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Idan Raichel, Israeli World Music Star, Endorses Torture, Rape of Arab Prisoners

idan raichel

Idan Raichel’s Instagram post praising Doron Zahavi

Ben White writes that Idan Raichel, one of Israel’s biggest pop stars and a celebrity in the world music pantheon, has publicly embraced (Hebrew) former IDF torturer Doron Zahavi.  Zahavi is the former IDF interrogator accused of raping Lebanese prisoner Mustafa Dirani, while seeking intelligence about the location of Israel’s captured pilot, Ron Arad.  Despite what Raichel writes below, I’m not aware that Dirani offered any useful information about Arad.

After Dirani sued in the Supreme Court, Israel released him.  He then “sang” about the torture he endured.  That led to sacking Zahavi and the closure of his notorious intelligence unit (recently re-opened) which interrogated Hezbollah prisoners using techniques that weren’t the most delicate, shall we say.

This didn’t end Zahavi’s career by a long-shot.  The Jerusalem police hired him as their “Arab affairs” officer to help “improve” relations between the Jewish and Palestinian communities in the Holy City.  You can imagine how deftly he pursued such a delicate job.  Then he sued the State for the “suffering” he experienced when he was fired for the IDF.  So far, the case has been tossed in a lower court.  But I understand he’s appealing.

As I reported here, Zahavi’s name couldn’t be published inside Israel (he was known, oddly as “Captain George”) because the justice system tends to protect well-placed security officials, even if they are accused torturers and rapists.  Nevertheless, I reported his name over three years ago (White doesn’t seem aware of this in his report).

What’s shocking about White’s report is that Idan Raichel has heartily endorsed the despicable acts of Zahavi:

The man to whom we are indebted for the information about Ron Arad–instead of getting a medal, he’s fighting for his good name.  It’s a dirty rotten shame.  Dirani never worried about Arad’s basic human rights.  It’s truly of no interest to me how “George” got the information about Arad from Dirani. SHAME!

In a comment in this thread responding to a woman who disagrees with his views, he writes:

Tell me if in his interrogation it would’ve been sufficient to read him 15th century poetry to finally break him so that he would tell us the information about the unfortunate Arad.  I have a sense that on the one hand “George’s” expertise isn’t in this type of poetry; but that on the other, he knows his own job pretty well.

Those of you who’ve read this blog for any length of time know that I have a great interest in both Israeli arts and culture and world music in general.  So I’ve followed Raichel’s career for many years.  I’ve thought of him as a gifted performer, someone who was attuned to the grace and harmony of life.  His music, his harmonies, his collaborators are stunningly beautiful.  All the more so because he’s reached out to Ethiopian, Mizrahi and African musicians to create a beautiful vision of musical transcendence.  I’ve said that here.

But he’s turned all that to dreck with these horrible words.  He’s shown that his music is nothing but a mask hiding the disgusting racism that lurks within.  This of course isn’t the first time he’s shown his true colors.  He chose to perform at a music festival in the settlement of Nokdim, the home of Avigdor Lieberman.   Didi Remez posted a passage from an interview (Hebrew) in Yediot with Raichel from last year in which he said:

“I believe our role as artists to enlist in Israeli hasbara.  This is a war to save our home, to save our nation.  In time of war, we must all enlist.  Period.  I grasp hands with our soldiers, yes those so moral; and strengthen the IDF as a moral army such as you won’t find in all the world.”

Raichel isn’t the first Israeli star to capture the hearts of Israelis, only to find the dark matter within.  Naomi Shemer, composer of Yerushalayim shel Zahav, was of course a settler devotee.  The golden-voiced Mizrahi star, Yehoram Gaon, is right-wing.  Outside of Israel, we have the example of Ezra Pound embracing Mussolini and airing propaganda broadcast for the Axis during World War II.  Artists and performers are human just like the rest of us.  They betray their values just as we sometimes do.  For more commentary on this, listen to the soulful voice of Llewyn Davis singing the heartbreaking, The Death of Queen Jane in the new Coen Brothers film, then spend a few minutes watching the horrible things he does to everyone around him.  That will tell you a bit about how the world produces people like Idan Raichel.

Henry Norr wrote a good post that summarized Raichel’s musical career and collaborations.

