I’m not sure exactly when or how I began to doubt. But I remember what happened the first time I expressed that doubt. It was a few months after the ’67 war. A special visitor came to our Sunday school class. He was in his early 20s, with thick fair hair falling over his forehead, a snappy sports jacket and polished loafers. Some of the girls whispered that he was cute. He had an accent but it was nothing like our grandparents’ accents. He looked and dressed like us but he had been a soldier in a war and that made him an alien being. Smiling, he perched himself casually on the front of the teacher’s desk and told us about the remarkable achievements of the Israeli army. He told us that the Arabs had planned a sneak attack but had met with more than they bargained for. They were bad fighters, undisciplined soldiers. And they were better off now, under Israeli rule. “You have to understand these are ignorant people. They go to the toilet in the street.”
Now something akin to this I had heard before. I had heard it from the white southerners I’d been taught to look down upon. I had heard it from people my parents and my teachers described as prejudiced and bigoted. So I raised my hand and when called upon I expressed my opinion, as I’d been taught to do. It seemed to me that what our visitor had said was, well, racist.
I felt the eyes of the teacher and the other kids turn on me. They were used to me spouting radical opinions but this time I had gone too far. Angrily, the teacher told me I didn’t have any idea what I was saying and that there would be no discourtesy to guests in his classroom. The young Israeli ranted bitterly about Arab propaganda and how the Israelis treated the Arabs better than any of the Arab rulers did.
Today, as cracks show in the presumed monolith of Jewish backing for Israel, increasing numbers of Jews are interrogating and rejecting Zionism. Nonetheless, the existence of anti-Zionist Jews strikes many people – Jews and non-Jews – as an anomaly, a perversity, a violation of the first clause in the ethical aphorism of Hillel, the first-century rabbi and doyenne of Jewish teachings: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”
Zionism is an ideology and a political movement. As such it is open to rational dispute. Jews, like others, might view the Jewish claim to Palestine as irrational, anachronistic, and intrinsically unjust. They might consider the Jewish state to be discriminatory or racist or might object – on political, philosophical, or even specifically Jewish grounds – to any state based on the supremacy of a particular religious or ethnic group. As Jews, they might reject the idea that Jewish people constitute a “nation”, or at least a “nation” of the type that can or should become a territorial nation-state. Or they might have concluded on the basis of an examination of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians that the underlying cause of the conflict was the ideology of the Israeli state.
Any or all of the above should be sufficient to explain why some Jews would become anti-Zionists. But that doesn’t stop critics from placing us firmly in the realm of the irredeemably neurotic. Whenever Jews speak out against Israel, their motives, their representativeness, their authenticity as Jews are questioned. We are pathologised. For only a psychological aberration, a neurotic malaise, could account for our defection from Israel’s cause, which is presumed to be our own cause.
Anti-Zionist Jews are not and do not claim to be any more authentic or representative than any other Jews, nor is their protest against Israel any more valid than a non-Jew’s. But “If I am not for myself”, then the Zionists will claim to be for me, will usurp my voice and my Jewishness. Since each Israeli atrocity is justified by the exigencies of Jewish survival, each calls forth a particular witness from anti-Zionist Jews, whose very existence contradicts the Zionist claim to speak for all Jews everywhere.
A brief insight into the ontogeny of a Jew who happens to be anti-Zionist. Please read in full.
First came an explosion in the street outside. Then the sound of a single rifle bullet slicing through the sky in a sharp crack and into the apartment directly above the home of Raed Abu Saif, the same apartment into which his young daughter Safa had just gone. It was Saturday afternoon, about 4pm.
Abu Saif hurried upstairs and found, lying on the floor of the front room, Safa, aged 12. There was a hole in her chest where the bullet had entered and a hole in her back where it had exited. It took her three hours to die.
Outside in the district of Zimmo Square, at the eastern edge of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip, there was by now a heavy Israeli military presence, with tanks and troops and the sound of fighting raging. It was too dangerous for ambulances to reach the apartment and too dangerous for Abu Saif to head out on foot with his daughter. Instead, he fetched bandages, closed the wounds as best he could and held her in his arms as she bled.
“She said she was in pain, that she couldn’t breathe,” he said. “A few minutes before she died she told me to stop squeezing the wound, she couldn’t breathe. I was just touching her hair. Then I saw her eyes roll up. I felt her heart. It was not beating.”
