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Red Rag weekly column: President Rubi Rivlin
By: Gideon Spiro
11 June 2014 (English translation 20 June 2014)

The stronghold has been captured

May God the Creator of the World be praised. We have a new President, the tenth, Rubi Rivlin. I see the election of Rivlin as the completion of the revolution of 1977 – finally the last position to hold out has been captured by one who sprang from the loins of the Fighting Family. [1] Rivlin is one of the last in Israeli society who grew up with the anthem of the Etzel underground – “The Jordan River has two banks: one is ours, and so is the other!” (Heb: “Shtei gadot la-Yarden, zo shelanu, zo gam ken!”) Again we are witness to the Pagan ceremony of a man who is secular in his way of life wearing a kippa on his head and going to the Western Wall to caress the stones and give thanks to God. What do you have to thank God for? He did not elect you. You were elected by Miri Regev, Moshe Feiglin, Danon, Bennett and his gang, Eli Yishai and his group, the entire right wing political running sore that closed ranks in the second round of voting and crowned you President. God was not asked for His opinion at all; why involve Him in the scheming of the Knesset? That is really sacrilege.

Haim Baram wrote an article in which he did not conceal his affection for Rivlin, and I am with him. Rivlin, whom I too know from my long life in Jerusalem, is a kindly and affable man who knows a lot about football, is accessible (so far) and likeable. Undoubtedly he is the least bad among the current crop of Likud Knesset Members today. At the burial ceremony for Israeli democracy he will shed a tear, and he will be the last one to put a stone on the grave. I differ with Baram when he attributes to Rivlin a universalist outlook on the issue of human rights. For Rivlin human rights end when he crosses the Green Line. He is a man of the extreme Right, he supports the hooligans of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, he supports the Occupation’s robbery of the lands of the Palestinians, he supports the state of apartheid and strongly opposes a state of all its citizens. We must listen well to what his supporters said after his election. Bennett was moved to tears and said that we have an excellent President.

MK Moshe Feiglin was also moved and expressed satisfaction and joy at the choice. And there were even some on the Left who supported Rivlin. This is not the first time that the Left has shot itself in the foot. We will be consoled by the losses of Beitar Jerusalem. [2]


Coming soon: the 50th anniversary of the Occupation

We have recently commemorated the 47th anniversary of the June 1967 war, which is also the 47th anniversary of the Occupation. The “Breaking the Silence” movement has come up with an excellent idea – a public reading of testimonies from Occupation soldiers for ten hours. The reading/demonstration took place in Habima Square in Tel Aviv on 6 June, the anniversary of the war. I had the honour of reading the testimony of a soldier from the Nahal Brigade, which was stationed in Hebron in 2003. The testimony of `my` soldier reflects well the Occupation routine – its tyranny, cruelty and arbitrariness. A man goes to visit his friend, a five minutes’ walk away. On his way back he encounters a soldier of the Occupation who informs him that the road is closed. Why? Just because. So how will he get home? That’s his problem, not the army’s. He has to plan a bypass route that is kilometres long. So five minutes becomes several hours, which is particularly hard in Hebron because it is a mountainous city. Parents who send their son to school do not know if he will return, or when.

The army sometimes raids schools, which really screws everything up. Sometimes they are harassment raids, to remind the children and the teachers who’s the boss here, and sometimes they arrest students without notifying their parents, who are then frantic with worry about what happened to their child.

In 47 years of Occupation Israel has created a two-headed monster of oppression and bureaucracy, both of which work together to make life miserable for the Palestinians. There is no escape from those monsters. Palestinian residents of the Territories cannot move from one address to another on the same street without a permit from the military government, so they have to undergo humiliations at checkpoints and hours of standing in line at Administration offices, and sometimes the issuance of the permit is conditioned on the applicant’s willingness to act as a collaborator with the Israel Security Agency – in less delicate terms, to be an informer against his own people in the service of the occupier. Along with the daily flood of humiliations, here is a statistic that is unprecedented in the history of regimes of tyranny and occupation: half of the Palestinian nation have been arrested and/or interrogated and/or tortured.

Forty-seven years of military dictatorship. Incredibly, nearly a half-century. Here are a few comparisons that can help us understand the magnitude of the Israeli imperial achievement: the Israeli dictatorship has been more than twice as long as the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini in Italy (20 years) and nearly 50% longer than the dictatorship of Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal (35 years). There is no one Mussolini in the Israeli dictatorship; there are several Mussolinis. A sector commander is a little Mussolini. A district commander is a medium Mussolini, the head of a Regional Command is a big Mussolini, the Minister of Defence is the chief Mussolini and the Prime Minister is the Mussolini-in-Chief. If all the Mussolinis that have taken part in the Israeli dictatorship in the last 47 years were hanged like they hanged the original Mussolini, all the utility poles from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv would not suffice. Since I am against the death penalty, even for war crimes, what I have written here should be taken as a metaphor for the magnitude of the crimes of the Occupation and not a practical proposal.

