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Red Rag column: Syria and Israel; Holocaust denial and Nakba denial; Uzi Baram
By: Gideon Spiro
28 August 2016 (English translation 7 September 2016)

A people at its ugliest

For six years now our neighbour Syria has had a civil war, which has cost the lives of a quarter of a million civilians and generated millions of refugees. Some describe what is going on in Syria as verging on genocide. Muslims are murdering Muslims with indescribable cruelty, a result of religious extremism. There are so many actors involved in this war that it is hard to keep track of who is against whom, and why.

Global powers like Russia and the US are fanning the flames of the conflict. Each of them stands behind one of the fighting parties, contributing its part to the terrible slaughter. The bombs, which are supposed to be aimed at military targets using advanced technology, hit civilian populations again and again – similar to Operation Solid Cliff, but with much higher numbers.

In recent days we have been hearing about populations being starved due to siege, which brings to mind the siege of Gaza. Israel is exhibiting insensitivity to this terrible disaster which is the lot of the Syrians and Iraqis. More than once have I heard this hair-raising statement: “What do we care if Arabs kill Arabs.” And then they’re astonished at those who were silent during the Holocaust.

Holocaust denial and Nakba denial

The right-wing government of Poland has decided to anchor in law a ban on any statement that links Poland to the Holocaust. Under the law, whoever is convicted of such a publication shall be sentenced to three years in prison. The historians of Yad Vashem have protested against the new law, and pointed out that this is a process of creeping Holocaust denial.

Historians of the Holocaust era have published studies that prove that more than a few Poles collaborated with the Nazi occupiers and handed over Jews, and there were also cases in which Poles slaughtered Jews. It reminds one of the collaborators in the Occupied Territories who hand over their co-nationals to the Israeli occupiers.

I will not be astonished if it turns out that one of the sources of inspiration for the Polish government was the government of Israel, which made a similar decision regarding the Nakba. Teachers who teach about the Nakba in Israeli schools will be subject to disciplinary measures, ranging from the withholding of budgets to dismissal.

The Yad Vashem people are the last ones who can complain about the Poles, because they are as silent as frozen fish when the Israeli government rewrites history silences scholars who prove that Israel was involved in the murder and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948 – the Nakba.
What we have here is an alliance of right-wing deniers, who are trying by governmental means to deny historical events and to deny freedom of scientific inquiry.

Uzi Uzi

In the newspaper Haaretz, Uzi Baram is supposed to fill the slot reserved for the centre-Left. Despite his efforts to appear as a liberal, at the end of the day his Mapainik [1] DNA wins out, and it was only a matter of time until it found expression. It happened on Wednesday, 17 August, when he rebuked Haaretz for not being Zionist enough, and expressed secular sympathy and understanding for settlements like Shiloh and Itamar, which are based on the Bible as the source of ownership of the land (“Reply to Zionist Haaretz readers”).

Some have asked, “what happened to Uzi?” The answer is, nothing happened to him. At the end of the day he is a family and political scion of the Mapai regime, which planted the racist foundations on which the Likud continued to build during its period of rule.

Here is a partial reminder, starting with the mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948, including those who waved white flags, through to the military government [of Arabs in Israel], all the way up to the criminal enterprise of the settlements: Uzi’s father, Moshe Baram, was a member of a government that built settlements. His son Uzi Baram was also a member of a government that built settlements. They are among those who bear responsibility for the Occupation and its crimes. And so it is no wonder that the secular Uzi Baram wears the kippa of Gush Emunim when needed, and finds in the Bible justification for the theft of land in the Occupied Territories.

Nor is the exclusion of the Left an invention of the Likud. I know that from my personal experience, when I returned to Jerusalem at the end of the 1950s, the time of the absolute rule of Mapai. Newly released from military service, I had come from Kibbutz Merchavia and was a member of the Mapam youth movement. My attempts to get work in the public sector had repeatedly failed due to the rumour that this young graduate of Hashomer Hatzair, who exhibited Communist tendencies – God forbid! – could not be trusted. Things came to such a pass that I needed a “certificate of purity”, which I requested from the poet and writer Haim Gouri, which opened for me the door to a job in the Transport Ministry, which was then a latifundium of the Ahdut HaAvoda party.

Many years have passed since then, I have in fact moved to the Left, and Zionism has become a burden that is difficult for a civilized person to bear, but Uzi Baram has remained basically in the same place.

As for Haaretz, it is a good newspaper, not because it is Zionist or non-Zionist, but because it fulfils the role of a newspaper motivated by a democratic conscience, the duty of which is to expose information to the public – even information that the government has an interest in concealing; a newspaper that serves as a podium for differing outlooks, while respecting the right of the minority to express their views.

To Dafna Blatman Kardai
Judge, Magistrates’ Court, Rishon LeZion
Israel Galili 5, Rishon LeZion 7542604

23 August 2016


On 19 August 2016, you convicted Mike Van Kool on seven counts related to contempt of court. Your ruling is an expression of judicial corruption, because in essence it is about silencing people and restricting freedom of expression as one hand washes the other. Today you are defending your fellow judges, and tomorrow they will defend you. You attempt to soften the grave implications of your ruling by paying lip-service to freedom of expression, but that is not worth the paper it is printed on.

I read the indictment, and in my opinion the accused did not exceed the bounds of legitimate freedom of expression. He expresses the sense of injustice aroused in him by the judges he wrote about. His language is sometimes inarticulate and popular, but he does not threaten the judges, and leaves everything in the hands of heaven. Sources in Jewish law support a critique on a level of gravity much higher than that taken by the accused. In the Book of Psalms, the poet asks, “How long will ye judge unjustly”.

The provision on contempt of court is a cancerous law that permits the denial of people’s freedom for three years for realizing their right to freedom of expression. It is a provision that needs to “fly off” the statute-book. If you fulfilled your role according to the principles of democratic jurisprudence, you would have dismissed the accusation. Your reliance on previous rulings that are afflicted with the same judicial cancer, makes you look like an embezzler who finds justification in her act in the acts of previous embezzlers.

Speaking as a specialist in criticizing judges who won the title “National Contempt of Court Champion” under the existing law, I attach the words of one who served as President of the Supreme Court, Aharon Barak, in a symposium on the limits of legitimate criticism of courts and the law-enforcement authorities – a symposium that took place at the law school of the academic track of the Administrative College, and published in a legal journal in January 2000. And this is what Barak said:

For my part, I have not yet agreed to any complaint, including the very hard statements of Gideon Spiro. It is not good for judges to have protection through criminal law. Therefore, in my view, if it were possible to repeal all those provisions, I would repeal them. In my opinion all criticism is legal, subject to the defence of libel and so on.

I have enclosed my book, Letters to judges and people in power, which contains a selection of 1,000 letters I sent to judges who were infected with judicial injustice. According to the existing law I have already accumulated 3,000 years in prison. I suggest that you withdraw your ruling, repeal it and remove it from the world – the sooner the better.

Gideon Spiro

Translator’s note

1. Mapai was the party of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, which, along with its successor Labour Party, ruled Israel from 1948 to 1977.

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

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