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Red Rag: Settlers speak - Correspondence with Amos Oz - Dr. Ilana Dayan, queen of Galei Tzahal
By: Gideon Spiro
15 June 2015 (English translation 23 June)

Settlers speak

Amit Segal, political correspondent on Channel 2, is a link in the chain of
the establishment of control by settlers and their supporters over the
government and media in Israel. Despite his young age he already enjoys the
status of political expert and is invited to panels that try to analyze
political processes of parties and their leaders, and sometimes even to guess
the future. His speech is rapid and brimming with self-confidence verging on
arrogance. There is no doubt that he is a true product of the settler
education system, following in the ideological footsteps of the founding
generation. If the process of establishing hegemony by the settlers and their
supporters is not halted, he appears to have a brilliant future ahead of him.

And now this industrious man has bombarded us with information about the shady
past of the young Likud Knesset Member Oren Hazan. If the information is true,
then number 30 on the Likud Knesset list has changed from being a media
curiosity to nearly a criminal figure, immersed in the criminal world of
gambling, drugs and prostitution, which has charms for more than a few
Israelis. As one of the veterans of the Likud Central put it: “It’s all
jealousy; who would not want to manage a casino and be surrounded by beautiful

Segal and Hazan are close in age, the second generation of the settlers. They
both grew up in the Occupied Territories outside the State of Israel, in an
area saturated with violence, murder, theft and robbery. What amount of bad
blood between the two of them could have brought Segal to take part in an
investigation that blackens Hazan’s name to the point of possibly cutting off
a budding career in public life? Hazan claims that the investigation is all
falsehoods and lies, that nothing of the kind ever happened and that he is a
victim of media terrorism. He announced that he would file a lawsuit for
slander. I await the trial with baited breath. It looks like behind this story
is an affair that awaits the attention of a young and energetic investigative

Contamination of the language

Nearly 200 years ago the German Jewish poet Heinrich Heine wrote prophetically
that those who burn books will end up burning people.

To that statement could be added the iron rule of universal application
according to which every regime or government that is guilty of human rights
violations, oppression, racism and aggressive war is always accompanied by
contamination of the language. That is, mendacious and manipulative use of
language, whether it takes the form of the invention of new words intended to
show negative phenomena in a positive light, or the malicious use of terms and
language patterns with positive connotations for shady purposes, in the hope
of mobilizing widespread approval in the public. Slavery and discrimination
against Blacks in the USA would not have lasted so many years if not for the
American judge who ruled that the rights that are promised to all people in
the US Constitution do not include the Blacks because they are not human
beings, thereby resolving the dilemma of those who felt uncomfortable with
slavery. Nazi Germany could not have murdered millions of human beings,
including a at least a million children, using industrial methods, if not for
a prior protracted and efficient campaign of propaganda that represented the
Jew as Satan and a cancer in the body of the nation that was plotting to take
control over the world that needed to be destroyed before he could do that.
The message was received and the plan to destroy them received broad
acceptance. These principles are also valid in all matters related to the
Israeli Occupation.

And this reminds me of a correspondence I had with the writer Amos Oz in the
first half of 1986.

Amos asked for my consent to publish a correspondence between us as an article
in the late lamented daily Davar. I agreed, on the condition that the
correspondence be published in its entirety. Imagine my surprise when I
discovered that Amos Oz published an article about the correspondence in which
he “summarized” my positions in way that did not represent them fairly. Oz’
article was also published in his book The Slopes of Lebanon. [1] The
correspondence was published in full in the first issue of Gesher, a
Palestinian weekly in the Hebrew language founded and edited by my friend
Attorney Ziyad Abu-Ziyad, a proponent of peace and coexistence. The passage
quoted below did not appear in Amos Oz’ summary. I wrote the following in my
letter to Oz:

