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Red Rag column: terrorist judges; lynching in Jerusalem
By: Gideon Spiro
27 January 2015

Terrorist judges

To: Zvi Zilbertal
Judge of the Supreme Court
Shaarei Mishpat St.
Hakirya, Jerusalem

Aharon Farkash
Vice-President, District Court
Salah al-Din St.
Jerusalem 9711060

Today I learned of your ruling in the case of Sadeq Gheith, a resident of
Silwan in Palestinian Jerusalem. The Minister of Defence signed an
administrative detention order against Sadeq Gheith on the grounds of “acts of
popular terror” [i.e. as opposed to organized terror – trans.]. He filed an
appeal against the detention, first before you, Farkash, and after you
approved the detention order he appealed to the Supreme Court, where you,
Zilbertal, approved Farkash’s travesty. Sadeq could not defend himself before
either of you because he does not know what he is accused of. Only you were
shown the “secret” material in a revolting ex parte proceeding behind
closed doors with representatives of the Israel Security Agency who tell all
kinds of stories without being subjected to any cross-examination.
The state prosecutor, Attorney Anar Hellman, who represented the security
agencies and was an active partner in that flawed proceeding, claimed that the
sources of information should not be disclosed, and you did not have the
professional integrity to say: Mr. Prosecutor, if the accused cannot have an
opportunity to prove his innocence or question the reliability of the
information – no administrative detention.

There is a vicious circle in the Israeli judicial reality that the accused
cannot escape from. He is sent to detention without knowing why.
Administrative detention is judicial villainy, a violation of all norms of
democratic justice and law. You, along with the prosecutor Anar Hellman, are
acting as obedient emissaries of the ISA. You speak a great deal in your
rulings about the fact that administrative detention is done in accordance
with the law, which gives the Defence Minister authority to sign the order.
And most unfortunately the law does indeed permit this, but it also gives the
authority not to approve it, which you chose not to exercise.

I am writing this letter on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and I am
reminded of the words of the late Professor Yeshayahu Liebowitz who pointed
out that Eichmann too acted within the law. That was also the claim of the
Nazi German judges who were tried at the Nuremberg Tribunal. It was not their
fault, they said, that those were the laws according to which they had to
judge. To which the Allied judges replied that their willingness to judge
according to the criminal laws that Germany had legislated did not absolve
them of their responsibility. They were partners in crime and in evil, and for
that they had to face justice. They were an essential level in the
constitutional hierarchy. And so are you. Former Justice Minister Yaakov
Shimshon Shapira, who was no leftist, heaven forfend – he was a Mapainik in
all his 365 sinews and 248 organs – described the emergency laws that
permitted administrative detention as worse than the Nazi laws. It turns out
that one need not be a Nazi judge to judge according to Nazi laws. A strictly
Kosher Jew can also fulfill the role of judicial scoundrel. The harmony that
has been created between the system of Occupation and apartheid and Israeli
judges, not all of them but most of them, certainly including the judges of
the Supreme Court, proves that the lessons of the Holocaust have not been
learned. For that there is no need to march into Auschwitz with flags and
drums, and no need for ceremonial flyovers by the Israeli air force over the
death camp, which only desecrate the memory. The lessons that demand to be
learned – justice, equality and freedom for all who are made in the Image –
are engraved in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a document that was
passed by the United Nations in 1948 as a lesson from the era of the
Holocaust. But word has not yet reached you, apparently.

Back to Sadeq Gheith. He is accused of “popular terror”, another linguistic
invention of the Occupation. You are indeed afflicted with racist judgeship,
but as far as I know your brains not defective. You know how to read and
write, you read newspapers, hear the news on the radio and watch it on
television, and I have no doubt that it is just as clear to you as it is to me
that what is going on in Palestinian Jerusalem is a popular uprising against
the terror of the Occupation, against exclusion from human and civil rights.
Palestinian Jerusalem is under occupation and you are acting in the service of
that occupation, while deceiving the citizenry that you represent justice. You
wrap yourselves in prayer-shawls made of pigskin and sell them as a kosher
product certified by the High Court of Justice. For such fraud people get put
on trial.

A public lynching

A young man named Tommy Hasson was walking on a street in the capital,
Jerusalem, speaking in Arabic with a friend, when suddenly they were accosted
by 10 kippa-wearing youths who beat them bloody. A private “Hannibal
procedure”. [1] And for what? Because he was speaking Arabic. The lynching
took place not in a dark alley but on the edge of the city, next to the
central bus station, in full view of everyone. It was observed by security
people too, not one of whom went to the aid of the victim. After the Hannibals
finished pouring their wrath on Tommy and left him battered and bleeding on
the street, an ambulance was called, which took him to the hospital. How would
fate have it? That Tommy is a young Druze Arab, a product of the divide-and-
rule policy of the governments of Israel according to which the Druze are not
Arabs and so they must serve in the military. He completed his military
service only a month ago and is studying in a music academy. What a
convergence of events that this man who had just finished serving in the army
that is oppressing his people then himself fell victim to Israeli racists who
do not distinguish between different kinds of Arabic-speakers, for in their
eyes they are all Arabs who must be persecuted.

Israeli policy has partly succeeded. Evidence of this is the many Druze who
serve in the Prisons Service and the Border Police. But there are also a not
inconsiderable number of Druze who refuse to enlist in the military and
declare that their Druzeness does not negate their Arabness and so they refuse
to join an army that is oppressing their people.

As a refugee from Nazi Germany, who as a child experienced the
Krystallnacht pogroms of November 1938 in Berlin and immigrated to
British Palestine in March 1939, five minutes before the outbreak of the
Second World War, I am of course particularly sensitive to all manifestations
of racism and more than once I have noticed a similarity between the racists
of Berlin and those of Jerusalem. The lynching of the Druze Arab or Druze
Palestinian student reminds me of the picture that is displayed in Yad Vashem
of German soldiers cutting off the ear-locks of a Jew on a crowded street, not
concealing their enjoyment in humiliating him. What happened after the photo
was taken we do not know. Maybe they beat him, maybe not. But both incidents
were cases of public humiliation and abuse on racial grounds, the only sin of
the victims was their being different in religion or language or colour and
that they were not members of the majority group.

I hope the music student Tommy Hasson, after he comes to terms with this
traumatic event, will come to the conclusion that this is not the time to
serve in the army of Occupation. If he is called for reserve duty, let him
reply to the army: not now; when peace comes get back to me.

Translator’s note


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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