3 articles on this site:
Ethiopian Jews riot in Israel (may 2015)
Various somewhat haphazardly organised links not on this site:
The Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip began a campaign to expropriate
state-owned lands near the Rafah border crossing, as part of a project
to expand the crossing, leaving many citizens homeless and jobless.
How Israel Tried to Dump African Refugees in Blood-drenched Dictatorships
A Minority’s Fate – Ehud Ein-Gil
Now in English: A report of a 1978 visit by Matzpen member to the only
Armenian village in Israel, on the highway between Tal Aviv and Haifa,
thirty years after its arable land had been expropriated (the pretext:
it belonged to an Arab landlord who fled) and three years before it was
finally demolished. The fact that the poor peasants were survivors of
the Armenian genocide during World War I did not save them from the
racist “land policy” of the zionist movement and the state of Israel.
About the Arab section of the Kibbutz youth movement:
War Profits, Peace Dividends:
On Israeli propaganda efforts:
Akiva Or’s book from 1961:
TR (originally from Israel) writes on BDS (Boycott, Disinvest, Sanction – Israel):
” The whole idea that “the occupation” is solely a national and separated affair and that only the official state of Israel is responsible for what’s going on is not in line with reality to say the least. It’s not like Israel is a school-bully that everyone can boycott and stop talking to so that he will have to stop his behavior. Just like the state of Israel was not REALLY born “by itself”, by the will of the abstract “Jews” or even the Jewish bourgeoisie to allegedly build a national home for “their people”, but out of the mutual necessities of the different sections of the international ruling class – including the Arab ones – and most importantly by the ongoing dependency and subordination to the United States, you can’t honestly accept the idea that the ongoing occupation or anything that has to do with it (since the official occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is only one aspect of a reality of mutually-dependent characteristics that make everyday life in Israel what they are: ethnic conflict, war-industry, hi-tech industry/laboratory, unquestionable militarism, political corruption, almost zero history of conscious class-struggle etc.) can be reduced to an Israel-Palestine affair, to colonists vs. colonized.
the whole idea that “the occupation” is solely a national and separated affair and that only the official state of Israel is responsible to what’s going on is not in line with reality to say the least. It’s not like Israel is a school-bully that everyone can boycott and stop talking to so that he will have to stop his behavior. Just like the state of Israel was not REALLY born “by itself”, by the will of the abstract “Jews” or even the Jewish bourgeoisie to allegedly build a national home for “their people”, but out the mutual necessities of the different sections of the international ruling class – including the Arab ones – and most importantly by the ongoing dependency and subordination to the United States, you can’t honestly accept that idea that the ongoing occupation or anything that has to do with it (since the official occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is only one aspect of a reality of mutually-dependent characteristics that make everyday life in Israel what they are: ethnic conflict, war-industry, hi-tech industry/laboratory, unquestionable militarism, political corruption, almost zero history of conscious class-struggle etc.) can be reduced to an Israel-Palestine affair, to colonists vs. colonized.
And this is even without going into how this approach strengthens nationalism (and by consequence strengthens Zionism, which depends on nationalistic myth and antisemitism for its existence, the same Zionism that the BDS supposedly fights against), makes all the Jewish citizens of Israel accomplices by default in something they never even had a chance to decide about and of which the vast majority of them are victims as well: not only victims of the ongoing war and semi-war (okay, of course the common BDS person will say to this “how can you compare a few missiles on the south of Israel to living in Gaza?!” or “there are this-times-more Palestinians dying weekly/monthly/whatever from the “normal” routine of occupation than the death of Jews in the entire history of Palestinian counter-terror…), but also by all the other effects of living in this kind of contradictory, chauvinistic, xenophobic, militarist and capitalist society (false machoism, pent-up rage, domestic violence, unemployment and competition against illegal Palestinian and migrant workers for jobs in certain manual-labor sectors, and more…). Just notice how some Palestinian intellectuals responded to the recent Ethiopian riots, something along the lines of: “this is an internal affair of the colonists, they are all equal in their privileges as occupiers, until they fly the Palestinian flag we don’t give a shit about them”, blah blah blah.
More by Tal on BDS:
The above 2016 article from Lundi Matin has some interesting points,
although I find him gravely mistaken in other points. Namely: the
necessity of debating what is morally “legitimate” or not; finding value
in talking to “progressive” people in which he probably includes
himself; his obsession with official regional definitions of borders
(political and arbitrary when it comes to actual cultural or ethnic
origin of the populations) and thus his support for the broadly accepted
yet false presentation of the Palestinians of the Occupied Territories
and the Palestinian citizens of Israel as two separate entities – which
is only technically and legally true (of course, there are some
differences in their material reality granted by their different legal
statuses and what it grants or doesn’t grants them), but mostly an
arbitrary separation enforced by the partition of the country and the
creation of its official and semi-official borders. For example when he
says this (after quote from Edward Said):
“Edward W. Said proposes to analyze the regional political situation in
these terms: everywhere, a religious, ethnic or clan minority
appropriates political and economic power at the expense of
majority of the population, Israel not escaping the sad standard
regional. Unlike Omar Barghouti, obsessed with the question
Palestinian – and this is understandable in her case – Said, exiled
in the United States, takes the necessary distance. Whether it is appropriate to follow it
Essentially, however, it will be observed that Jewish domination over
entire Arab population of Palestine, citizen minority
of Israel and the unlawful majority of the occupied territories, does not
of the domination of a minority over the majority, since the
Jewish population in Palestine is more or less equal to the
Palestinian Arab, at least to stick to the current one
in the territory of Mandatory Palestine. “
What I’m trying to say with this is that the treatment of the Palestinian
citizens of Israel by the Israeli state (and for that matter, also other
groups in the population who don’t fit the founding Israeli mythology)
and their everyday reality is inseparable and inherently connected – in
the past and in the present – with that of the Palestinians of the
Occupied Territories. The whole geo-political region known as
Israel-Palestine has evolved and keeps evolving in relation to that
arbitraryness and to other equally decisive factors (such as the role of
Israel and its tech and arms industry around the world), and cannot be
viewd outside of its totality and outside of its function in the broader
regional and global spectacle.