From a piece of cloth the family fashioned a white flag, which Abu Saif’s mother carried. His wife, Samar, went with them out into the street carrying Safa’s corpse. An Israeli tank was parked a little way off and shone its lights at them. Twice the tank fired in the air over their heads, they said, until eventually they gave up and turned back for home to spend the night in the flat, the family and six other children and Safa.
Only yesterday morning did Abu Saif finally manage to cross safely out of the fighting and to a hospital morgue, where his daughter’s body was prepared for the funeral. But Safa’s mother and siblings were still in the house, surrounded by fighting and unable to join the mourners. The roofs of nearby buildings were still dotted with Israeli soldiers. It was from there the bullet that killed Safa was fired, the family believe.
A few questions;
- Q: does the IDF understand that when you fire indiscriminately into civilian buildings there are almost always innocent casualties?
- A: I think they know full well what they are doing.
- Q: are they infected with an American-style bloodlust?
- A: apparently they are.
- Q: does Israel live in a solipsistic fantasy world?
- A: the evidence would suggest it does.
- Q: do they really think that anyone believes they have anything other than the annihilation of the Palestinians as their goal?
- A: yes, they really do believe (see above).
Later on the article continues;
There is no doubt that many of the Palestinian dead were indeed militants, some involved in launching rockets towards Israeli towns. Several Hamas fighters were visible in Jabalia in their black fatigues, some armed, one carrying what appeared to be a detonator.
But the number of civilians, including children , among the dead and injured was inescapable.
The definition of inescapable from the Free Dictionary;
Impossible to escape or avoid; inevitable
One final question;
- Q: does the Guardian, like Israel, think that the massacre of civilians, including children, is impossible to escape or avoid?
- A: well, lets see now…
On one occasion, a house east of the Jabaliya refugee camp was struck – two children, a brother and sister, were killed.
Later, a 15-year-old girl and her 16-year-old sister were also killed.
In another attack, a mother was killed as she was preparing breakfast for her children, medical workers said.
“We are in the middle of a total war. We hear the rockets and the explosions everywhere… we cannot leave our homes,” a Jabaliya resident, Abu Alaa, told the AFP news agency.
“They’re shooting at everything that moves.”
Mother making breakfast for children; militant. Sisters (15 and 16 years old); militants. Children (brother and sister); militants.
An Israeli government minister warned yesterday that increasing rocket fire from Gaza would bring Palestinians a Shoah – the Hebrew word normally used to denote the Nazi Holocaust inflicted on Jews during the Second World War.
Mr Vilnai declared: “As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases – and they haven’t yet said the last word on this – they are bringing upon themselves a greater Shoah because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate, whether in air strikes or on the ground.”
Israel’s project nears it’s final phase; the final solution of the Palestinian problem. And the rest of the world watches.
An Israeli MP has blamed parliament’s tolerance of gays for earthquakes that have rocked the Holy Land recently.
Shlomo Benizri, of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Shas Party, said the tremors had been caused by lawmaking that gave “legitimacy to sodomy“.
Mr Benizri made his comments while addressing a committee of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, about the country’s readiness for earthquakes.
He called on lawmakers to stop “passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes“.
From the Urban Dictionary;
This word combines the sentiments of “homo” with a dash of “shlong”. It is reserved for those who are such shlomos that the two words that comprise it are not descriptive enough.
Amy: I bought my boyfriend some earrings from Claire’s because they were having a sale.
Alysia: You are such a shlomo.
Shlomo Benizri is such a shlomo.
The taxi to Bethlehem was delayed, and Jihad stood at the dusty taxi stand and waited. He was on his way to the Open University in Bethlehem, to register for the upcoming school year. His father says that he hadn’t decided what he wanted to study. Maybe that’s what he was thinking about while he stood at the stand, exposed to the burning sun.
And what was going through the heads of the soldiers who beat him mercilessly, with a club, with the butt of a rifle and with kicks to his head, so that he died? Is it possible that he tried to attack them with a knife, even though two eyewitnesses didn’t see it? Even if he did, why did the soldiers continue to beat him, even after he lay on the ground, unconscious and perhaps bound as well, as an eyewitness told us? And what kind of monstrous behavior is it to handcuff the bereaved father, and then leave him on the ground, in front of the body of his beaten and dying son? Above all, why did the Israel Defense Forces rush to dismiss this grave incident, “after an initial investigation,” during which nobody interrogated the eyewitnesses, with the conclusion, “the soldiers acted properly”?
