Friday, December 12, 2008

Responses to Settler Riots...

Dear Nathan (from Joel Pollak)

I received your recent letter on the violence in Hebron. There are some points I would agree with and others I would vigorously contest.

One point, however, strikes me as particularly objectionable.

You suggest that Jewish organisations around the world, and individuals such as Mike Berger who disagree with your particular criticisms of Israel, bear guilt for the actions (and inactions) of the Israeli state, as well as for the "dehumanisation" of Muslims and Arabs.

I find that quite extraordinary.

It is, superficially at least, exactly what is said by antisemitic jihadists to justify their attacks against Jews and Jewish institutions (the Chabad House in Mumbai being only the most recent example) as proxies for Israel.

Of course you would oppose such terrible violence--but according to your logic it would have been permissible, and even welcome, to protest peacefully outside the Chabad House in Mumbai as part of the "system", as marchers led by the Muslim Judicial Council tried to do at the Board of Deputies headquarters in Cape Town during an anti-Israel protest a few years ago.

Have I misunderstood you? I invite you to clarify or explain.

Dear Mike and Nathan, (from Steve Magid)

(1) I don't know why you (Mike) commended Nathan for writing a letter free of personal abuse. His letter included his correspondence with the SAJBD in which he labels you and David Saks "extremists". I think that is highly problematic.

Nathan writes "Saks and Berger cannot merely be written off as "the extremists in our community", although extremist they certainly are."

He also writes "You ignore the crux of the Haaretz piece, which is that the army stood by and let Jewish extremists terrorise Palestinians."

Am I to conclude that Nathan views you and David in the same light as the thugs who attack Palestinians and the IDF? I think this inflammatory language, perhaps made behind your back (unless you were included on the SAJBD correspondence) needs to be challenged.

And I know I am being flippant with the eqation of the two contexts with which the word can be used, still, I am amazed that he has labeled you an extremist!

(2) I don't know what exactly happened with Farid Esack, I hope the Board replies. But I do wonder whether Nathan or Faried have ever questioned the decision made by Salim Valley to use threats of violence and personal abuse to prevent Benjamin Pogrund and Walid Salem from visiting South Africa on a peace tour. Did the Board threaten to abuse and embarrass Faried like Salim Vally did with Walid Saliem? How does Nathan reconcile this treatment of Walid Saliem by official representatives of the Muslim community with the view that the failures of the Jewish community are for worse than the Muslim community, as he wrote in the Cape Times? What about the way the Muslim community treated Hussein Solomon after he agreed to participate in a debate with the Zionist Federation?

(3) Nathan, regarding support for a 2 state solution, it's something that upsets me as well. I think a large part of the religious sector of the community has failed to internalise the need for 2 states and the requirement that we relinquish territory. Still, I think its presumptious to say that official Jewry reject the notion. I am not sure if you have based your assertion on opinion polls. If not, I will divert to the sentiment that the Board plays to the community - support for 2 states. The Board saw it fit to advertise the fact that Zuma support a two state solution. They brought this to the community with a sense that it is a 'win', i.e. the community would be happy to hear the ANC supports 2 states. I don't believe they have misread the community so badly. Its also a silly label. Who is official Jewry?

Dear Nathan Geffen, (from Anthony Posner aka as the Blacklisted Dictator)

As you are aware Farid Esack (SAHRD) is a signatory to the attached letter.

Perhaps Farid Esack can bring a copy along to Habonim and hand out sweeties to the kids who sign?


We fought apartheid; we see no reason to celebrate it in Israel now!
17 May 2008

We, South Africans who faced the might of unjust and brutal apartheid machinery in South Africa and fought against it with all our strength, with the objective to live in a just, democratic society, refuse today to celebrate the existence of an Apartheid state in the Middle East. While Israel and its apologists around the world will, with pomp and ceremony, loudly proclaim the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel this month, we who have lived with and struggled against oppression and colonialism will, instead, remember 6 decades of catastrophe for the Palestinian people. 60 years ago, 750,000 Palestinians were brutally expelled from their homeland, suffering persecution, massacres, and torture. They and their descendants remain refugees. This is no reason to celebrate.

