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Red Rag Weekly Column
By: Gideon Spiro
30 November 2012 (English translation 10 December 2012)

They held out

On the very day after the beginning of ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas
government, Israel violated it when its soldiers shot to death an unarmed
Palestinian civilian who had approached the delineation fence. Therefore I
waited a few days before writing about the air attack on the Gaza Strip under
the name “Pillar of Cloud” (or “Pillar of Defence” in English), lest armed
Hamas operatives respond to the Israeli provocation and renew the fighting.
This time the Hamas government and its forces exhibited self-restraint and
refrained from responding. As these lines are being written the quiet is still
being preserved.

There is no doubt that the Hamas movement sustained a hard blow from Israel’s
aerial bombardment. Much of the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza was seriously
damaged. Hamas has no means of defence against the Israeli air force. It has
no ground-to-air missiles. It has no Iron Dome. There are no bunkers in which
a million and a half people in the most densely-populated area in the world
can seek shelter from attacks. Spokespersons of the Israeli army and their
journalistic servants reported that Israel fired thousands of missiles and
struck or destroyed over a thousand targets during the 8 days of the campaign.

In addition to the air force, the navy, which controls the territorial waters
of Gaza, was also put into action, and it shelled the Strip from its vessels.
From this too Hamas had no means of defence. Nevertheless Israel did not
succeed in putting a stop to the firing of missiles and rockets. Residents of
Gaza could not sleep because Israel bombed day and night. There was much talk
in Israel about the trauma of the children of the Jewish communities that were
within firing range of Hamas, but little thought is given to the much graver
psychological harm done to the children of Gaza, who were exposed day and
night to the effects of Israel’s implements of destruction. Despite Hamas’
military inferiority and the great harm that was caused to the armed forces
and the civilian population, Gaza was not broken.

Metaphorically Gaza became a kind of Palestinian Stalingrad, which did not
surrender, just as the Soviet Stalingrad withstood the German siege and was
not subdued. It is very fortunate that President Obama managed to prevent
Israel from launching a ground invasion, for had that happened it must be
assumed, due to Israel’s advantage in numbers and advanced weaponry, that Gaza
would have been occupied, but not before a battle that would have inflicted
great losses on the attacking side as well. That would have engendered – again
metaphorically – a story of the heroism of the Palestinian ghetto, which
fought against a cruel and well-armed enemy, like the rebels of the Warsaw
Ghetto who fought with courage and perseverance against the enemy, but were
defeated due to the Germans’ advantage in weapons and numbers. Since the
leaders of the State and the army are speaking of the ceasefire as “temporary
until the next round”, that scenario is not fantastical. I write these words
with sorrow, because I have no interest in glorifying Hamas or helping those
fanatics make a heroic national-religious stand that will be a legend to
future generations; but that is what Israel is going to accomplish with this
enormously foolish approach.

The government of Israel has succeeded in implanting in the Israeli
consciousness and to a great extent in the international one as well that the
purpose of Operation Pillar of Cloud was to defend southern Israel from Hamas’
rocket fire. That is misleading, for that result could have been achieved by
other means. The operation was a violation of a ceasefire agreement that had
been attained through Egyptian mediation. Gershon Baskin, an activist for
Israel-Palestinian rapprochement, had previously created a working
relationship with the Hamas chief-of-staff Ahmad Jaabari in reaching an
agreement for an exchange of prisoners, in the context of which the Israeli
prisoner Gilad Shalit was released in return for the liberation of Palestinian

Baskin returned to Israel from Egypt while the operation was at its height,
and in an interview on Israeli television he stated that Ahmad Jaabari (before
he was executed by Israel at the beginning of the operation) had been engaged
in contacts aimed at reaching a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

I am inclined to agree with the view expressed by one of my readers, American
Jewish author Kenneth Brown, to the effect that the air raids to destroy the
Fajr missiles in Hamas’ possession were part of the overall plan for the
bombing of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Accordingly we must be prepared for the
next stage, which will be an Israeli attempt to destroy the long-range
missiles in Hezbollah’s possession in order to prevent them from being
launched at Israel when Israel attacks Iran. In other words, Israel is
planning for an attack on Iran is liable to ignite a regional war with the
potential to spread beyond our neighbourhood. The author Gunter Grass was
right when he wrote that a nuclear Israel constitutes today the starting-point
for a global conflagration.