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{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Shmuel January 6, 2014, 2:24 AM

    He doesn’t endorse torture of ‘Arab prisoners’ but only specifically this particular case.

    I think you’ll find that even the most liberal thinkers in Israel, and indeed anywhere, would justify torture deep in their hearts even if legally unsound in order to save life, in this case to try and ascertain if Ron Arad was still alive.

    It was illegal, and hence he was fired, but Dirani didn’t exactly keep to the Geneva convention in his dealing with Arad. And we all remember the pictures of Ron Aran who obviously had undergone torture.

    Think what you might be prepared to do to extract info from a kidnapper to determine the whereabouts of a kidnapped family member, Israelis think of Ron Arad as family. I would be less gentle than Zehavi if my family member was involved.

    • Damien Flinter January 6, 2014, 3:10 AM

      You have just morally licenced any Palestinian to torture any Israeli they think might have information on the whereabouts and conditions of their imprisoned family.
      Wise?

      • Marta January 6, 2014, 7:00 AM

        You endorse rapes of prisoners in some cases? Interesting.

    • Richard Silverstein January 6, 2014, 2:34 PM

      @ Shmuel: I don’t condone torture of anyone under any circumstances. But when an Israeli pilot is captured in a country which has been bombed by his air force resulting in thousands of casualties and deaths, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be treated harshly. I think Israeli pilots go into their jobs expecting this. I know American pilots do. Again, I don’t condone this. But if we compare the amount of damage the IAF has done to Lebanon with the amount that Mustafa Dirani or even Hezbollah itself has done to Israel, they’re in no way comparable.

      As for saying torture is “legally unsound,” I’d say that’s almost a euphemism. It is simply illegal both under Israeli and international law. And I say this even if Dirani loses his suit eventually. The Supreme Court has many reasons why it might throw his case out or simply not reach a decision, as it’s done in many similar security/torture cases (though I hope it won’t).

      As for whether Arad is “family.” He isn’t. You are both Israelis, but not family. Confusing the two is yet another example of allowing false patriotism to blind you (the collective Israeli “you”) to the moral issues involved.

      He’s an Israeli aviator. In the crudest sense, his job was to kill Lebanese. You can gussy this up and use terms like “family” to justify Zahavi’s brutish acts. But if you raped a prisoner under your care, regardless of your motives, you’d be guilty of a crime under international and Israeli law. And you’d deserve to lose your license to practice law. The fact that no Israeli court would convict you only proves that eventually all such crimes will have to be adjudicated in an international court.

      • Yuval January 10, 2014, 10:41 PM

        It’s comforting to see you’re ignorant as much as you’re dishonest and manipulative.
        Ron Arad wasn’t a pilot.
        Dirani was not in Hezbollah.

        • Richard Silverstein January 11, 2014, 3:38 AM

          @ Yuval: Instead of correcting the record with the accurate information, you only want to score pro-Israel points, which is pitiful. So for the record, Arad was an air combat navigator and captured by Amal. Though not Hezbollah, it was a close Hezbollah ally.

          So big guy, can you document the dishonesty and manipulativeness with real evidence or do you just talk a good game??

  • Shmuel January 6, 2014, 6:05 AM

    The PA regularly does this to Hamas prisoners. Any Israeli who would be unfortunate enough to to be captured or kidnapped would expect to be tortured and would be forever thankful if he were not.

    If a Palestinian were held in an unknown location incommunicado in Israel for a few years I would expect his family to do all in their power to find out where he is and what happened to him, including the torture of a relevant person involved directly

    • Richard Silverstein January 6, 2014, 2:41 PM

      @ Shmuel: Palestinians are regularly kidnapped by the IDF both in the Territories and abroad. This is often done in secret with families not knowing where their relative is held. Detainees are often tortured in order to extract confessions and “soften them up.” Israel does much of this using the excuse of “national security.” No Israeli official has ever been held accountable for such behavior, including torture.

      As for morality and legality. They don’t always coincide especially in places like Israel. But they often do and the closer they do coincide the better the result.

