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Red Rag weekly column: Barkat: Occupation Mayor - Bedouin death-march - Pete Seeger RIP
By: Gideon Spiro
21 February 2014 (English translation 3 March 2014)

Nir Barkat: Occupation Mayor

The newspaper Haaretz (21 February 2014) reported that Amir Abed-Rabbo,
a Palestinian photographer who lives in East Jerusalem, was summoned to the
police for questioning after he referred to Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat as
“Mayor of the Occupation” on his Facebook page. The fools in the police and
the Israel Security Agency who summoned him gave legitimacy to what Amir
wrote. When it comes to East Jerusalem Barkat is indeed the “Mayor of the

I support unarmed struggle against the Occupation, and this is an excellent
opportunity to expose the reality of the Occupation and apartheid in
Palestinian East Jerusalem. All that is needed is a few thousand Palestinians
in East Jerusalem and a few thousand Israelis in Israel inside the Green Line
to write on their Facebook pages “Nir Barkat is the Occupation Mayor”, then
send it to the Inspector-General of the Israel Police and the Minister of
Public Security with the request that they be investigated just as Amir Abed-
Rabbo is being investigated. We will thereby demonstrate solidarity with Amir
as well as exposing the stupidity and injustice of the Occupation.

For my part, I accept the challenge, and I hereby inform the police that I
identify with Amir Abed-Rabbo’s assertion that Nir Barkat is the mayor of the
Occupation. Please invite me for questioning or apologize to Amir Abed-Rabbo
for false summons, violation of his freedom of expression and threats of
intimidation, for which you must compensate him.

Letter to Chairman of the European Parliament

To Martin Schultz
Chairman of the European Parliament

The speech you gave at the Israeli Knesset a few days ago was very sympathetic
to Israel. Too sympathetic. An apartheid state does not deserve such
expressions of sympathy. I assume that during the Apartheid era you would not
have gone to the South African parliament and praised them. But Zionist
Israel, with its brandishing of the Holocaust and smearing of those who
criticize Israel as “anti-Semites”, all the more so if they’re German, removes
itself from this universe and becomes a special case. It is hard to say “no”
to a disturbed child armed with a couple of hundred nuclear bombs.

Even though your speech in the Knesset was replete with sympathy for Israel,
only one sentence, which was interpreted as criticism on the issue of the
unequal distribution of water between the settlers and the Palestinians
sufficed for the fascist Israeli Right that wears the mask of patriot and
brandishes the Holocaust to smear you as an enemy of the State.

My dear Martin, you are not alone. The Israeli Left is in the same boat. We
too are enemies of the State. Take me, for example. A case I know very well. I
am a native of Berlin. I was in Berlin during the Krystallnacht pogrom
and thanks to the resourcefulness of my mother we were not harmed physically.
We left Germany at the last minute before the war. Due to my political
activism in peace and human rights organizations and my published articles I
am a target for attacks and threats from the racist Israeli Right. More than a
few times I have been told that it is a pity that the Nazis did not murder me.
It is important that you know this, Martin: in the eyes of the Jewish fascists
in Israel, Hitler’s big mistake was that he murdered Jews indiscriminately. If
he had settled for murdering leftists – Jewish and non-Jewish –they would
admire him unreservedly. This is no idle speculation. It is a political
conclusion from the policies of the Israeli Right and right-wing Israeli

The race-laws in Apartheid South Africa Apartheid were taken directly from the
Nuremberg laws. That did not prevent Israeli governments from having a
passionate love affair with that terrible regime. The Zionist Jewish
establishment in South Africa collaborated with the regime, because Apartheid
did not hurt the Jews, after all. Whereas in Nazi Germany they were considered
an inferior race, in South Africa they constituted part of the White master
race, and enjoyed privileges accordingly.

