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Red Rag - Murder in Toulouse - A.B. Yehoshua`s categorization of Jews
By: Gideon Sprio
26 March 2012 (English translation 1 April 2012)

A necessary comparison

After the murder of the Jewish children in Toulouse, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the settler Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, attacked Catherine Ashton, the European Union Foreign Minister and upbraided her for comparing the murder in Toulouse to the killing of children in Gaza by Israel. Those who read Ashton’s words understood that she did not make such a comparison. She spoke of children who pay with their lives on the altar of wars, and pointed to Gaza and Sderot among other places.

It is unfortunate that Catherine Ashton did not in fact make that comparison, because there are more than a few points of similarity and overlap between the murderer Muhammad Merah and what is happening in colonial Israel.

Similarity 1: religious extremism. It can cause people to lose their minds. Such as Dr. Baruch Goldstein, who in February 1994 on the feast of Purim murdered 30 Palestinians in Hebron while they were praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarchs); and such as Muhammad Merah who murdered children on their way to school.

Similarity 2: the “price tag” policy. Like Muhammad Merah, extremist Jewish settlers have adopted a “price tag” policy, the essence of which is to harm innocents in revenge for what others have done. Settlers conduct pogroms against innocent Palestinians and Muhammad Merah murders innocent Jews.

Similarity 3: murder of children. Over a thousand Palestinian children have been killed/murdered by the Israeli Occupation since the Occupation’s inception. Add to that the hundreds of children who were killed in the Gaza War (“Cast Lead” – December 2008-January 2009), including entire families that were annihilated, and the numbers are horrifying. Those Palestinian children were just as innocent as the children who were murdered in Toulouse. The three daughters of the Palestinian Doctor Abu al-Ayyash were killed when soldiers of the Israeli invasion aimed directly at their house in Beit Lahiya in the Gaza Strip. No one was put on trial. In October 2004 Iman al-Hams, a 13 year old girl from Rafah, was walking to school. She was shot to death as she passed by an Israeli army position (the Girit post). Afterwards they conducted a “kill check”. The commander of the post was acquitted of all guilt in a military court. Pregnant Palestinian women on their way to hospitals to give birth have been stopped at Israeli army checkpoints and the soldiers prevented them from going to the hospital. The oblivious soldiers of the Occupation did not respond to the imploring of the women and their husbands to permit them to get to the hospital. On a number occasions (January 2004, September 2008) women were forced to give birth at checkpoints, and because of the impossible conditions there they gave birth to a dead fetus instead of a live baby in the hospital. In January 2007 Border Guard police shot to death Abir Aramin, an 11 year old Palestinian girl who was on her way to a kiosk to buy candy. The police were not put on trial.

These are a few examples from the thousand and more Palestinian children killed. To them must be added the thousands of children who have been wounded by the fire of the Occupation forces, some of whom will remain disabled for the rest of their lives. As the poet Haim Nahman Bialik wrote: “Vengeance for the blood of a small child / Satan has not yet created.” That is true of Palestinian child-victims of the Israeli Occupation, and it is true of the children in Toulouse who fell victim to Muhammad Merah.

If he had lived, the murderer from Toulouse would have been put on trial and punished with the full severity demanded by his atrocious acts. The similarity between the murderer from Toulouse and the criminals of the Israeli Occupation points to a profound difference between France and Israel. Look at how the French leadership responded. They condemned the act as one, all the schools in France stood for a minute of silence in memory of the murdered victims, the President and the leaders of the government attended the memorial ceremonies. The French Foreign Minister went to the funeral in Jerusalem. Have you ever seen an Israeli minister, never mind the Prime Minister or President, attend the funeral of a Palestinian child who was killed by fire of the army, police or settlers?

The deputy president of the Federation of Jewish Organizations in France, said in an interview with the military radio station Galei Tzahal that his son had “ascended” [1] to Israel (his expression, hence the quotation-marks) to Israel and lives in one of the settlements. His wife had feared that Israel and the Occupied Territories were not safe. And now, this hack informs us, it turns out that it was France that was the unsafe place for Jews. This motif, of Israel as a safe place for Jews, is part of the mantra that the leaders of the government and the Zionist movement reiterate from time to time, and the murder in Toulouse has served as an excuse for Netanyahu and others to return to that mantra.

But it is not true. Israel is the least safe place for Jews in the world. The number of Jews who have been killed in Israel’s wars is vast and growing. And as if not enough blood has already been shed, the Prime Minister is preparing the public for another war, with Iran, which is likely to be worse than all the others. There is no Jewish community in the world that faces an existential danger to the lives of its members except the community in Iran, and the danger they face is from an Israeli military attack on their country.

A government that robs its citizens

The Bedouin citizens of Israel are the most discriminated-against group of citizens in Israel. In addition to discrimination in all the services to which citizens are entitled – education, housing, employment, etc., the State robs them of the land they legally own. Since the end of the 1948 war, officially called the War of Independence, all Israeli governments have endeavoured to dispossess the Bedouin of their lands and to transfer them to Jewish ownership. Some Bedouin were expelled from Israel during the war to Jordan and Egypt, and of those who remained in Israel, some live in ghetto-like towns, while others try to maintain a foothold on their lands, living in villages that are not recognized by the authorities and therefore are not supplied with electricity or water.