  • Shmuel January 6, 2014, 6:10 AM

    Also one ought not confuse legality with morality.
    Legality is for social order not necessarily right just or moral.
    Morality is an imperative on all men irrespective of the law

    • Damien Flinter January 6, 2014, 6:23 AM

      So how do you morally justify torture?
      The Nazis morally jusified their own brutalisation on tribal/racist ‘social order’ criteria of master status uber nationalism…by so doing they sub-bestialised their own self-destroyed humanity.
      Are you happy with that transmutation from human victim to hominid expedient sub-humanity?
      Lose your ethically conscientious humanity and you’ve lost the big race, in return for the comfort of the tribal/racist herd.

    • Marta January 6, 2014, 7:25 PM

      Shmuel
      So anything an Israeli does to extract information from a suspect is acceptable in your eyes? Nothing beyond the pale? Basically, you are saying the ends justify the means

      Can an Israeli rape/torture/kill the suspect’s children wife or other relatives?

      If an Israeli suspects a person in a village knows/may know the whereabouts of the killer of an Israeli, is it acceptable to torture/kill 5? 20? 100? How many deaths are acceptable until the survivors give up the killer?

      That the “suspect” may or may not have the information or even be entirely innocent is obviously irrelevant and of no importance to you, so we will skip that and go to my basic question.

      Does that mean that
      1. Israelis are superior and therefore anything they do to “others” is valid if there is a chance that it may save one Israeli?
      OR
      1. Are Israelis exactly the same as the worst torturers and killers and anything is permitted?

      Since you say
      “Israelis think of Ron Arad as family. I would be less gentle than Zehavi if my family member was involved.”

      Are there any lines you will NOT cross to save any Israeli? Drop phosphorus bombs, napalm, or even nuke an area?

      Come on. You’ve said you would be less gentle than a man who sodomized a prisoner with a baton (how do you know it was a baton BTW? And why is this less horrible than a penis?)
      Let us hear what you will NOT do. How far will you go?

  • Shmuel January 6, 2014, 7:24 AM

    Damien: the fact that you brought the nazi example shows that there is a universal immorality that is obviously to be condemned, such as torturing or killing a whole race/tribe/people.

    Torture on a specific person who is responsible for torture himself to extract information to save life may be illegal but not necessarily immoral.

    Just as killing another man (war or capital punishment) is sometimes not immoral and even legal, so is torture in specific cases.

    And probably sodomising with a baton is more moral than removing fingernails, electric shock treatment or waterboarding

    • Damien Flinter January 6, 2014, 7:40 AM

      What applies to a race/tribe/people applies to each individual in my morality.
      If you reduce yourself to sub-human bestialty it is your own humanity you must destroy first.

      Your final sentence of graduated bestialities is a most revealing piece of gruesome sophist calculus.
      I’ll leave it to yourself to find it’s precedents. They are not uncommon, unfortunately.
      As stated, lose your humanity, you’ve lost your main race.
      I trust you will be happy with your tribal consolation prize.

    • Richard Silverstein January 6, 2014, 2:52 PM

      @ Shmuel: Torture of an individual for any purpose is illegal and immoral. Period. If it isn’t, then you’ve just slid a long way down the slippery slope to moral oblivion. You, as a lawyer, know that sodomizing a prisoner under your care is rape and you KNOW what rape is. It is not more moral than anything. It is IMMORAL. I find your entire line of argument more and more distasteful here. The fact that you don’t does not speak well for the vision of Israel or Zionism you represent.

  • Shmuel January 6, 2014, 12:41 PM

    Does that mean, Damien, that in your world of morality it is never justifiable to kill or torture? That form of pacifism may save your very soul, but others will have to do the dirty work for you in order for you to remain ‘moral’ while others lose their humanity whilst fighting for freedom.

