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Red Rag column: Krystallnacht Judaism; the Iran agreement; letter to Judge Esther Chayut
Al-Araqeeb, 1983 or 84. Left to right: Gideon Spiro (standing), Nuri al-Uqbi, Mohammad Barakeh
By: Gideon Spiro
1 August 2015 (English translation 6 August 2015)

Krystallnacht Judaism in the Occupied Territories

The murder of the baby Ali Dawabshe in the village of Douma, and the danger of
death that threatens the rest of the family due to deep burns, as well as the
stabbings that have endangered the lives of two participants [1] at the Pride
Parade in Jerusalem are the rotten fruit of the Occupation. Today homophobia,
racism, hatred of the Other, the Arab and the refugee, enjoy state and
rabbinical support. Based on previous statements from rabbis in the Occupied
Territories and right-wing ministers and Knesset Members, I believe that the
murderers at Douma received at least implicit blessing in advance from some
rabbinical authority.

The Germans who murdered Jews and burned synagogues have been replaced by Jews
who burn people and mosques. The Goldstein syndrome is repeating itself. He
murdered 30 Muslim worshippers as they prayed, and the army then sent
reinforcements to protect the settlers and shoot demonstrators, with the
result that several more Palestinians were killed. After the murder in Douma
we witnessed a similar scenario: the Occupation army sent brigades and
regiments to the Occupied Territories to confront Palestinian youths and
protect the murderers. So I am not impressed by the condemnations issued by
Netanyahu and his friends. They fanned the flames of hate and this was the

Those who have eulogized the Two-State solution, as if we are marching towards
a binational state, should know that there will be no binationalism. The
settlers are planning to push the Arabs out, to Jordan and to crowded Gaza-
style enclaves in the West Bank. We must return to the ideas of De Gaulle, who
evacuated two million French from Algeria.

Iran has from whom to learn

As a man of the Left, I have acquired a respectable record of participation in
demonstrations against US policies, such as the Vietnam War, where war-crimes
were committed, and the invasion of Iraq, where war-crimes were also
committed, and the military coup in Chile that overthrew the elected socialist
President Salvador Allende, a coup that was planned and financed by the US,
and there were certainly other events that took me out to demonstrations
against the complex that the Left called, and part of which still calls,
American imperialism. At the same time, I was never afflicted with obsessive
anti-Americanism, a stance that has characterized many leftists who see the US
as the source of all evil in the world. Some people never recovered and
continue that way today. I do not use terms from the Ayatollahs’ lexicon such
as “Great Satan” and “Little Satan”. In the international arena the United
States has some commendable achievements to its credit, such as, for example,
its part in the defeat of Nazi Germany, the Marshall Plan for the
rehabilitation of democratic Europe, the airlift during the Yom Kippur War,
which saved Israel from defeat (For all my critique of the policies of the
government of Israel I did not want to see it defeated and occupied by the
armies of its enemies), the peace with Egypt, which would not have been signed
if not for the persistence of President Carter, the humanitarian aid to
countries afflicted by droughts or earthquakes which has become almost
routine, and so on, up to the era of President Obama, who, apart from the
disappointments I have mentioned in my columns, has recorded some admirable
achievements both in domestic policy, such as health insurance for millions of
Americans who were abandoned; and in foreign policy, such as lifting the
blockade on Cuba and re-establishing diplomatic relations with it without the
pre-condition of regime-change, and his greatest achievement, the agreement
with Iran, an excellent agreement which sets back the nuclearization of Iran
by 15 years, more than enough time to include Israel too in a regime of
nuclear and chemical and biological disarmament in the framework of a Middle
East free of weapons of mass destruction. Obama deserves every award for his
refusal to submit to the pressure Netanyahu and his prostitution and gambling
tycoon agents have applied on the United States to initiate a war against Iran
and send the region up in flames. He insisted on a diplomatic solution, and
happily the negotiations concluded with an agreement.

Now Netanyahu is waging a world war against Obama through his agents in
Congress to prevent the agreement from being ratified.
Netanyahu is fearmongering and drawing up apocalyptic scenarios about how Iran
will violate the agreement. He assumes that Iran will do as Israel did with
the Dimona project, which was built by means of lies, deception, murder,
flaunting of the laws of European countries and the United States by smuggling
out materials banned from export and other such Mafia-like methods. It may be
that Iran will try to find loopholes in the agreement that may permit it to
violate it undiscovered. It is to be hoped that the robust inspections regime
included in the agreement will make it difficult to contravene. But one thing
is clear: if Israel does not divest itself of its nuclear weapons, Iran will
become a nuclear power.

