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Red Rag column: Rapists - gleanings of racism - Vanunu is not alone - Yoram Kaniuk, RIP
By: Gideon Spiro
11 June 2013 (English version 16 June)


Judge Nissim Yeshaya served as a District Judge for 20 years, and retired in 2009. It is customary in Israel for retired judges to continue to serve in public positions, usually as chairs of quasi-judicial commissions. Yeshaya was appointed chairman of the Social Security appeals committee, which deals with matters related to compensation payments from the Defence Ministry. The Commission received an appeal from a 19 year old woman who claimed that she was raped by four Palestinians when she was 13, and so should be recognized as a victim of hostilities who is entitled to compensation as such. The Defence Ministry refused her request, hence the appeal. In the course of the deliberations Judge Yeshaya said that “some girls enjoy being raped”. It was a crude, revolting and chauvinistic statement of the most brutal kind, which calls for the judge’s dismissal from any public function at the very least.

Yeshaya’s statement prompted a flood of condemnation from Right to Left. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned his words and announced that he was withdrawing his support for Yeshaya’s candidacy to become chairman of the internal tribunal of the Likud Party. Yeshaya did not wait to be dismissed. He informed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni that he was resigning from all his public functions. And that’s the way it should be.

When I read the report about Yeshaya I could not but wonder about the irreconcilable contradiction between the widespread condemnation of the judge on the one hand, and the fact that Israel is a state that is carrying out a collective rape on the other. This month we marked 46 years of the Occupation – 46 years that the State of Israel has been raping the Palestinian people – men, women and children. A particularly violent rape, a rape which, unlike the case of that young woman who was fortunately left with her life, has caused the deaths of women and children along with torture, daily humiliation, theft and plunder. Not a rape that is done one time, but ongoing daily rape that has dragged on for 16,790 days.

Many of those who condemned what Judge Yeshaya about a young Jewish women adopt that very same way of thinking when it comes to the Palestinain people. Deluded statements like “the Palestinians have nothing to complain about” or “in their hearts they are thanking us for all that we have done for them” and others along the same lines can be summed up thus: some nations enjoy being raped. I have news for those Israelis: nations don’t like being raped any more than women do. In both cases the rapists must be brought to justice.

Gleanings from Israeli racism (1)

Hardly a week passes without the government of Israel or one of its agencies popping up with yet another way to make life harder for asylum-seekers in Israel. The last Knesset ratified the draconian law according to which asylum-seekers can be detained effectively indefinitely, but that was not enough for the government and its supporters. The new Knesset (the 19th) is continuing to fashion the weave of tyrannical legislation begun by the previous Knesset (the 18th), and one of the first bills it passed was a ban on asylum-seekers sending money to their families. Asylum-seekers who manage to save small sums of money and want to send them to their families living in poverty in Eritrea or Sudan – maybe a relative is sick and the money is needed for medical care – will now be unable to send help. What cruelty on the part of the government of Israel and the Knesset. This will compel asylum-seekers to act outside the law and seek the aid of various kinds of underworld schemers, who of course will exact their commission from the little that the asylum-seekers have.

Recently it has come to light that the government of Israel is negotiating with four African states with the objective of exporting thousands of asylum-seekers to them. In these negotiations Israel is trying to entice the leaders of those states with military aid. In effect, this is commerce in human beings.

An acquaintance of mine tried to draw a parallel between the Israeli government’s negotiations to get rid of refugees in return for bribes to corrupt leaders and the negotiations conducted by emissaries of the Jewish Agency with the Nazis at the height of the Second World War in the hopes of exchanging trucks for the lives of Hungarian Jews, negotiations in which Dr. Kastner participated on the Jewish side and Adolf Eichmann on the Nazi side, and which failed to produce an agreement in the end. I disagreed with my acquaintance. Of course there is a similarity in that human beings are being used as bargaining-chips in both cases, and that is bad enough in itself. But beyond that the differences are vast. The Jews of Hungary were facing the threat of physical extermination, which was carried out in the end, whereas the refugees in Israel are not facing such a threat, at least, not now.

Gleanings from Israeli racism (2)

Whoever thinks that the whip of racism is applied only to Arabs and African asylum-seekers is mistaken. Under certain circumstances merely being a non-Jew is enough to make a person a target for governmental harassment.