    • Damien Flinter January 7, 2014, 2:04 AM

      It can certainly be justifiable to kill, Shmuel…particularly if in self(or other)defense, but even that is a dangerous liberty that easily leads to the self-justifying licence of R2P abuse. Had I sufficient ammunition I would be tempted to initiate an extensive cull on the hominids immediately after breakfast.
      I’m no pacifist. Nor moralist. Torture has been repeatedly proven to be unproductive or counterproductive, whatever rationalisations its advocates use to justify their vicious vengences.
      I quite simply find it a revolting activity which I associate with medeival savagery, and which I do not wish to surrender myself to, although there are those, such as Cheyney, Bush, Blair or Sharon who I would simply shrug to hear they had falen into the hands of their victims parents, knowing full well I do not wish to witness their rewards.
      There are hominids who deserve to be incarcerated for the protection of others, but I do not hold with the death penalty if the incarceration resources are available…nor with further abuse of them.
      For me it is a matter of self definition; I prefer to aspire to humanity rather than to succumb to my own sub-bestial inclinations. I am not responsible for the psychopathology of such as Cheyney…nor am I religiously inclined. My ‘soul’ is my consciousness…it is a temporary phenomenon of little weight in the discussion.
      I hope that clarifies my position.

      • Robert Mullen January 7, 2014, 8:10 AM

        Re: moral; morality. Both are in the eyes of the beholder. As a matter of policy, nations do not act in moral ways: they act in their own self-interest. If on occasion their action(s) are perceived to be moral, that is coincidental and icing on the cake, so to speak. To maintain it is not, is hypocritical, for that is how the world works.

        • Damien Flinter January 7, 2014, 8:51 AM

          I think we’re all conversant with ‘how the world works’, Robert.
          None of us here are nation states, Robert.
          Are you taking a pragmatic Machiavellian, c’est la vie, tolerance of torture stance?
          Do you advocate a positive amorality in politics?
          We rely on individual morality and humanity to at least mitigate the worst elements of our states and corporations hypocritically acting behind their facades of civilisation.
          The norm of blind-eye tolerance of barbarity is what allows fascistic savagery to prevail. Some states are better at mitigating these excremental ethical excesses than others.
          Are you suggesting the discussion is in vain? Should we relax, chill out, and leave the law of the military-industrialised jungle play away?
          Or should we attempt to implement a system that outlaws and minimises torture and other sub-bestialities? To do so requires that we interrogate, without torture, those who seem to advocate it; such as Shmuel appears to.

          • Robert Mullen January 8, 2014, 8:47 AM

            Damien: I admire your claim of morality and moral behavior, but may I note I said nothing about torture, fascism, or “worst elements”. Yes we none of us are nation-states, but there is a lot of discussion in this blog concerning them and their behaviors, and judgements of those. Thus my observation on how such states operate vis a vis their own interests, which may or may not be “moral” in your mind which, in any case is for the most part irrelevant. It appears you are well aware how nation states work. Sorry I wasted your time.

  • Mary Hughes Thompson January 6, 2014, 6:24 PM

    Shmuel: “Any Israeli who would be unfortunate enough to to be captured or kidnapped would expect to be tortured and would be forever thankful if he were not.”

    I heard no claims that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was tortured while he was a P.O.W. in Gaza. I assume he will be forever grateful to Hamas.

    • DavidL January 7, 2014, 2:16 AM

      Mary- If you claim he was a POW, then he was denied his rights by Hamas since was denied access to the Red Cross or ANY organization, for that matter. That is contrary to international humanitarian law. NOT having any communication like that is a form of torture- he had no idea about his fate or what might happen to him any day.

      He was, in fact kidnapped and held for ransom- also against the law.

      Denying him any contact with his family or the Red Cross is still a crime. Hamas is guilty of that crime… and I’m not sure if it is an actual war crime, but it should be- the mental anguish of being a prisoner without any contact to the outside world (except the brief exposures to what his captures granted him- NO family contact) is inhumane.

      I believe that yes, on one level he is grateful for not being tortured or abused by Hamas- Anybody in that situation would have some gratitude for not being treated worse.

      I’m against torture and violence to begin with… it is a very slippery slope once you allow torture to become an unchecked source for information.

      There is a part of me that considers that in “some circumstances” it might be justified…. I’m just not sure how to make that call at all. It is a moral dilemma most of us don’t have to make and we make “arm chair” statements- but put ourselves in the situation where a loved-one’s life is at stake, for example… what would you do? I don’t know the answer.

