Here in the U.S. we too have our Teabaggers with their foul hate spewing against African-Americans, gays and even our president. We’ve also seen our share of political violence including presidential assassinations. But still little prepares you for the frenzied, teeth-baring rage to which Anat Kamm is being exposed in the Israeli media and pages of Facebook. I’m displaying some of the relevant graphics here. I don’t know whether to complain to Facebook about the existence of groups calling for the execution of a fellow human being or to leave the pages up as Exhibit A in the venom spewed by these vulgar hooligans.
Here are some of the relevant passages:
Maariv main headline: “Grave Espionage”
“Execute Anat Kamm: We must eradicate leftism from our nation”
“Anti-Zionists have advanced all the way to here [prison]: that she should never see the light of day, the disgusting piece of garbage”
“I too want Anat Kamm executed: what do you say? Electric chair or hanging?”
“Declare Haaretz a terror organization”
I call upon all Israelis, Diaspora Jews and lovers of democracy everywhere to stand against this odious venom. I would like to see a group of legal scholars and jurists organize to rebut the heinous charges and persecution being meted out to both Kamm and Uri Blau. I too am hoping that bloggers and journalists may create an organized campaign inside and especially outside Israel against this McCarthyite vigilantism. Just as Israel was embarrassed into removing the gag order we must try to make Israel embarrassed that the hounds are baying for the blood of a fellow Israeli merely for the fact that she released documents that reveal the immorality and even illegality of IDF actions in the Territories.
This is the face of Israeli rightism exemplified by Lieberman and those farther to his right. But there is no question that the IDF and Shin Bet themselves are contributing to the lynch mob mentality by releasing deeply misleading, histrionic claims about the damage Kamm did to Israeli security.
Now, they are claiming that Uri Blau sought to publish an article exposing IDF battle plans the week before Operation Cast Lead. They bray about this as if Blau was whispering the words into ear of Hamas’ military wing. In fact, Haaretz’s Amos Harel later reported that these very same battle plans were tantamount to war crimes in the blatnat disregard with which they treated Palestinian civilian life. The Israeli shreying for Uri Blau’s head have a fatal inability to understand what Israel is supposed to be: not a State of cold blooded killers virtually executing old men, women and children as happened all too often in Gaza in 2008 and Lebanon in 2006. Is that language too sharp for you? Well, what else do you call free fire zones in which IDF soldiers are told to kill ANYTHING that moves as happened during Cast Lead? This is testimony straight from soldiers given such orders. I didn’t make it up.
And if those battle plans called for Israel invading and occupying Gaza and expelling Hamas as I believe likely–is that not information which any well-informed citizen should wish to be informed of? And if the battle plans called for mass expulsion of Gazans as I understand it did from an informed source: is this not information the public has a right to know in order to determine whether Cast Lead was justly conceived and executed?
The rightist hooligans, newspapers and Shin Bet spokespeople crying treason and other horrid epithets should also recall that Haaretz presented this Blau article to the military censor who initially approved it, whereupon Haaretz printed the edition. When the IDF asked Haaretz to remove the edition from circulation it did so. So how was Israel’s security compromised?? The article never saw the light of day. Blau never gave away “state secrets.” Haaretz acceded to the wishes of the army.
I remind my readers that what Kamm and Blau did is almost precisely what Daniel Ellsberg and the NY Times did in the Pentagon Papers case. Ellsberg revealed Pentagon position papers and strategic doctrine regarding the Vietnam War. The president, defense and intelligence establishment had a holy fit. And guess what happened? The Papers were published as far as I know without censorship. Ellsberg wasn’t charged with treason and didn’t serve a day in jail. The Republic didn’t fall. North Vietnam didn’t win the war as a result of anything it read in the pages of the Times. In fact, many of us believe the Ellsberg case was one of America’s shining hours as a democracy. Is it wrong to demand anything less of Israel?
An Israeli source sent me an e-mail with some acute observations about the most recent developments in this case:
First, he notes that just before the gag order was rescinded, Ehud Barak announced that he had refused to extend Gaby Ashkenazi’s term as chief of staff. There may be many reasons for this, but one very suggestive one might be an attempt to remove the current chief of staff from the mix involving this case. If there is ever a full trial involving this case, Ashkenazi is up to his eyeballs in it and approved the illegal assassinations highlighted in one of Blau’s reports. There may even be further revelations in some of the as yet unpublished documents that further sully the chief of staff’s reputation.
My source notes that it wasn’t just the IDF that performed these illegal targeted killings. They were prepared along with Shin Bet teams as well. Which means that the Shin Bet is also implicated in this wrongdoing. If the Supreme Court ever develops the balls to haul these jokers in to ask them where they get the effrontery to disobey a Court ruling it will be the Shin Bet as well as IDF which will have to answer. That might explain the desperation of the intelligence services to hang onto the gag order far after it outlived its usefulness.
He ends his message with this passage which I found touching and empowering:
I hope that if these issues can be raised in the foreign media through you and others, there will be a chance that they can penetrate the Israeli media as well.
He flatters me and my influence. But some people have listened to what I have to say here. With the help of my readers in Israel and the Diaspora, people will continue finding the material I publish here important for understanding this critical case for Israeli democracy. Tell your friends about this blog. If we’re going to change minds and have an impact we need the largest audience we can muster.
