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The Israeli Left must realize it is at war

When will the Jewish Left wake up and come to terms with the fact that the rules of the game have changed?

A Palestinian human rights activist is led to the Jerusalem District Court in handcuffs following his arrest Tuesday morning, January 20, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian human rights activist is led to the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court in handcuffs following his arrest Tuesday morning, January 20, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

It seems that even the most skeptical of radical left-wing activists in Israel were taken by surprise by the aggressive, relentless, and mounting attacks that we have witnessed over these past few days against left-wing activists.

This madness refuses to die down. Day after day we hear about arrests of left-wing activists, who disappear into their cells without ever being informed of what they are being accused. The police slap a gag order on the entire story, preventing us from even publishing their names.

We know these people from years of working together. We go, time after time, to stand outside the courthouse in order to make sure they hear our cries of support and solidarity. We see them being led in handcuffs, disappear into closed-door court hearings, wait for the results — which are generally known from the get-go — and return to the silence that surrounds these organized kidnappings. Because the gag orders are so sweeping, we cannot speak of the political context of these arrests, about the connection between one arrest and the other, about what is happening before our eyes — we are prevented from speaking about openly.

The public has almost completely consented to the gag orders, leaving the police room to frame the discussion. Thus, while not a single person can actually publish the name of the first activist who was arrested last Sunday, and despite the fact that nearly everyone knows his identity, the police have managed to convince the public that they captured him as he tried to flee the country. Were we able to talk about the man and the reason for his arrest, we could debunk this absurd claim. But we cannot, so we remain silent.

We remain silent when another Israeli activist, a dear friend to many of us, is arrested — even when many of us suspected that this would be the next step. Anyone who was aware of the circumstances surrounding the first arrest won’t be surprised. So we know, and we remain silent. We return to the courthouse and wait outside during the hearing, return home and continue to remain silent. Then we guess who will be next in line.

We are silent even when the police continue trying to keep the activists in jail, without ever presenting even a shred of evidence to the public to back up the allegations against them. The only thing the public needs to know is that three very dangerous people were arrested — so dangerous, in fact, that they cannot even meet with their lawyers. Why? Because. They are leftists. In such a poisoned public atmosphere, nourished by the Prime Minister’s Office and the country’s highest-ranking officials, not much more is needed. The public has already bought in to the story.

Time to break the silence

Some of us believed, and perhaps still believe, that there is something positive in seeing the masks come off, forcing the public to decide whether Israel is “Jewish” or “democratic” — a decision it has avoided for years. There is something to this argument. Perhaps the world will also wake up and understand. But it seems that so few of us foresaw how quickly things would deteriorate.

Israeli left-wing activist is led into the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, January 12, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli left-wing activist is led into the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, January 12, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian friends remind me over and over that the reality with which the Jewish Left must deal with today has been the reality for Palestinian activist for decades. They are right, of course; Palestinians are still far more vulnerable than Israeli activists. But we must not ignore the fact that the unprecedented persecution of the Israeli Left, its constant delegitimization, its orchestrated criminalization, is a new stage that will have far-reaching consequences on Palestinian citizens of Israel themselves. The fact is that we are facing political persecution from the political establishment, but also from private organizations that are joining the fray.

The time has come to say it openly: we are at war, and we must think long and hard about how to prepare ourselves. It is unthinkable that we will play by the rules of the game while our friends are being hunted. It is unthinkable that we will play according to the “rules of democracy” as fascism becomes the new state religion. Our silence today will only serve as the basis upon which our friends will be arrested tomorrow. Now is the time to break that silence.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Giora Me'ir

      You state the truth. The current neo-fascist government will persecute anyone who steps into the spotlight to challenge its Greater Land of Israel agenda. The Jewish left needs to come to the realization that it has a lot more in common with secular Palestinians, both inside and outside the green line, than they do with rightist Jews.

      Reply to Comment
      • Muhammad570CE

        Says the same psychotic jihadi who uses multiple aliases obsessing about Jews and Israel on Jewish websites every day, every week, every year. His aliases incl. “Ben”, “Brian”, Bryan”, “Giora Me’ir”, “Israel”, “Muslim Jew”, “Bruce Gould”, “Eliza”, “Felix Reichert”, “Eva”, “Eva”, “Irit”, “Yvette (Olof)”, “David T”, “Mikesailor”, “Dekkers”, “Oriol”, “Weiss”, “Richard Flantz”, “Bluto”, etc. Go take your meds, moron!

