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Red Rag column: Israeli antisemitism; Vanunu`s wedding; Moshe Levinger; Ethiopian protests
By: Gideon Spiro
25 May 2015 [English translation 1 June 2015]

Government of Israel encourages antisemitism

“Israel is a state of law”, declared the State Attorney not long ago in an
interview with Yedioth Ahronoth, and the Prime Minister repeats in
nearly every speech that Israel is a democratic state. Both men have a highly-
developed sense of humour, but how many times can you laugh at the same joke?
Israel is democracy in decline and a dictatorship in the making. The latest
example of law-breaking is the issue of the arbitration between Israel and
Iran – who owes to whom, and how much, from the trade in oil between the two
states during the era of the Shah, when there were close ties between Israel
and Iran. Israel signed an international arbitration agreement with the new
Iran, that of Khomeini, knowing very well that Iran had changed from an
intimate friend to a declared enemy.

Israel’s working assumption was a cynical one from the outset. It assumed that
Iran would honour a ruling in its favour, and in the event that the opposite
occurred, it was clear to the Israeli signers of the mediation that Israel not
would pay a cent to Iran in on the grounds that one does not transfer money to
an enemy state. Recently that scenario was realized in full: a Swiss court
ruled that Israel must pay Iran over a billion dollars and Israel refused. So
why did you sign, then? I am not surprised, for Israel is a thuggish state
that in 47 years of Occupation has violated and trampled underfoot nearly
every international convention as well as its own laws.

Thus does Israel provide abundant ammunition to antisemites who point to
Israel as a land of swindlers and liars who steal the property of others. When
it’s time to pay they run to the shelter. On second and third thought, the
suspicion arises that maybe Israel has an interest in supplying ammunition to
antisemites, for what would Netanyahu and his friends do without antisemitism?
Who will dance on the blood? Professor Dina Porat, who is responsible for the
subject of antisemitism at Tel Aviv University, who every year publishes a
report on the state of antisemitism in the world, who obsessively counts the
number of Jewish graves that have been desecrated – what would that poor woman
without antisemitism? Don’t worry, Prof. Porat. For that we have our splendid
youth called the “Mossad fighters” deployed out all over the world with fake
passports, and in the absence of smashed headstones they will make sure to
smash a number of graves and the next day’s headline will be “Jewish graves
desecrated by unknown vandals, police investigating, still no arrests.”

Nothing like antisemitism to serve the antisemitic policy of the government of

The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom
and the voice of the bride

Every year with coming of spring in the month of May two letters arrive at the
office of the lawyer Avigdor Feldman from the legal department of the
occupation army stating that the head of the IDF Central Command is
“considering” extending the restrictions on Mordechai Vanunu for another year.
If Mr. Feldman has concerns, please bring them to the attention of the army.

Since Mordechai Vanunu completed his prison sentence in April 2004, his lawyer
Avigdor Feldman has been receiving these letters that have become a
bureaucratic routine: the text is identical, only the date changes. They are
mendacious documents because the head of Central Command has nothing to say on
the subject; he is simply channelling the Israel Security Agency, whose people
closed their ears a long time ago. They have no interest in hearing Feldman’s
concerns, for there is no danger to the security of Israel; just a cold and
cruel attempt to get revenge on Vanunu for being at peace with what he did.
The objective of the ISA is clear: to deprive Vanunu of his mental balance,
for all whose mental capacity is intact understand that over 30 years since
Vanunu stopped working at the nuclear facility in Dimona he represents no
security risk whatsoever. The judges of the Supreme Court become dwarves when
faced with the ISA. Every year they collaborate with the evil and sign off on
the restrictions.

Mordechai is made of stainless steel, and not only is he not broken, but he is
looking to the future with optimism. This week Mordechai married his
girlfriend Kristin, a professor of theology at the University of Oslo, a
wonderful woman whose love story with Mordechai is an inspiration to all who
believe in universal humanity that transcends continents and nations.

Where is the playwright who could have imagined the real-life story of a
family that emigrated to Israel from Morocco, the head of the family a rabbi
who sent his son Mordechai to study in a yeshiva, and Mordechai then
questioned everything, became an admired figure in the world, a hero for
millions who oppose nuclear weapons and winner of prestigious peace prizes,
but hated among his own people who are brainwashed by news media submissive to
the government, abducted from Europe in an act of terrorism by the government
of Israel, served 18 years in prison, 11 in solitary confinement, following
dubious judicial proceedings, who stands like a solid cliff by his act of
exposing to the international media the nuclear arms industry that the
government of Israel conceals from the public, and upon the end of his
sentence expresses no regret and demonstrated his disgust at the racism of
the Jewish religion as it is practiced in Israel by joining the Anglican
Church, and now this unique and special man will marry the daughter of a
Norwegian pastor in a church in the Old City of Jerusalem – Palestinian
Jerusalem under Israeli occupation.