Examining the legitimacy of a boycott of the State of Israel has thus
led to change the terms of the civil society appeal
Palestinian, where it is a question of boycotting the State of Israel “until
what he applies international laws and universal principles
of human rights “, a formula far too general to put into
the Palestinian cause is highlighted on the international scene. this being
posed, it remains to be seen whether other state apparatuses practice this type
discriminatory regime akin to apartheid, a minority
being subject to law while the majority is left to arbitrariness
of a master, discrimination on a racial, ethnic basis
or religious. What about, for example, the status of workers
foreigners in Qatar? Let us borrow from a work dating from 2013 some
ideological, legal and demographic data on this subject:
“Citizenship is an extremely sensitive subject in this
society where nationals are ultra-minority. Here, blood ties
are essential.  “
“Of all the Gulf monarchies, the emirate is the one that displays
the highest percentage of immigrant workers in its population. A
record. Out of approximately 1.64 million inhabitants in 2010, Qataris
form a tiny minority: 180,000 nationals for nearly 1.5 million
foreigners, Arabs and Westerners but above all migrants
from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal,
Philippines and China. They are the ones who build with the sweat of their
front the Qatari miracle.  “
“To achieve them [these are the sites of the future
world of football], the authorities have planned to import no less than one
million Asian workers.  “
“On a daily basis, relations between nationals and foreigners remain
asymmetrical and marked by relations of domination. A feeling
anchored in the local mentality, still imbued with the memories of time
recent years of slavery. Historically, slavery was not abolished in
Qatar than in the 1950s.  “
“Some Gulf countries have started to relax, see to abolish, this
sponsorship system [a kind of dependence of the foreign worker on a
guardian] denounced by human rights organizations.
In Qatar, it remains one of the most rigid in the region with that of
Saudi Arabia, which also maintains the exit permit. To such
point that the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW), as well as the Organization
International Labor Organization (ILO), do not hesitate to use the term
“Forced labor” to qualify this legal regime and its abuses.  “
A minority holds citizenship by virtue of “blood ties”,
while the overwhelming majority have no rights except that of
work under legal and material conditions which
akin if not to slavery, at least to “forced labor”. From
then, can we decently call for a boycott of cultural institutions?
of Israel on the one hand, because of its discriminatory policy in
occupied territories, while applauding the Paris team
Saint-Germain on the other hand, knowing that it is Qatari property?
And what about the football world cup organized by this state in
2022? One can imagine the international indignation that would arouse
the organization by Israel of such a symbolic sporting event
friendship between peoples … Of course, Qatari masters do not
do not bomb the homes of foreign workers, but they do
are not subjected to suicide bombings, rocket attacks, or
knife attacks, and the bombing of populations
civilians, the Israelis, it is a fact, remain far below the norms
English, Iraqi, American, Syrian or Russian in the region,
while waiting to see how the Saudis behave in Yemen… A
stick to the analogical relationship that guides us, that of a minority
imposing its law on a majority and discriminating against it on a racial basis,
ethnic or religious, nothing substantial therefore distinguishes the
treatment of the “indigenous” populations of Ci-Jordan with that of
“foreign” workers in Qatar, except that in one case it is
to occupy one territory, in the other to exploit a labor force.
Let’s open a parenthesis here. There are spirits sometimes pretending to be
progressives, even communists, who object to me, here or there, that the
discrimination against immigrant workers in
petromonarchies of the Gulf are not of the same nature as those which
condemns the State of Israel to the Palestinians in the territories
busy, for the simple reason that, precisely, the first are “
foreigners ”, while the latter are“ indigenous ”. I see it for
on my part a xenophobic argument: it would be less illegitimate, if they
follow, to reduce to a status of quasi-slavery of “foreigners”,
were they born on the soil of the country in question and / or would they constitute
the overwhelming majority of its population, to deprive the “natives”
the right to self-determination. In other words, apartheid in the
occupied territories would be unacceptable, but the status of workers
imported from Asia into the petromonarchies of the Gulf would be
acceptable, as would be acceptable the control of a few tribes
Arab allies of the West on the main resources
oil and gas in the region. I do not share this
vision of things, and consequently if the boycott of Israel is legitimate,
until the occupation of Ci-Jordan ceases, it is under
condition of extending the boycott to all state apparatuses including
institutional policies are akin to apartheid, and this without
enter into nauseating considerations about autochthony
of some, of the strangeness of others (so much so as to follow the analogy which
guide us, it turns out that historically the Bantu of South Africa
were not, in the eyes of the Boers, the first to arrive in Cape Town …).
