Dov Kheinin posted on his Facebook account about an encounter a Palestinian woman had with Israeli Border Police shortly after a series of stabbings occurred on a Tel Aviv public bus last week:
Another sad story you haven’t heard in Israeli media which occurred just after the stabbing attack last week.
Maisa Ayuti of Yafo traveled on a bus to her cleaning job in the Azrieli Mall when the attack happened. When she got off the bus, a riot policeman asked her to give him her ID for inspection. She gave it to him. A moment later another policeman also asked for her ID. She responded that just a moment earlier she’d been questioned by his colleague. The policeman’s response was to twist her hand, breaking it and putting a pistol to her head.
Maisa lost consciousness and was hospitalized. Since the incident, no official representative spoke with her, tried to make contact, or apologized. They dumped her bruised and wounded at Wolfson Hospital. Since then she can’t sleep nights. She’s even more afraid of the police than she was previously; with good reason. A State must not related this way to its citizens. Police should not attack people in this way. A woman wearing a head covering doesn’t automatically turn into a terror suspect.
Yesterday, I came to visit her, to ask how she’s doing, to offer help, and to apologize in the name of the State.
Another similar incident happened in Jerusalem this week. A 21 year old Druze, Tommy Hasson, had just completed his IDF service in which he served in the army honor guard at the president’s residence. After leaving work at a Jerusalem hotel with an East Jerusalem friend, a group of 10 Orthodox Jews heard Hasson speaking Arabic with his friend. One of the group tried to throw a garbage can at him. When he fought back, the mob assaulted him with fists and bottles, which they broke over his head:
“Someone spat at me and I hit him. And then everyone came at me. They all hit me. (With) glass, bottles. They were a big group (and) they yelled – they could not do anything and did not stop. I only managed to escape to the bus station’s entrance after a few minutes and there a few people sat me down, gave me water and took care of me – they called an ambulance until the police arrived. They started asking me questions. In the meantime, blood ran down all over me – my head, my ears and on my shirt,” said Hasson.
Hasson’s father, Ramzi, had this to say:
“On a personal level I believed up until now that this is one nation – I never saw a difference between a Jew and a Druze. I believed and I will continue to believe in the future that this is the land of the Jewish nation – it has a right to live here. There was never doubt about this. I blame myself (and) I blame my Jewish friends for not doing enough to educate. To speak Arabic is not shameful – it does not make you a potential terrorist.”
Let’s go back in time almost 100 years ago to Depression-era Germany. To the time before the Nazis came to power. During that era, the country was riven by some of the same hatreds as those besetting Israel. The difference is that the pre-1933 Nazi saw the Jews as a Fifth Column in their midst and the Israeli far-right sees Palestinians the same way. Ironic, isn’t it? The Nazis too engaged in organized hooliganism against their perceived enemies, like what’s described above. They organized riots, beat Jews and their left-wing opponents, they smashed store windows, they boycotted businesses. They blamed all the ills of society on enemies from within and without. But the enemies within were always the Jews (and the Bolsheviks, who were often one and the same).
The hate spewed incessantly by Israeli leaders against “Arabs,” the mounting levels of violence, the acts of terrorism, the increasing concentration of power in the hands of a few conniving leaders–all this brings to mind what happened nearly 100 years ago. I’m not predicting an Arab Holocaust. After all, the settlerists know the world will not let them repeat history. At any rate, they don’t want to exterminate “Arabs” as Hitler did the Jews. They want to be rid of them. So their goal will be either to expel them or, barring that, rendering them quiescent and powerless.
They’ve done a damn good job of it too. Gaza is little more than an Israeli punching bag just waiting for the next shoe to drop and another series of punishing onslaughts leaving another thousand or two dead civilians. It happens every few years. The next one will probably come right on schedule in 2016 or so.
The West Bank too plays Israel’s game in the form of the PA and its so-called leader, Mahmoud Abbas. The only threat it poses is largely symbolic as it dutifully awaits the international community getting the balls to recognize Palestine (if it ever does). Meanwhile, the settlerists progressively swallow more and more Palestinian land. Their goal to turn Palestine into a few pockets of isolated Bantustans.