A citizen of Ukraine married an Israeli man and went to live with him in Israel. They had a child. The husband turned out to be a violent man who beat his wife. She sought safety in a women’s shelter and divorced her husband. After the divorce the Ministry of the Interior informed her that since she was no longer married to an Israeli citizen, her application for naturalization (which is a long and exhausting process) had been stopped and she now had to leave Israel. Wait a minute, she says to the Interior Ministry: are you telling me that I should have stayed married to an abusive husband? And besides, I have a son here. Indeed, the Interior Ministry replies, the child is an Israeli citizen and he can stay here, but you must leave. My husband beat me, says the woman in despair, and the Interior Ministry replies: that’s your problem. The reasons don’t interest us. We’re not telling you to get divorced or not; but since you are divorced, you must also separate from Israel. You are not Jewish, so beat it! What the Interior Ministry is actually doing is abducting her son in anticipation that one day he will be needed as cannon-fodder in Israel’s wars. But even then, if – God forbid – he gets killed, he will be buried in a separate burial-ground for soldiers whose mothers are not Jewish and who therefore are themselves not Jewish.

Where else in the world is there a state that guards the purity of the race like this? They expel the mother and bury her child outside the gate. It’s not yet the German Lebensborn programme, but its racist spirit is manifest in many Israelis in senior positions of authority.

Gleanings from Israeli racism (3)

Patrick Mercer, a Conservative Member of the British Parliament, was heard calling a female Israeli soldier a “bloody Jew”. MK Miri Regev of the Likud, who is also the Chairwoman of the Knesset Interior Committee, requested that Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein lodge a protest to his British counterpart over that “venomous antisemitic statement which has no place in any parliament in the world.” This is the same Miri Regev who, in an inflammatory speech against African asylum-seekers, described them as a cancer. She reminds me of the man who murdered his parents and then asked the court for leniency on the grounds that he was an orphan. Maybe the two of them should be put in a room together where they can fight over who is the most racist. Or maybe we should heed the words of the queen in the poet Heinrich Heine’s story about the royal couple who invited a rabbi and a Capuchin monk to conduct a disputation before them over which religion is the true one. The Capuchin spoke profanity, the rabbi spoke nonsense, and then the king turned to the queen and asked her what she thought. She replied: I don’t know who is right, but if you want my opinion, both the rabbi and the monk stink!

Vanunu is not alone

Kudos to Edward Snowden, the new whistleblower who revealed to the press the existence of the secret PRISM surveillance programme by means of which the US government gets direct access to the data of Google, Facebook, Apple and other Internet companies. This is a violation of the privacy of millions of unsuspecting people.

As the governmental grip keeps tightening, citizens are losing what little is left to them in the way of free space. Sometimes whistleblowers are our last line of defence against the government’s onslaught. They expose the sins and crimes of the government and put into practice the public’s right to know. Humanity is indebted to the courageous whistleblowers who uncover the truth regardless of the dangers to themselves. Daniel Ellsberg, Mordecha Vanunu, Bradley Manning, Julian Assange and now Edward Snowden are heroes to whom we owe a debt of gratitude.

Yoram Kaniuk, RIP

On 8 June the writer Yoram Kaniuk departed from this world. He was 83. Besides being one of the greatest and most important writers who have lived in Israel, he also participated in struggles over its character. He was part of the shrinking community of Israelis who are struggling for a secular democratic state that will seek peace and embrace equality for all its citizens. To him, the state for which he fought in 1948 and the State as it looks today were two different entities. His sharp tongue was unsparing of those who are converting Israel into a clerical, racist and colonial state that is enslaving another people.

I note with satisfaction that he was one of those to whom the brutalization of Israel was reminiscent of processes and events in Nazi Germany. In the opening sentence of an article he published in Haaretz on 1 June 2012, he said: “In a week in which Knesset Members incited for the killing of foreigners in south Tel Aviv and used the Nazi term `a cancer in the body of the nation…`” Later in the article he speaks of “the Israeli Krystallnacht and the approval for distribution of a Hebrew Mein Kampf (referring to the book The King’s Torah, which permits the killing of Gentiles. GS) strengthen the impression that Israel is becoming something different. For those who want a dour and extreme right-wing Halacha state, it will be a paradise.” Thus speaks a man who has a historical outlook.

The books that are his contribution to Hebrew literature are our enduring patrimony, and I have no doubt that they will be the source of more than a few doctoral dissertations.

I knew him as a café acquaintance. But that was enough to appreciate his charm.

I mourn his passing and extend my condolences to his family.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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