*** *** ***

1 August 2015

To Esther Chayut
Judge on the Supreme Court
Shaarei Mishpat Street
Hakirya, Jerusalem


The following lines are my initial response to the ruling (Civil Appeal
4420/12 of 14 May 2015) in which you rejected the appeal of members of the al-
Uqbi tribe against the ruling by District Judge Sarah Dovrat against the al-
Uqbis’ application for recognition of their ownership of the land they had
owned and from which they were dispossessed by Israeli governments.

The ruling was no surprise. When it emerged that the panel would be headed by
Elyakim Rubinstein, it was clear that no announcement of justice would come
from that triad. His seven years as Attorney General and his subsequent
rulings as a judge in the Supreme Court have earned him a reputation as a
faithful servant of the Occupation, a friend of the settlement enterprise and
a protective wall for the military justice system with all its attendant
injustices. Among the hard core of human-rights defenders he is classified as
a brutal judge who rolls a pair of self-righteous eyes heavenwards under the
cover of the knitted kippa of racism.

I assume that “comrade Elyakim”, being aware of the dim view the enlightened
public has of him, thought that it would be better for you to write the
judgment in this case, for your political identity is less known, and that
might facilitate acceptance of the judgment. In actual fact it does not matter
who writes the ruling; there is not one judge in Israel, from the Magistrates’
Courts all the way up to the Supreme Court, who would rule in favour of a
Bedouin land claim. Israel is a Zionist state. Zionism is an ideology, and in
ideological states like North Korea and Iran as well as Israel, no judge will
rule against the official ideology. In each of those states every candidate
for judicial office is thoroughly vetted by the intelligence services. All
Israeli judges are committed to the Zionist idea even in its darker
manifestations. And one of the fundamental principles of Zionism is: as little
land as possible for Arabs and as much as possible for Jews.

You may ask: what about the Arab judges? Are they too Zionists? They are not,
but they are servants of Zionism. They have been thoroughly screened by the
Israel Security Agency, investigated and asked a series of questions to ensure
that they will not turn out to be hostile. Salim Jubran, the only Arab judge
on the Supreme Court, was on the panel that ruled on the al-Uqbi case.
Although Jubran is indeed a “positive Arab” according to the ISA, he would not
be asked to write the judgement, because even a “positive Arab” could suddenly
go crazy and produce a civilized ruling that would accept the Bedouin demands
and order the government to return the lands to their owners. And that would
be a tectonic shift that the government could not withstand. Why take the

The ruling you wrote met the ideological expectations. Zionism of
dispossession has won again. You blocked the judicial channel to the Bedouin.
You earned the praise of the Establishment. The government hugged you, the
Zionist movement kissed you, the Jewish National Fund named a forest after you
and Rubinstein beamed with joy upon reading the ruling and proclaimed it
instructive. Only the Bedouin went home beaten, downtrodden and frustrated.
How much longer do you think we can keep riding them before they rise up?
Under these circumstances a Bedouin intifada is only a matter of time.

My criticism is accompanied by the feeling that an opportunity has been
missed. After all, it is not every day that a judge is given a subject that
could lead to fundamental change, something along the lines of the Brown v.
Board of Education judgement of the US Supreme Court that ended racial
segregation in US public schools. If you were a little more democratic, a
little more socialist, a little more liberal, a little more just, a little
more courageous, a little less Zionist, you could have availed yourself of a
golden opportunity to issue a historic ruling that would have put a stop to
discrimination against the Bedouin, returned to them the lands the government
stole from them, along with decent compensation, required the government to
provide public education to the Bedouin on a basis of equality and to connect
all the unrecognized Bedouin villages to the water and electricity grids and
prepare a master-plan in collaboration with the residents and outlaw the
isolated farms that are intended for Jews alone, and this is only a partial
list. Such a ruling could be written only by a judge infused with both courage
and a commitment to human rights. I once knew a judge like that: District
Judge Dov Eitan of blessed memory, who was forced to resign after he signed a
Yesh Gvul petition against the war in Lebanon.