As for Palestinians within Israel, they are far better Israelis than most Jewish citizens. They love their country. They strive to make a place for themselves within it despite the vast system of roadblocks placed in their path. They make the best of it. They don’t, except in rare cases, riot or engage in revolutionary acts. Though seen by Israel’s leadership as a Fifth Column, they are not. And perhaps for that reason, these Palestinians too are largely powerless to provoke real change.
But even this level of repression is too little for Israel’s leadership. For them, Palestinians must be neutered, rendered a nullity. I don’t know what form this will ultimately take. But incidents like the ones portrayed here will become everyday occurrences (they almost are now). And then, instead of one a day there will be ten. Until there is an explosion. Not a small, managed riot like those in Tel Aviv’s HaTikvah neighborhood in which African refugees were the prey. But a massive paroxysm of violence. That day will come. A dark day, but it is coming.
The problem is that Israelis and Diaspora Jews see anti-Palestinian racism as a manageable problem. It’s a question of a few hooligans who make the rest of the nation look bad. If we make a few statements of concern and regret once in a while and arrest one in 100 of the assailants that will keep the lid on things. But remember the Nazis before 1933. Weimar Germany viewed them as a minor threat. As a bunch of violent hooligans who beat up their political enemies in beer halls. But as conditions got worse, as the Depression sunk in, the resentments of the average German piled up. By then, it was too late. The Nazis had stormed the barricades and the corridors of power opened wide to them.
So Israeli racism is not an idle threat. It’s a symptom of rot and decay within. It will not be addressed properly because too many in the political elite benefit from it. This is why I harbor less and less hope for Israel to transform itself without a massive level of violence and social upheaval.
Returning to Tommy Hasson, six of the Jerusalem assailants have been arrested. Shall we wager whether they will receive any punishment? When do Jewish Brown Shirts get punished when they beat an “Arab” to a pulp?
A final word on Tommy Hasson: not many Druze live in Jerusalem. Tommy is originally from Haifa. He moved to Jerusalem to pursue a career as a musician. He wants to be an artist and entered a conservatory to learn and practice his art. Will there be a place for art in the this future Israel of Jewish Brown Shirts? Will there be a place for Druze? Will there be a place for anyone but Jews?
Arie Brand says
Yes it could be that the mistreatment of Arab Israelis and Palestinians will ultimately result in a massive revolt. If this is more or less clearly perceived by Israelis it is unlikely to mitigate their behaviour. I remember the sociologist Andreski arguing that in Brasilian slave society the continuous fear of a slave revolt led to ever more pathological cases of rage against them.
If it ever comes to a revolt it is unlikely that the Israeli security apparatus will be overcome. But what could happen is that it will have to resort to such massive slaughter to keep control that other nations, which have given Israel thus far tremendous leeway, decide that they can no longer stand for this.
We have had the 1982 slaughter in Lebanon, the repeated slaughter in Gaza, the decades old treatment of Palestinians as “Untermenschen” – shouldn’t there be a point where, even in the perception of the most obtuse of Israel’s supporters, a red line has been crossed? Where even Israel is forced to say “This time we went too far” (Norman Finkelstein argued that this was after the 2008 Gaza invasion – but the world’s conscience has been proven to be too elastic for that).
I’ve wondered this myself. What would “the most obtuse of Israel’s supporters” do if Israel simply lined the Palestinians up and shot them à la the Katyn Forest massacre? My cynicism has reached the point that I think they would just sit there and silently cheer Israel on.
They would say it was a necessary evil, that it had to be done for a greater good…
If there is a full-scale revolt in Israel, the question of whether the Israeli security apparatus will be overcome is a serious one: it depends largely on whether they retain access to external support or not. If they still have the US backing, governments abroad will keep turning a blind eye, because nobody wants to get into a fight with the US. The US always loses, but it makes such a bloody mess that nobody wants to incite it; it’s like fighting a rabid dog.
If Israel’s government has already been isolated internationally, however, they *will* lose. The genocide attempt will provoke the intervention of Turkey, or Russia, or another regional power which will obliterate the stockpile of US weaponry. If the US is no longer feeding new weaponry in, that’s it for the conventional military power in Israel. Germany in the 1930s had vast industrial power, and could pretty much produce any warmaking machinery it needed domestically, with the exception of oil. Israel has *nothing*, industrially speaking: no water, no oil, no iron, no other minerals, no wood, no workers, no *space*.