      • Mary Hughes Thompson January 7, 2014, 10:43 AM

        Shalit was not kidnapped. He was a member of Israel’s military force, inside a tank, ready to kill Palestinians on Palestinian land. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war. And yes, he should have been allowed visits by the Red Cross or other organization. I condemn Hamas for not allowing that, but I also know Hamas doesn’t trust Israel with its long fingers that would undoubtedly have infiltrated any group that knew where Shalit was being held. (Incidentally, it is common for Israel to incarcerate Palestinians for years, sometimes without charge, often in solitary confinement, and deny them visits from family or Red Cross .) The results of Israel knowing where he was would have undoubtedly been the death of dozens or hundreds of innocent Palestinian. I think it’s disingenuous to bring up the subject of international humanitarian law, considering Israel violates international humanitarian law several times every day.

        Furthermore, when the Free Gaza Movement was planning to sail with the first main freedom flotilla to Gaza in 2010, we were contacted by legal representatives of Gilad Shalit, asking us to deliver letters from his family. We agreed. The request was not sincere, and merely made in order to lie about our response in order to discredit our flotilla. Here’s what we posted on our website concerning this:
        —–
        Another story circulating in the Israeli media is that the FGM also refused a request from the father of Gilad Shalit to take a letter to him. The FGM movement has stated this is a blatant lie.

        In a media release about Israel’s disinformation campaign, the FGM states: (see:http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/56-news/1174-israels-disinformation-campaign-against-the-gaza-freedom-flotilla )

        “Israel claims that we refused to deliver a letter and package from POW Gilad Shalit’s father. This is a blatant lie. We were first contacted by lawyers representing Shalit’s family Wednesday evening, just hours before we were set to depart from Greece. Irish Senator Mark Daly (Kerry), one of 35 parliamentarians joining our flotilla, agreed to carry any letter and deliver it to UN officials inside Gaza. As of this writing, the lawyers have not responded to Sen. Daly, electing instead to attempt to smear us in the Israeli press.[5] We have always called for the release of all political prisoners in this conflict, including the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners languishing in Israeli jails, among them hundreds of child prisoners”

  • Sara January 8, 2014, 9:41 AM

    Mary, Gilad Shalit was not “inside a tank ready to kill Palestinians” he was at an army post near the Gaza Border that came under attack in which 2 Israeli soldiers were killed and he was abducted.

    • Mary Hughes Thompson January 8, 2014, 11:59 PM

      Sara, when Shalit was captured he was, as I wrote and as he confirmed after his release, inside a tank. Perhaps he would not have killed any Palestinians if he had not been captured, but Israeli tanks parked at the Gaza border spend a lot of time firing at and too often killing Palestinian farmers trying to cultivate their land adjacent to Palestinian land Israel has determined its “buffer zone” (and what will more than likely be permanently annexed to Israel.)

      Shalit was a uniformed soldier, an armed combatant in what Israel says is a war, and his capture was legitimate according to international law. There was no crime involved, just embarrassment and anger by Israel that it had for once become the victim. Fortunately, and correctly, he came to no harm, other than being frightened and homesick.

      There are thousands of Palestinian men, women and children in Israeli prisons who were treated far less kindly — beaten and tortured — and who have been frightened and homesick for several years, many of them in prison for the crime of being Palestinian. Forgive me if I have little concern for Shalit’s experience. I am glad he is safe and home now. The treatment he received was clearly far more humane than his captors would have received if they had “captured” by Israel.

      http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Gilad-Schalits-capture-In-his-own-words-308015

  • dov January 11, 2014, 6:14 PM

    Excuse my English
    Very easy to sit away and critic the whole world, I know you are a writer and that is your job,but your opinions are no better then the others,I respect you for sticking with them and write about them but respect the other,maybe he is right and not you? why do we always think that we have ownership on the truth?
    this is what he thinks and this is a very good point he point’ and yours worth reading too,but there is a lot of grey in between.
    sometimes, just top listen and report is enough,when you will be in god position you may give grades to everyone about their views
    Shavua tov

  • Aaron May 25, 2014, 2:19 AM

    The Zionist world view: torture is acceptable if it’s done to non-Jews. The Zionist commenters here who endorse torture, at the same time would consider it abominable if Hamas tortured Gilad Shalit or any other Israeli and a proof of Arab monstrosity, but it’s ok when it’s done to Palestinians by the “most moral army in the world”. What a bunch of psychos.

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