Just 4 items below. A few more might follow later, especially Today in Palestine, if there will be one today for June 1 or 2. For the present, these will have to do, as I might not have time later for intensive reading and writing.
Item 1 touches on the issue of democratic and Jewish—a country can be one or the other but not both. More and more articles are appearing on this subject. About time! Any country grounded on an ethnicity, race, or religion cannot be democratic. It will always be demographic by virtue of wishing to consist of only 1 kind of people.
Item 2 is a Haaretz editorial on the situation in which students who have successfully completed their studies at Al-Quds university are not allowed to practice in East Jerusalem or in Israel. The situation is on the one hand absurd, since Israel is in terrific need of doctors (have included below 2 links to articles on the subject). But on the other hand it is not only absurd but is also pure discrimination—a form of racism.
Item 3 is a brief history of the “future Holocaust.” I do not for a minute believe that apart from Menachem Begin (who at least appeared to have been honest) that others who wave the ‘future Holocaust’ flag use it as a smoke screen to hide what they are performing on the ground. Worse, the present leaders with Netanyahu in the lead are capable of striking Iran or Syria to intensify the smoke screen. Very scary.
Item 4 has been sent around at an earlier date, so I apologize for duplication, but feel that in light of the present discussion about Natan Blanc and conscience Ruth Hiller’s piece is well worth reading. I agree that the time has long been overdue that the draft should end. By the way, for some unexplained reason my main remark opposing the editorial yesterday got erased. The point that I’d intended to make is that one of the most aggravating aspects of the editorial was that it totally ignored the fact that some people have conscience—they are not trying to escape a so-called duty, but rather refuse because of their very strong beliefs.
All the best,
Haaretz Monday, June 03, 2013
Anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of the country need look no further than the biting sketch, ‘Cracker vs. Cracker,’ by one of the country’s acclaimed entertainment troupes.
By Oudeh Basharat
A society that is obsessively preoccupied with its identity needs a psychiatrist rather than a legislature. Governments come and go, but time seems to have stood still. We haven’t even had time to breathe a sigh of relief about the weakening of the extreme right, and already the troops of those brothers, Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, are hoisting the “Jewish and democratic” flag.
But continue to search, respected readers, because if you search thoroughly, with a dollop of intellectual honesty, you will discover that you are striving to achieve a type of racism that does not go hand in hand with values of natural justice, the dignity of man, and proper administration.
The search for the definition of “Jewish and democratic” is reaching the point of absurdity. An Israeli Jewish intellectual with whom I spoke was horrified to hear that in the Galilee, Arabs constitute 53 percent of the population. So there has to be a Jewish majority not only in the country as a whole, but the majority has to be reflected in each and every region, and preferably an absolute majority. In the Galilee, I said defensively, the Jews were the majority until recently, but many have migrated to the center of the country in order to make a living. Should the Arabs prevent them, at all costs, from migrating?
At the end of the conversation I pleaded with the respected intellectual not to tell anyone that in Yafia, my home town, there is an absolute Arab majority.
But increasingly it seems to me that the entire “Jewish and democratic” issue is no more that a Zionist plot: At a time when the whole world and its cousin is involved in a stormy debate over the definition of the state, discrimination can continue, and even increase, as can the establishment of facts on the ground.
In the style of “Cracker vs. Cracker,” (a satiric sketch by the famous “Gashash Hahiver” entertainment troupe, which strongly influenced Israeli popular culture for over 30 years) this could be called the “extension cord” syndrome: Poor Mr. Cracker allows his divorced wife to take over “the apartment, the car, the color TV, the refrigerator, the dishwasher and the fish washer,” and still, when he dares to ask for the “extension cord” she bursts into tears of woe.
Here you have all the details of the plot in one sketch: Just dare to say that it’s not natural for a country to be named after only part of its inhabitants, and immediately you’ll be called an anti-Semite, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will utter woeful cries about those cruel people, the Arabs, who want to erase the Jewish identity that has been under assault for the past 2,000 years, and you, like poor Mr. Cracker, will toss over the accursed “extension cord” in a panic.
The slogan “the Jewish state” is used, among other things, as a smokescreen for what is now taking place in the Negev. The government has declared war on the Arab residents of the Negev; the objective is for every grain of sand to speak Hebrew. The government publicly discusses the uprooting of thousands of residents, by force, from their place of residence, to concentrated locations that will be called “villages.”