The leaders of the State and the army have spoken a great deal about how the
operation was “surgical” – that is, great care was taken to avoid civilian
casualties. But that claim is groundless. A hundred and sixty Palestinians
were killed during the eight days of bombings, including women and many
children, and one family was nearly completely destroyed. That information was
greeted with indifference in Israel, and an official announcement by the IDF
spokesman explained that a pilot had erred in identifying a target, and “we
express our sorrow”. Now the Palestinians will forgive the pilots of the
Israeli air force, for after all, nothing is more human than to err. So a few
children were killed. These things happen. This whole “surgical” business is
utter nonsense, all the more so when it involves an area as densely-populated
as Gaza. In this confrontation, just as in all the previous ones between
Israel and the Palestinians, the number of killed on the Palestinian side is
inestimably higher than that on the Israeli side: 160 Palestinians to five
Israelis. And the ratio is similar regarding the wounded. Gaza’s main
hospital, al-Shifa, was unable to treat the hundreds of wounded who streamed
to its gates. My right-wing readers – I do have some – will immediately reply
with Pavlovian conditioning, “What do you want – for 160 to be killed on our
side too?” They have already received my answer: No, no and again no. I want
nobody to get killed on our side or theirs – not children, not women, not old
people, not at all.

One of the results of the operation was the endurance of the Hamas movement
and its government in Gaza. In Israel Hamas is normally categorized as a
terror organization that is not to be negotiated with. But Israel has achieved
the exact opposite: Israel was forced to conduct negotiations with Hamas, with
Egyptian mediation, over a ceasefire. And Gaza itself, in the face of the
great destruction that Israel wrought, became a destination for visits by
ministers, princes and diplomats from various countries, which has promoted
its upgrading to a legitimate political entity. As part of the agreement for a
ceasefire, Israel has been forced to continue to negotiate with Hamas for a
series of concessions over the blockade of Gaza. Not only has the government
of Israel eaten the rotten fish; it has also been flogged and expelled from
the city as well! [1]

The ceasefire agreement got a very negative reception in Israel. A public-
opinion survey found that the majority of the public in Israel was against it.
This was due to expectations, which turned out to be unrealistic, that this
time Israel would eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Many of the soldiers who were
mobilized under Order 8 [2] in preparation for a ground invasion, including
family men, expressed disappointment being cheated of their ground war. They
were willing to leave widows and orphans at home, in return for the privilege
of sacrificing their lives in an unnecessary war. This pathological phenomenon
is part of the death-cult of the Israeli Sparta.

Israel (and America) against the world

The Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen, was in the process of
losing public standing, above all in the eyes of his own people. The
government of Israel humiliates him, but he continues to use his armed forces
to suppress any and all violent attacks on Israelis, including the settlers
who have invaded Occupied Palestine and plundered its land. With the help of
his police, who have received training in Jordan from European Union
instructors, Abu Mazen is suppressing his people’s anger over the daily
depredations of the Israeli settlers and army. Hence the absurdity that Abu
Mazen’s regime is being used to ensure – among other things – freedom of
movement on the apartheid highways for the occupying settlers whose very
presence is a violation of international law. He stands ashamed before Hamas,
which declares that the Israelis understand only the language of force and
tauntingly ask him what he has achieved with his diplomatic approach. Given
these facts, it is no wonder that there are those who have accused Abu Mazen
of collaborating with the Israeli occupier in return for benefits of various
kinds. Matters had come to such a pass that I heard a senior Palestinian
figure refer to Abu Mazen as a Palestinian Pétain.

