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Red Rag weekly column: polishing swords; value of a Palestinian woman`s life
By: Gideon Spiro
14 August 2012 (English translation posted 20 August)

Polishing the swords

In the guise of a “senior defence figure”, Defence Minister Ehud Barak gave an interview to the newspaper Haaretz (10 August 2012) with the objective of preparing the ground in public opinion for an Israeli attack on Iran. The interview renewed intensive preoccupation with the issue, and among other things it was reported that Barak and Netanyahu are determined to initiate the war against Iran by the approaching autumn, despite of President Obama’s request to refrain from doing so, both because of his belief that Iran is still far from creating a nuclear bomb and because it would likely complicate matters for him in the presidential election.

In other words, Netanyahu and Barak, according to this theory, are tweaking Obama’s nose and taking advantage of his delicate position in advance of the elections in which he will not want to tangle with the very powerful Jewish lobby AIPAC, serves in effect as the arm of the government of Israel in Washington. According to this theory, Barak and Netanyahu are interested in carrying out the Israeli attack before the elections in the US in the event that the Israeli action fails and Obama will be compelled to come to Israel’s aid if he doesn’t want to lose the Jewish vote.

According to another theory, the plans of Barak and Netanyahu to initiate an Israeli attack Iran’s nuclear facilities are nothing but one big show, along the lines of “hold me back before I go crazy!” – which is intended to pressure the US and Europe to initiate military action.

So far the two have not succeeded in convincing Israeli public opinion. Public opinion polls conducted recently have shown that most of the public opposes military action. That puts Barak and Netanyahu under pressure, and they are trying to scare the public, enlisting the Holocaust and announcing that the danger of Holocaust II is at the door. At the moment this campaign of instilling fear has not achieved its objectives. The press is reporting that the heads of the army, the Mossad and the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) oppose an Israeli military initiative, which will mean a declaration of war on Iran, the consequences of which could be catastrophic. In view of the special status of the heads of the army and the covert services in Israel, public opinion tends to follow them.

It is important to emphasize that most Israelis have not suddenly turned into proponents of peace. A decisive majority of Jews in Israel supports military action against Iran; they only want it to be done by the Americans or at least with their support and aid. To my dismay, Israelis who oppose war in principle, whether by Israel or by the US are a minority. Those who condition participation in war on an American military initiative are ignoring the danger that warlike action on the part of the US is also likely to plunge the region into chaos. Instead of eliminating the Iranian nuclear project it would only strengthen those Iranians who want nuclear weapons as a defensive wall against those who are plotting against Iran.

Those who oppose war posted a petition on the Internet calling on pilots of the Israeli air force to refuse to take part in any Israeli warlike initiative against Iran, because the black flag of illegality would wave over such an order.

It is no coincidence that a demonstration that was held in front of the Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv on 6 August, Hiroshima Day, and which, as well as opposing war demanded that the Middle East be disarmed of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, was not reported in the press. It is nearly sacrilege in Israel to speak out against Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Many are familiar with the expression “Israeli chutzpah”. And indeed it is Israeli chutzpah to demand of the whole world that it take action against Iranian nuclear weapons while it is Israel itself that set the region on a nuclear arms race and Israel itself possesses hundreds of nuclear bombs. The solution lies not in military action, whether it be Israeli or American, nor in Israeli submarines, a gift from Germany, which will cruise in the depths carrying nuclear missiles for a “second strike”; but in the mobilization of all international efforts to divest the Middle East of weapons of mass destruction, in the context of which Israel will be disarmed, in a controlled process, of its nuclear weapons as well as its chemical and biological ones, so that no one will be able to make use of those weapons.

What are the lives of two Palestinian women worth?

The soldier S. (military censorship bars mentioning his full name) was court-martialled on charges of the most serious of war-crimes: killing two women in Operation Cast Lead who were waving a white flag. Thanks to the Goldstone Report we know their names: Raya and Majida Abu-Hajjaj, a mother and her daughter, who were fleeing the terror of the bombings and seeking shelter. On their way they came across the Giv’ati Brigade and instead of shelter they found their deaths from the soldiers’ fire.

An investigation by the Investigatory Military Police identified that same S. as the soldier who opened fire and killed the two women.

Three years have passed since then, and recently we have learned that the military prosecutor and the defendant’s lawyers have reached a plea-bargain according to which the charge of manslaughter has been dropped and replaced by “illegal shooting” which caused the deaths of “unknown figures”. The sentence is 45 days in prison. That is an astonishing and outrageous sentence, which expresses contempt for human life where the lives of Palestinian women are concerned.

Meanwhile it is harder to live

The economic horizon is darkening. The government has discovered a large hole in the budget and imposed economic cutbacks on the public. They’re not harming the settlers; on the contrary, they are pouring billions at them; they’re not touching the army; on the contrary, the Defence Minister is demanding another billion in addition to the approximately 60 billion shekels he already has, maybe to finance a war with Iran; nor are they harming the tycoons, after all, many of them are walking around as lords in the corridors of power. The corporate income tax declined from 36% to 25% from 2003 to 2010.

If the government has a hole in its budget it can very easily fill it by raising the corporate income tax, by cutting some of the fat from the army, by cutting back financial allocations to the settlements or by heavily taxing those who earn millions; but the government has chosen to impose the burden on the middle classes, for whom life is hard as well. We saw a sad expression of that on the news programme on Channel 10 in which middle class women were interviewed, professionals and educated women, mothers married to working husbands, who admitted that they also work as prostitutes to pay their bills and to balance the family budget.

The cutbacks are regressive and harm the weak first and foremost: the value added tax was raised, bread has become more expensive, vegetables and fruits are about to become more expensive, the tax-breaks on small cars will be cancelled, the capital has become more expensive, and that is only the beginning. After a war with Iran, if it happens, the population of Israel will be divided into two parts: those who have another passport and those who will remain stuck here against their will. Those who have relatives abroad, who will be able to send food to those who are declining into deep poverty, and those who will rely on declining government assistance. Israel will become a State of benefit societies. We are not there yet but we are on a dangerous path that is leading there. These decisions bring to mind the words of Rabbi Akiva: “Everything is expected and permission has been given”.

They have been brainwashed

On 14 August a plane from the United States landed at Ben-Gurion airport, carrying 300 young Jews who came with the Nefesh b’Nefesh (“Soul to Soul”) organization. This is a supposedly private organization, one of the founders of which is a rabbi named Yehoshua Pas. The organization encourages immigration to Israel, especially among the young, the greater part of whom stayed in Israel as cannon-fodder for the Occupation army. It is no wonder that the government of Israel recognizes the importance of the organization and provides a third of its budget.

Among the 300 who arrived on that plane were a substantial number of young people who will join the army. Minutes after the plane landed in Israel an 18-year-old man named Ben was interviewed for Rafi Reshef’s programme, and he said he wants to join the paratroopers.

There is no doubt that this enterprise has met with more than a little success, and the leaders of the organization have managed to instill in the young Americans in preparatory workshops all the nationalist-racist manure, under the cover of course of “love of Israel” [1], and the road to the army is paved. I hope that this Ben quickly discovers that Israeli soldiers do not defend Israel but serve as a whip with which to flog the dispossessed Palestinians. There have already been several cases of such youths having their eyes opened to the deception.

Translator’s note

1. Not necessarily love of the State of Israel. “Love of Israel” (Ahavat Yisrael) is also a Jewish religious concept that means Jews’ love for their fellow Jews, or love of the Jewish people.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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