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Israeli Police Investigate Prominent Israeli Blogger for Incitement

Last summer, at the prompting of several human rights activists, among them Motty Fogel, whose brother was murdered in a terror attack in Itamar, Yossi Gurvitz, author of the Friends of George blog, began to reconsider some of the moral issues regarding legitimate resistance to Occupation. Though I have had no direct contact with either Gurvitz or Fogel, I imagine that at least some of the reconsideration sprang from the particularly gruesome death suffered by Fogel’s brother’s family, including the murder of an infant.

Gurvitz wrote a blog post, On Violence, which stated that while at one time he didn’t consider any settlers to be civilians, and hence all should be considered potential targets of legitimate resistance, today he believed that only those armed should be considered so. Among those who Gurvitz believed legitimate targets were the settler “security” thugs armed with AK-47s, attack dogs and all manner of weaponry, whose job was not to protect settlers, but rather to terrify, maim and kill Palestinian farmers and shepherds and their non violent activist supporters. Here I’ve recounted some of their more heroic exploits defending the inalienable rights of the Jewish people to “enjoy” the fruits of others (I.e. steal Palestinian land).

To any reasonable person, Gurvitz’s post would appear to be a sensitive moral reappraisal in order to further distinguish between civilian and military targets. The end result was for Gurvitz, a leading blogger of the Israeli anti-Occupation movement, to reduce the number of those he considered so morally culpable for the Occupation that they might be targets for resistance and attack. Further, the blogger made clear that he personally opposed violence of any sort and would not engage in it himself.

But the Israeli security apparatus and it’s loyal helpers in the far right lawfare community didn’t see it that way. They saw Gurvitz’s post as an opportunity to teach a particularly brave and outspoken blogger a lesson in the ways of the new far right Hate-State that Israel has become.

The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel, a lawfare-type pro-settler advocacy outfit, filed a formal complaint with the Israeli police accusing Gurvitz of incitement. They claimed that he was advocating killing IDF soldiers and settlers. The police, a sorry lot on the best of days, took up the cause along with the State Inquisitor, Shai Nitzan, who is an expert at figuring out ways to turn legitimate political activity into seditious criminality.

Two weeks ago, the police “invited” Gurvitz for questioning. He was handled politely, the interrogation was judicious. You see, because Gurvitz is an Ashkenazi male journalist, he was accorded far better treatment than was accorded Dirar Abusisi or Ameer Makhoul.

Yossi was forced to sign a document denying him the right to discuss the questioning or what is being investigated. But I have signed no such document and can speak freely to denounce this travesty of justice and democracy.

The Forum affirms its support of free speech in a statement made to Haaretz. However free speech doesn’t entitle anyone to actually challenge the worst depredations of the Occupation State. These leftists have to understand that there’s a new Zionist sheriff in town. And Sheriff Bibi ain’t gonna take no guff from no one. If they don’t like it they can get outa Dodge.

Seriously, there’s a new environment in this version of what we might call Israel 2.0, which so many of us have come to detest. It’s characterized by fear, intimidation, hatred and violence directed at anyone who stands in the way of the ultra-nationalist steamroller. It’s time for those of us who object to do what we can to place our bodies, like the Tienamen Square lone man standing before a tank, in the path of the machine.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • shmuel January 7, 2012, 1:01 AM

    Strange that he “was forced to sign a document” in which he agreed not to reveal details of the investigation, etc.

    From my limited knowledge of the law, a coerced signing is completely void and thus he is free to speak out. Only a judge can put out a gag order and there is no relevance to his signing a document or not. (similar to the Palestinian prisoners who were exchanged for Shalit who signed documents promising to refrain from terror)

    So Yossi, come clean and tell all about what happened!

    On another point, you talk about “non-violent resistance” – this seems to be a major difference of opinion between the left and right. Stone throwing is virtually unanimously considered “violence” by the Israeli public (whether from chareidim or Palestinians), whereas the demonstrations at Bilin, Na’alin, Nebi Saleh etc are considered by peace activists to be “non-violent” when they know that every demonstration has an element of stone throwing which they do not consider violence, and Tamimi is even considered a leader of “non-violent” resistance by his supporters.