Pictures of Jihad Shaar’s death flicker on the computer screen: The battered and calm face of a young man with three holes in his skull, in front and in back. Also a picture of the bereaved father, Khalil, a worker in a Bethlehem factory that manufactures olive-wood souvenirs, his hands bound behind his back, kneeling on the floor, his face radiating restrained pain and humiliation, and the soldier standing next to him with a drawn weapon – everything is documented on the computer screen. The stone houses stand at the edge of the desert, in the village of Tekoa, on a mountainside opposite the archaeological site of Herodion and the Jewish settlement also called Tekoa. The area is usually quiet, with the exception of the annoying IDF patrols.
Khalil, with bristles of mourning on his face, is a gentle and quiet man. They say that his son was like that, too. The day after the incident, the Israeli press asserted that Jihad was mentally unstable, perhaps even disabled. It’s all a fabrication. Last year Jihad studied hard to improve his matriculation exam grades and now he was supposed to register for the Bethlehem branch of the Al-Quds Open University.
On Friday, July 27, the family awoke as usual, the mother of the family went for a family visit and Jihad planned to travel to the university. Nothing in the house testified to what was to take place a short time later. Jihad, like the rest of his family, had never been arrested.
At 9:30 A.M., Jihad left the house and walked the several hundred meters to the taxi stand near the road to Bethlehem. His father, who was at home, says that Jihad took nothing with him. But the armored Hummer was already standing at the side of the road, several dozen meters from the taxi stand. There is almost always a Hummer standing there, a kind of surprise roadblock for the village’s residents, where soldiers check papers, harass and humiliate, and maintain proper order on the road.
As Jihad stood alone at the stand, the soldiers apparently called him to approach them. A Palestinian policeman, Musa Suleiman, was riding to Bethlehem at the time in a taxi that was approaching the stand. Suleiman saw Jihad walking “with ordinary steps, in a manner that did not arouse any suspicion,” toward the soldiers. He says that Jihad had nothing in his hands.
One soldier stood next to the driver’s door of the Hummer, and another three soldiers sat inside. When Jihad reached the Hummer, Suleiman says he saw the soldier grab Jihad by the shirt and pull him forcibly behind the vehicle. Suleiman, who was already about 20 meters from the vehicle, says that apparently an argument broke out between Jihad and the soldier who grabbed his shirt, which developed into a violent struggle between the two. A few seconds later he saw them both sprawled on the ground.
That’s when the other three soldiers got out of the Hummer. Suleiman heard two shots. The four soldiers, according to Suleiman, began beating Jihad, who was sprawled on the ground. They used wooden clubs and their rifle butts, while Jihad tried to protect his head with his hands. That was all Suleiman saw, because the taxi, which was traveling slowly, then passed the Hummer.
When the taxi was a few dozen meters away from the area of the beatings, it drove back to see what was happening behind the Hummer. Suleiman says that the soldiers continued to beat Jihad. He saw the club land on Jihad’s head at least twice. “I felt that these were fatal beatings,” says the policeman Suleiman. He says that Jihad was no longer moving. Suleiman rushed to Jihad’s house to alert his father: “Come quickly, the soldiers are beating your son.” Accompanied by Suleiman, he rushed in the direction of the stand.
When they approached the area, the soldiers aimed their weapons at them and ordered them to leave. One of the villagers who speaks Hebrew, who also arrived at the spot, tried to explain to the soldiers that Khalil was the father of the battered young man, and all he wanted was to know what had happened to his son. And then the soldier said: “Tell him that his son is already dead.”
Then the soldiers handcuffed Khalil behind his back, and placed him on the road, the Hummer separating him from his son’s body, while they chased the other two men away from the site. Meanwhile additional forces arrived, together with a military ambulance, whose squad apparently tried to save Jihad’s life. After about 40 minutes during which he sat handcuffed in the sun, says Khalil, an officer from the Civil Administration, Taysir, arrived and ordered the soldiers to free the father from his handcuffs and told him that his son had been sent to the hospital in nearby Beit Jala.
The officer from the Civil Administration asked Khalil: “Why did your son do that?” The father: “My son was on the way to the university.” The officer: “Your son made problems for the soldiers and pulled out a kitchen knife.” Khalil to the officer: “My son did not leave the house with a knife. Show me the knife, I’m familiar with the knives in our kitchen.”
“You want to see the knife?” asked the officer, who then immediately retracted his offer: “The Military Police have already removed the knife from the site.” Khalil didn’t see the knife.
