NOTE: If you frequent progressive websites like Think Progress, the Nation or others, you may’ve read that their web traffic has been substantially reduced due to an adjustment Google made in its algorithm to downgrade websites dealing with controversial political subjects. I’ve done some general research on Tikun Olam’s site traffic over the past eight years and found precisely the same thing happened to this blog’s traffic. Without changing anything in the site which might’ve caused such a decline, my site traffic declined by 20-30% in the past three to four years. In other words, we wuz robbed. Google has determined that sites that cover political controversy are unworthy of the attention that other more mainstream sites are.
I say all this in asking you as readers to help overcome this corporate censorship by redoubling your efforts to promote the visibility of this site. If we can’t depend on Google being fair and transparent, then we’ve got to depend on each other. Tell friends, colleagues and family about the work that is done here. Promote the hell out of it. Tell them that they’ll find research and reporting they can’t find anywhere else. And just as important, donate to support this important mission.
One of the sub-themes of this blog is my characterization of Israel as a garrison state. That is, a society whose very structure and values depends on constant preparation for, and prosecution of war. War is a national pastime, almost like baseball once was in the U.S. The young are groomed for military service from the youngest of ages (you’ll see this represented further below). Military heroism, including the ultimate self-sacrifice is inculcated into the very fabric of society.
Elor Azarya Day
Tonight, I offer a few examples of what I consider this national pathology. First up, is the city of Ramleh, a largely Mizrahi enclave east of Tel Aviv, but in an entirely different economic zone. Where Tel Aviv is rich, cosmopolitan and largely Ashkenazi, Ramleh is poor, Mizrahi, and a bastion of the Israeli far-right. Before 1948, it was a Palestinian town which whose population was expelled by the Palmach during the Nakba. It is the hometown of Elor Azarya, the IDF medic who took a gun and executed a Palestinian who was an accessory to a knife attack during the Knife Intifada. The victim was already wounded and incapacitated on the ground. Azarya murdered him in cold blood with his commanding officer, who did nothing during or after the murder, standing no more than ten feet away.
The only reason this incident became controversial was that a Palestinian affiliated with B’Tselem filmed the murder, which then went viral. It was a perfect representation of the brutal, homicidal violence engendered among Israelis by the Occupation. Though much of Israeli society applauded Azarya, the world had a different opinion. It was aghast. So the IDF, inclined in every other instance to ignore such travesties (or even reward them with promotion in rank), felt compelled to act. Azarya, to the consternation of tens of thousands of his ardent admirers, was brought to trial and eventually slapped on the wrist with an 18-month jail sentence. The president granted him clemency and reduced the sentence to eight months. That’s how much a Palestinian life is worth. Though I have to say that in most cases, where there are no cameras, such a life isn’t worth anything at all.
Just after his arrest, the city of Beit Shemesh, officially honored Azarya with a billboard planted prominently inside the city limits. I posted about this abomination here.
Now, the hometown boy made good will be honored by the city of Ramleh with a gala celebration of its very own hero. Residents will get to offer him “warm hugs” as performers and other artists sing his praises. The next step is surely politics, where he should be appointed a cabinet minister, preferably minister for Arab affairs. Just as Doron Zahavi, after raping Mustafa Dirani in an IDF torture chamber, became the Jerusalem police officer in charge of Arab affairs, which essentially means he brutalized the residents of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem.
Israeli Supreme Court Justifies Gaza Mass Murder
Israel’s High Court, once known for its liberal rulings prohibiting torture and protecting rights of Palestinian suspects, has stooped to the level of a kangaroo court ratifying virtually every misdeed the IDF perpetrates and giving it legal standing. They’ve approved war criminals as senior IDF commanders and legalized the theft of Palestinian babies from their Muslim mothers and their placement for adoption with Orthodox Jews.
In today’s ruling, it rejected a petition by six Israeli human rights groups led by Yesh Din, calling for the prohibition of mass killing at the Gaza border. The Court’s strange rulings required some tortuous moral maneuvers including ruling that the Great March of Return, convened by Gaza civil society groups as a non-violent protest against the Israel siege and Occupation, was in actuality part of ongoing hostilities between Israel and Hamas. To do this, they have to equate the current civil disobedience demonstrations with previous Israeli full-fledged invasions of Gaza. Clearly, this is nonsense as anyone with eyes in their head can see that the Great March has no likeness to the previous Israeli incursions.
Further, the judges asked the IDF to provide the precise orders of battle provided to the Israeli snipers who are murdering Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The army of course refused and the Court opted to accept the refusal instead of rejecting it and compelling compliance with its request. As a result, the Court could rule that it had no basis to rule the regulations were illegal since it was only provided summaries of them instead of the verbatim ones. This would be something like the judges at the Nuremberg trials finding they couldn’t rule that Nazi leaders committed war crimes because the very same leaders refused to provide verbatim transcripts of their deliberations as they executed the murders of tens of millions of Jews, Communists, gays and other undesirables.
The Court engaged in some mighty “creative” arguments twisting two critical provisions of the laws of war: to use lethal force the attacker pose an “imminent threat.” Clearly, none of the 50,000 Palestinians demonstrating at the fence posed such a threat to Israeli life or limb. In fact, not a single hair on the head of single Israeli soldier or civilian has been mussed during the weeks of protests. However, the judges found that the Palestinians massing at the border posed a threat of overwhelming the IDF troops patrolling the fence. Even if this was considered a threat (and it wasn’t), this level of threat is theoretical since no such assault ever took place. Even when Palestinians did breach the fence, they never approached Israeli positions. In fact, many of the dead and maimed were hundreds of yards from the snipers picking them off like fish in a barrel.
The Jerusalem Post, always happy to grandstand on behalf of Israeli crimes, also noted that the Court’s approval of the military regulations enabling the murders could insulate the nation from war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court. ICC regulations note that it may claim jurisdiction over cases in which the accused nation refuses to bring offenders to justice. Having brought the case before the High Court and finding the IDF’s murders kosher will, or so the argument goes, render moot any further review by the ICC.
However, the rules also note that if the accused nation’s review of the alleged crimes is a sham that this does not constitute a full, fair judicial adjudication, then the ICC still retains the ability to assume jurisdiction.
The judges, eager to retain whatever shred of liberal reputation they once enjoyed, threw a few minor sops to the petitioners: the IDF should voluntarily implement methods of reducing the civilian casualties; and it should consider charging individual snipers with violations of the army regulations. This was an open invitation to find some schnook like Azarya who put a bullet thrhough the eyes of a Palestinian child and give him six months in prison, so that Israel’s conscience and the ICC may be mollified. Do not be surprised if we hear that a single soldier is charged with such an infraction and held out as the exception to the rule of Israel’s army being the “most moral in the world.”
Make a Baby for the IDF
I’ve posted in the past here about an Israeli sperm bank which advertised “warrior sperm” to women who planned to conceive through artificial insemination. Now, the maternity ward of Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital has gone one better: it features a fetus in utero wearing an IDF cap and saluting. All presumably to persuade pregnant mothers preparing to produce babies to serve the fatherland that they do so at the Hospital.
The ad ran in Makor Rishon, a Sheldon Adelson newspaper whose audience skews toward the Orthodox and settler community. Given that the army is increasingly composed of religious recruits who have comparatively fewer compunctions about killing and abusing Palestinians than secular Israeli youth, the ad will likely find a receptive audience.