What were Israeli fighter jets looking for in Syria? What was their mission? The military-security and political leadership has maintained its silence and the world must guess. The mystery is back, and prominent journalists are extremely comfortable with and support the silence of the government and army.
What a strange press. Instead of looking for information and exposing the truth, it has again started flattering the generals and the members of the security cabinet. They hint to readers that they are partners to the secret, but for reasons of “state security” they cannot reveal these secrets. Then they publish photos of senior army and government officials with satisfied smiles playing across their faces. The media gives the public the message that the army now has a leader: as soon as Barak returned with his extraordinary intelligence, we staged a mysterious, clever operation reminiscent of a James Bond mission.
I’m not impressed. What is the use of this technological advancement if it has taken us back to the days of tension and the danger of war?
The mystery is gradually fading. Clearly, air force planes violated international law and entered Syrian air space in the absence of any danger to Israel. This is the kind of Israeli provocation that is well known from the 1950s. Clearly the planes bombed some facility, perhaps a missile facility or something else. The statement of condemnation by North Korea – a country that does not generally issue statements of condemnation for any incident in the region – indicates that perhaps it involved a shipment of arms it sent to Syria. Others are talking about a nuclear facility.
But we must say clearly – even if many people do not like it – that Syria is not a threat to Israel. On the contrary. Syria is virtually begging for peace, while Israel not only refuses, but says, “You want peace? You’ll get fevers and bombs.” It is now Syria that is threatened by Israel, which possesses all manner of destructive weapons – nuclear, chemical, biological – as well as missiles, modern jets, nuclear submarines, and cluster bombs. It has a fleet a tanks that in a short time would leave not piece of land clear enough to walk on. In such a case, it is natural for Syria to want to arm itself in response to the Israeli threat.
Perhaps the Israeli provocation will pass this time without an immediate response. Possibly the humiliated Syrians are planning to take revenge at the right moment. They know that there are sensitive targets in Israel, starting with the nuclear reactor in Dimona and ending with the Biological Institute in Nes Tziona. They possess extremely accurate missiles capable of reaching any place, and if not now, then later. Once more, Israel is exposing its citizens to a useless war instead of conducting peace negotiations with Syria for the return of every last centimeter of the Golan Heights and to sign a peace treaty that will guarantee security. Israel continues its policy of brinksmanship, which has proved to be disastrous.
Neo-Nazis in Israel
Israel was in shock after the appearance of the neo-Nazi group, and many politicians and journalists are innocently asking how it could have happened. Where did these people come from? Neo-Nazis in Israel? Things are upside down.
Quiet, please. The world is not upside down. These young men, who adopted Nazi symbols, including tattoos, and celebrate Hitler’s birthday, have unintentionally removed the mask of hypocrisy from Israel’s deep-rooted racism.
Neo-Nazi principles and ideas are widespread in Israel, even in the government and the Knesset, to say nothing of the occupied territories. When Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Labor) proposes that someone who does not serve in the army cannot obtain a driver’s license or be a doctor, or when Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman suggests stripping Arab citizens of their citizenship by expelling them from the country, or when Israel passes a law banning Israeli Arab citizens from living in their country with their spouses from the territories, or when rabbis from the occupied territories issue religious injunctions that can be read to allow the murder of Palestinian civilians, including women and children, or when the High Court of Justice allows the theft of Palestinian property and states the Basic Law forbidding harm to the property of others does not apply to them – when these things happen, they are all thinking and acting like neo-Nazis.
If one reviews the thousands of laws of repression issued by the military regime in the occupied territories, he will find legislation derived from neo-Nazi principles.
The neo-Nazi youth send a very troubling message to the Israeli consensus; they say, “What you are doing on the sly, we do openly and brutally.”
If soldiers and settlers are allowed to beat, kill, and torture Palestinians, with permission and with special dispensation, they go a step further and say that there are groups that should be abused: leftists, migrant workers, homosexuals, and ironically, even the devout.
Religious Jews and Judaism, which from the beginning of the occupation have constituted an incubator for racism in Israel, now find themselves victims of this same racism. If the neo-Nazis had just abused homosexuals, migrant workers, leftists, and Arabs, they would have joined the official racist fabric.