`An inextricable part of the corruption I spoke of above is the new language
that was created in Israel after the Occupation began. One could call it
Colonial Hebrew. Its creators tried to bypass all the ugliness and injustice
that accompany the Occupation by using terms that convert the twisted to
straight and the ugly to beautiful. Accordingly, official Hebrew does not
recognize the term “Occupied Territories” but the pastoral and Biblical term
“Judea and Samaria”, which instructs that these are ancient territories that
were promised to us and have belonged to us since that Divine promise. Just as
there are no occupied territories, neither is there an occupation army, and
the Israeli army even when it is an occupier continues to be the Israel
Defence Force. And if the Israeli army is not an occupier, then naturally it
cannot carry out oppression of a civilian population and the denial of human
freedoms, but rather concerns itself only with enforcing the law and
protecting public order. Clean and pleasant language. And if there is no
occupation in the first place, then there cannot be any resistance to the
Occupation, and you, Amos Oz, have fallen into this trap. Along with the
language that bypasses the ugly, a language that is intended to instill
contempt for and hatred of the occupied population has been created. Thus the
Israeli language of the military government will always use the term “locals”
and never mention the term “Palestinian people”. These “locals” never protest
or demonstrate, they are always either an inflamed mob or rioters. And when a
soldier shoots at those rioters and kills a five year old child or a young
woman, it is almost always followed by a laconic announcement from the IDF
spokesman that says that “in the investigation conducted by the military
authorities it emerged that the soldier did not contravene the army’s orders
on opening fire”. Simple, sharp and smooth. Very few Israeli citizens ask
themselves how it happens that the standing orders on opening fire permit the
shooting of women and children with impunity. As I said, in the absence of an
occupation and resistance to occupation it is inconceivable that the occupied
population might have combatants of its own. They are always either terrorists
or saboteurs or murderers. And a people that is not occupied cannot have a
national liberation movement, but murder and sabotage organizations at most. I
could give more and more examples of the colonial language of the Occupation
that has taken root in Israel. For example: the Palestinians have no
intellectuals, but “notables”, and at most “educated people”, and so on and so

`What I am trying to do is to restore to concepts their true meaning. If my
people rules over another people, we need to call the child by his name, and
the name of the child is occupation and oppression. And if my people blows up
the homes of people who have committed no crime, we need to call the child by
his name: criminal collective punishment. And if my people bombs civilian
populations in Beirut, Tyre and Sidon and kills thousands of civilians
including women and children, we need to call the child by his name, and the
name of the child is war crime; and whoever gave the order is a war criminal.
And if my people denies another people basic civil rights, we need to call the
child by his name: oppression and denial of human liberty. The fact that it is
my people that is committing all these injustices does not make them pleasant.
Those who try to sanitize their own people’s filth by laundering their crimes
and sins enter into the category of the scoundrels who find their last refuge
in patriotism.

`I am trying to apply to the Middle East conflict those same basic standards
that guide me in my approach to other conflicts in the world. Just as I do not
accept terminologies employed by colonial regimes in other places in the
world, I do not accept them in Israel either. Just as I do not accept the
terminology created by the Apartheid regime in South Africa, neither do I
accept similar terminology created by the Israeli regime of apartheid in the
Occupied Territories. It cannot be disputed that a reality of apartheid
according to which there is one law, a discriminatory and oppressive one for
the Palestinians, and another law that confers privileges on the occupying
settlers, has been created in the Occupied Territories.

`And even in cases when the Palestinian resistance commits acts of the type I
strongly oppose – and in such cases I do not conceal my opinion from my
Palestinian interlocutors – I never forget that the source is the Occupation
above all. That is the mire that must be removed, that is the swamp that must
be drained. That is where my primary duty lies.` (From letter to Amos Oz, 8
June 1986)