Why has the Israeli military dictatorship lasted so long? There is probably a list of reasons. I will concentrate on two that look meaningful to me. One internal and the other external, and both are typified by similar patterns of behaviour.

Contrary to popular belief, the peace camp was never a majority in Israel. I mean a political majority, that dictates policy. Even when public opinion polls showed that the majority of the population supported positions of the Left, it was meaningless. All the governments in which the parties of the Zionist Left participated were governments of Occupation that invested in the settlements and oppressed the Palestinians. Mapam – the United Workers’ Party (“For Zionism, for Socialism, for the Brotherhood of Nations”), participated in the governments of Eshkol, Golda Meir and the first Rabin government. Meretz, into which Mapam merged, raised the banner of equality and human rights and participated in the (second) Rabin government and the Ehud Barak government, which did not cut the Palestinians even a millimetre of slack. Yossi Sarid, while he was serving as Minister of Education, wrote and spoke out against the Occupation, and the day after the speech or the publication of the article, he handed fat cheques to the nationalist-racist education system of the settlements in the Occupied Territories, from which emerged rotten fruit like the Hilltop Youths. “That is my role as Education Minister,” said Sarid in his own defence. And indeed it was, but if you write against the Occupation and then act in support of it, it will not be eliminated. The Peace Now movement finds itself in a similar situation. Its leaders oppose the Occupation refusers, which produces the absurd situation in which one day they demonstrate against the Occupation and the next day they put on their uniforms and go off to do their annual duty in the Reserves as soldiers of the Occupation. That is no way to get rid of the Occupation. Alongside the Zionist Left stands the mainstream of the economy and society which extend a hand to the Occupation, even if some of their leaders have reservations about the policies of the government. It is also thus in academia, industry, the Medical Association, the Bar Association, the General Federation of Labour, the banking system, a substantial part of the newspapers, the education system and the religious establishment. The Occupation will never be defeated that way.

That same dynamic also occurs on the international level. The USA and the European states periodically condemn Israel’s settlement policies. Long ago that became a kind of religious ceremony – Europe and America condemn, Israel ignores and builds. There are no sanctions, commercial relations flourish, economic and military aid continues, artists from all over the world perform in Israel, Israelis can visit nearly the whole world without a visa and Israel participates in major sporting events. The situation is so good that the Housing Minister, the settler Uri Ariel, said in a television interview that he was not worried about international criticism, adding that before the annexation of the Golan Heights too they also warned us that the annexation would have grave ramifications, and nothing happened. In this situation of a supportive West, a cooperative Palestinian Authority and an Arab world with its dictatorial regimes, Israel can to continue the Occupation for many more years.


Hannah Meron

The actor Hannah Meron has departed from this world at the grand old age of 90. Newspaper articles heaped praises on her multifarious talents and actors who had worked with her were unstinting with warm and loving words. There is no doubt that she was one of the greatest actors in the history of Israel. I have no disagreement with her greatness as an actor. What bothers me is was the downplaying of another aspect of her personality, the political side. Hannah Meron was also a political person. She was a woman of peace: she opposed the Occupation and the regime of apartheid Israel has established in the Occupied Territories. She supported the Occupation-refusers of the Yesh Gvul movement and signed a petition calling for actors not to appear in settlements in the Occupied Territories. As a native of Berlin, she experienced dispossession when she was forced to emigrate from Nazi Germany with her family, and she belongs to the same branch of German Jewry as the writer of these lines – the humanistic, liberal, leftist one, who drew the appropriate conclusions from their fate – that is to say, the value of preserving democracy as a precious asset and the uncompromising struggle against the racism that began with racist laws and ended with death-camps.

Shamefully, this branch is a minority not only in Israeli society, but also among the Jews of Germany and their descendants, some of whom are members of the conservative right-wing and racist branch marinated in Hebrew neo-Nazi sauce, as Amos Oz recently put it. A prominent spokesman for that branch is a German Jew, the settler Elyakim Haetzni, who adopted Nazi language when he compared Arabs to rats. In the eyes of this branch, Hannah Meron and her friends are “traitors” and “whores”.

The death of Hannah Meron is not only a loss for her family and the theatre world. The family of human-rights defenders too has lost a dear friend.


The plot has been thwarted

By our Correspondent for Settlement Affairs.