Nuri al-‘Uqbi is the chairman of the Association for Support and Defence of the Bedouin in Israel. For years he has been struggling for equal rights and the restitution of expropriated Bedouin lands to their owners. The al-‘Uqbi tribe is one of the victims of the policy of dispossession and expulsion of the Israeli government, which has not been squeamish about the methods of fraud and deception it uses to remove the Bedouin from their lands. At the beginning of the 1950s the leaders of the tribe received an order from the army to evacuate their settlements for a period of six months. Nuri has a letter from the military governor that promised that they would be allowed to return to their homes after six months. Sixty years have passed since then, and the tribe still lives under harsh conditions in the place to which they were relocated. In their naivety they believed the promises, and they were duped.

Nuri and another 16 members of the al-‘Uqbi tribe decided to seek the return of their lands by means of a lawsuit. Nuri and his friends, with the help of their lawyers Michael Sfard and Radwan Abu Arara, went to court prepared. They proved through expert witnesses that the Bedouin were recognized as owners of the lands for hundreds of years, even during the period of the Ottoman administration and thus also during the British Mandate that followed. Moreover, Jewish institutions recognized the Bedouin’s ownership of the land during the British Mandate, as proven by the fact that they built their kibbutzim on lands they had bought from the Bedouin. And as if all that were not enough, Nuri was also equipped with tabu documents (title-deeds issued by the Ottoman authorities) that proved ownership of the land. All in vain: Beersheba District Court Judge Sarah Dovrat, who heard the case, recently issued a ruling that rejected the al-‘Uqbi claim and backed the governmental theft.

This ruling by a government agent proves yet again that there is an unbridgeable gap between a Jewish state and a democratic state – that the “Jewish” precedes the “democratic” and therefore the State of Israel is not democratic.

The painful affair of the dispossession and expulsion of the Bedouin from their land and its transfer to Jews reminds me, as a refugee from Nazi Germany, of the theft of Jewish property and its transfer to German hands. I can already hear the cry of the self-appointed patriots – “How can you compare?” The answer is simple: I can do it, in correct measure and context, because my family fell victim to the same kind of mentality on the part of a privileged nation of masters. Does this mean that Israel and Nazi Germany are the same thing? Certainly not. If that were the case I could not publish this column. The question to which I have no answer is how much time remains to me and those like me to publish criticism of governmental bodies, given the anti-democratic tendencies of the Right that rules in Israel today.

Perfect Jew, partial Jew

A. B. Yehoshua is a writer of renown and an Israel Prize laureate. He is also known to readers of literature outside Israel, because his books have been translated into several languages. Occasionally he comes out with strange statements. In a recent speech he said that the Holocaust was also a failure on the part of the Jewish people because they did not anticipate it. He drew a comparison between France, which analyzed its occupation by Germany as a French failure, and the Jewish people, saying `I have never heard the Jews analyze the Holocaust as a Jewish failure, which was not anticipated.` (Haaretz 18 March 2012) [2] According to him, `for 2,000 years, in spite of the many red lights which lit up throughout history`, the Jewish people did not understand what was awaiting them and did not prepare themselves.

With all due respect, this is nonsense. With these words A. B. Yehoshua joins a despicable group that assigns guilt for the Holocaust to the Jews too because they did not prepare themselves properly, just like France did not adequately prepare itself for the German invasion. What stupidity. Who could have anticipated the Auschwitz death camp? The industrial murder of a million children? Not the Jews, not the Roma, not the intellectuals or the politicians, nobody anticipated such crimes against humanity. Even those who emigrated from Germany in the 1930s, Jews and non-Jews alike, thought that it was just a passing evil wind and that they would soon go back home. The Christian-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine, a son of the first half of the 19th century, said that where books are burnt, people will be burnt as well, but he too did not imagine that the burning would reach the scale of the extirpation of an entire people from the landscape of humanity. The Jews do not bear any responsibility for the Holocaust. The Jews of Germany, Poland, France or Holland could not have anticipated and prepared for the extermination camps and the industry of death.

According to A. B. Yehoshua the Jews are divided into complete and partial. A complete Jew is a Jew who lives in Israel and a partial Jew is a Jew who lives outside Israel. Yehoshua considers himself a “complete Jew”. Beyond the geographical dimension Yehoshua does not elaborate about what justifies the conferral of the title “complete Jew”. According to A. B. Yehoshua’s categorization, the racist Rabbi Meir Kahane was a partial Jew when he lived in the US and became a complete [3] Jew upon his emigration to Israel. And Professor Albert Einstein, whom Ben-Gurion offered the presidency of the State of Israel, remained a partial Jew because he refused the offer. Maybe that partial Jew understood back then, in the 1950s, that a state that raises to the highest levels the cult of military strength has nothing to offer to a pacifist who seeks peace and human rights. Would that my portion were with partial Jews like that.

Translator’s notes

1. In Zionist terminology, Jews who immigrate to Israel are said to “ascend” to Israel, and Jews who emigrate from Israel are said to “descend” from it. The Zionist term for Jewish immigration to Israel, the Hebrew word “aliyah”, which often appears in English and other non-Hebrew texts discussing Jewish immigration to Israel, literally means “ascent”.


3. The Hebrew word for “complete” - mushlam - also means “perfect”.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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