The thing that angers the Israeli establishment is not that they are racist, but that they are not the “right” kind of racist; they have deviated from the Israeli standard. We can hate, curse, beat, and abuse because of race, but within the bounds accepted by the system and the courts.
Thus far Israel has managed to maintain – at least abroad – a form of racism that does not resemble on the surface neo-Nazis in Europe, which allows it to advocate reform. But the neo-Nazis have undermined Israel’s reputation. Now German, French, and English papers talk about neo-Nazis in Israel just like they talk about them in their own countries. Perhaps this will help some of Israel’s so-called “friends” to reconsider racism in Israel and help them realize that neo-Nazis in Israel did not grow out of a vacuum. They will discover that neo-Nazis are just a weed whose roots lie in Israeli racism – the biggest weed there is.
I suppose that all the official sociologists, psychologists, and social workers will try to conduct detailed studies of each of these young men. I’m sure they will find that one was marginalized, another not properly absorbed, a third was abused, a fourth not really Jewish because of his mother, and a fifth facing some economic crisis, or that none of these youths read Hilter’s Mein Kampf very closely. And all of that may be true, but why did they turn to the right? Because that is the basis, not only in the family, but in school, the street, and the press. So they realized – rightly so – that it is easier and more fruitful to strike at Israel with the same weapon, the weapon of racism, with a slight shift towards more explicit neo-Nazism.
So we return to the beginning: the occupation is the root of the evils; it allows all of these rotten phenomena to spread. But there is one difference: the neo-Nazis in that settlement in Hebron who wear the mask of “Jewish values” receive the support and protection of the state, while those neo-Nazis who do not wear a Jewish religious mask are arrested and prosecuted.
By the way, some people in Nazi Germany were also tried on charges of racism because they did not recognize the higher nature of the Aryan race.
The best way to fight Nazi racism, both covert and explicit, is not prison, but turning Israeli society around 180 degrees. This is a simple matter that depends on eliminating the occupation, ending racial, religious, and sexual discrimination, greatly reducing the size of the army and limiting its influence in Israeli life, separating religion and state, and turning Israel into a social democracy for all its citizens and residents that relies on a model of social welfare. In turn, this means free education for all, the provision of work to everyone at a reasonable wage, free health services for all, the establishment of public infrastructure projects, the imposition of strict supervision of banks to prevent them from stealing the people’s money, and the levying of high taxes on the rich. These are simply the broad outlines of the sociopolitical platform that has been detailed in some of my previous articles. It is a platform that makes life look completely different.
People of the year
The prominent figures this year are activists with Anarchists against the Wall, who have faithfully and determinedly demonstrated, putting themselves in danger, every Friday for more than two years against the occupation forces’ theft of and the unconscionable, greed-inspired trading in the land of the village of Belain.
These young idealists remind me of those who saved Jews during the Holocaust, thus revealing their humanity even though it went against the majority and the authorities. The activities of this group, in cooperation with landowners in Belain, prove that it is possible to create a united front of Jews and Arabs against the injustices and corruption of the authorities and capitalists. They waged a non-violent struggle against violent police and army soldiers who shoot at anything they can find and injure demonstrators. But despite this all, these young people did not collapse and they returned every week to the zone of conflict, determined to continue the struggle against the criminal regime based on occupation and apartheid.
These days, the demonstrators have chalked up a huge achievement: the High Court of Justice ruling ordering that part of the apartheid wall be moved to return Belain land that was stolen by the occupation. The ruling did not achieve absolute justice because it did not return everything that was stolen, leaving intact the Matityahu housing project, illegally constructed on Belain village land. The battle will continue, and so will the struggle of Anarchists against the Wall, side by side with other peace activists in Israel and the world, and with the village residents of course, until what we seek takes place: the demolition of the wall, the falling of barriers, the end of the occupation, and the return of the Palestinians’ human rights and property.
With the coming of 2008
I hope that this year brings peace for us all… the year when the occupation will end, Israel will be stripped of its nuclear weapons, and the restrictions imposed on Mordechai Vanunu will be lifted, the year when the gaps between rich and poor will narrow, the year of working to protect the environment from those destroying it, the year of social justice, the year of cultural and artistic prosperity, the year when the injustices against the Bedouin will be ended, the year in which racism is defeated and equality achieved for all the citizens and residents of Israel – Arabs, Jews, and migrant workers – to allow us to have a humane, democratic country.