Maariv has scored the first media interview (Hebrew) with Yona Avrushmi, the murderer of Peace Now co-founder, Emil Grunzweig. Avrumi was freed from prison several months ago after serving his full 27 year sentence for the assassination that shocked all Israel for its brazenness. In the interview Avrushmi argues that he single-handedly began the campaign that destroyed the Israeli left. Though exaggerated, there is much truth to the fact that the Israeli extreme right’s willingness to use homicidal violence (and the threat of it) against Jews and Palestinians alike has been a key element in its political ascendancy.
The amount of duplicity and evil inherent in Avrushmi’s comments is breathtaking. He is an unreconstructed Jewish terrorist, proud of murdering Grunzweig. The idea that Israelis are kissing his hand for killing a fellow Israeli Jew (after all and unfortunately, one can imagine many Israelis who might kiss his hand if he’d killed a Palestinian) is monstrous. But he is a perfect mirror of the state of the latter-day Israeli nationalist camp. Willing to do whatever it takes to destroy their domestic enemies, and then willing to use whatever subterfuge necessary to avoid responsibility for their actions.
In some ways, this reminds me of the 1920s assassinations during the Weimar period by German rightists of their political enemies (like Rosa Luxembourg), which set the stage for the Nazi ascendancy. It was through a combination of political intimidation, blackmail, coercion and legitimate political support that the Nazis came to power. Though the Likud and most settlers are not Nazis, their tactics during the phases of their rise to power share some similarities. One only hopes that the outcome in Israel’s case will be different than in the German one. [Forewarning: I suggest anyone in the comment thread seeking to critique this paragraph should do so very carefully based on what I’ve actually written here and not based on what you believe I said.]
I can also imagine, had he known of him, that Anders Breivik would heartily approve of Avrushmi, both for the murder and the lies he used in his attempt to earn parole.
The article below was translated by George Talent for Occupation Magazine (italics are mine):
Yona Avrushmi: Thanks to Me the Israeli Left Disappeared
In his first interview since he was released from prison…the murderer of Emil Grunzweig expresses his opinions: “people want to kiss my hand.”
By Sarah Liebowitz-Dar – July 26, 2011
When Yohah Avrushmi appeared before the Prisons Service parole board, he expressed sorrow and remorse over the murder of Emil Grunzweig, of blessed memory, in a Peace Now demonstration in February 1983 in Jerusalem. He also condemned the act in many newspaper interviews over the course of the 27 years during which he was incarcerated. In some cases he even held right-wing politicians responsible.
The latter, he alleged, had created an atmosphere of incitement with their hyperbole, which motivated him to throw the grenade. Now, free from the constraints of prison and without fear of the parole board, the 53 year-old Avrushmi speaks differently.
“There is no more Peace Now, nobody listens to them. There is no Left in Israel. After what I did, many people understood what the Israeli Left is.”
Q: Would you do it again?
“Why should I attack leftists? They’ve already disappeared anyway. Why should I take the trouble to attack them?
Avrushmi, who now squats in an abandoned house in the Hatikvah neighbourhood in Tel Aviv, without electricity or telephone, considered joining the tent city protest for affordable housing on Rothschild Boulevard this week. In the interview he tells about the decision to throw the grenade at Peace Now demonstrators at the famous demonstration on the streets of Jerusalem during the First Lebanon War.
“It was a Mizrahi act,” he says. “Take note that there are no Mizrahi leftists. There’s only one Tali Fahima, most of the leftists are Ashkenazis. I thought about it a long time in advance. I didn’t like the leftists, I thought they were collaborators and traitors. I worked in a settlement and those were the opinions I heard around me. I didn’t intend to kill. The grenade is the kind that fragments into big pieces, but grenades don’t kill, they just drive people away with the shock.”
In February 1995, President Ezer Weizmann commuted his sentence to 27 years. Four times Avrushmi appealed to the parole board in an effort to have his sentence reduced by a third, and every time he was refused. The State Prosecution Service repeatedly claimed that the early release of the murderer of Emil Grinzweig would compromise the public’s confidence in the justice system and that Avrushmi still constituted a danger to the public.
“I demonstrated for Arik Sharon. In order to help him,” Avrushmi says today. “But when I needed his help, he didn’t help me. Arik Sharon betrayed me, his principles and the people who loved him. What happened to him happened because of the injustice he did. It was Yitzhak Rabin, who came from the Left, who took action to have my sentence reduced.”
At the end of January of this year, Avrushmi was released from the Rimonim prison in the Sharon. Many photographers and journalists swarmed around him when he emerged from the prison gates, but he refused to say a word, forcibly pushed the cameras aside and even tried to slap the photographers who approached him. Since then he has been silent. Now he feels free to say what is on his mind. He is particularly proud of the appreciation he receives wherever he goes, according to him.
“People in the street want to kiss both my hands, the hand that pulled out the pin and the hand that threw the grenade. I go to synagogues all over the country, with friends and acquaintances, and I am greeted with admiration everywhere. Even Ashkenazis tell me, ‘congratulations, we admire you.’”
Until the assassination of Rabin Avrushmi was considered the biggest political murderer there has been here. Yigal Amir took that distinction from him. “How can you compare what I did with what he did? I wouldn’t dare assassinate a prime minister. Besides, Rabin wasn’t a leftist at all.”