The government hopes that the furor around “the Jewish state” debate will drown out the strident tones resulting from its behavior in the south of the country; that it will conceal the fact that instead of channeling resources to education, housing, infrastructure and employment for the deprived Bedouin, it is mobilizing hundreds of additional police for this national mission, which in the Negev is already being called “the second Nakba.” And this time around these ugly things are being done under the watchful eyes of those whom columnist Ari Shavit calls “the Tel Aviv right.” This beautiful right, which walks around at its parties in jeans and expensive designer shirts, nonchalantly holding a cocktail. That’s it. No longer hilltop youth who arouse disgust. We are proud to present: The beautiful and the cruel.
But fear not. MK Ruth Calderon, in her contemplative voice, is promising us that she will work, perhaps in Aramaic too, to infuse new content into “Jewish and democratic.” Where the hell are the hilltop youth? At least they’re clear and not sanctimonious.
[Yael] German’s job
The situation where medical practitioners who studied in East Jerusalem are not allowed to work in the city’s hospitals is absurd, discriminatory, and unacceptable; and it is up to Israel’s new health minister to remedy it.
[For the current medical situation in Israel see Medical Specialties in Crisis http://www.ima.org.il/ENG/ViewCategory.aspx?CategoryId=6162
And “Amid dearth of hospital staff, Israel’s medical students to assist doctors
Students will now be able to undertake a series of medical procedures, albeit under the close supervision of doctors.”
By Dan Even
Jerusalem’s health care system suffers from a shortage of Arabic-speaking doctors and medical staff. Hospitals in East Jerusalem are desperate for doctors. Meanwhile some 60 doctors, 60 dentists and hundreds of lab technicians and physiotherapists have finished their medical school studies at the highest levels and are willing to fill these positions immediately.
Yet the health care system doesn’t want them.
The problem for these doctors and medical staff, who demonstrated outside the Health Ministry on Thursday, was that they studied at East Jerusalem’s Al-Quds University. Since some of the university’s buildings − not the ones affiliated with its medical school − are located within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, the Health Ministry doesn’t want to recognize the university as a foreign one.
The absurdity is heightened by the fact that graduates of Al Quds’ law school can apply to take the bar exam administered by the Israel Bar Association, and similar arrangements are in place for graduates in other fields as well.
Two years ago the doctors petitioned the district court to allow them to work in the city’s hospitals. The court rejected their petition, and the doctors appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court justices rejected the doctors’ appeal, but they also called on the Council for Higher Education and the Health Ministry to examine the university’s request and to divide the institution and recognize the medical school separately as situated outside the boundaries of Jerusalem.
The justices’ demands didn’t sway the government, however, which refuses to budge.
Yael German’s entry onto the scene as health minister was supposed to change the state’s discriminatory treatment of these medical school graduates. Yet German decided to continue with the policy charted by a right-wing government that refused to make any gesture toward the Arab population and decided that these doctors could not apply for accreditation exams − and, as a result, would not be permitted to work in the city’s hospitals.
The status quo − whereby a university is not recognized as a foreign institution nor is it recognized by Israel’s Council for Higher Education − is unacceptable. The fact that doctors coming from other countries are allowed to work in Israel while doctors who study in East Jerusalem cannot is an outrageous expression of a discriminatory policy.
It would be appropriate for German to respond to the justices’ call and find a way to correct the injustice being done to these doctors.
3 Haaretz Monday, June 03, 2013
The short history of the future Holocaust
Doomsday discourse has taken over the political and military discourse in Israel, and is poised to explosively instruct its foreign policy.
By Aluf Benn | Jun.03, 2013
The remembrance of the Holocaust fills a central role in Israel’s foreign and defense policy. Our nation’s leaders and IDF commanders describe their main mission as preventing a new Holocaust; which in their opinion is lying in wait for the Jewish people. Next week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the former death camp of Auschwitz and inaugurate the permanent “Jewish exhibition” there. At such occasions, Netanyahu warns of a new Shoah that Iran is planning, and he promises: We will never again stand helpless in the face of those seeking our deaths.
Netanyahu is not alone. IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the son of Holocaust survivors, presents a horrifying document he received during the March of the Living at Auschwitz. In the document, a Nazi official calculates the economic cost and benefits of a Jewish prisoner. The commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, led a flyover of F-15s above Auschwitz a decade ago. The IDF sends hundreds of professional soldiers to its Witnesses in Uniform program in Poland every year, a program that is intended to “strengthen the feelings of the commander to the IDF, to the State of Israel as a democratic nation, and to the Jewish people,” and to “make the commander into the trustee in his unit and environment of instilling the remembrance of the Holocaust.”