When we think of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960, we also remember the Deir Yassin massacre of 1948.

When we think of South Africa’s Bantustan policy, we remember the bantustanisation of Palestine by the Israelis.

When we think of our heroes who languished on Robben Island and elsewhere, we remember the 11,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

When we think of the massive land theft perpetrated against the people of South Africa, we remember that the theft of Palestinian land continues with the building of illegal Israeli settlements and the Apartheid Wall.

When we think of the Group Areas Act and other such apartheid legislation, we remember that 93% of the land in Israel is reserved for Jewish use only.

When we think of Black people being systematically dispossessed in South Africa, we remember that Israel uses ethnic and racial dispossession to strike at the heart of Palestinian life.

When we think of how the SADF troops persecuted our people in the townships, we remember that attacks from tanks, fighter jets and helicopter gunships are the daily experience of Palestinians in the Occupied Territory.

When we think of the SADF attacks against our neighbouring states, we remember that Israel deliberately destabilises the Middle East region and threatens international peace and security, including with its 100s of nuclear warheads.

We who have fought against Apartheid and vowed not to allow it to happen again can not allow Israel to continue perpetrating apartheid, colonialism and occupation against the indigenous people of Palestine.

We dare not allow Israel to continue violating international law with impunity.

We will not stand by while Israel continues to starve and bomb the people of Gaza.

We who fought all our lives for South Africa to be a state for all its people demand that millions of Palestinian refugees must be accorded the right to return to the homes from where they were expelled.

Apartheid was a gross violation of human rights. It was so in South Africa and it is so with regard to Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians!

