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Red Rag column - Women`s `March of Hope`; revoking Israeli citizenship
By: Gideon Spiro
23 October 2016 (English translation 30 October 2016)

The women’s march

“The March of Hope” by “Women Wage Peace” in which Palestinian and Jewish women from both sides of the Green Line participated, including a number of settlers, was exciting and moving.

At the same time, the attempt to place under the peace umbrella the lowest common denominator neutralizes the practical capacity to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

The settler Michal Fruman from the Tekoa settlement, one of the participants in the march, was a sought-after interviewee in the media, for after all, what could be more “sexy”? A settler, and a religious woman who has conversations with The Almighty, and even a victim of a Palestinian knife attack, who was stabbed at the beginning of the year by a 15 year old Palestinian, while she was pregnant. Fortunately her wound was not serious, the fetus was not harmed, the birth went well and she recovered.

The interviewers did not ask her difficult questions, and let her hold forth on her peace plan, which, according to her, will begin precisely in the settlements. In her opinion, if every settlement adopts the neighbouring Palestinian village, peace will come quickly.

Because, as I said, the interviewers did not challenge her, it is impossible to know whether she meant it seriously or if she was joking with us. Adoption is an act of identification between the adopter and the adoptee, such as for example the adoption of the Paratroopers Brigade by the City of Ramat Gan.

Must the Palestinian “adoptees” thank the “adopting” settlers who stole their land? Will the adopters return the stolen loot to the adoptees? Will the adoptees continue to live under military rule and apartheid laws? Will the adopters act to secure equal rights for the adoptees?

Peace is not some abstract goal in the sky, but a political act, which requires that we end the Occupation. I see no bridge that links Ms Fruman’s adoption plan to the end of the Occupation, which is demanded by Israeli and Palestinian women of the Left.

Revocation of citizenship

To Knesset Member David Biton (Likud)
Chairman of the Coalition
The Knesset, Jerusalem

Your proposal to revoke Btselem executive director Hagai El-Ad’s Israeli citizenship for his testimony at the Security Council on the subject of the settlements raises the question: was this out of stupidity? Ignorance? Maybe a fascist animal is living inside you, and wildly kicking? Or maybe each of the three possibilities complements the others.

The last time citizenship was revoked from Jews was in Nazi Germany, under the Nuremberg laws (which applied to me and my family), for reasons that included reasons similar to what you attribute to El-Ad: disloyalty. It is a jest of fate that in a state that has pretensions to being Jewish, there sits a Knesset Member who embraces the Nazi sewer 81 years later.

Citizenship is not a “gift” the government gives to its supporters, but a basic right that belongs to every person according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was passed by the UN in 1948 as a lesson from the Nazi regime.

Since the Occupation began, fifty years ago, I have participated in dozens of international fora, including the UN, in which I have strongly criticized Israel’s Occupation and settlement policies as well as the danger posed to us and to the region by the nuclear reactor at Dimona (see the text of my speech at the International Conference on the Question of Palestine in Geneva in September 1983).

In solidarity with Hagai El-Ad, I request to be included with anyone whose citizenship is revoked for criticism in international fora of the Israeli government’s policies of Occupation and apartheid. Violations of human rights are not the internal matter of any state. My friends and I will continue to speak out from every international platform about the evils and injustices of the crimes of the Occupation; we will demand the intervention of the international community in order to stop the regime of evil in the Occupation Territories and to put the criminals of the Occupation on trial at the International Court in The Hague.

With all due contempt,

Gideon Spiro

Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent

*** *** ***

Statement to the International Conference on the Question of Palestine

5 September 1983

[Originally in English]

Submitted by Gideon Spiro (Israel) on behalf of the Committee Against the War in Lebanon and the Committee of Solidarity with Bir Zeit, non-governmental organizations accredited to the International Conference on the Question of Palestine.

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity and honour to address this distinguished assembly.

The Israeli government is not represented at this conference, and there is a good reason for this absence. It is almost impossible to defend the policy of the Israeli government. There is a well-known Jewish proverb which says, “Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you.”

This proverb has been forgotten by all Israeli governments, especially the present one, which has consistently treated the Palestinians, both in deed and in word, in a manner which would indeed be greatly disliked by Israelis were it applied to them.

Israel believes that a denial of basic human and national rights to a people is a recipe for solving the problems of that people. The Israeli government worships power. It believes that with an army and weapons it is possible to break the spirit of a people and to dictate to neighbouring countries its own policies.

It is in this context that we must see the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Israel lost the ability to make realistic evaluations when it thought that with a sophisticated modern war machine it could break the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people and make Lebanon a puppet state by installing a Phalangist regime.

Now, a year after the war, more and more Israelis recognize the stupidity of this policy; more and more Israelis – but as yet not enough – understand that Israel did not achieve even one of its declared objectives of the war. Israel is stuck in the mud of Lebanon. Its hands have been dirtied by war crimes such as the massacres of Sabra and Shatila, and the bombing of Beirut which killed and wounded thousands of civilians, including women and children, and destroyed hospitals and schools.