    Maybe the time has come to clear up this point here – do you consider stone throwing a legitimate expression of non-violent resistance, or does it cross the line in your opinion into violence?

    • Richard Silverstein January 7, 2012, 2:37 AM

      These kinds of discussions cause an allergic reaction in me. All I can say is what my own views are: I don’t support any forms of violence. But then again, I’m not Palestinian, my lands haven’t been stolen, my children and parents haven’t been humiliated or killed by an occupying army. I don’t know how I would react if the shoe were on the other foot.

      What I can say is that it is patently ridiculous for the Israeli public to consider stone-throwing “violence” compared to the massive array of lethal force which Israeli military uses every day to maintain the Occupation. The very notion makes me angry just thinking about it. Compare the number of Israelis harmed in any way by those stones compared to the Palestinians killed & maimed by the weapons the IDF uses in suppressing these protests. Not to mention that the very reasons these demonstrations happen is because of Israel’s patently illegal Separation Wall, a violation of international law. I’m afraid Israel hasn’t a leg to stand on.

      • pabelmont January 7, 2012, 9:22 AM

        What was the orthodox Jewish view (and what were other Jewish views) of the rights and wrongs of Jewish violence in the Warsaw Ghetto against the then-government or occupier if you prefer, Nazi Germany? does the right to resist against soldiers and others armed depend on if you are aligned with the “government” or with the “occupied”.

        Just asking. BTW, suppose Germany had flooded Warsaw’s Ghetto with German citizens, to live there and usurp the Polish Jews, taking their land, their water, their apartments? Assuming that violence would have been justified against the army, what about these settlers?

        Are these permissible questions in USA? In Israel?

        • shmuel January 7, 2012, 2:28 PM

          As with most ethical halachic issues you will find the whole spectrum of opinions as to whether the use of violence in the Warsaw ghetto was justified, required, allowed or useful.
          The result was the murder of all the Jews in the ghetto so the violent uprising achieved nothing except the possibility of declaring that Jews didn’t go like lambs to the slaughter.

          I wasn’t arguing that violence is not justified in any circumstance. I just don’t like when blatent violence is called “non-violence” resistance as if to keep one’s nose clean

          • David January 8, 2012, 12:01 AM

            No — you have no sense of the incommensurate nature of violence in the form of stones thrown or taking shape as tanks or jet fighters. It is obscurantist and anemic to split hairs when a rock is thrown at a tank and I can’t bring myself to think seriously on the “violence/non-violence” issue you pose. Call the stone throwing anything you like, but don’t fail to appreciate the sad and tragic incommensurate nature of the thing.

            The real tragedy is that many here talk about the “occupation” but this thing is being liquidated as Israel attachs more and more land that belongs to other people. Talk about that! And I think it possible we will still be referring to an “occupation” even after the West Bank is annexed in toto, should I live so long, and the remaining Palestinians, if any, are reduced to servants in their own land. Rocks will not stop this liquidation.

          • shmuel January 8, 2012, 6:14 AM

            I suggest, David, that you present your argument to some of the many people who have been maimed or seriously hurt by a non-violent stone hurled at them.

            Say you agree to violent struggle, and the game is wide open. Don’t pretend pacifism whilst condoning “lite” violence.

            Elizabeth: I’m a military judge in the reserves, and today in business and not practising. I spoke in British understatement

          • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2012, 4:11 PM

            “Many” people? That’s an INCREDIBLE exaggeration. And you know it. So don’t use such overstatement when you know we will catch it. I was injured by a stone thrown at me by a right winger at a Jerusalem demonstration in the 1970s. It hurt, but not nearly as much as all the tear gas canisters which have caused brain damage, eye damage & death to the scores who’ve been so harmed by really violent IDF responses to peaceful demonstrations. I’d suggest if your child had been killed by one you’d make a much clearer distinction between real violence and mock violence.

            It’s the same nonsense about Gaza rockets which hit any sort of target 1 in 10,000 times if that. Yet hasbarists persist in highlighting this “lethal” attack on Israel as if it is far more harmful than the thousands of Palestinians who’ve been killed by IDF force over the yrs.