It was the first time I attended a Christian wedding from beginning to end,
and I admit that the ceremony, modest and impressive at the same time, won me
over. First of all, the setting: a vast open space that projects ancient
splendour as befits a century-old church. Secondly, the wonderfully beautiful
sounds of the organ and singing voices. The minister’s sermon was appealing to
the ears of Vanunu’s supporters. He spoke up for the right to freedom, of
which Mordechai has been deprived. And the refreshments were also appropriate
for the ambiance of modesty, appealing to the eye and the palate but not
ostentatious or extravagant. The whole event took place in an atmosphere of
intimacy. It was not leaked to the media, so the annoyance of a hostile press
that specializes in spoiling such events was avoided.

For my part, I extend warm blessings to the new family, best wishes for joy
and health and hope for the lifting of the restrictions so Mordechai can leave
Israel and begin a new life in a country where he will be free – such as
Norway, for example.

And should anyone see this as a sign that I am moving closer to religion, they
misunderstand me. I remain secular, as always.

Rabbi Levinger

“Rabbi Moshe Levinger, born in 1935, died on 16 May 2015, was one of the
founders of Gush Emunim, a founder of the Judea, Samaria and Gaza (“Yesha”)
Council and formerly one of its leaders. He was considered the father of the
Jewish settlement in Hebron and one of the fathers of Jewish settlement in
Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip after the Six-Day War. He was put on trial
several times following confrontations between himself and the law-enforcement
authorities and Palestinians in the area where he lived, and convicted of
negligent homicide and assaulting police, among other things. He won the
Moscowitz Prize for Zionism.”

Thus opens the Hebrew Wikipedia article on Levinger. It’s all true. Levinger
was a criminal and a racist who blended extreme nationalism with religious
fanaticism and converted the Bible into a tapu land-deed [1] that gave
all the rights to Jews. He was one of a dozen people who after the June 1967
war changed the face of Israeli society. Levinger turned from a controversial
figure into an exemplar. I read some of the eulogies written after his death
and the picture that emerges from them is of an honest and decent person, a
righteous man of his generation. The transformation in Levinger’s status was
manifested by the participation at his funeral of the President of the State
of Israel and the eulogy he delivered. Leftists who put their confidence in
Rubi Rivlin and take pleasure in every comment of the President that can be
interpreted as criticism of Netanyahu should read the eulogy Rivlin delivered
at Levinger’s funeral in Hebron. That is the real Rivlin. He is not the one
who will save us from the wicked government of Benny Benito. [2]

For the sake of full disclosure: my decades of activism against the Occupation
included an episode of direct conflict between me and Levinger. In the summer
of 1983 Levinger set up a protest tent in front of the army headquarters in
Hebron. His demand was to expand the rules for opening fire to permit shooting
children who throw stones. The Committee of Solidarity with Bir Zeit
University, in collaboration with Peace Now, set up a counter-vigil in in
front of Levinger’s. Our demands could be summed up as opposition to the
Occupation and that Levinger and the other settlers go back to the State of
Israel instead of shooting at children. Levinger approached us, and the
commander on the scene, fearing a clash between the two camps, sent soldiers
to separate us. But Levinger got close enough that we could clearly hear his
words of rebuke, and we did not sit idle. A correspondent for Israeli
television who was present saw how tempers were flaring and hastened to
interview Levinger. His racism was manifest when he said that the Arabs should
not see divisions of opinion among Jews, and that we should go back to Tel
Aviv. The correspondent interviewed me in reply to Levinger and I made two
points: that unlike Levinger I believe that it is important that Palestinians
know about disagreements in Israel, that not all Israelis are pawns in
Levinger’s settlement project, and regarding the location of our demonstration
I emphasized that we were demonstrating at the place where the event was
occurring. If Rabbi Levinger would be so kind as to move his protest tent to
Tel Aviv we would stand in front of him there to represent the alternative of
peace and human rights. After Levinger moved on, his ally Attorney Elyakim
Haetzni and called us “traitors”. I replied to him that “it is good to betray
for our country’s sake”. The incident was not included in the in the weekly
news diary broadcast on Channel One (21 July 1983), which was also the only
channel at the time.

Without a doubt Levinger`s way has won out at this stage. From being an
eccentric and a figure of mockery, as he was perceived by many at the
beginning of his public life, he became beloved of the nation – certainly
beloved of the government. His funeral contained elements of a state funeral.
Fascism has passed and apartheid rejoices. And so it can be said that the way
of the wicked is prospering. [3] A question to which I have no answer: for how
long? When will the pendulum swing back?