How can a small state with no natural resources and only 4 million citizens stand such enormous expenses as the war in Lebanon, which is still costing Israel one million dollars a day; how can it support one of the most sophisticated armies in the world; how can it continue the costly occupation of the West Bank and Gaza; how can it finance the huge cost of the settlements; how can it manage with an inflation rate of 140% – how can it finance all this and still provide its citizens with a reasonable standard of living?

The answer is: foreign aid. Despite Israel’s claims that the “whole world is against her”, there is no country in the world which receives such massive quantities of foreign aid as Israel. Israel receives over 30% of the total annual foreign aid budget, amounting to over 3 billion dollars – more than India receives from America in absolute terms. (May I remind you that India has a population of 700 million and Israel only 4 million). If we add to this American aid the contributions from world Jewry and European nations we arrive at a total figure of foreign aid to Israel of between 4 and 5 billion dollars per year.

From this you can understand that the private Israeli citizen does not have to contribute to his own government’s adventures. In Israel therefore it is easy to be a chauvinist because it does not cost anything; this is what one might call luxury chauvinism. Only a drastic cut in foreign aid to Israel will force the Israeli citizen to choose what he really wants – annexation or a car; settlements or fuel; war or a trip abroad.

Words will not help us here. The United Nations must convince the United States, the key government, to cut from its aid to Israel the expenses of the war in Lebanon and of the settlements in the Occupied Territories. Aid to Israel should be sufficient to ensure her own defence, but not help her reshape the Middle East.

Sixteen years of occupation and oppression has created a new Israeli with a colonial mentality, an Israeli who is racist, an Israeli who tries to cover his government’s brutality and ignorance with quotations from the Bible. This Israeli, which I would call the ugly Israeli, the occupier and the oppressor, calls on the assistance of the Almighty, and thereby sanctifies the torture of Palestinians, their expulsion, the confiscation of their land, the denial of their basic rights.

In the Occupied Territories there is already a system of apartheid – one law for the native Palestinians and another for the master race, the settlers.

This is a sad story. Israel, which was supposed to be a haven for the victims of racism, has itself become a racist state. Israel, which wanted to create a new kind of Jew, free and productive, has become one of the world’s major arms producers, exporting weapons to oppressive regimes all over the world.

The Palestinian readiness for a political solution, demonstrated in the speeches at this conference of Farouk Kaddoumi and Yasser Arafat, is thrown into sharp focus by the Israeli refusal to negotiate. The two committees on whose behalf I now speak join in the call for the unconditional withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Lebanon; the removal of fascist Israeli militia known as “the settlers”; the recognition of the right of Palestinians to self-determination and to the establishment of their own independent state alongside Israel. Until this is recognized by Israel, the Committee understands that as well as other means, the PLO is forced to employ active resistance to the Israeli occupation. The Committee joins the international community in its condemnation of the Israeli violation of Palestinian human rights, demanding the immediate dismantling of the El Ansar prison camp in Lebanon, and to the immediate cessation of the torture of prisoners in the occupied territories. The Committee hopes that this International Conference will encourage the dialogue between peace forces in Israel and the PLO who both share a common goal of mutual recognition and peace.

The Committee tries to work on both sides: it tries to convince Israelis of the dangerous consequence of their government’s policy, and it also tries to join hands with Palestinians in the occupied territories in their struggle against occupation.

The war in Lebanon introduced a previously unknown phenomenon into Israeli society: The refusal of soldiers to serve in the army either in Lebanon or in the occupied territories. Allow me, Mr. Chairman, at this point a personal note: I am proud to belong to those Israeli reserve soldiers who refused to take part in the Israeli aggression in Lebanon.

I also notified the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army that I will not serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip because my oath to the army did not include the oppression of another people and the denial of the human and national rights of the Palestinians. I would like to ask the conference to consider in their draft resolution a section which will support the Israeli soldiers who refuse service either in Lebanon or the West Bank. It is important to emphasize in the resolution that this refusal corresponds with the declaration of human rights and principles against racism adopted by the United Nations, both ratified by the Israeli government but as yet unobserved.

Further, I would like to focus your attention on the fact that Israel has already introduced atomic weapons to the Middle East and that this has forced an atomic race in the area, thus threatening world peace. Israel has refused to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. If we want to see one day the rights of the Palestinians fulfilled, we have to prevent any possibility of using atomic weapons in the Middle East conflict. This possibility is not only theoretical if we take into consideration that Israel is run by national and religious fanatics who have a direct line to God. I suggest you include a section demanding that Israel sign the Treaty and to allow its atomic reactors to be internationally inspected.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am not sure whether the following proposal falls within the competence of this assembly. But it is related to the subject under discussion in this conference: I mean the war crimes committed in Lebanon for which two Israeli leaders, General Sharon and General Eitan are chiefly responsible. The Kahane Commission Report and other official information gave enough evidence for these two men to be brought to trial for war crimes committed in Lebanon, but they have not been brought to trial. On the contrary, General Sharon has been proposed as Minister of Settlements in the new government. My proposal is that this conference recommend the setting up of an independent judicial body to decide if these two men should be brought to trial.

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