Taysir told Khalil that Jihad was seriously wounded. Khalil called his brother and together they drove quickly toward the hospital. On the way they were delayed again, in the same place where his son was killed. Only after about 10 minutes were they allowed to continue, after the intercession of one of the soldiers who had seen Khalil in the area earlier and recognized him.
Jihad had been evacuated from the site at about 11:15. A short time later his father arrived at the hospital. But his son’s body reached Beit Jala only at about 3 P.M. The officer from the Civil Administration had told the father that his son was “seriously wounded,” but the soldier had told him even earlier that Jihad had died, and therefore Khalil had no hope of seeing his son alive again. He talks about everything in an amazing tone of acceptance and restraint.
When the body arrived at the hospital the doctors examined it. They determined that Jihad had not been shot, he had been beaten to death. They discovered the three superficial holes in his head and several bruises in other parts of his body, mainly around the hips. The body was sent for an autopsy in Abu Dis, and afterward was brought for burial; the funeral was well attended. Several residents of the village say that when they began to dig the grave, a Border Patrol Hummer arrived at the village and its passengers called out in Arabic on a loudspeaker: “Jihad is dead. Let Allah have mercy on him and your mother’s c – – -.”
The IDF spokesman, this week: “On July 26, in the course of operational activity by an IDF patrol near the village of Hirbet al-Dir, east of Bethlehem, a Palestinian armed with a knife approached the patrol and tried to attack one of the soldiers. In response, the soldier fired at the terrorist and hit his lower body. After the Palestinian continued with his attempts to stab the soldier, another soldier who was present was forced to use a club in order to neutralize the terrorist. The Palestinian terrorist, who was seriously wounded, was given medical treatment on the spot by an IDF force and in the end he was declared dead.”
A few cypress trees are planted on the slope at the foot of the place where Jihad was killed. Some faded bloodstains are still visible on the ground. The taxi stand is deserted. A Hummer observes us from the hill overlooking the road. We ascend the hill, passing the armored Hummer whose passengers, four soldiers in dark sunglasses, are laughing among themselves. Are these the soldiers who killed Jihad. Are they from the same unit?
In the handsome stone house with beehives in the yard, which overlooks the taxi stand and the site of the killing, lives another eyewitness, Nur Harmas. On the day of the incident she awoke to the sound of the Hummer’s engine below. Harmas says that she noticed a young man at the stand, waiting. She went inside and began to do her housework. After about 15 minutes she heard a dull noise. She cast a glance from the window and saw the stand empty. Jihad was no longer standing there. A cypress hides the place where the Hummer stood.
Harmas rushed to her bedroom, opened the door that leads to the balcony, from which one can see the place where the Hummer stood. “I saw the deceased lying on the ground, his hands handcuffed behind his back, with three soldiers standing around him, one of them kicking his head. The moment I saw that, I rushed to the neighbors to call for help.” She told her husband’s cousin, who quickly went down to see what they were doing to Jihad.
Karim Jubran, an investigator from B’Tselem (the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), takes out of his briefcase a pair of torn, white plastic handcuffs, which he found at the site of the incident. Was Jihad also handcuffed at the time when the soldiers beat him to death? Or are these the handcuffs with which the soldiers handcuffed the bereaved father, in front of his son’s body? Does it make a difference?
“you deserve to die, and your children should piss on your bones”
Ashqar is sitting in his wheelchair, his left leg completely enclosed in a cast, his right leg shaking nonstop. When he tries to get up and lean on his crutches, he threatens to topple over. “I was married in 2004, and I started to work in aluminum in the village to provide for my new household. On April 22, 2005, at 2:30 A.M., the soldiers came and started to throw grenades and to shout for everyone in the house to go outside. They blindfolded me with whatever they use and handcuffed me. I was taken in a jeep to prison and I was examined by an army doctor. He looked over my body – no operations, doesn’t take medication, no illnesses. Again I was taken in a military jeep, this time to Kishon. ‘Yehuda, incoming,’ the warder said and transferred me to the interrogation office. They opened my eyes: Good morning. An excellent morning. One of the interrogators, Maimon, told me: I am responsible for your file. What file? The one you were arrested for. This is the major, and this tall guy is the colonel, this is Sagiv and this is Eldad. Eight interrogators.”They said: We have no time, it will soon be our Passover and you have to finish everything in a short time. Finish what? You have to tell us what you have. I don’t have anything to tell you. I begged. They said: We know all that nonsense. We are talking about security. Plans for terrorist attacks at Passover. I said: I don’t understand what you are talking about. They said: The suicide bomber was at your place. What suicide bomber?”After two hours of talking they said to me: If you don’t give everything you have, we will have to take it by a different way. What is the different way? Did you hear of a military interrogation? You might leave here with your body battered or crippled. I was taken to a military interrogation. Here you pray to God that you will die, they said, but we won’t give you that. We will let you die only after you spill out what we are looking for. He gave me a prison uniform and I told him that if I was going to die, I preferred my own clothes.