In any case – and I’ve probably mentioned this in the past – my biggest
problem/opposition to BDS specifically and to these type of movements in
general is that it ENFORCES nationalism – the same ideology and
mystification that gave birth to Zionism and the like in the first
place, and which had tried and tries to stifle popular revolts (see the
attitude of the PLO to the first stages of the first intifada, for
example) on which the representatives of the nation always strive to
have a monopoly. It enforces the separation in idea and practice between
Jews living in Israel and Palestinians, as it carries on the work of the
Zionist ideologists by identifying the Jews living in Israel with their
own stat apparatus, even in the minds of those who rightly “care” about
the fate of Palestinians. As far as I know, BDS boycotts ANYTHING that
has to do with the geographical definition of Israel, which is different
than boycotting only those institutions, companies or people who are
related BY THEIR FUNCTION to the state or to the apparatus of oppression
and/or occupation. It strengthens the illusion that the residents of a
certain state have the same interest as their representatives. There
lies the rub. Even if BDS has made some minor victories that I’m unaware
of, the bigger picture is that it actually STRENGTHENS Zionism ALONG
WITH its Palestinian nationalist counterpart – two sides of the same
My critique is pretty much summed up in this, and it applies to other
third-worldism militancy and the whole notion of our modern version of
the false idea of a “revolutionary People” that you can find with
Maoists such as the Weather underground etc. Seeing Anarchists waving
Palestinian and Rojava flags and chanting “we are all the children of
Gaza” and that sort of stuff. I think it’s a direct result (one of
many) of the passivity or inability to do anything concrete about your
own life and country/city that you romanticise about and adopt one or
more specific colonized or occupied “people”, taking their “cause” to be
more important, separate from, or outside of the politics and mechanisms
that you otherwise declare to be the root of our misery – usually
without knowing enough or not wanting to know enough about the
mechanisms that sustain these colonizations and occupations, their
broader context and contradictions. These type of boycotts are also so
appealing to people because it’s so damn easy to join it, you don’t
really do anything, you just passively declare something or “choose”
not to buy or attend something or work with this or that institution, or
implore other people not to do those things… I mean, this is not
really the authentic subjective activity that creates revolutions…
Israel: 111 cops hurt as nationwide riots of Ethiopian Jews (in Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Hadera, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Malahki, Ashdod & Netivot) continue to escalate
Above: official version is that this shows ultra-orthodox Jews running as members of the Israeli Ethiopian community block the main entrance to Jerusalem on July 2, 2019, to protest the killing of 19-year-old Solomon Tekah by an off-duty police officer, who was merely put on house arrest.
Below: Netanya: cop car placed right way up
More here “Demonstrator moderately injured in hit-and-run; some 50,000 commuters remain stuck in traffic as thousands block highways nationwide; car set on fire in Tel Aviv…The throngs of protesters closed down at least 12 critical junctions across the country. Nineteen-year-old Solomon Tekah was shot dead during an altercation in the Kiryat Haim neighborhood of Haifa on Sunday. An eyewitness to the shooting has reportedly told the Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department that, contrary to the officer’s claims, he did not appear to have been in danger when he opened fire. The officer was briefly arrested before being released to house arrest, sparking rage in the community….Footage captured in the center of Tel Aviv saw a demonstrator leap onto a moving car and proceed to smash its windshield. Hours later, the car was set on fire….While protests Monday against the police were primarily attended by Ethiopian-Israeli demonstrators, Tuesday saw a mobilization of members of the general Israeli public, who joined the chants against police brutality toward the minority community.”
Tal, from Israel, writes: “…the Ethiopian protests in Israel are spreading, many main junctions throughout the country are blocked for most of the day and night, with burning tires & burning cars (a “new” thing here – you could hear how the journocops are gasping and shocked when describing this, as if it’s the most extreme act they ever saw). It’s still going on as I’m writing this. I was trying to reach a blockade at a junction in the area where my parents live (about 35 minutes by car) but there was no possibility of arriving with public transport because of the blockade itself… This junction is close to the town where the murdered youth was shot. I tried to walk from the nearest stop of the diverted bus route, but it was way too much walking from there to the blockade (I think about 45 minute walk, or more), so I headed back. I spent 1½ hours trying to arrive there and then trying to get back to where my parents live. Anyway, on the TV they say that in some places they are also throwing rocks and other objects at the cops and fire-trucks. There were also a few dozen (maybe more at this point ?) violent arrests. The “leaders” of the Ethiopian community who speak on TV, at least the ones I had a chance to watch, are justifying the protests but imploring the protesters not to turn violent and be peaceful. But there are also others, such as the young man who just spoke on TV while I was writing this (I don’t know who he is, if he is a known figure or not) who angrily asked of the others in the TV studio why they are so shocked by a burning car and how it’s bollocks compared to the suffering of the Ethiopians at the hands of the police and the state etc. They even lie about what they show to the viewers while they show it, for example showing live a demo/blockade at the entrance to Jerusalem where you can clearly see a large presence of non-Ethiopians and even Orthodox Jews among the protesters and the reporter ignores this and describes all of them as Ethiopians. A broken and old-looking car that was dragged by protesters to the bonfire at another blockade made the reporter say something like “obviously, this car was attacked [how can you ‘attack’ an empty car?] and probably dragged from among the cars abandoned by their owners who couldn’t get home due to the blockade…” [Afterwards I heard someone else on the same program say that this was an already broken and probably abandoned car from a nearby parking-lot.]…many confrontations. brick-throwing, police-car flipping and burning, a molotov cocktail was even thrown towards a police station. The police are preparing for a heavy crack-down for tomorrow morning to prevent any sort of demonstration.”
A Facebook page in Hebrew wrote this (translated by Tal): “In 2006, Border Police officers entered a house in Jaffa to locate illegal [Palestinian] residents. Some are caught. They are made to stand in a row with their backs to the officers, who beat them vigorously, also with the truncheon of their commander who was present at the event. For dessert, a rifle was attached to the back of one of them, and he was shot to death. The commander claimed that a bullet was accidentally discharged. Do you know who the commander in that the event was? I don’t know, but he has the same name as the policeman who now claims to have fired on the floor and the bullet was accidentally sprayed at Salomon Takka and killed him.”