During the fascist dictatorship of the generals in Argentina thousands of
left-wing students were murdered, including hundreds of Jews. That did not
prevent the government of Israel from having friendly relations with the
regime, including arms exports. It was the same with the fascist regime of
General Augusto Pinochet in Chile. The Jewish settlers in the Occupied
Territories could just as easily have been German settlers in Poland in the
Second World War. Their outlooks are similar and so are their actions. In
Germany they burned synagogues and in the Occupied Territories the settlers
burn mosques. We have not yet reached the stage of death camps, and let us
hope that we never get there –although the slogan “Arabs to the crematoria” is
scrawled on walls in the Jewish colony in Hebron.

Back to the issue of water. You were right: the Israel Occupation does indeed
plunder Palestinian water. The settlers enjoy abundant water, but the faucets
are dry for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and some of them do not
even get the minimum necessary to maintain life as determined by the World
Health Organization. Read the 2009 Amnesty International report, “Troubled
waters – Palestinians denied fair access to water”,* a comprehensive, well-
grounded and serious report that exposes the criminal policy of Israeli
governments, a deliberate policy of starving the Palestinians of water. Since
then the situation has only gotten worse.

Here are some excerpts from the introduction:

“Lack of access to adequate, safe, and clean water has been a
longstanding problem for the Palestinian population of the Occupied
Palestinian Territories (OPT) [2]. Though exacerbated in recent years by the
impact of drought-induced water scarcity, the problem arises principally
because of Israeli water policies and practices which discriminate against the
Palestinian population of the OPT. This discrimination has resulted in
widespread violations of the right to an adequate standard of living, which
includes the human rights to water, to adequate food and housing, and the
right to work and to health of the Palestinian population.

The inequality in access to water between Israelis and Palestinians is
striking. Palestinian consumption in the OPT is about 70 litres a day per
person – well below the 100 litres per capita daily recommended by the World
Health Organization (WHO) – whereas Israeli daily per capita consumption, at
about 300 litres, is about four times as much. In some rural communities
Palestinians survive on far less than even the average 70 litres, in some
cases barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by the WHO for
emergency situations response. [3]

Access to water resources by Palestinians in the OPT is controlled by Israel
and the amount of water available to Palestinians is restricted to a level
which does not meet their needs and does not constitute a fair and equitable
share of the shared water resources. Israel uses more than 80 per cent of the
water from the Mountain Aquifer, the only source of underground water in the
OPT, as well as all of the surface water available from the Jordan River of
which Palestinians are denied any share.

The stark reality of this inequitable system is that, today, more than 40
years after Israel occupied the West Bank, some 180,000 – 200,000 Palestinians
living in rural communities there have no access to running water and even in
towns and villages which are connected to the water network, the taps often
run dry. Water rationing is common, especially but not only in the summer
months, with residents of different neighbourhoods and villages receiving
piped water only one day every week or every few weeks. Consequently, many
Palestinians have no choice but to purchase additional supplies from mobile
water tankers which deliver water at a much higher price and of often dubious
quality. As unemployment and poverty have increased in recent years and
disposable income has fallen, Palestinian families in the OPT must spend an
increasingly high percentage of their income – as much as a quarter or more in
some cases – on water.

That is from the Amnesty report. In addition I suggest that you look at Irit
Gal’s film “The disappeared valley” (Heb: `Ha-’emeq ha-ne’elam`), which
illustrates Israel’s policy of water-starvation and shows that there a is
deliberate and ongoing policy of denying water to the Palestinians to the
point of endangering life. Some see this as verging on slow genocide by

The ministers and Knesset Members who staged a protest against you and left
the chamber are part of the fascist sewage that the Occupation has created,
the racist abomination that coats Israel in filth. They are representatives of
the water thieves. If you translate their opinions and outlooks into German
you will get a sampling of those who joined the Nazi party in the 1930s. Some
of them would have obediently carried out the policies of the regime.

I write these words not only as a member of the international community of
human-rights defenders, but also as a refugee from Nazi Germany who was forced
to emigrate because of the race laws and who is disgusted at the Israeli
government’s racist and humiliating treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers.
It is precisely because you are a German who has learned lessons from the Nazi
era and struggles for a democratic Germany and Europe that you have the right
and maybe even the duty to say that the government of Israel that not learned
the lessons of the Holocaust. Jewish racism and war crimes are no nicer than
those of non-Jews.