The Israeli nuclear threat is another matter. Most likely it will continue to sit idle, or wise people will secure it the moment the government’s failure seems assured. At least they can’t nuke the Palestinians because they’re too close and the fallout would hit them. Worst case, the Israeli government will go mad and attempt to nuke Turkey or Iran or something, which would fail, and would result in a unified international campaign to destroy Israeli government utterly. So the nukes are useless.
With the country internationally isolated, and with conventional military power and nukes destroyed, a popular revolution has decent odds of succeeding. It might still lose, but the state of Israel would go down with it, leaving a messy anarchic quagmire.
Arie Brand says
If there are Jewish Brownshirts do they have an ideological equivalent of Alfred Rosenberg’s “Der Mythos des Zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts” ?. There was (is) indeed a book that came close to it, close that is in providing a rationale for the harassment they engage in, if indeed they would be literate enough to read anything beyond their settlers’ tracts (which I doubt).
Its author, Joan Peters, died last month. For those who don’t know her, she was the author of that tremendous hoax “From Time Immemorial”. I spoke in my previous post about the obtuse supporters of Israel. Well, among its most obtuse must be reckoned its own Prime Minister. I read that Netanyahu, not long before Peters’ death, arranged for her to be thanked for her tremendous services to Israel.
Either he is so obtuse that he has never noticed that he was dealing with a hoax here or, more likely, he knew that it was a hoax but thought, nevertheless, its hasbara value large enough to thank the author for it. If that was his consideration that wouldn’t relieve him from the charge of obtuseness. Because a lie exposed makes the truth come out more glaringly.
More acute Israelis were aware of that. Chomsky wrote:
“Actually, the Israeli reviews in general were extremely critical: the reaction of the Israeli press was that they hoped the book would not be widely read, because ultimately it would be harmful to the Jews—sooner or later it would get exposed, and then it would just look like a fraud and a hoax, and it would reflect badly on Israel. They underestimated the American intellectual community, I should say.”
They did indeed.
What was the hoax? Peters purported to show that the Palestinian population of Palestine was not indigenous to it; that the large majority of them were just recent interlopers attracted by Israel’s economic succes. So there shouldn’t be any worries about having taken their land away. They weren’t there in the first place. In order to demonstrate that she came out with a hefty tome which had, as she proudly claimed, more than 1800 footnotes.
Yes. The young Finkelstein, then a doctoral student, went through each and every one of them and found evidence of fraud on a massive scale: mangled quotations, distorted demographic figures, the lot.
But as Chomsky said, the Israeli reviewers might have underestimated the American intellectual community, Joan Peters did not. She knew exactly what she could get away with. She got hundreds of rave reviews, including of luminaries like Saul Bellow (for whom I lost all respect when I read his cowardly account of his trip to Jerusalem) and Barbara Tuchman.
When Finkelstein’s findings, for which he couldn’t get a publisher, were sent around there was a silence as of the grave. The New York Review of Books had, cautiously, not joined in the chorus of adulation but neither was it game enough to bell the cat.
Only after the book had come out in England and was subjected there to annihilating reviews (Chomsky had taken care of the distribution of Finkelstein’s findings), in the London Review of Books, in the Observer, in the Times Literary Supplement, did the New York Review of Books get its courage together to invite a competent reviewer. That he was Jewish wasn’t good enough. He had to be Israeli as well to remove any risk. Well they got Professor Yehoshua Porath, an expert in his field. He didn’t hide his contempt for the book. He had to wait a very long time though before his review was published (one can imagine the anxious deliberations behind closed doors) and even then he had to cut corners, according to Chomsky.
And what happened to Finkelstein? He couldn’t get a foot on the ground in American academe and when he finally got a job in DePaul Alan Dershowitz (then not yet being weighed down by this girlie affair) made sure that he didn’t get tenure.
A lot of American Jewish intellectuals got plenty of egg on their faces in this affair. Barbara Tuchman compounded her mistake by entering into a furious (and almost illiterate) exchange with some of the English reviewers, the Gilmours.