      • Simone January 8, 2012, 1:28 PM

        Where, in any codex of international law, is there a law that forbids building a security fence or wall to protect a country’s borders and prevent terrorists from entering?
        Stone throwing IS violence. What you are implying is that it is JUSTIFIED violence. Tha’s a natter of opinion – but no sane person would claim that it isn’t violence.

        • Simone January 8, 2012, 1:29 PM

          That should read: “That’s a matter of opinion.”

        • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2012, 5:29 PM

          International law prohibits conquering & stealing the land of another party & refusing to return it. That includes building a Wall on such land that is not part of your sovereign recognized territory. That would be the Separation Wall.

          I didn’t say stone throwing is “justified” & don’t put words in my mouth. I said that Israel’s response to Palestinian protesters whose land it has stolen was murderous and inexcusable.

          No ‘sane person’ would advance the claims that you make. But you do.

    • Elisabeth January 7, 2012, 7:19 PM

      “From my limited knowledge of the law”
      I thought you said once that you were a judge?

  • shmuel January 7, 2012, 1:32 AM

    Gurvitz states on his site that he is silent on “police instructions” and on his attorney’s councel.

    If he believes as he does that he has committed no crime (he probably hasn’t), his attorney’s advice is shocking, and is playing into the hands of those who want to prevent freedom of speech.

    I’m not in Gurvitz’s shoes, but after speaking out bravely the police and his attorney have shut him up better than they could have hoped for.

    Speak out Yossi Gurvitz!

  • Denis January 7, 2012, 5:24 AM

    Another sad example of why Israel is its own worst existential threat.

  • Yossi Gurvitz January 7, 2012, 7:30 AM

    Shmuel, I was released under condition I will not divulge details of this investigation. Naturally, I think this condition is Kafkaesque and my lawyer appeals it. Since, however, I don’t think is a good enough cause to go to prison (and lose my job) over, I am waiting for the results of the appeal.

    • shmuel January 7, 2012, 2:30 PM

      No criticism intended – good luck!

      • David January 8, 2012, 11:42 AM

        shmuel -It is silly stuff to split hairs over a two valued thing violence/non-violence and it does not help to term rock throwing violence and, in the same breath, phosphor bombs as violence. The difference is not really quantitative, on a spectrum of “violence”, but qualitative and that is the point. If you say that “violence” describes rock throwing and that the same word describes tanks and planes, then you are using language to disguise and hide, not disclose. If you agree on this, we have no argument on this. (“violence lite” is a poor attempt at making this point!)

    • David January 8, 2012, 11:46 AM

      Yes. Choose your battles. Good luck.

    • Maria January 8, 2012, 5:36 PM

      My best to you, truly.

    • Meni Zehavi January 9, 2012, 10:06 AM

      Yossi, your Hebrew blog seems to be down. What’s happened?

  • Dana January 8, 2012, 8:03 AM

    Yossi, why not jut leave Israel – and then you can tell everything? or for that matter, breath fresh air?

    Spoken as someone who has absolutely no idea why anyone would want to live in such a cursed country that’s well on it’s way to an ethno-theocracy, whose army is dedicated to uprooting humans and terrorizing their own hapless citizens. A charming country most of whose majority of citizens care much more deeply about the price of cottage cheese than the pogroms and blood shed a few miles from them.

    I realize Yossi is an exception and that’s why he is persecuted. There’ll be unfortunately many more of those. I bet he’ll now have to tone down his writings and actions since that’s the point of lawfare – to set a example – in the true tradition of halachic (or chelmic?) wisdom.

    Must be hard to hail from a country whose citizens are viewed with serious disgust (which is often hidden by politeness). I know I refuse to shake the hand of any Israeli until I verify that they are not settlers, did not kill children, and do not advocate murderous actions by their country (which means anyone who’s Likud, Kadima, religious parties or worse). Since such verification takes way too much time, I find it easier to avoid settings where I have to run into Israelis I haven’t vetted.

    Though people like Yossi have done good works, it can’t make up for the horrors visited by the government, soldiers and most citizens of that country. It is sad that so much of his talents must go to battle against forces of such great evil.

    Better to fight it from the outside.