More here: “In addition to the protests, dozens more Ethiopian-Israelis joined a Facebook campaign declaring that they would refuse to perform their reserve army duties. ” This official report shows that young ‘offenders’ of Ethiopian origin in Israel are 3 times more likely to be sent to prison than ‘offenders’ with other backgrounds. And see this for a report on previous examples of cop racism and brutality against Ethiopian Jews. See also “ethiopian jews riot in israel (may 2015)” And “they stole our bodies: work in Israel” which in part talks of racism there, though more generally.
Israel: thousands of Ethiopian Jews protest nationwide after teenager shot dead by cop“Hundreds of protesters burned tires and blocked major roads in the Haifa area on Monday afternoon and evening, and thousands reportedly staged protests nationwide, amid intense anger in Israel’s Ethiopian community over the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by an off-duty police officer a day earlier…In Haifa and nearby Kiryat Ata, demonstrators blocked roads and hurled burning tires in the streets. Three police officers were injured by rocks hurled by protesters” More here. “The largest protest was taking place in the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Ata, where more than 1,000 people had been blocking the Histadrut Junction since the morning hours. Similar protests were taking place in Rehovot in central Israel and the southern cities of Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon. In Ashdod, protesters blocked the southern entrance to the city, as well as main roads in the area….Dozens of protesters also gathered Monday night outside the home of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in Kiryat Ono, near Tel Aviv.” See also “ethiopian jews riot in israel (may 2015)”
Israel/Palestine, Jerusalem: orthodox anti-Zionist Jews riot against the Israeli state (video)
“Several dozen ultra-Orthodox protesters clashed with police Sunday as they demonstrated outside the Jerusalem army recruitment office against the arrest of a yeshiva student who failed to show up for his enlistment…Later on Sunday evening, Haredi protesters in Jerusalem blocked off the Mea Shearim neighborhood, while demonstrators in Beit Shemesh pushed dumpsters into the street, blocking traffic, and hurled stones at police officers. Last Thursday, hundreds of demonstrators in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh torched dumpsters and threw rocks at police officers in protest against the same arrest. Seven were detained in the capital and one in Beit Shemesh. Many in the ultra-Orthodox (“Haredi”) community shun the mandatory national service that applies to most Israelis, and the community has historically enjoyed blanket exemptions from the army, in favor of religious seminary studies.
Police have sporadically detained ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers in the past year. In July, five Haredi demonstrators protesting the IDF draft outside a Jaffa courthouse were arrested. At the end of the mostly peaceful protest, some of the demonstrators attacked policemen, overturned garbage cans, blocked traffic, hurled eggs and stones at cops, and flipped over two motorcycles, damaging them, police said at the time. There were no reports of injuries. Reforms passed in the Knesset in 2014 that sought to do away with the exemptions and gradually increase ultra-Orthodox recruitment met fierce opposition from many in the community.“
The Ben Torah, as they call themselves, are a very interesting phenomenon in the region. To clarify the terminology: Haredi Judaism, Hasidic Judaism, and Orthodox Judaism are all names for different religious movements within the Jewish faith. The three can be looked at as a family, with Haredi Judaism existing as a subset of Orthodox Judaism, and Hasidic Judaism existing as a further subset of the subset. Hasidim, the mystic branch of the religion, share similarities with Sufism in Islam: an emphasis on mysticism as a communistic social-relation (e.g. the dreadlocked Baye Faal Sufi order of Senegambia) rather than an individualistic head-trip, a certain anti-authoritarianism, and a certain literary quality (tales of the Sufis and of the Hasidim are both often humorous and supra-logical).
Besides resisting conscription and denouncing the existence of the State of Israel as idolatrous (which it is, like EVERY other state), the Haredim also have the highest unemployment and birth rates of Israeli citizens, and their constituency plays a swing-vote role between the two major political parties in the electoral system. Other practical opposition to the state manifests in their refusal to send their children into the secular compulsory miseducation system, and the refusal of their own schools to impose standardised testing on their children. It is hardly surprising therefore that “A study in late 2006 claimed that just over a third of Israelis considered Haredim the most hated group in Israel.”
Their estimated global population currently numbers 1.3–1.5 million and, due to a virtual absence of interfaith marriage and a high birth rate, their numbers are growing rapidly. Their numbers have also been boosted by a substantial number of secular Jews adopting a Haredi lifestyle. The chief political division among Haredim has been in their approach to the State of Israel. As with most radical movements, one branch is made of sell-outs who collaborate with the state blubbering about moderation and pragmatism in excuse for spinelessness, and the other is made of those who refuse to prostitute themselves out as hypocrites for the sake of an ease and comfort suitable to courtesans rather than free men and women.
As of 2012 it was estimated that 37% of Haredi men and 49% of Haredi women were employed. The most recent figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics on employment rates place Haredi women at 69.3% comparable to 71% for the women’s national figure, whilst working Haredi men have increased to 44.5% but still fall far below the 81.5% for the national picture.
It is estimated that half as many of the Haredi community are in employment as the rest of population. This has led to increasing financial deprivation and 50% of children within the community live below the poverty line.
There are, of course, plenty of less than exemplary, not to mention plain reactionary tendencies at work among every existing social sub-category of the human species. Maybe most glaringly among the Haredim and many other religious traditions, the patriarchal sexual morality at play here seems more than a little outdated. Far from a move that liberates women from the bonds of domestic slavery to leap into the mystically superior shackles of wage-slavery (as in the Gospel of mainstream feminists), the dramatic decrease in the percentage of unemployed women relative to that of men more likely means that young women are increasingly being sent off as breadwinners (maternal duties devolving onto grandmothers, as is often the case among the poor in South Africa) while males remain at leisure to commune with THE LORD.