“They sat me down on a square chair without a back, which was attached to the floor and had sharp metal ends [sticking up]. My legs were tied to the legs of the chair with metal cuffs and my hands were tied behind my back with metal cuffs. One interrogator sat behind me and the other in front of me. The interrogator opposite me said: We have to give you a little sports, so you will be able to hold out in the military interrogation. The sports was that they pushed me backward by the chest, a backward somersault, and I would hold myself so my bones would not break. After a minute or two I would automatically fall on the floor, but the interrogator behind me would put his foot on my chest and press, and the interrogator in front would grab my hands and pull and pull behind the chair. They kept on like that until I don’t know what happened to me, heat in every part of my body, puking everything I had in my stomach and it would go into my nostrils. I would wake up when they poured water on my face. When I woke up, we went back to the same situation. It went on like this 15-20 times an hour.
“After that they made me crouch on my toes, not letting me lean on the back of my foot. I was in that position for 40-50 minutes, maybe an hour – that was my estimate – until I felt my soles swelling and they turned blue and there was tremendous pain. After that, stand up, and they tied my hands and pressed as hard as they could on the metal handcuffs until the metal dug into my hand. Here are the signs, you can still see them. Because of the pressure, the key of the handcuffs didn’t always work and they would bring huge metal scissors, like they use in construction, and tear off the handcuffs and then bring new ones, to go on. The color of my hands changed to blue, and when they opened [the handcuffs] my hands shook. The interrogator stood on the table and pulled me with a chain of handcuffs. When I fell, they pulled me by the hair.
“I would cry, beg, shout, and they came back to me with words, that it was impossible to stop, only after you start talking about what we want. I said to them: Tell me what you want. Tell me I am responsible for the attack on the Pentagon, I am ready to confess to everything, just tell me what. I want to end this death.”
“There were always four interrogators and two rotated every four hours, day and night. The new ones would tell me they were stronger than the ones before, that the ones before were a joke, we are the strong ones. And that was true. The new ones tied me and started to beat me all over my body. One interrogator pressed hard on my testicles and on my feet with his shoes. When they slapped me and I tried to pull back, the major would say: What are you doing? If you move back, I will break your nose, and if you move forward I will rip off your ear. Be strong and take it sportingly, because you are a soldier and a fighter. They broke this tooth.”
Ashqar suddenly stops talking. He turns pale and his face is covered with beads of perspiration. His father, Sati, quickly wipes his face with a damp cloth. “Every time I try to remember I get dizzy, even when I am alone.” Quiet descends in the room. It will take Ashqar another few minutes to pull himself together.
“I was taken into detention on Friday morning, and that was the last light of day I saw before the interrogation. I came out for the first time on Monday night or before dawn on Tuesday morning. On those long days I sat in a chair and did not even go to the toilet. So you won’t kill yourself, they said. I urinated in my clothes, and a terrible stench started. For four days I didn’t eat anything. They told me: If we give you something to eat, something will happen to your stomach and your intestines. Maybe they will explode under the pressure of the food when we push you backward. You will drink only half a cup of saltwater. That is what they gave me every time after they bent me and I vomited. Why with salt? I asked. Give me without salt. No, so nothing will happen in your stomach and intestines. I would drink it and vomit.
“On Monday evening, they told me that five witnesses had testified that Luwaii had transported a wanted man. I told them that there was a famous wanted man named Luwaii Sadi, but my name is Luwaii Sati, and maybe they had mixed us up. He said to me: Are you saying the Shin Bet is that stupid? We know exactly what we’re doing, and it is all correct. I said: Put me on trial for whatever you want. He said: Ya’allah, sports again. He pushes me backward in the chair. I will help you become a story in Palestinian history. He is talking to me and my head is down below. He pushes strongly with his leg and presses on my chest. I felt something like an explosion in my body. Like something broke. After that I don’t know what happened. I woke up and they were pouring water on my face. Again they pushed me backward and again I fainted.
“He said to me: Stand on your feet. I felt that my legs were cold, like pins and needles in the legs. I said: I can’t. He said: Now you are paralyzed. I said: I guess I am. He said: That is what we promised you and that is what you want.”