An impartial reading of the ruling you wrote leaves a grim impression of
obsessive one-sidedness. You have accepted all the government’s positions and
rejected with no reasonable explanation every document and testimony that
supports the petitioners.

In 1921, British Colonial Secretary Winston Churchill declared to the Bedouin
that the Empire would respect and protect their rights. Churchill, a master-
craftsman of the English language, gave an unequivocal commitment. You, on the
other hand, write in your ruling that his words were not clear enough and can
be interpreted this way or that. You assert that the Bedouin are nomads who
did not consistently cultivate the land and so they are not the owners of the
land. The al-Uqbi tribe therefore requested to submit a document that shows
that their village, Al-Araqeeb, owned thousands of dunams, but you refused to
accept the document. The Zionist Organization acquired land from the Bedouin
in the Negev on which Kibbutz Ruhama and Kibbutz Revivim were built. Those
transactions were registered and have been legally recognized to this day. How
does that comport with your finding that they were not landowners? You have no
intelligent explanation.

In 1951 an officer of the military government with the rank of lieutenant-
colonel went to the home of the head of the al-Uqbi tribe and requested that
the tribe leave Al-Araqeeb for 10 months, after which they could return. The
promise was accompanied by a letter of commitment. Over sixty years have
passed since then and the promise has not been fulfilled. Is a government not
required to keep its promises? What happened was both deception and theft, and
you have nothing to say on the matter.

This affair also has a personal aspect for me. Nuri al-Uqbi is my friend. For
decades he has been struggling to return to Al-Araqeeb, where he was born. All
these years he has meticulously adhered to non-violent methods: letters to
ministers (which they don’t bother to answer), sit-ins, hunger strikes,
founding a party and running for the Knesset, public rallies, planting crops
and trees in the lands of al-Araqeeb, publishing informational material, and
lawsuits. His noble struggle has not saved him from police violence. As one
who has participated in many of his struggles I advised him not to appeal to
the judicial establishment because he did not have a chance. When it comes to
Arab land issues on both sides of the Green Line, the courts are Zionist first
and foremost, and protect the corruption of the government. Nuri decided
nevertheless to try, and has learned for himself of the one-sidedness of the
courts on all three levels: the Magistrates’ Courts, the District Courts and
the Supreme Court. A few days ago Nuri requested further deliberations at the
Supreme Court, but its president, Miriam Naor, refused.

An expansion of the struggle to include methods that have not yet been
employed should now be considered, while holding to the principle of non-
violence. Your ruling, Esther Chayut, is corrupt, because it supports

In conclusion, a passage from a book by Prof. Baruch Kimmerling of blessed
memory, one of the greatest sociologists Israel has produced.

“With the inception and success of the Israeli state can be
observed proof of the success of the Jewish national idea within the framework
of Zionism. Zionism, which was invented in Europe in the late 19th century,
proposed to solve the Jewish problem in the spirit of the colonialist
nationalism of that period. As we will see, within Zionism there coexists a
combination of secular and modern nationalism, religious and primeval
foundations and symbols and European colonial power. The latter, as part of
the political culture of the era, was based on the assumption that the entire
world belongs to the Europeans, who in hard times or unexpected distress in
their places of residence, can pack up and move across the seas, to other
continents, there to set up colonies which in the fullness of time are likely
to become new countries, all the while ignoring the existence and the rights
of their natives, and sometimes destroying them, expelling them or converting
them to a cheap labour force. The collective Jewish memory of the Promised
Land from which the Jews were uprooted in the distant and mythological past,
which has been preserved (though with various incarnations) within the Jewish
communities scattered throughout the world, has also given additional
validation to the idea of the return of the Jews to the “land without people
for a people without land”, as the British Jewish playwright and activist
Israel Zangwill put it.” (Baruch Kimmerling, Mehagrim, mityashvim, yelidim
: ha-medinah ṿe-ha-ḥevrah be-Yisraʾel : beyn ribui tarbuyot le-milḥamot
(Immigrants, settlers, natives: state and society in Israel: from
cultural pluralism to cultural wars), Am Oved 2004).

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s note

1. One of the two (out of six victims) who were critically wounded, Shira
Banki, age 16, succumbed to her wounds after this column was written.,7340,L-4687146,00.html

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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