The connection between the Shoah and current events seems natural and understandable today. But it wasn’t always so. During the Yom Kippur War the IDF found itself in a greatly inferior position: Egypt and Syria pulled off a surprise attack, the Air Force found it difficult to operate at the fronts, and hundreds of soldiers were killed in the battles to stop the enemy. Nonetheless, even at the most difficult hours, the statesmen and military commanders did not see the Warsaw Ghetto or Majdanek facing them. In the many books that appeared about that war it is possible to find terror and fear, confusion and loss of control − but the enemy is not described as Hitler or Eichmann.
The leaders of Israel in 1973, Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan, did not speak about the Holocaust even during the first and hardest days of the war. Golda, who believed in the importance of public relations no less than Netanyahu, said at the time to foreign reporters: “Our neighbors are fighting to destroy us.” Golda said we know that surrender means death, the destruction of our sovereignty and the physical destruction of all our people. In the Knesset she said: “This is a war over our existence as a nation and a people.” But at the time she did not compare Anwar Sadat or Hafez Assad to the Nazis.
The change came about with the political upheaval and Menachem Begin’s rise to power in 1977. The father of the Likud was barely rescued from the Holocaust, in which his family was murdered. According to his biographer Shlomo Nakdimon, the Holocaust was the single greatest influence on Begin’s worldview. “As opposed to other Israelis, who see the Shoah as a one-time form of historical catastrophe that will never happen again, Begin believed with all his heart that the lesson of the Shoah is that the Jewish people must defend themselves in their land so as to prevent a renewed danger to its existence.”
In the same spirit Begin would compare Yasser Arafat to Hitler, and the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor he described as an operation to prevent the Holocaust that Saddam Hussein planned for the Jewish people. The bombing of the Osirak reactor in 1981 seemed to be a turning point after which the message began to be accepted in the IDF, too. Brig. Gen. (res.) Yiftach Spector, the most senior of the pilots who participated in the attack on the Iraqi reactor, described in his book “Loud and Clear: The Memoir of an Israeli Fighter Pilot,” the reunion 20 years later of those who participated in the operation. Israel (Relik) Shafir, one of the youngest pilots, surprised Spector when he told him how during the briefing before taking off for Baghdad, he had thought of his grandfather and aunt who were murdered in the Stutthof concentration camp. The veteran pilots in the operation, including the Sabra sons of the families of the nobility of the Yishuv, did not think in such terms.
Since then, Shoah warnings have taken over the political and military discourse. The stronger Israel becomes diplomatically, militarily and economically, the more fearful its leaders and military commanders have become, and the process reached its peak in Netanyahu’s time. The question is if, above and beyond the rhetoric for domestic and foreign consumption, these fears also instruct policy − and whether this will lead Netanyahu, Gantz and Eshel to attack the nuclear facilities in Iran.
4 Are Israel’s Refusers Modern Day Heroes?
By Ruth L. Hiller
Different people refuse to enlist in Israel’s occupation army for a variety of reasons. Some of them, like Natan Blanc, publicly refuse to serve in the occupation and are willing to go to jail over their decision.
A recent blog post by professor of Environmental Studies at Emory College Uriel Kitron, raised some very important points regarding militarism, refusal, and war culture in Israel and puts forward a good opportunity to look at the wider refusal movement.
In his blog, which appeared in the Emory Wheel, http://bit.ly/WKneWY , Professor Kitron presents his admiration and respect for Natan Blanc, who as of this writing, is serving his 7th incarceration period for refusing to serve in Israel’s Occupation army. Many people, much like Professor Kitron, consider Natan a modern day hero. He is indeed brave. It is admirable that any Israeli his age (18) should know so much about human rights, and stand true to his/her convictions and beliefs.
Professor Kitron stresses how Natan is a product of his environment. His family has raised him to be a caring person with ideals, and an understanding of human rights. There is a lot to be said for the courage it took to let Natan develop his sense of values. It is one that cherishes human life and recognizes the Palestinians right to self-determination. This is not a given.
Without personally knowing the Blancs, I admire the ethics that enabled Natan to question Israel’s belief that it has no choice other than military solutions and to make the decision to refuse military service. I identify with his moral values and the way he was raised. I know that it is not easy to develop a critical perspective on Israel’s occupation policies, and that it is even more challenging to encourage your children to do so as a way of life. It is contradictory to the Israeli mindset. It is difficult and energy consuming to continually question and oppose Israel’s brutal policies, especially when militarized indoctrination is ever present, trickling down from the time our children are born, and when the conscription process is so powerful.