Sent to me by Gill K

Following the expulsion of families from Beit Hashalom in Hebron, during
a radio interview with the BBC, I was asked about our future plans. When
I responded that the community would continue to purchase property in
Hebron, the interviewer asked, "But won*t that just cause more
violence?" I answered, "If I bought a home in London and was told that a
Jew purchasing on *that side of the city* would cause a violent
reaction, how would that be viewed? Probably as anti-Semitism and
racism. Why then can*t a Jew buy property in Hebron, just as people
purchase homes all over the world?"
Another common question I*ve had to field from journalists is, "Don*t
you think this has all gotten out of control?" My response is quite
simple: "Of course it is totally out of control. That*s not the
question. The question is who is out of control?" Clearly, in my
opinion, those who have lost control are those democratic institutions
which are designed to protect citizens from despotic leadership.
FOLLOWING PURCHASE of Beit Hashalom for close to $1 million, the Hebron
community found itself under attack from numerous sources. Rapidly the
question of our legitimate presence in the building made its way to
court. The original court decision found enough evidence supporting our
claims to prevent immediate eviction. However, harsh restrictions were
imposed, including denial to install windows and to hook up to the
Hebron municipal electric grid. Only in the middle of a major snowstorm
did the defense minister allow installation of windows in the building
last winter.
Due to the political sensitivity of the case, we soon found ourselves
opposite a Supreme Court panel hearing the various issues involved. That
panel was composed of Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch and
Justices Edmond Levy and Uzi Fogelman. Levy is religious. Following a
break in the court hearings, Beinisch changed the panel, removing Levy
and Fogelman and replacing them with Justices Ayala Procaccia, who is
known to be one of the most left-wing justices on the court, and Salim
Joubran, the only Arab on the court. Beinisch, it must be noted, is not
known for her right-wing ideological opinions. Two leftist justices and
an Arab were left to decide the fate of the Jews living in Beit
Hashalom. If that*s not a stacked deck, nothing is. So wrote retired
District Court judge Uzi Struzman, calling the court*s final decision
blatantly political.
In that decision, the court ruled that it would not examine the evidence
presented, including proof of authentication of the legal sales
documents, a video of the seller receiving and counting the money
received for the building, and an audio recording of his description of
the sale and receipt of the money.
Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, when presented with new evidence in the
case, specifically the audio cassette, refused to meet with community
attorneys or examine the proof of purchase. Defense Minister Ehud Barak
announced only two weeks ago his intention to legalize all the illegal
Beduin construction in the South. Yet he gave the go-ahead to violently
expel all residents of the building in the midst of advanced high-level
negotiations which would have allowed him to forgo the brutal
These are examples of nothing less than terror - administrative terror,
utilized by the highest echelons of the country*s democratic
institutions to further their own political beliefs against loyal
citizens of the state, in this case, residents of the Hebron Jewish
FOLLOWING VIOLENT reactions to the extremely harsh expulsion, which
included use of tear gas and stun grenades, I was asked about "red
lines" - and decisions to "cross those red lines." Unfortunately we are
presently facing situations where the government is crossing all the red
lines that previously existed. The transformation of the judicial
system, including the attorney-general and the Supreme Court, into an
extended arm of the political arena ends all notions of impartiality or
Hebron residents are often labeled extremists. However nothing could be
more extreme than the above-described actions of Mazuz and Beinisch. But
due to their positions and political ideologies, their extremism is
considered legitimate.
It should be clear. Hebron*s Jewish community opposes and rejects any
and all violence aimed at innocent people, be they Arabs, Jews or anyone
else. However it is unthinkable and intolerable that Israel*s top
leadership should change the rules in the middle of the game, expecting
the other side to play by the old ones, while they play by the new. Such
actions, as we have recently witnessed, quite literally push a large
segment of the population into a corner with no way out, creating a
dangerously volatile situation. Peace may breed peace but by the same
token, extremism breeds extremism.
The real danger to Israeli society is not a few dozen kids throwing
rocks while violently and illegitimately being thrown out of a home in
Hebron. The true threat to our country is the warping of the fundamental
institutions whose presence is supposed to protect the people rather
than terrorize them. The decisions made concerning Beit Hashalom were
not based upon justice, rather upon pure judicial terror. The writer is
spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron. This article can also be
read at http://www.jpost. com
/servlet/Satellite? cid=122770246490 8&pagename= JPost%2FJPArticl e%2FShowFull
[ Back to the Article ]
Copyright 1995- 2008 The Jerusalem Post - http://www.jpost. com/
The Jewish Community of Hebron
POB 105 , Kiryat Arba-Hebron 90100

Dear Mike (from Gideon Shimoni)
In my view this is excellent. I fully agree with it.

from David Saks

Doron's descent into personal abuse was disappointing, especially given his own issues about being victimised for his opinions. It is indicative of more than thin-skinnedness on his part, I believe, but of a more fundamental lack of tolerance for opposing views, certainly when those are strongly argued. I was rather shocked in this connection to read how, on Supernatural, he concluded that support John McCain precluded one from speaking with any authority on human rights issues. Apart from the sweeping dismissal of the moral credentials of nearly half the American electorate, it is further evidence of how some automatically assume that real commitment to human rights is exclusively a left-wing preserve.

That being said, Doron argued his case clearly and on the whole civilly in his exchange with Joel. It was a valuable exercise, and I was reassured that unlike Kasrils, he does have a genuine commitment to Israel's well-being. This is despite his being clearly shaky on a number of crucial points. He signally failed to answer, for example, Joel's question as to why equal rights for Jewish West Bank residents in a Palestinian state is not an option. This ties in with his unwillingness to acknowledge the extent of anti-Jewish racism amongst the Palestinians as an obstacle to peace. It leads in turn to his conclusion that Jewish 'settlers' are the real obstacle and that therefore, a peace deal necessitates their state-enforced mass removal. This seems to me to be an expedient caving in to Palestinian racism at the expense of hundreds of thousands of Jews who will lose their homes - homes that are in the heartland of ancient Israel.

Joel, as ever, was impressively cogent, moderate and well informed. Kol Hakavod to him.

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