Those words are still relevant today, 30 years later. What has changed is that
the lexicon of polluted language has grown. Just this week two words that have
undergone ministerial contamination were added: ” delegitimatzia” from
the lips of Culture Minister Miri Regev (Who also serves as Chair of the
Israel-North Korea Friendship Association),* and ”ha’anasha”
(“humanization”) from the lips of Education Minister Naftali Bennett (who also
serves as Chairman of the Committee to Rehabilitate Benito Mussolini).*
Regev announced that she will have no part in the delegitimization of Israel
and attacking soldiers of the IDF. The matter of delegitimization of Israel is
an invention of the Right, which has succeeded in making fools of Israelis and
their allies in order to enlist a maximum of Israeli citizens into the
struggle against an “existential danger”. There is no lie greater than this.
The Israeli leadership is doing this in order to blur the distinction between
Israel and the Occupied Territories. Israel is recognized by 180 states and
nobody questions its existence. What is going on here, then? There is in fact
delegitimization of the Occupation, and rightly so. The lady of culture
refuses to hear this and does not want us to say it. Of course there will be
some people of weak character who will fold, but the vast majority of human-
rights defenders will continue to make their protests heard. If the Minister
wants IDF soldiers not to be harmed, I have a wonder cure for her that has
proven itself all over the world: take them out of the Occupied Territories.

The queen

On Thursday, 11 June 2015, between 8 and 9 in the morning, the radio station
Galei Tzahal hosted Education Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the extreme
right-wing party Jewish Home. That home is a very unfriendly one to non-Jews
and to Jews like me. To me it is a home for religious fanatics whom the
description as “Jewish Jihadis” fits well. Interviewing him in the studio was
the broadcaster Dr. Ilana Dayan. Bennett explained why he disqualified for
State funding the show “A Parallel Time” that was performed at the Arab
theatre in Haifa, Al Midan, saying that it was not fit to be seen by school
children. The inspiration for the play was the letters of Walid Daqqa, who
according to the official report was a “Palestinian terrorist who was
convicted of murdering the soldier Moshe Tamam and sentenced to life
imprisonment.” The show “humanizes the despicable murderer”, claims the
minister, who asks: is it conceivable that we humanize the terrorist? Ilana
then said, “Thank you, Minister” and that was the end of the interview. I felt
that this was a missed opportunity. I forgot for a moment that I was not in
the studio and I turned towards the radio and asked: Ilana, why did you not
tell him that that is exactly what we need – to humanize the enemy? Every
peace process between two warring sides involves the humanization of those you
wanted to kill yesterday. I recovered quickly, remembering that I was not in
the studio and Ilana could not hear me.

And there is also the question of the historian: is it correct to represent
Daqqa as an ordinary criminal murderer, or is he a Palestinian version of the
Olei Hagardom, [2] some of whom attacked civilian targets, and after whom
streets and museums are named? The Tamam family paid the terrible price. Our
duty is to prevent the next war.

Despite the disappointments and the disagreements, Ilana Dayan is a journalist
of rare quality. She is wise, educated, sharp and an excellent interviewer.
She does not shrink before people in authority, is assertive as necessary and
empathetic at the right times. Her Hebrew is rich – a delight for lovers of
the language. Her voice is radiophonic, her speech is flowing and her
pronunciation is clear – when all that is concentrated in one woman it is
already a gift from God (for those who believe).

Every Thursday at 8 in the morning I turn on the radio, the needle is already
on Galei Tzahal, and for an hour I alternate between pleasure and anger. I
imagine what I would say to Ilana if I were participating in the show, but I
know that there is little chance of that happening, for the educator Bennett
is standing on guard, saying that it is inconceivable for this traitor who
supports Vanunu to be invited to speak on the military radio station.

More than once I have been asked if I know Ilana Dayan’s position on the Left-
Right continuum. She takes care not to be identified. Protracted listening to
her broadcasts has led me to the conclusion that she belongs to the democratic
Right, in the area of the former Justice Minister Dan Meridor. Is there any
such animal? There most certainly is, and it is an important line of defence
in preventing Israel from becoming a branch of the state of the settlers.
Unfortunately, however, that animal is also in danger of extinction.

* Metaphor

Translator’s notes

1. Published in Hebrew as MiMordot HaLvanon by Am Oved, 1987. English
translation: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

2. Literally, “those who ascend the gallows”: Jewish underground fighters of
the Irgun and Lehi organizations who were sentenced to death in Palestine
during the British Mandate for attacks on Arabs and Britons.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

Correspondence with Oz in Gesher, 1986
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