Other than their solidarity, bravery, consistency, voluntary poverty & spiritually employed economic unemployment, what is possibly most outstanding about these admirable people is the fact that they are able to marshal enough buying-power to dictate business policies, despite their poverty (more than 50 percent live below the poverty line and get state allowances) and their statistical minority (7% of the population). For this reason, some companies and organizations in Israel refrain from including women or other images deemed immodest in their advertisements to avoid Haredi consumer boycotts (very widely used — and often effective — tactic in the South African struggles of the 1980s). Through the organisation of volunteer medical associations they make a major contribution to the healthcare services of the state — and so benefit themselves, considering the poorest rely most on state facilities. [SK]
Discussion about this added on 7/9/16:
A Jewish woman I know objected to this verbally over the phone and I got in contact with a Jewish guy (who wrote this about the riots of Ethiopian Jews last year), who said:
“I have to say i’m not a big connaiseur of jewish theology and branches,
yet i have to say that presenting the hasidic movement as a subversive
movement is a mistake. They are ultra-orthodox and intolerant like the
others. Their only real difference is that for them religious practices
have to be done as a party (dancing, chanting, etc.), but that doesn’t
make them more friendly at all !
About the Haredim in general, they are not ALL against the state of
israel, it’s more complicated and diversified than that. Also, the reason
why some of them are against the state of israel is not a good reason from
an anti autoritarian point of view. They are against the state of israel
because it was created by man and should be created by god with the
arrival of the messiah, wich stays unclear in SK’s note.
The whole note seems like an apology of the haredim, this is very weird
Also, most of the haredi are forbiden to work, because they have to study
and focus themselves on Talmud everyday. That’s why, most of the time,
only women works (several jobs at a time… treated like slaves while
giving birth almost every year…). The statistics in the note may be
true, but they should be verified.
But the most important thing, is that unemployment in the Haredi community
is volontary, its not for economic reasons, like the note would leave us
guessing. Also they receive a shitload of money from orthodox around the
world and evangelists from america.
Most of the bullshit said in the last paragraph of the note about the
haredi could be applied to an anti-capitalist support of Daesh!!”
“My sympathies are with the militant atheism of your/our comrade. There is every reason to oppose religious sects especially in countries like Israel, Iran and the Spain of the 1930s, etc, where clerical authority also involves real political authority. However I try not to react against these things in a way that just becomes an equal and opposite dogma….
If my comments seem to present the hasidic movement as subversive that would indeed be a mistake. All I wanted to do was to contextualise those particular riots as a specific, contradictory an by no means totally subversive MOMENT, alongside all other such equally contradictory moments we document on this site.
It seemed particularly important to do so as the assumption might
otherwise be (I myself thought this before looking into it) that these
were people who supported the state of Israel (and by extension its
army) but just wanted to get out conscription for some reason. If such were the case, I don’t think such opposition would belong on this site at all.
There was also a fair bit of irony in my comments which could easily be mistaken for unqualified praise. My note does not leave anyone guessing about the reasons for unemployment — it specifically lists their ‘voluntary unemployment’ as one of their admirable qualities. Obviously, for those of us who believe in ‘the right to be lazy’ and the abolition of work, it is ironic that some of those who practice it should do so from perspectives so different to our own in many ways. But fundamentalism of all sorts, including the atheistic variety, unfortunately anaesthetises people to the subtleties, ironies, and humor of such ‘ruses of history’. Probably the Haredim themselves would be scandalised to be associated with the louts, layabouts, and other lumpen elements praised by anarchists for their indolent contempt of alienated labour.
Then again anarchists themselves are often far too rigidly schematic to appreciate how often more congenial versions of apparently religious unemployment can be to their own perspectives. The beauty expressed by Rumi, a Sufi Muslim (as I pointed out there are certain similarities between the some Sufis and some Hasidim) in the following poem is wasted on them, simply because it’s made from the (clearly tongue in cheek) viewpoint of religious mysticism:
As for us, He has appointed the job of permanent unemployment.
If He wanted us to work, after all,
He would not have created this wine.
With a skinfull of this, Sir,
would you rush out to commit economics?
Now, I myself am as ‘Muslim’ as our comrade is ‘Jewish’, yet I don’t
feel the need to express haughty and automatic contempt for all those
who take Allah seriously just because they may not be very tolerant or friendly towards me and my ideas. Maybe that’s one reason why many anarchists aren’t particularly friendly towards me and my ideas either, for that matter. As a matter of fact, militant activists in general have hardly got a sterling record when it comes to tolerance, even (especially!) for each other.
Again, my note specifically pointed out the inevitably problematic aspects of sexual division of labour among those who subscribe to a patriarchal ideology. Yes, the Haredim men’s contemplation of God is supported by female drudgery, just as the radical academic’s contemplation of her own navel is supported by the intellectual and manual drudgery of her inferiors. The point is not to condemn the idle from our moral high-horses, but abolish a world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. Unfortunately, the latter being so daunting a task, too many comrades prefer the former pastime, which is as easy as farting downwind.
The Jewish woman I mentioned at the beginning eventually wrote the following: ” there is nothing subversive about trying to force all men to spend their time studying God – I exclude women because they don’t have to bother their little heads with such weighty philosophical debate. Their place is in the maternity hospital and making chicken soup in any spare moment.”