Successive Israeli governments have converted the Holocaust into a laundry-
detergent to clean xenophobia and the crimes of the Occupation. If there is
such a thing as desecration of the Holocaust, Israel is the leader in the
field and the Yad Vashem institute collaborates with those tendencies. Israel
does not need nuclear missile carrying German submarines that endanger us with
a new Holocaust, but an International Brigade, not necessarily armed, that
will flood the country from the sea to the river and together with Israeli
human rights defenders and Palestinians will struggle to end the Occupation
and turn Israel into a democratic state for all its citizens.

The death-march

Clearly it was only a matter of time until the public learned about deeds of
Ariel Sharon characterized by the black flag of illegality and the crossing of
all red lines. David Landau, who was the editor of the newspaper
Haaretz, has now written a book about Sharon and reveals that in 1972,
when Sharon was the head of the Southern Command, a division-level military
exercise was carried out in the Sinai in secret. Bedouin tribes lived in the
area of the exercise. Sharon decided that they were getting in the way of the
exercise and that they had to be removed. He sent officers to the tribe and
they were ordered to leave right away, now, immediately. At night in the cold
of zero degrees they set out on a walk of several kilometres that became a
death-march. Dozens died on the way, especially babies and old people who
could not take the strain. Perhaps Sharon thought that a death-march was an
interesting experience that we Jews should share with those subject to our
rule. Admittedly that is wild speculation. More likely Sharon, though himself
a secular person who knew approximately nothing about the Bible, ate pork and
deprived himself of none of the pleasures of life, understood with an animal
instinct that putting people to death in this kind of way is permitted under
Jewish law. Sharon anticipated by 40 years the book The King’s Torah,
which gave halachic permission (permission in Jewish law) to kill the children
of the enemy.

It hardly needs saying that Sharon was not fired or put on trial, for what had
happened, after all? A few dozen Arab children died. For that you don’t punish
a man who was called the “King of Israel.” And it is nearly as redundant to
add that not one of the officers who were sent to execute the cruel transfer
refused the order and saw the black flag of illegality. Because IDF is the
most moral army in the world.

The Stasi comes to Israel

Media reports on the story of the teacher Adam Verete, one of whose pupils
complained in a letter to the Minister of Education that he had said in class
that the Israeli army is not moral, have focussed largely on the teacher and
on the demand from the Right for his dismissal and less on the meaning of the
complaint submitted by his pupil Sapir Sabah.

To me there is no doubt that the Israeli Occupation army is not moral. An army
that oppresses another people and denies basic rights to millions of human
beings cannot be moral in the exalted meaning of the concept. In any case,
Adam Verete denied that he said what the pupil ascribed to him. He considered
it a lesson dedicated to discussion of basic concepts like democracy, and
during the discussion he mentioned immoral acts by the Israeli army in the
Occupied Territories.

The Right accepted the account of Sapir Sabah, who quickly became a darling of
the Right in all its factions. Ministers and Knesset Members invited her to
the Knesset and praised her good citizenship. The Kahanist faction of the
settlers held a gathering in her honour at which the participants praised to
the skies her letter to the Education Minister as an expression of exemplary
And that is indeed the danger in her letter – that it will be held up as an
example of good citizenship. But it is bad citizenship, totalitarian
citizenship that stifles free speech, the citizenship of the political
informer. Sapir Sabah did not witness the teacher committing a criminal act,
which would have been her duty to report. She complained against the teacher
because he tried to teach what democracy is. Democracy and the Occupation are
polar opposites and a teacher who is also a democrat is obliged to convey that
message. I do not know if Sapir has learned about the phenomenon of
McCarthyism, if she knows what the Stasi represented or if she has read Hans
Fallada’s book Alone in Berlin. There are differences between the three
but there is a common denominator: the Big Brother totalitarianism that
encourages all citizens to inform on any transgression of the limitations set
by the regime. Sapir acted according to the regime’s expectations of
schoolchildren: to inform on every teacher who diverges to the left. The trend
is clear – to dismiss all teachers who are committed to democracy and human
rights. Those two concepts have become a left-wing annoyance in the Israel of
2014. Sapir can already claim an accomplishment to her credit. The Minister of
Education has issued a guideline to teachers removing from critical discussion
three subjects: the army, the Holocaust and religion. The Holy Trinity of
withered democracy.