The protest of the Ethiopians

I do not know if the wave of Ethiopian immigration to Israel was composed of
Jews or Christians or people with no religion, nor do I care. To me it is
clear that from the moment they received Israeli citizenship they were
entitled to all civil rights without distinction by race, religion or
nationality, as stated in the Declaration of Independence. No one told the
immigrants that they were coming to a racist state where eighty thousand
African asylum-seekers live whom the government treats like human garbage that
must be gotten rid of. And so, dear Ethiopians, you need to bear in mind that
you will suffer from discrimination because it is not possible to change the
colour of your skin and we cannot expect every police officer to know how to
distinguish between an Ethiopian and a Sudanese, so it is bound to happen more
than once that some of you will be savagely beaten by police of the violent
type that is common within the ranks of the Israel Police.

Since, as I said, they were not warned, they needed to have the experience of
living in Israel in order to discover discrimination in government offices and
municipalities, private businesses, the army, and brutal beatings by the
police. In only one place have they been accepted naturally: as cleaners of
toilets. The anger that has been building up among the young generation that
has seen their parents’ generation humiliated and defeated engendered stormy
demonstrations that were answered with extraordinary violence by the police.

The demonstrators carried the flag of the State and in most interviews with
the media, of which there were many, the young people emphasized that they are
requesting equality. That is a just demand, but it is marred by the moral flaw
of basing it on military service. Over and over again was heard the argument
that they had served in the army in combat units, they had taken part in the
Gaza wars and the suppression of the uprising in the Territories. We did our
part and are demanding just compensation. To translate that position into
reality on the ground, the young Ethiopians and their representatives are
saying that they are not against racism as a universal outlook. They
collaborate with racism against Arabs and asylum-seekers, and in return they
expect to be granted the rights of whites. In my opinion that will not work.

My advice to the angry young people is to follow rule no. 1 of any struggle
against racism: do not enlist in a racist army that serves racist purposes.

Police violence

Police violence against demonstrators has been a national calamity in Israel
for some time. Complaints to the Police Investigations Department have not
been given the necessary attention and the greater part of them are rejected
on all kinds of dubious pretexts. The time has come to look through the
statute-books, where there is an entire world of possibilities under the
heading of “self-defence”. Examine the law named after the farmer Shai Dromi,
which permits property-owners to kill intruders. Police need to indicate their
objective when they seek a search warrant from a judge, and they are never
given permission to destroy property. A policeman who becomes violent and
destroys property ceases to be a policeman and becomes an intruder whose fate
is sealed by the authorization to kill under the Shai Dromi law. If it that
authorization applies regarding property, then surely it applies all the more
when it comes to those who intrude on the body of a human being. Police are
forbidden to strike citizens, whether their demonstrations are legal or
illegal. That is a categorical order, that is, the prohibition is absolute.
There have already been cases in which judges acquitted citizens who were
accused of using violence against police because the judges were convinced
that the citizens had acted in self-defence. I do not suggest killing police,
if only because as a member of Amnesty International I am against the death
penalty, but it certainly would be a good idea to examine very carefully the
question of whether the temporary neutralization of a police officer who has
attacked peaceful demonstrators is legal in the framework of the recognized
right of self-defence.

The flag march

The holiday called “Jerusalem Day”, which is supposed to commemorate what has
been called in official language the “unification of the city” is nothing more
than a Jewish provocation by Israeli colonialism that scoffs at international
law and taunts the city’s Palestinian residents. This strange and uncalled-for
holiday does not serve the purposes of its proponents, because that day, more
than any other, achieves exactly the opposite: the division of the city is
demonstrated all the more forcefully. Palestinian Jerusalem is a neglected
area with services on Third World levels, whereas the Jewish West of the city
receives tolerable services. There has never been unification.

Palestinian Jerusalem, which was the centre of Palestinian cultural life
before the Israeli Occupation, has become virtually a barren desert due to the
Israeli ban on cultural and artistic events that contain even a hint of
reference to the Occupation. Neighbourhoods in Palestinian Jerusalem are
separated by a wall like the Berlin Wall. In South African terms Palestinian
Jerusalem is for the most part a kind of Soweto while Jewish Jerusalem – with
the applicable distinctions – is a kind of white Johannesburg.

With Jerusalem Day Israel sticks its tongue out at the whole world. It is
mostly composed of egregious provocations, the most loathsome of which is the
flag march by settlers who year after year stubbornly insist on passing
through the Muslim Quarter. That procession reminds me of flag marches in
Germany and Italy in the 1930s, and yes, even the 1977 march by the Nazi Party
in the US, which insisted on marching through Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of
Chicago that was home to thousands of Holocaust survivors.

Same head, same values, same methods.

Translator’s notes
2. Naftali Bennett, Minister of Education and Minister of Diaspora Affairs in
Netanyahu’s government.
3. “Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper?” Jeremiah 12:1

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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