I [SF] finally wrote:
“Whilst the actions of the Haredi come over as a subversive moment (I myself sent the original link, if I remember correctly), it’s not like most of the subversive moments we talk about on the site. As I said in the original “News of Opposition” preamble: ” What I automatically exclude here, given the attempt to focus on ”independent opposition”, are clashes in which either ethnic or religious or sport team or political faction fights seem to dominate.” And there’s a vast difference between a riot by an organisation of Orthodox Jews that has been going for over 150 years (and was originally set up to oppose any tendency towards secularism) which has a very rigid and entrenched hierarchy and riots involving people from very diverse tendencies, who could go beyond their very specific identities and experiences of alienation. So it’s not like ” all other such equally contradictory moments we document on this site. “
As for the ” fair bit of irony in my comments which could easily be mistaken for unqualified praise. ” – well, the irony passed me by as it did at least 2 other people I know, so it really was mistaken for unqualified praise. And the support for unemployment on the part of the men is a bit like support for unemployment amongst any aristocracy or royalty, since it depends on the intensification of exploitation of those lower in the hierarchy. I’m sure, like me, you’ve known people whose assertion of the “right to be lazy” meant refusing to do the housework and leaving it to others (usually women). I don’t see “tolerance” for this kind of use of religion is at all haughty or expressing some automatic contempt. Criticising such attitudes, or ignoring them, is hardly some “fundamentalism of …the atheistic variety”. It’s fundamental, but hardly an ism.
You say, “the Haredim men’s contemplation of God is supported by female drudgery, just as the radical academic’s contemplation of her own navel is supported by the intellectual and manual drudgery of her inferiors. The point is not to condemn the idle from our moral high-horses, but abolish a world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. Unfortunately, the latter being so daunting a task, too many comrades prefer the former pastime, which is as easy as farting downwind. “
I would most definitely “condemn” such academics, and it’s certainly not from a moral high-horse, but from a need to critique social relations, although that also presupposes some kind of “moral” attitude that’s not at all like the hypocritical self-contradictory dominant “morality”. This is a prerequisite for participating in a movement that tends towards abolishing a “world based on hierarchy and useless drudgery altogether. ” And this task is not so daunting if one sees it not in terms of the final result but first of all as something which can immediately involve a refusal of tolerance towards those people who maintain hierarchical relations in areas of life where they don’t at all have to. (When I say “immediately” I don’t mean literally from one second to the next, but over a period of time between critique and the possibility of change arising from such critique, ie progress over time) . Moreover, it’s not in any way as easy as farting downwind and dismissing it as a”pastime” comes over as a bit like condemning from a moral high-horse.
There’s a bit of defensive intellectual contortionism in your reply. And it’s rather ungenerous towards to the 2 people who felt angry enough to respond to the bit you wrote, to dismiss their attitudes as “fundamentalism”. We who wish to oppose this world certainly need to develop a critique of religion not from some crude atheism but from a recognition that all entrenched ideologies and theologies maintain individuals in their complicity with this society, with their misery, whilst at the same time recognising that religion, as well as dogmas of other varieties, contain elements of subversive desire in an utterly conservative and miserable form: ” the heart of a heartless world…the soul of soulless conditions….Critique has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower.”
I think in future it might be best when putting up something about things we don’t know very much about that we make clear that any remarks are tentative and coming from a distant relation to the subject, that we are prepared to admit that we might have got things wrong. For the moment I’ll put up the various remarks about this under the entry for the 21/8/16 and on the “What’s New?” page. But I don’t seriously want to continue with this discussion unless you or others provide some new insights or research into this particular religious grouping .”
Shfaram declares general strike of all schools and businesses in
solidarity with Arabs convicted of manslaughter of soldier-murderer 28/11/13
Israel: clashes with cops on demo against Bedouin forced resettlement plan (more here and here) 30/11/13
Palestine: teachers call indefinite strike as courts declare it illegal 2/12/13
Palestine: residents block major roads in protest against power cut 16/12/13
Israel: 100s of undocumented African migrants flee detention centre (Sunday) to march and demonstrate (Monday)…..and next day (today) dozens of them demonstrate in Jerusalem outside PM’s office (more here) 17/12/13
How Israel helped whitewash Indonesia’s anti-leftist massacres:
See also this very short article from 2016, about the Israeli Black Panthers – where three of them are interviewed following a recent textbook approved by the Education Ministry:
This article might shed a bit of light on the issue of race in Israel-Palestine and its recent falsification and utilisation by state propaganda, for those of you who are less familiar with it.
Although Abergel never really left the reformist and hypocrite world of the Left, despite his critique of them, he’s quite a remarkable guy and these reflections are interesting.
…the Tel Aviv newspaper became a “leftist” newspaper — suddenly they started talking about “cooperation amongst all the workers of the world” and so on; this was the language of the Communist Party that had nothing to do with our struggle. We, the Panthers, did not see ourselves as “workers” belonging to all the workers of the world, but rather as a group struggling against oppression, racism and discrimination. And these slogans about “cooperation amongst all the workers of the world” had no relevance to the Panthers’ struggle.
Workers? Our parents had been out of work from the moment they came here, and so were we! That doesn’t mean that we rejected connections and solidarity amongst oppressed groups and struggles around the world. When we saw the African-Americans in the United States, we saw ourselves. We identified so much with them that we were inspired to follow their example by giving our movement the same name as theirs. It was the same thing when we saw Black people in South Africa and the struggle against apartheid; we saw ourselves. We just didn’t connect with the Bolshevik slogans.
The Panthers’ practical ideology, our head-on confrontation with the Zionist movement, our relationship with the Palestinians and the establishment’s own view that our struggle is anti-Zionist — all of these combined were not enough to convince the leftist anti-Zionist groups that we had an “ideology.” This fact begs a question: What is the point of “ideology,” if its entire purpose is to separate those who attended university from those who did not? Those who read the right books from those who did not?
Quite interesting for those who are unfamiliar with this history, especially the part with Akiva Orr’s account of his time in the merchant navy.
Newly declassified files show that the Shin Bet saw the Canaanite
movement as a subversive sect, and kept it under surveillance for years
August 1970. On Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street two people are hawking the
Canaanite journal Aleph for 50 agorot – half an Israeli pound. A Shin
Bet security service agent code-named Kedar documents, signs and files a
report about the event.
