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Occupation magazine - Life under occupation
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Red Rag column: Muhammad Ali, RIP. Occupation-refuser Giora Neumann.
By: Gideon Spiro
5 June 2016 (English translation 20 June 2016)
Original Hebrew, on video:
In memory of Muhammad Ali
I hear the eulogies for Muhammad Ali in the Israeli media and I’m not sure which is greater – the hypocrisy or the ignorance. Back in the day, Muhammad Ali was considered a traitor to the racist USA of the 1960s as portrayed in the film “Mississippi Burning”. He was combination of Mordechai Vanunu, Breaking the Silence and Yesh Gvul. Today America honours his memory as one of its greatest sons. The racism in the southern states of the USA has not yet been eradicated, but nor does it rule unchallenged any longer. Muhammad Ali embodied the victory of the human and humane spirit of one man in the face of an oppressive, conservative, racist and warmongering system. He was a war-resister who refused to take part in the Vietnam War. He told the racist White establishment the truth to its face, he was not broken and did not submit. Present-day America knows how to appreciate that.
Whereas America has progressed since its dark days of the 1960s, Israel is returning to that era. Israel of 2000s is in the southern states of the US in the 1960s in terms of values. The racism in Israel is destroying everything that was good here. There is symbolism in that on the day of the funeral of Muhammad Ali the stuffed suits of the Supreme Court of Israel authorized approved the KKK-style flag-march in the Muslim Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem. Mississippi is no longer burning but Israel is facing a big conflagration.
(The following is an article Gideon Spiro wrote in the Haifa University student newspaper
, of which he was editor in the 1970s, about Giora Neumann, the first Israeli occupation-refuser after the 1967 war. Neumann was sentenced to military prison in 1972.)
Again we return to Giora Neumann, a war-refuser who will soon conclude his fifth consecutive 35-day prison sentence. Meanwhile it has emerged that Giora is willing to serve in the framework of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) in a hospital or a farm, for three years. He refuses to receive training in weapons, to wear a uniform, and to undergo the swearing-in ceremony.
Why do they not allow him to do that? Why have they sent him twice already a psychiatrist in order to release him from service on `psychiatric` grounds?
Why is his conscience – of one who is willing to give three years of his life for humanitarian purposes – of less value in the eyes of the IDF than the conscience of a woman who declares that she is religious, or a male yeshiva student?
Do the authorities want to wait until a scandal develops on an international scale? Will only drastic measures by Israeli citizens bring about his liberation?
Why do the leaders of the IDF and the Defence Minister refuse to think coldly and logically, if not for the sake of principle, then at least for a change?
(Those who want to buy Gideon Spiro’s book
Letters to judges and men in power
(in Hebrew) are invited to send a cheque for NIS 50 to POB 16202, Tel Aviv, Israel. The book will be sent to the address you provide. All proceeds will be donated to human-rights organizations.)
Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent.
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