        Reply to Comment
        • Israel

          Says the same psychotic jewhadi who uses multiple aliases obsessing about Joooos and Palestine on “Jewish” websites every day, every week, every year. Her aliases incl. “Ginger LIES”, “Merkava”, “Merav”, “Daniel”, “Donkey of Judah”, “Hercules”, “Hannibal the Cannibal”, “Cindy”, “Muhammad570CE”, “Qur’an”, “Muhammad”, “ICat”, “Big Cat”, “Theodor”, “SkyHawk”, “
          IlonJ”, etc. Go play in traffic, moron!

          Reply to Comment
    2. Marianne Torres

      Indeed, enough is enough – but for +972, it’s a long way off. There is not a war there and other than the first days of resistance in 1948, there never has been. There has only been a fully armed, over-armed, army against masses of civilians, mostly unarmed, and less and less armed as time went on.

      There is only a strong military that has the financial and military and political support of the Empire, primarily the US and Britain, who continue to condone massacre after massacre of civilians by the Bully of the Middle East.

      THIS IS NOT WAR. This is periodic slaughter. And we all have a responsibility to constantly remind the world of that.

      Remember that +972 is a magazine for Israeli Jews who want only to “end the occupation”, who want their nation to become a kinder and gentler one, who want to be able to live in peace inside their insulated apartheid nation, with privilege for Jews and devil take the hindmost and all non-Jews.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “Remember that +972 is a magazine for Israeli Jews”

        Nah. If it would be, then it wouldn’t appear in English. Let’s just say what it really is…

        It is a propaganda magazine to promote the Arab party line amongst non Israelis so as to multiply Israel’s enemies in the world.

        Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Both Marianne Torres and Gustav are wrong about +972. (Torres, have you even read the magazine? I doubt it.) They each misunderstand the magazine, from opposite directions.

        The purpose of English is in fact to internationalize the conversation. Because a kind of dead end had been reached with Hebrew speakers.

        Noam Sheizaf wanted to internationalize the conversation about Israel by bringing together English-language bloggers to offer a true window into the progressive conversation on the ground.

        As Tablet reported:

        “I think there’s still a chance to resolve things,” said Sheizaf, 37, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, “but it’s not going to happen without dramatic pressure from abroad. Left on their own, Israelis will continue the occupation and the current political trends forever.” That’s why Sheizaf caters the magazine to English-speaking readers around the world. “It’s good to internationalize the conversation,” he added. “I believe in this thing we do. I think to bring honest, grassroots voices in English out of Israel, is of the essence.”

        http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/88611/wake-up-call

        Ze’ev Sternhell has said essentially the same thing: “Indeed, since the nation doesn’t want to know and its leaders are either partners to the oppression or too pusillanimous – Isaac Herzog and Yair Lapid lead this camp – only externally imposed sanctions will break its repose.”

        +972 is offering neither “the Jewish” nor “the Arab” party line, and never will. +972 has in fact steadfastly defended the human rights of those on both sides of the “conflict.”

        Gustav, your reactionary scapegoating (everything would be just fine if not for those traitorous +972 bloggers!) just underlines the need. In my opinion, the end result of your efforts here amounts to convincing reasonable folks that there is indeed the problem Sheizaf identified and that Sheizaf’s solution to that problem was and is right.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Thank you for confirming what I said Benny.

          This magazine is designed to pressure us and ONLY us. I see no evidence whatsoever of this magazine trying to put pressure on Palestinian Arabs to compromize.

          Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            Thank you for confirming that you are a psychotic Zionist mamzer and an oxygen thief, Zeyde-leh.

            Come back when you can “see” past the end of your stupid Zionist nose.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            I thought the full moon was over. Obviously not. Stupid is back.

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel

            “I thought…”

            Don’t exaggerate, stupid mamzer.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Rage on stupid.

            Torro… ole…

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Don’t be such a terrorist you demented parrot.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            I confirmed nothing of what you said, Gustav. You hide behind the stock hasbara subterfuges of “evenhandedness” and “compromise” beloved of every oppressor and thief. What an odd whine. This magazine is leftist. It sides with the oppressed. It is concerned about justice. It is not a defense attorney for the complacent, comfortable oppressor. Why would this magazine ever do that? What interstellar galaxy are you writing from? +972 magazine should fight to get the oppressor a better deal when that oppressor is fighting tooth and nail to inexorably deepen the oppression and treats every offer with contempt? We are way before the stage where “pressure” by +972 on final status negotiation issues would be sensible. So strange. Really you are lost in a thicket of smug right wing assumptions. Did you get lost on your way to Arutz Sheva this morning? Noam Sheizaf made it clear that +972 is not in the business of providing a platform for the settler viewpoint but here you are jumping up and down demanding it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Thank you again for confirming again what this magazine is about.