Sapir Sabah is in grade 12 – the last year of high school. In a few months she
and her classmates will be inducted into the army. Many of them will be given
weapons and will serve in the Occupied Territories. They will decide who will
live and who will die. I would not want to be anywhere in the vicinity.

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger has passed away after a life rich in days and deeds. A great
artist. A poet, composer, singer and musician who found original ways to
combine artistic activity with social and political commitment. He was a
committed artist in the purest sense of the concept. On the one hand as a
singer of protest against racism, wars, injustices of capitalist society,
against employers’ attempts to prevent from workers from organizing unions,
and more. On the other hand he was a singer of hope for a just world that
respects human rights, which found its clearest manifestation in the song “We
shall overcome.” He followed the dictates of his conscience with a measured
political message, so people believed him. His admirers across nations and
continents numbered in the hundreds of thousands if not millions. For me he
was a soundtrack that accompanied me for over 50 years.

The Left Bank club did well to hold a memorial evening for him hosted by the
poet Dr. Dan Almagor, than whom none is more suitable. A wonderful storyteller
and also an scholar of impressive knowledge. The singer Noga Eshed sang some
of Pete Seeger’s songs, all of them well-known, and the audience joined her.
The evening was full of love for Pete Seeger. I did not sing because I kept
choking up.

A bouquet for Achinoam

The Composers’ Association decided to award prizes to the singers Achinoam
Nini and Ariel Zilber. Achinoam decided to give up her prize rather than stand
on the same stage with Zilber, a nationalist and racist who believes that
Rabin’s assassin should be freed, sang in praise of Rabbi Meir Kahane and
excoriates Arabs and the gay community. She was immediately condemned by
sanctimonious right-wingers who accused her of violating freedom of
expression. Nonsense. She did no such thing. How can she silence Zilber?
Zilber is the regime, the boss. She only wanted to separate herself from the
evil crowd that is covering Israel with darkness. Maariv journalist
Erel Segal wrote: you were willing to sing “Ave Maria” to the Pope, the head
of the Church that prosecuted Jews, but you boycott Zilber? The answer is
obvious: the Pope has expressed sorrow and regret over the Church’s sins
against the Jews. He seeks out every path to dialogue between religions
instead of violence. If Zilber would undergo a similar process of purification
and praise the “Prayer for peace” of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov [a] (whose
foolish and fanatical followers do him injustice) then I assume (without
having asked Achinoam) that she would join him in singing “The whole world is
a very narrow bridge”. [b] Meanwhile from this column I send a digital bouquet
of flowers to Achinaom Nini for standing firm for human freedom and dignity.

Author’s note


End-notes from the Amnesty International report on water (numbering from
the original)

2. “Access to quality water and sanitation increasingly problematic: The total
water supply in the OPT declined in 2007 compared to 2006. Current water
supply in the OPT is estimated at 75 litres per capita per day (l/c/d) - 65.3
l/c/d in the West Bank and 80.5 l/c/d in the Gaza Strip. This constitutes only
half the international standard of 150 l/c/d.35” (UN Agencies Consolidated
Appeal 2008:
and “Water availability is scarce in the region [OPT] and present supplies
barely meet the needs of the Palestinian people. 13% of the population do not
have access to a supply of running water and many of the existing water
facilities are dilapidated. Water quality particularly in the Gaza Strip is
very poor to the extent that only 7% of the water supplied for domestic use
meets international and World Health Organization standards”. (UNDP, June

3. WHO Technical Note No 9 - Minimum water quantity needed for domestic use in

Translator’s notes


b. From a quote attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), and made
into a song.
Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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