October 1975. A Shin Bet agent code-named Yerubaal sums up a television
program about Canaanites and Zionists. “[Writer and poet] Aharon Amir
and Uzzi Ornan took part in the program on behalf of the Canaanites,”
Yerubaal wrote. “The Zionist side was represented by Lova Eliav and
Shlomo Avineri. Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who also appeared, termed the
January 1984. A Shin Bet agent tears out and files away a page from the
Jerusalem weekly Kol Ha’ir, on which appears the response of Dr. Reuven
Sivan to remarks by Prof. Uzzi Ornan, both of them well-known linguists.
“I don’t have to remind people,” Sivan writes, “that thanks to the
Jewish religion, the tradition of Israel and Hebrew literature, which is
primarily religious, we attained what we attained in this generation.”
You rub your eyes in disbelief: The Shin Bet was monitoring a dialogue
These three memos, contained in secret files of the security service,
are being publicized here for the first time. They indicate that the
Shin Bet kept the anti-establishment Canaanite movement – or, as it
originally called itself, the Young Hebrews and the Committee for the
Consolidation of Hebrew Youth – under prolonged, systematic
surveillance. This went on until the mid-1980s and effectively
constituted political espionage. The documents also expose the existence
of units of the secret service that today are part of the Shin Bet’s
Jewish Division, tasked with dealing with terror threats from Israel’s
Shin Bet personnel read publications put out by the Canaanite movement,
kept track of its members, infiltrated their meetings and parlor
gatherings, collected posters, filed relevant newspaper clippings and
spied on written correspondence using a tried and true method: steaming
open envelopes, reading the letters and then resealing them, leaving no
The documents were unearthed by Dr. Shai Feraro, a historian and scholar
of religions, who is a research fellow at the University of Haifa and at
the Center for the Study of Religions at Tel-Hai Academic College. “I
arrived at the study of the Canaanite movement through my other
research,” Dr. Feraro says. “I conducted a long-term study focusing on
Israelis who are engaged in practices of witchcraft and magic, and call
themselves neopagans. That study entailed participatory research in
rituals and social encounters. There I discovered that a small number of
them sanctified the [ancient] Canaanite pantheon of gods.”
During the period of the British Mandate in Palestine the Canaanites
were accused of holding ceremonies in the nude devoted to the Canaanite
goddess Ashtoret. “Shai, the intelligence service of the Haganah
[underground army of Palestine’s Jews], kept the members of the group
under surveillance,” Feraro relates. “The service devoted no little
effort to the question of whether these ceremonies were actually taking
place, but Shai’s interest in the Committee for the Consolidation of
Hebrew Youth derived largely from its surveillance of the various
breakaway organizations” – namely, the Irgun and the Lehi (Stern Group),
groups that broke with the policy of the mainstream leadership headed by
The discovery that the rituals involving naked participants were
monitored attracted Feraro’s attention. But soon he realized that he
needed to focus on another aspect of the historic intelligence treasure
he had come across: the Shin Bet’s surveillance of the Canaanite
movement as a subversive group.
Hebrews, not Jews
Was there any basis to the security establishment’s fears of the
Canaanites that justified a prolonged espionage effort? To answer that
question we need to go back to the start of the movement’s activity in
the country. The Committee for the Consolidation of Hebrew Youth was
formed in the wake of ideas propounded by the Ukrainian-born historian
and philosopher Adya Gur Horon. In 1938, in Paris, Horon met Yonatan
Ratosh, a poet and journalist from Poland, who became quite captivated
by him. In short order, Ratosh began weaving pagan motifs into his
writings and to call, in his poetry and articles, for the creation of a
new people in the Land of Israel – Hebrew, not Jewish. The new group
coalesced around these ideas. The poet Avraham Shlonsky labeled them,
pejoratively, “Canaanites,” and the name stuck.
The Canaanites viewed contemporary Hebrew land settlement as the
continuation of the cultures that existed in the ancient Land of Israel
and Mesopotamia. They aimed to shed the Jewish religion in favor of a
new, indigenous identity. The Canaanite manifesto, drafted by Ratosh in
1943, highlighted the group’s feelings of alienation from Judaism and
“The Committee for the Consolidation of Hebrew Youth calls upon you as a
Hebrew. As one for whom the Hebrew homeland is a homeland in concrete
practice and literally: not as a vision, not as a wish and not
exegetically; not as a solution for the Jewish question, not as a
solution to global questions, and not as a solution to various neuroses
of the diaspora-stricken… For not even the best efforts of parents,
teachers, leaders and rootless intellectuals were able to make you fond
of and draw you close to the Jewish village [i.e., shtetl] and to the
history of the Jewish dispersion, with its pogroms and expulsions and
martyrs; [they] could not uproot from your heart the natural
estrangement from all the precursors of Zionism.”
It was “the natural estrangement from all the precursors of Zionism”
that apparently underlay the authorities’ fears about the group, and
their concerns only mounted after the establishment of the State of
Israel as the Canaanites’ influence and fame grew. Their ideology proved
alluring to many intellectuals and creative artists, among them Amos
Kenan, Benjamin Tammuz, Aharon Amir, the brothers Boaz and Yair Evron.
Although the Young Hebrew never developed into a mass movement and in
fact remained quite a small group, they were the subject of intense
controversy in periodicals and the daily press.
Once the government took notice of the influence, though it was mainly
of an aesthetic nature, exerted by the Canaanites, it was only natural
that the curiosity of the intelligence agencies was piqued, too. Back
then, the activity of the Shin Bet, founded in 1948, extended beyond the
realm of security. In the 1950s, it was a kind of extension of Mapai,
the ruling party and forerunner of today’s Labor Party. The Shin Bet
initiated surveillance of competitive parties all over the political
spectrum – Menachem Begin’s Herut; the Combatants List, former activists
in the Lehi pre-state militia, led by Natan Yellin-Mor; the General
Zionists; Mapam (microphones planted by Shin Bet operatives were
discovered in the office of the party’s leader, Meir Yaari) – and, of
course, the Communists.