This is horrid. Any reasonable man can see she’s a whistleblower, not a spy. I wish I knew why Ma’ariv publishes this. Scary, it really is.
There’s a visible errosion of democratic values and a massive rightwing shift in society. I wonder where it comes from – militray conflicts clearly not being the reason.
I mostly agree with your analysis, except for the barak-ashkenazi story. Most Chief Of Staff served three year terms. Recently, the term was extended to four. A fifth year requires an emergency, and there isn’t any. There’s no real reason the extend it and as far as I know, Ashkenazi never requested an extenstion.
Assaf Oron says
1. Maariv has been a right-wing rag for a while, and it is now seriously threatened by an even worse paper, the Israeli version of Pravda, the freely-distributed Sheldon Adelson rag “Israel Hayom”. So Maariv keeps getting more and more right-wing. For example, I just returned from Israel, and hardly a day passes without a personal anti-Obama screed adorning their opinion pages.
2. The Chief of Staff’s fourth year is considered a no-brainer, and withholding it a slap in the face. It only happened to a couple of COS’s before. This is what Sharon did to Boogy in response to his opposition to the Gaza evacuation. I don’t know if Richard and his source are right, but the Israeli media definitely noted the end-of-term announcement as an affront to Ashkenazi, who is quite popular.
Gene Schulman says
Every day, in every way, the Israelis find new methods of making pariahs of themselves. Witness the article in today’s Haaretz about the new laws allowing deportation of Palestinians from the West Bank (ethnic cleansing?).
The out and out hate and stupidity about the Kamm case is even more disgusting than the trashing of self-hating Jews for criticizing Israeli policies. Ironically, the best lawyer to hire for her would be the famous “legal scholar” Alan Jerkowitz. He’d sell his sole for a buck and the publicity. And he has a reputation for getting his clients off.
RE: “I don’t know whether to complain to Facebook about the existence of groups calling for the execution of a fellow human being or to leave the pages up as Exhibit A in the venom spewed by these vulgar hooligans.” – R.S.
MY POLICY: Leave the pages up as Exhibit A in the venom spewed by these vulgar hooligans, unless they appear to to have the real potential for actually inciting violence. This can be a difficult call, so when in doubt, I err on the side of reporting them.
But when there is a group called something like (I can’t remember exactly) “Hoping Richard Goldstone Gets Brain Cancer”, I think it just reflects poorly on Justice Goldstone’s fanatical detractors.
Beyond the Pale, radio WBAI, had a report today from Cecile of Muzzle Watch who gives a big shout-out to Richard (and other progressive Jewish bloggers) for their coverage and promotion of this.
Assaf Oron says
I’m afraid the game in the Israeli arena is rigged. It’s good at least that the “radical left” had some head start (although it forfeited much of it at Kamm’s own request, the irony). But now it’s all drowned with hysterical hate coming from the center and right. The stories about this affair are deluged by incoherent hate talkbacks, it’s not a coordinated right-wing attack but the undercurrent of the typical Israeli mind responding Pavlov-like to the “security, spy, traitor” stimuli from the mainstream sources.
Now it’s the international stage where the fate of this affair will be determined. If the judges will feel inconvenient enough to run a kangaroo trial like Vanunu received, Kamm may come out easy. If they feel no one’s watching, she’ll get the book thrown at her and more.
As to the greater issue of how and why the IDF brass pisses upon High Court decisions on such critical matters as assassinations, this too will depend on whether the overall atmosphere will drive the courts towards activism or cowardice.
In short, Richard, keep on doing the amazing work you’ve been doing!
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks, Assaf so very much.
The Maariv headline and Im Tirzu poster are legitimate (the lower caption which you mistranslated is not part of the poster), and the rest are just despicable facebook pages made by a bunch of nobodies. Compare this to what an editor working for Haaretz wrote on his facebook page about the family of Miriam Peretz who lost two sons in combat in the IDF – he called them a “family of fascists and Jihadists”.
To his credit he wrote an open apology letter (like he had a choice) but this shows you what kind of people work for Haaretz. http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/1,7340,L-3873902,00.html
Amir, how far was the editor from the truth? I mean, sure, there’s nothing fascist or jihad-like in being a soldier and an officer in the IDF. And there’s no doubt in my mind that both Peretz brothers, on a personal level, are heros.
Now, let’s take a step back and look a the bigger picture. In the past 20 years, there’s been a huge increase in national-religious draft in the IDF.
Most soldiers in the IDF are motivated to serve by the idea of protecting their families, friends and nation against an
However, for many religious soldiers, the motivation is also a Biblical right for this land and that defending it is somehow a Mitzvah and is looked upon favorably by religious leaders and God itself. How is this additional religious motivation different from Jihad against All Infidels in which it is a great deed to die only to be awarded 72 virgins in heaven?
Both are religious motivations, so there is a jihadist *component* to the story
thank you so much richard and please thank your contact. the risks you are taking don’t go unnoticed. this could represent the tipping pt for israel. those papers could be israel’s pandora box. hopefully truth and justice will prevail. there are still good people in israel and they are in my prayers as are kamm and uri. israeli heroes is what they are.