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Red Rag column - Trumpiada - Memories of June 1967
By: Gideon Spiro
25 May 2017 (English translation 11 June 2017)

Trumpiada

Of course the government and its servants in the media would define the visit of President Trump as a “historic visit”. Visits of American presidents to Israel long ago became routine, and Trump is the 6th US president to visit Israel. Maybe someday we can say this visit was historic if in retrospect it turns out that it produced peace negotiations that resulted in the signing of an agreement.

Meanwhile it was a visit to his colleagues by an arms dealer who had succeeded in closing an arms deal in Saudi Arabia worth over 100 billion dollars. The question is, what will the Saudis do with all those digital gaming devices? Trump spoke a great deal in his speeches in Saudi Arabia and Israel about the struggle against terror, while ignoring the fact that many of the leaders he was addressing are running terror regimes. It is thus in Saudi Arabia, in Israel and also most of the states represented at the conference in Saudi Arabia.

It is not surprising that it did not occur to any of the Middle Eastern heads of state that instead of arming themselves to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, they should use those vast sums to eliminate poverty, corruption, racism and discrimination, which is a much more effective way to combat terror and also save human lives.

Instead, we have been subjected to mendacious declarations about Israel’s desire for peace, accompanied by tons of flattery, to which Trump replies by smearing hundreds of kilograms of non-committal praise on his hosts.
And of course there was the visit to Yad Vashem, where Trump got a report on Israel’s achievements in the export of advanced weaponry to regimes that commit war-crimes, including genocide.


The Corporation

I anticipated with much curiosity beginning of the broadcasts of the Public Broadcasting Corporation, in the hope that I would find masses of leftists looking out at me from the screen and brainwashing the people. Great was my disappointment when I did not find one real leftist, a fact that makes it hard to explain the prime minister’s obsessive campaign against the corporation and the non-existent Left.

In programmes that I watched, I “met” known figures from the era of the Broadcasting Authority, like the military correspondent who transferred his obsequiousness from the Authority to the Corporation. So far I have not found the consolation of even one leftist, but maybe they are in hiding, lying in wait for the order to attack.


Memories

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Occupation, on 5 June, I try to recall what I was doing and where I was during the events of that period. The period of waiting found me in Germany, where I was studying and sending articles to Al Hamishmar (the daily of the late Mapam party). Like everyone I was under the influence of the daily reports in the German press about the feeling of threat and fear in the face of many declarations by the president of Egypt at the time, Abdel Nasser. On weekends I would run to the newsstands where international newspapers were sold, including the weekend editions of Maariv and Yedioth Ahronoth, which did not make me feel any better.

Upon the outbreak of hostilities, I looked into every way to return to Israel, and I managed to squeeze onto Swissair’s first civil flight. When I got to the airport at Lydda, I was mobilized on the spot as a reservist, and proceeded to a unit at the Jerusalem Brigade, which patrolled as part of the occupation force in East Jerusalem, which had just been captured.

The sharp transition from civilian in democratic Europe to armed occupation soldier ruling over unarmed civilians was exhilarating, and at the same time left an unpleasant feeling. I remember very well the massive flow of Israelis to the Western Wall, and in retrospect, which I hope does not contain any embellishment, I can take credit for not having visited the Wall at the time. Already then I saw it as a kind of idol-worship.

When I was released from reserve duty, I had not yet proposed any systematic solutions to the conflict, but it was clear to me that I would not return to a situation in which I was an armed soldier patrolling among a civilian population. And I have held to that.

In September 1967 I was serving as correspondent for Al Hamishmar in the US and at the United Nations. It was there that I uttered my first peep against the Occupation, in reaction to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s words about “Greater Israel”. From that point began the process whereby the more the Occupation became entrenched, the more my opposition to it deepened. And all the rest is written in the police chronicle, in my thousands of articles and in my book, Letters to Judges.


Translated from Hebrew for Occupation Magazine by George Malent
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