It appears that Abu Mazen has been aware of this process, and decided to take
action to enhance his position. And indeed, he salvaged much prestige by
submitting an application for Palestine to be upgraded to an observer state at
the United Nations. Israel responded with savagery, and using a nightclub
bouncer who has been upgraded to Foreign Minister threatened to eliminate the
Palestinian Authority. Pressure was applied on Abu Mazen from many quarters,
including the President of the USA and European Union heads of government, who
pressed him not to submit the request to the UN, and after it was submitted,
they pressured him to withdraw it.

This time Abu Mazen did not succumb to Israel’s threats of harsh measures that
would cause the Palestinian Authority to collapse. Also in vain was the
American threat to withdraw its financial aid, which, while modest, is vital
as oxygen for the continued functioning of the Authority. Abu Mazen stood firm
in his resolve to continue the process until its completion.

The Palestinian leadership arranged in advance for the discussion at the UN to
take place on 29 November, the date on which the United Nations General
Assembly voted for the creation of two states in the Land of Israel/Palestine
in 1947 – a Jewish state and an Arab state. That same UN which stood over the
cradle of the infant State of Israel, which would not have come into being in
1948 without the Resolution it passed – that same UN has suddenly become
irrelevant. The Arab rejectionism of 1947 has been converted in 2012 into
Israeli rejectionism. The Resolution of the General Assembly to recognize
Palestine within the 1967 borders passed in the UN with a decisive majority of
138 member-states, with only 9 votes against and 41 abstentions, including
nearly the entire European Union, including some of Israel’s friends, such as
Germany. The colour returned to Abu Mazen’s cheeks. The celebrations in
Ramallah reminded me of the eruptions of joy and the dancing on the streets in
Tel Aviv after the passage of the Partition Resolution in 1947.

The speech of Israel’s Ambassador at the UN, Ron Prosor, was intended for
Western ears. Israel extends its hand for peace … and it’s always good to
quote from the Bible, and he did. But it was a speech replete with lies: a
state that wants peace does not transfer a half million of its citizens to
occupied territory, build settlements, annex territories, keep millions of
Palestinians under occupation and deny basic human rights for 45 years. Israel
demands negotiations without preconditions, but that is binding only on the
Palestinians, not Israel. And Israel is also permitted to continue to colonize
and to create facts on the ground.

How much longer will Obama’s USA continue to cover for colonial Israel, clean
up after all its messes and be pushed into international isolation in
consequence? Just a short while ago Obama visited Burma and met with Nobel
Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who had been held under house arrest for
17 years by the military dictatorship. Obama declared before her and before
the rulers of Burma that he had come to visit after a process of
democratization began in Burma. He conditioned aid to Burma on the
continuation of democratization until human rights are guaranteed for Burmese
and the national minorities who are still suffering from oppression and
persecution. If Obama is serious in his declarations of his commitment to
human rights, he will be expected to hold Israel to at least the same
standard, and to condition military and economic aid to Israel upon the end of
the Occupation and the apartheid regime that prevails today in the Occupied

The new face of the Likud

The Likud candidates who were elected in the primaries in advance of the
general elections to the Knesset that will take place on 22 January 2013
reveal a new or renewed Likud with a face that is much more extremist and
right-wing than was seen in the outgoing Knesset. In the outgoing Knesset too
the Likud was a right-wing party, with a clearly neo-fascist wing, which also
promoted an anti-democratic legislative agenda, some of which was reined in by
ministers and Knesset Members from the Likud faction that was more liberal –
all in relative terms, of course. In the elections to the new list the leaders
of the liberal wing were ousted and their places were taken by people from the
extremist right-wing branch. For all practical purposes the Likud is now
controlled by the settlers. Moshe Feiglin, one of the most extreme settlers,
who planned to take over the Likud with great patience, succeeded for the
first time in getting put on a realistic position on the list, which will
ensure his election to the Knesset. If we add the Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our
Home) Party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which linked up with
the Likud to form a single electoral list, we discover an alarming right-wing
combination which verges on fascism. In a situation like this it is but
natural that a Likud Knesset Member, Miri Regev, who during the Second Lebanon
War was still serving as the Spokesperson of the Israeli Invasion Army with
the rank of Brigadier General, should declare in a public quarrel with MK
Jamal Zahalka, “I am happy to be a fascist”. That declaration is in keeping
with the sharp rightward turn that Israeli society is taking, and yet it also
represents a quantum leap, for there is no precedent for a Member of the
Knesset in Israel in general and in a ruling party in particular, male or
female, to define themselves as fascists, let alone happy to be such. I fear
that if the Right wins in the approaching elections and forms the new
government, tough times are in store for lovers of peace and human rights.
More than a few citizens from the Left may find themselves forced to choose
between political exile or arrest and detention in an Israeli prison. For
after all, that is what fascists are happy to do: throw their opponents into