Refusers like Natan, who openly oppose conscription on those grounds, are far and few between and there are good reasons for that. But before we can even begin to examine who chooses to be a refuser and how refusal is manifested, it is important to understand that within Jewish Israeli society conscription is mandatory by law for Jewish youth, and for young secular men from the Druze community. It is perceived as normal and part of the development of Israeli youth; a rite of passage, meant to instill a sense of national responsibility, service, and pride among all participants.
Israeli society is brutal and judgmental; loyalty to the State is measured by one’s commitment to military service. To step outside the consensus contrary to what is considered acceptable behavior, such as daring to refuse, is a frightening thing to do. A sense of belonging is an essential human need and deciding to go without it requires a lot of strength and support.
Most teenagers don’t want to be isolated from their peer group or suffer social rejection, and no parent wishes that on their child. If they are tempted to make a political statement similar to Natan’s, they might not be able to do so without a close support network. It is important to keep in mind the wonderful support that Natan received from his family, friends, and more distant circles.
Among the large number of refusers whom New Profile counsels (an average of 100-110 people a month call our hotline or join our forum), most choose not to make a declared political refusal for a variety of reasons. They are not as visible as Natan, but is their refusal less meaningful?
Militarism is strongly embedded in our society: it starts at home and continues with our children’s education. Personally I think that there is something very warped in the way that Israeli parents are expected to raise their children, nurture them and protect them throughout their lives, teach them to be safe and make rational decisions, and then once they are 18, as if feeding them to the wolves, we send them off to the military no questions asked. What is the price that we and our children pay?
We, as parents, are an integral part of this well-oiled induction system, walking hand in hand with our children through the early stages of their lives and then willingly encouraging and preparing them for their eventual conscription. We are obedient to the calls of our leaders and raise generation after generation of fighters for a “war of no choice.” Our compliance and acceptance of this process, which is also full of religious and cultural symbolism, is rarely questioned.
Often considered a rite of passage, conscription inspires pride amongst parents. We place high regard to military rank and the social status that comes with it. Some families consider it part of a legacy that is passed down through generations. For many parents, seeing their young 18 year olds in uniform signifies their transition into adulthood and brings with it an expectation ofresponsibility and duty. This sense of honor is cohesive and promotes cooperation with the military by emphasizing the national collective through individual contribution, both the conscript’s and the parents’. By placing soldiers on a pedestal, this idealization can be compared to hero-worship.
What constitutes a hero? Our children are brought up on the remembrance of exile and the Holocaust, Israel’s fight for independence and our perceived need to be stronger than all our enemies. They are raised on the ethos of heroism, and are taught that soldiers can be national heroes. Those that die in battle are often given this exalted status, which gives a measure to death that is considered more worthy. They are raised on the belief embodied in Joseph Trumpeldor’s imputed last words when he died in the Battle of Tel Hai in 1920: “It is good to die for your country.”
New Profile examines the questions of “what is heroism” and “who is a hero” through a balanced discourse. We are careful not to identify refusers through a hierarchy. Every refuser, both men and women, whether they are pre-conscripts, conscripts, or reservists, are welcomed and admired for the type of refusal they chose and the path they take in order to achieve their goal.
Some of the viewpoints that we consider are: does civil society necessarily have to reflect the accepted militarized hierarchical ranks and then emulate it within the different ways refusers choose to resist? Is it right to calculate measures of sacrifice, be it jail or being cut off from one’s community? If every hero is judged on his or her merits, should we do the same with refusers?
All facets of refusal may be instrumental in changing the conscription process, or chip away at occupation policies, and in NP we do not advise with regard to what path should be chosen. We only map out the different options for whoever seeks information from us and believe that every person who turns to us for information and assistance should choose the path best for them. If they choose the path of openly defying the Occupation and going to military jail, we give them as much support as we can, rather than holding them up as an example for others.
Refusal to serve in the Israeli military is not always the outcome of a choice to oppose the Occupation. Other reasons for refusal may be pacifist ideology, the interconnection between feminism and anti-militarism, religion and national identity. Sometimes young people are unable to define “what feels wrong” about it, yet they still opt to vote with their feet and don’t conscript.
Any action that challenges Israel’s policies and all choices to refuse to do military service demand fortitude and support. Refusal takes great courage. One refuser is not better than the next; each is significant in his/her own way and each way works effectively in growing an underground movement that successfully manages to shake the pillars of the establishment from time to time.
Ruth Hiller, mother of 6, is a longtime peace activist and one of the original founders of New Profile www.newprofile.org/english. Four of her children have refused to serve in the Israeli military. You can follow her on Twitter @hillerruth