sees it, time is on his side. Another unique Israeli contribution to Middle Eastern democracy.

Police against workers

The workers of Israel Railways are conducting a struggle against the privatization of the company. They know that privatization means dismissals and the deterioration of work conditions. It is a just and democratic struggle. That is not what management and the Israel Police think. In a demonstration that workers held in front of the company`s headquarters, the police arrested members of the workers` committee, including its head, and they were forced to spend a night in jail. When the police arrest workers` representatives and throw them in jail, that is another symptom of the penetration of the norms of the Occupation to within Israel. This was not reported to members of the American Congress, which has a Republican majority. There is no need for that, for to them, workers’ rights are not the top priority either - to put it mildly.

Mordechai Vanunu

The government of Israel has renewed the restrictions on the whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu. For 25 years - a quarter of a century - he has been a prisoner of Zion. [4] He is forbidden to leave Israel and live as a free man. This is the very essence of wickedness.

The activists for the liberation of Jonathan Pollard, who are demanding that the president of the USA grant him amnesty and to permit him to live in Israel, do not have clean hands, because they support Israel`s continued abuse of Vanunu.

Although there is a big difference between the two - because Pollard spied for money, whereas Vanunu was a whistle-blower who was doing his democratic duty to inform the public, the time has come to free them both.

Another 5 June

In a few days we will commemorate the beginning of Israel`s control over the Palestinian people for the 44th time. It was the longest occupation of the 20th century, which has slid into the 21st century. Ascribe ye greatness unto [5] the dictatorial democracy that Israel has bequeathed unto humanity.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent


Translator`s notes

1. Hebrew: `tikkun leil shavu`ot`. In 2011 the Jewish holiday of Shavuot begins on 7 June.

2. The March of the Living is the name of a popular international program that sends Jewish high-school students to visit the sites of the Nazi concentration camps in Poland. The name alludes to the `death marches` that were forced on Jewish prisoners before they were murdered by the Nazis. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_of_the_Living

3. The acronym `halat` is formed from the first letters of the Hebrew words: `hadal lihiyot toshav` - `ceased to be a resident`. The vowels between the consonants are implicitly understood.

4. `Prisoner of Zion` was a term used to refer to Jews in Communist countries, especially the Soviet Union, who were denied permission to emigrate to Israel (a.k.a. `Zion`). In addition, some of them were prosecuted and imprisoned on political grounds. The most famous prisoner of Zion was Anatoly Sharansky, who changed his first name to Natan and became a right-wing politician after he went to Israel. Prisoners of Zion were also called `refuseniks` (`otkaznik` in Russian). Today in Israel the term `refusenik` (`sarvan` in Hebrew) usually refers to people who refuse to serve in the Israeli armed forces due to their opposition to the Occupation.

5. `Ascribe ye greatness unto our God`: Deuteronomy 32:3

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Links to the latest articles in this section

European leaders said to implore Netanyahu not to advance annexation
Israelis, drop your denial and recognize the Nakba (includes reactions to `Neither Intractable nor Unique`)
For a new political imagination, Israeli Jews must unlearn Zionism