    • Elisabeth January 8, 2012, 11:55 AM

      I noticed how at a bar in the Netherlands in the eighties everyone fell silent when they heard two people speak Afrikaans to each other. Pure evil had entered our sphere!!! They were stared out of the room.
      A similar thing may happen to Israeli’s some time (or is already happening), but I don’t like it. And telling someone like Yossi to get out is just crazy.

      • Dana January 8, 2012, 2:50 PM

        I only made my suggestion because I think it’s a crazy country, hell-bent on becoming crazier by the day. I hate to see someone with Yossi’s talents hounded there when the real battle for a saner israel is fought in the US. We could use his abilities here, where the jewish sphere is being pulled apart, also thanks to israel. At least, in the US there’s a chance we may yet pull out of the madness the empire builders- and their allies have laid down for us. Israel, I have no hope for. Not because I want to see it go down or anything (still have family there, if nothing else) but because of the irrevocable demographic pressures it is under and the toxic dynamics this brings. It’s simply too late for lil’ ol’ Israel and I’d like to not see someone like Yossi caught up in the enfolding tragedy.

        I realize some would tell me to get out of the US, but I’m still looking for that nice island available somewhere for a few $’s; would be better if Switzerland threw its doors open, but the likelihood of that is the same as israel getting out of the conquered territories o its own, just because they want to be nice guys. Ya, I know, there’s always Costa Rica, but it’s just not far enough away.

        • Jericho Siemens January 8, 2012, 10:11 PM

          Too many Israelis in Costa Rica – I would stay away if I were you. In fact the number of Israelis is expanding in Costa Rica! Buying resorts and the sorts – There was an Ynet article on this not too long ago.

          I think the Yukon or somewhere like that would fit you better. Although now that I think of it, isn’t that occupied territory too?

          • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2012, 11:02 PM

            If I wanted snark in the comment threads I’d ask for it. You’re not funny. Stick to substance & facts. Leave the wit to others.

    • Simone January 8, 2012, 1:24 PM

      Dana, I wouldn’t worry. No Israeli is likely to WANT to shake your hand.
      And I wouldn’t be so sure Israeli citizens are viewed with serious disgust by any other than left-wing ostriches like yourself. That certainly hasn’t been my impression when travelling aborad.

      • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2012, 5:17 PM

        If you only spend time with the EDL, John Hagee, Jewlicious types & other pro-Israel hasbarists naturally you’ll be adored as an Israeli. Outside those relatively narrow circles, you’ll find a diff. reception.

      • David January 8, 2012, 8:41 PM

        You are just being difficult. Palestinian stone throwing “violence” is to Israeli phosphor bombs as a folded paper airplane is to an F-16 (paid for by Americans!). This comparison is pretty simple. Any child could understand it.

        As to “security walls”, Israel is locking itself up tight in lots of ways. “Greater Israel” will be as isolated as North Korea eventually. Besides — Israel is trying to build a wall on somebody else’s property. This doesn’t bother you, the theft of other people’s property? It doesn’t cause you some shame that Israelis are complicit with the theft of other people’s property? This is not ok for most responsible people, responsible adults. And American Jews are beginning to understand how their Judaism has been abused by Israel over decades.

    • Richard Silverstein January 8, 2012, 4:15 PM

      Yossi is a very brave, even stubborn person who I doubt will be intimidated by anyone. And I say this as someone who’s had my share of disagreements with him over time. As for leaving Israel, though this may be tempting it’s important to have some true democrats remaining there to carry on the fight. I doubt he will be tempted to leave, which is all to the better. I don’t view Yossi as having to vouch for the evils committed by or in Israel. It’s not an either or situation in which Yossi’s value should be weighed against the evil of that society. I appreciate that he’s there doing what he does. It would be much harder for me to do what I do without the Yossis of Israel.

    • David January 8, 2012, 5:54 PM

      I also find it hard to be polite with fire-breathing Zionists with whom I rub shoulders. I am not placated by the thought that we have differing “opinions.” What differs here is basic humanity, plain and simple, or so I flatter myself.

  • Dorothee January 9, 2012, 10:31 AM

    Katzover should be indicted

    ‘the main role of Israeli democracy now is to disappear.
    Israeli democracy has finished its role, and it must
    disassemble and give way to Judaism,’
    Katzover says in interview.
    Published 08.01.12 .haaretz