Thank God we have a wise army, intelligent police force and Heaven-fearing
settlers. All those three authorities joined hands yesterday in a joint effort to repel an attack that threatened to sabotage the glorious venture. Our correspondent in the Liberated Territories of the Homeland reports: it all started when four brainwashed Palestinian girls passed by the cherry orchard of a settlement that for security reasons cannot be named. The settler in the nearby watchtower identified the invaders as they were filling their bellies with cherries in the cultivation of which holy Jewish labour had been invested.

The settler acted according to regulations and immediately summoned settlement security, the army and the police, who arrived within minutes, well-armed and in full coordination. The girls were arrested and taken to the police station, and after an interrogation that was carried out by means of proven effectiveness, the plot was uncovered. The girls were a diversionary force whose mission was to distract the Security Forces, at which moment an attack was to be carried out by the Rejection Front, a new body that is not known, to capture the settlement and wave the Palestinian flag emblazoned with the legend “Liberated territory”. The discovery of the conspiracy at the last moment made it possible for the Security Forces to thwart the action and to eliminate all the terrorists except one, for interrogation purposes.

Our Correspondent asked Gideon Spiro, a leftist who does not conceal his hostility to the settlements, what he had to say, and below are his unbelievable words, un-redacted: “The whole story about a diversionary force is brainwashing. The girls had the right to eat as many cherries as much as they wanted, because they are not the invaders; they are on their own land. On the contrary, it is the settlers who are the invaders and the robbers, who seized control over land that is not theirs.” Spiro also said that if he were younger he would set up among the “Forces of Peace”, as he calls them, a Movement of Cherries that would draw map of orchards in the settlements. “Picking and harvesting teams would occasionally raid the orchards and vineyards and they would transfer the fruits of their labours to Palestinian associations that aid the needy.” Regarding the Rejection Front, he said: “I am not well-versed in the intricacies of Palestinian organizations, but I will repeat what I have written and said innumerable times: the right of a people under occupation to struggle for their liberation is like the right of a slave to be liberated from his chains and the right of the thirsty to slake their thirst – and always preferably by non-violent means.”

When the report was published, Gideon Spiro said that he was pleasantly surprised at the fairness of the settler journalist, who had faithfully reproduced his words.


He told the truth

The comparison made by Prof. Amiram Goldbloom between the march of the neo-Nazis in the US town of Skokie, Illinois, many of the residents of which are Jews, including Holocaust survivors, and the provocative flag-march by the settlers and their allies in the Palestinian neighbourhoods in Jerusalem, is correct and accurate. The “Bennett and Rightward” group whose name is – how symbolic – similar to that of Benito’s group in Europe and the supporters of Bantustan South Africa, can take satisfaction at the success of their sister parties in the recent elections to the European Parliament. It is time to forge a fraternal alliance between the Israeli Bennett [3] and the European Benito, a fascist Jewish and Christian alliance under the slogan “Europe to the Christians, Israel to the Jews and death to the Arabs.” Bennett and Benito have nothing to look for in the death-camps. Such antiquated methods of liquidation and plunder are not fitting for the high-tech era of the 21st century. The founding charter expressed regret about the destruction of the Jews in the Second World War. “It was a mistake; they should have just killed the Gypsies.

The lessons were learned, and the support for Minister Bennett in Israel is proof of that”, it is written. The new fascist alliance will hold its first conference in the Spandau neighbourhood in Belin, near the ruins of the Spandau Prison, which formerly housed Nazi war criminals, and Bennett will appear under the slogan “A Jewish fascist is no less of a fascist.” He will open his speech with: “My brothers, believe me, I am the only one here who has killed Arabs.” From the excited audience will come the heavenly voice of applause, and the terrorist Hagai Segal, [4] radiant, joyful and plump with pleasure, will sit at the head table, a dear brother.


Translator’s notes

1. A term used to describe the Irgun, a.k.a. Etzel, the pre-1948 armed Jewish underground organization led by Menachem Begin.

2. Beitar Jerusalem F.C. is an Israeli professional football club notorious for the virulent anti-Arab racism of its fans. Israel’s new President, Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin is known for his strong support of the team, of which he served as a legal advisor, director and chairman. Beitar is also the name of the youth movement that was associated with the Irgun (Etzel) underground, and today with the Likud.

3. Naftali Bennett, born in Haifa in 1972 to parents who immigrated to Israel from the US in 1967, is the leader of the extreme right-wing party “The Jewish Home” (Ha-Bayit ha-Yehudi), which is part of Netanyahu’s government. He is the Minister of the Economy, the Minister of Religious Services and the Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs. Bennett pointed out with pride in one of his speeches that he had killed Arabs and he is in the habit of beginning his speeches with the words “My brothers”.

4. Hagai Segal was a member of a Jewish underground murder cell in the 1980s. After his release from prison he wrote the book Dear Brothers, and today he is a journalist for the Knesset television channel and a columnist in Israel’s highest-circulation newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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