Barak’s departure

Defence Minister Ehud Barak has announced his departure from political life.
His supporters in the media have described him as the “responsible adult” in
the government, but his biography does not justify that characterization.
Barak, a native of Israel and child of a kibbutz, is both a product and a
shaper of the Israeli culture of force. He held a series of positions in the
army and the government. He was Chief of Staff, Minister of the Interior and
Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and Defence Minister. On his journey to the
position of Chief of Staff he made a stopover as head of the Central Command –
effectively the sovereign ruler of the Occupied Territories. During Barak’s
term the Occupation was enhanced.

Barak is known as a man who is very fond of “liquidations”, which in non-
military language means extra-judicial executions in effect. As a soldier he
took part in several of them. As Chief of Staff (1991-95) he had a decisive
part in the decision to assassinate Hezbollah Secretary-General Abbas Musawi,
which later proved to have been a hasty decision because in his place we got a
much more extreme adversary in the form of Hassan Nasrallah. Barak came up
with the demented idea of assassinating Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, for
which he appointed the army’s most prestigious unit, the General Staff
Reconnaissance Unit (Sayeret Matkal). In 1992, in the course of
training for the mission, at the final stage, a concluding exercise was
conducted with the participation of the whole top level of the armed forces.
Very regrettably the exercise ended in disaster in which five of the unit’s
soldiers were killed and another six were injured. The assassination plan was
cancelled. Barak was accused of leaving the scene without aiding the injured.
To this day the generals are arguing among themselves over who was responsible
for the disaster. At the beginning of his term as Chief of Staff, Barak
promised a “small and smart army”, but in his time the army kept adding layers
of fat, and ended up a bigger and stupider army.

As Prime Minister (1999-2001) he missed a chance for a peace accord with
Syria, and he stood aside during the events of October 2000, when 13 Arab
citizens of Israel were killed by the police while they were demonstrating
their anger at the government’s policies. A commission of inquiry headed by
Supreme Court Judge Theodor Orr found him responsible for failing to provide
guidance to the police on how to respond, but took no measures against him. He
was largely responsible for the outbreak of the al-Aqsa Intifada in September
2000, after he permitted Ariel Sharon, then the leader of the Opposition, to
tour the mosque compound in Jerusalem. President Yasser Arafat begged Barak
(including during a visit to his home) not to authorize the visit, because it
would ignite unrest, but Barak refused. The visit went ahead, and the expected
Palestinian uprising then occurred, the first stages of which were non-
violent; but the Israeli army tried to suppress it with live bullets, causing
many casualties among Palestinian civilians, which contributed to the choice
to use violence on the Palestinian side as well. That does not justify the
attacks by suicide bombers, who killed many Israeli civilians, and on whom an
aura of sainthood was conferred. One war-crime does not justify another war-

In July 2000 Barak went to Camp David for peace talks with Yasser Arafat under
the auspices of US President Bill Clinton. Barak returned from there with the
statement “Arafat’s true face has been revealed – there is no partner for
peace.” The press then reported that “Barak offered to return 90% of the
territory and was answered with refusal”. But a glance at the map that Barak
proposed explains the refusal. That ten percent that Barak left in Israeli
hands was like the ten percent of a prison where the guards are, from which
they control the 90 percent of the space where the prisoners live. Barak’s
version was well-absorbed into the Israeli consciousness and was the direct
cause of the shattering of the Left, from which it has not yet recovered.