Here is Chomsky’s account of this whole sorry saga:
The fate of an honest intellectual
The extent to which the American academic/political community is cowed by this lobby for a foreign nation is almost beyond belief.
Reg Vernon says
Thanks for the link to Chomsky’s piece about Finklestein and the Joan Peters book. The piece gave me a completely different perspective of Finklestein, for which I am grateful
I*’m troubled by the idea, presented above, that women with scarves should no automatically be treated as terror suspects (and their wrists broken). Why is it assumed correct for Israel (or the USA) to trat suspects as if they’d been condemned? Why is it assumed that police can properly punish (totrure) people rather than merely ask for their papers again or arrewst them politely?
If some fruitcake suspects that you are a terrorist, does that give him the right to manhandle you, to break your wrist? Even if he is a policeman? even if he is the chief of police?
Bad assumption or thoroughly rotten society.
I agree: breaking wrists without reason, without cause, is on a par with breaking glass windows at night (kristallnacht), Brown-shirts indeed,
Amiran Cohen says
[comment deleted: OFF TOPIC, further off topic comments may cause you to lose all your commenting privileges.]
Supreme Court extends remand of suspects in Jerusalem bilingual school fire
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ariel: These suspects have not yet been charged with a crime, nor tried, nor convicted, nor imprisoned (under a sentence). Let’s see if & how long that takes.
And what if there had been no Jewish students at that school? What would have happened then?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Elisabeth: The Jewish Underground, an early settler-based terror group, was planning to bomb a Palestinian school before the plot was interrupted. Today, I’ll bet such a plot wouldn’t be stopped by the Shabak. They’d probably even help.
@Richard – “They’d [Shabak] probably even help” – Wow!
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ariel: So the reason the Shabak is abysmally ineffective in stopping & punishing Jewish terror is because they’re they oppose it with every fiber of their body, right? Who better understands the motivation of Jewish terror than those sworn to do all in their power to stop “Arabs?”
@Richard – “Jewish Terror”. The only significant Jewish terror attack in recent years was the murder of Muhammad Abu-Khdair and in that case they were so sloppy that it is hard to believe they were very organized. Most Price Tag attacks aren’t very different than throwing stones or Molotov cocktails and they can never be completely stopped or prevented. Just like it is impossible to prevent an individual from driving a car into a crowd in a bus/train stop. Whoever carry PT attacks is vandal, racist and stupid but they are not the same class as terrorists.
I knew personally some of the Bat Ayin Underground members and was a guest at their house. Those people were fanatics and it was a great job of Shabaka to catch them (I could never guess anything was happening).
Richard Silverstein says
You’re wrong of course. But even if what you write was correct, what you’d really have to add is that it was the only significant Jewish civilian terror attack in recent years” since the IDF and Mossad routinely murder Palestinians and other “enemies of the Jewish people.”
Absolutely wrong. First, throwing a rock is NOT the same as defacing cemeteries and burning down mosques. These are acts of terror. Second, price tag attacks can be prevented. If Israel offered zero tolerance for such terror attacks they’d stop immediately. Throw ’em in prison for five or 10 yrs and they’d stop pronto. But Israel can’t do that because the terrorists are extensions of the government and its policies.
Why am I not very surprised? You’re no terrorist. But I’ll bet you share their views on many issues.
” The only significant Jewish terror attack in recent years was the murder of Muhammad Abu-Khdair”
Ariel, how can you say that?
There have been so many attacks on Palestinians, esp. on the West Bank by settlers. Not ‘just’ destroying their lands and crops, but actually killing and maiming many people.
You make me despair. The attitide of “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” is still very alive, it seems.
Dont’t take me wrong: It is a universal problem (closing one’s eyes to the wrongs of one’s own country, or favorite activist group), an attitude very alive in my country too.
@Elisabeth “so many attacks… By settlers… But actually killing” – no there weren’t!
All the casualties you hear about are in clashes with IDF which are a different (worthy) subject. Please provide a link to such incident!
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ariel: Oh puh-leeze, killings by settlers of Palestinians are routine. Do the Google search yourself and stop wasting our time.