            It is about representing the Arab point of view in a one sided way in order to recruit new enemies against Israel. I could not have summed it up better than you did Benny-leh.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            This magazine needs neither confirmation nor a defense from me. It is not in the dock. That you even pose it as somehow on trial in the first place is a stock right wing extremist propaganda maneuver.

            Have you read Itay Mack today?:

            http://972mag.com/when-criticism-of-occupation-becomes-subversion/116157/

            It’s also available in the original Hebrew if you find English too offensive to bear.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Since Benny seems to be forgetful, let me remind him how this conversation started. A person made the following claim…

            “Remember that +972 is a magazine for Israeli Jews”

            I think that withe Benny’s very able help, I proved that this magazine is not for Israeli Jews. Most of us are not into self harm.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Remember that +972 is a magazine for Israeli Jews”

            Nah. If it would be, then it wouldn’t appear in English. Let’s just say what it really is…

            It is a propaganda magazine to promote the Arab party line amongst non Israelis so as to multiply Israel’s enemies in the world.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Gustav, you seem to have forgotten, so let me kindly remind you that I told that person (Torres) that she was wrong. You both misunderstand +972. That you both do, and from opposite directions, is an interesting fact, and testimony to the special quality and indispensablenessof +972.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            The facts speak for themselves, Benny-leh. And even what you said confirms what I said about the one sided nature of this publication. Now be off with you. Keep the promise that you made on the other thread.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Karl

      Leftists And Arabic-state-lovers: study the fate of the Rohingya.

      Because that is where failed jihadis (like you) will end up

      Reply to Comment
      • Israel

        Zionists And Zionist-state-lovers: study the fate of the Pieds-Noirs.

        Because that is how failed pretend-Hebrew jewhadis (like you) will end up.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          Poor old demented parrot exhibiting his wet dream in public, LOL.

          Reply to Comment
    4. Nathanael

      Well, we know now. Netenyahu has ripped off the mask. The State of Israel is now a fascist state designed as the homeland for *some* Jewish people (and if you aren’t the right sort, it’s imprisonment without trial for you), a lot like Hitler’s Germany was a fascist state designed as the homeland for *some* German people (and if you aren’t the right sort, it’s imprisonment without trial for you).

      Both are fascist states with rights reserved for those who had the ‘right’ ethnic background AND were not leftists. The first to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany were Socialists and Communists, not Jews.

      This is serious advice to leftist activists in Israel. You have *four* options coming up as the fascism gets established:
      (1) Continue to openly fight the good fight. Eventually the government of Israel will probably put you in the death camps.
      (2) If you have a sufficient lack of prominence, go undercover: pretend to be a right-winger but act as an “inside man” helping the good guys fight the fascist acts of the fascist government. Very risky: if they catch you, they’ll execute you, even if you’re as rich as Oskar Schindler.
      (3) Get the hell out of the country. Honestly, my personal advice, if you can get out, DO IT. The Socialists who survived Nazi Germany were nearly all the ones who got the hell out of the country.
      (4) Give up and be a “Good German”, staying and allowing the fascism to go on without fighting it. If you’re already an activist, you’re unlikely to be unable to do this.

      So GET OUT OF THE COUNTRY while you still can. I’ve been advising this since the murder of Rabin. That was the beginning of the end of democracy in Israel. The end of the rule of law is coming soon — this article shows that it’s well on its way. Next comes the international isolation, such as happened to P W Botha’s South Africa. And after that it’ll get *really* bad, unless you somehow miraculously get a de Klerk figure in the Likud Party, which seems unlikely — the Netenyahu types seem inclined to start wars they can’t possibly win. Once Israel is embroiled in, and losing, foreign wars, with the leftists being unfairly blamed for the losses, it’ll become truly dangerous to live there. But by then it’ll be way too late to get out.

      Obviously it’s ideal to go someplace like Brooklyn, but if you have to head for China (which has no democracy but has pretty decent rule-of-law), just do it. Get out if you value your safety and that of your family.

      Reply to Comment
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