As Prime Minister he promoted the privatization of public assets.

As Defence Minister in Olmert’s government he was one of those responsible for
the crimes of Operation Cast Lead, and as Defence Minister in Netanyahu’s
government he was one of the authors of Israel’s peace-rejectionism. One of
his roles was to soften that refusal in contacts with the Americans under the
guise of a “moderate”. Barak has experience in disguises: as a soldier he
disguised himself as a woman in an operation to assassinate PLO leaders in
Lebanon’s capital Beirut, an operation that was given the pastoral name
“Spring of Youth” (April 1973). Construction in the settlements increased
while he was Prime Minister. His “moderation” was a pretence. As Defence
Minister he was of course a central figure in preparing the army for
independent action against the nuclear facilities in Iran, an action that was
planned for the autumn of this year and postponed under American pressure. Now
they’re talking about implementing it in spring 2013. Prepare for war with

I shed no tears over Barak’s departure, but I fear that he will yet return,
because in the past he left and then returned after making a few million bucks
to feather his nest.

Wonders of Israel

In a report on an agreement between two religious and nationalist parties, the
Jewish Home and the National Union, both of which contain many settlers from
the zones of Occupation and apartheid, to go to Knesset elections on a joint
list, I came across the name of Orit Struk. She is a candidate for the Knesset
on the new unified list. Struk is a hard-line settler from Hebron. She heads
an organization that absurdly bears the name “Human Rights Organization of
Judea and Samaria”. You will not believe this, but in Wikipedia she receives
the honourable description of a “human rights activist”. I doubt that even
George Orwell, author of Animal Farm, could have imagined such a
strange phenomenon. This lady lives in an occupied area in Hebron that has
been ethnically cleansed. She enjoys the privileges granted to members of the
ruling nation, who rob the lands of the neighbouring peoples. She and her
husband have raised a brood of many children, one of whom was sentenced to two
and a half years in prison for abusing a young Palestinian and killing a goat.
She complained at the court’s having believed the testimony of Arabs, like a
Ku Klux Klansman in the US who complained about courts believing Blacks or a
German anti-Semite who couldn’t forgive a judge for having believed a Jew. In
the Book of Exodus, Jews are enjoined as follows in the Ten Commandments:
“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will
not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” (20:07)

As I see it, Orit Struk has sinned twice: she takes the name of the Lord in
vain. Her god is an idol of stones and hatred of the other, and my God
commands love of the stranger and forbids defrauding them (Deuteronomy).
Moreover, she takes the name of human rights in vain, because human rights are
just that: rights for all human beings, regardless of geographical and
national divisions. Human rights for the ruling nation is an oxymoron. She
should read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in advance of Human
Rights Day, which falls on 10 December.

Along with Orit Struk’s organization there is another organization, which
bears the name “Judicial Forum for the Land of Israel”. A primary mission of
the Forum is to put everything that is published by leftists under a
magnifying-glass and then to file complaints with the police, using the threat
of prosecution in the service of the Department of Silencing People
(metaphor). And there is also a right-wing academic organization called Israel
Academia Monitor, which monitors publications by members of the academic
staffs of Israeli universities and colleges, and if, God forbid, a professor
or lecturer publishes a critique of Israel or signs a petition critical of the
polities of the Israeli authorities, they report the matter to whomever must
be reported to, and in some cases even demand criminal prosecution. They want
a North Korean academy. The next government might give it to them. One People,
One God, One University and One Leader.

Translator’s notes

1. Allusion to a talmudic parable about a servant who, having been charged
with the task of buying a fish at the market, brought his master a rotten one.
For this infraction his master instructed the servant to choose one of three
punishments, the first of which was to eat the rotten fish. Due to his poor
judgement and lack of willpower, the servant ended up receiving all three
punishments instead of only one.

2. ``Order 8`` (Heb. ``tzav 8``). Emergency call-up for military duty
of civilians who are in the army reserves.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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