The head of the nascent Mossad at the time, Isser Harel, who was also in
charge of the Shin Bet, viewed himself as a political person as well.
Harel had no hesitation about slipping off the mantle of the civil
servant and attending meetings of the Mapai leadership. Occasionally he
supplied information of a political or partisan nature, reported on
developments within the opposition and spiced his accounts with
recommendations to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
From this perspective, the Canaanites were no different. They were
another oppositionist stream, and the documents now being revealed are
just more proof of the Shin Bet’s politically oriented activities during
the state’s early years. According to Yair Spiegel, from the Shin Bet’s
history unit, about half the organization’s budget was allocated to
political espionage at that time.
A senior Shin Bet figure who is well-versed in the history of the Jewish
Division and was directly involved in its operation, notes that the
organization’s political activity was based on an army of informers.
“Few Shin Bet personnel were engaged in political espionage,” he
acknowledges, “but they were assisted by many informants. The latter
were well-intentioned people who believed in the importance of security,
even at the expense of democracy. They were willing to spy, follow,
photograph, open letters, inform, deter and report to Shin Bet agents
without getting anything in return, simply from a feeling of being on a
mission for the state. At most, the Shin Bet handler gave them a bottle
of wine or a book as a token of esteem once a year, at Rosh Hashanah or
A case in point occurred in September 1969, when the security officer at
the post office in the Ramat Aviv neighborhood of north Tel Aviv
reported that the post box of Ada Gur, the daughter of “Mr. Gur,” who
was active in the movement (but no relation to Adya Gur Horon), had been
opened. The officer, Y. Telor by name, sent a memo on the subject to the
agency, and it was filed away.
Amos Manor, who headed the Shin Bet in the 1950s, told me in a 2006
interview that a few years after he assumed that post, he issued an
order to burn all the materials that had been collected within the
framework of political espionage. But, Manor’s request was not heeded:
only some of the materials were destroyed. Another part was preserved
and even expanded over time.
In terms of strict, long-term surveillance on political grounds, the
Canaanites were not alone: Others included Herut, the communist parties
Maki and Rakah, as well as various protest organizations – from the
social-activist Black Panthers to the radical-left group Matzpen. To
justify its activity, the Shin Bet classified these entities as being
“suspected of subversion.”
It wasn’t until the political upset in May 1977, when Begin came to
power, that the Shin Bet desisted from this activity. When it became
clear that the Labor Alignment had lost for the first time, Shin Bet
chief Avraham Ahituv became anxious and ordered that all politically
oriented materials be destroyed immediately. The incinerators that
destroyed the documents apparently worked around the clock for days,
until the formation of the new government.
The Shin Bet files on the Canaanites contain dozens of pages each. Many
are filled with newspaper clippings and copies of the movement’s
journal, Aleph, but some contain documentation of surveillance activity.
Some texts betray the service’s internal prejudices. For example, one
file states: “A special place in the Canaanite ideology is occupied by
blood – race, power and violence. The Canaanites do not constitute an
organization in the usual sense, and yet in one sense they are more than
an organization, they constitute a kind of sect – an order of a singular
type. Occasionally they spring into activity, especially at times of
crisis in the state. In situations of this sort they are liable to lead
to the perpetration of acts of violence and also acts of bloodshed.”
Although the picture that emerges from the material is one of political
espionage, the Shin Bet dealt with what it saw as the potential for
fomenting violence, even if it sometimes tended to make mountains out of
molehills. One of the most significant documents in this regard dates to
August 1952, and was classified. The main figure described in it was
Yaakov Lotan, who prior to 1948 had been a member of the European
headquarters of the Irgun – the pre-state underground led by Menachem
Begin – and also editor of a Yiddish weekly. The document notes that
Lotan left the Herut movement following Begin’s decision to end
activities against Germany, which had been intended to scuttle the
German-Israel agreement on the payment of reparations to Israel and to
individual survivors of the Holocaust, in 1952. Begin saw the payments
as “blood money.”
When the information about Lotan arrived, the Shin Bet was all ears.
“Recently the above-mentioned decided to establish an independent
underground with the aim of eradicating the existing regime,” the Shin
Bet wrote about Lotan. According to the document, “At the same time,
[Lotan] met with Aharon Amir in order to see whether he could rely on
them [the Young Hebrews] for money, people and so on. Aharon Amir agreed
in principle, but expressed concern about having a close association
with the Herut movement, which was liable to be harmful to the Young
Hebrews Center, and postponed his final decision.” Amir’s name was
mentioned only in passing in the Shin Bet document, with no further
Moreover, the Shin Bet account added, “for the underground’s first
activity Lotan is thinking about blowing up the new building of the
Histadrut [labor federation] in Tel Aviv. For that he needs 500 kilos of
explosives, which according to the calculations should cost about 1,000
Israeli pounds.” About two months later, Lotan was arrested as an
accomplice of Dov Shilansky – later a Likud MK and speaker of the
Knesset – who was seized in the cellar of the Foreign Ministry building
in October 1952 while in possession of a suitcase containing a bomb.
Shilansky, who joined the underground organization that tried to derail
the reparations agreement, was sentenced to 21 months in prison.
Coercion and cigarettes
In July 1952, in one of the most dramatic events of the period, a bomb
was planted in the home of the transportation minister, David
Zvi-Pinkas, in Tel Aviv. Zvi-Pinkas was a member of Mizrahi, an Orthodox
party that had spearheaded a decision to stop all transportation in the
country on Shabbat. Two former members of the Lehi, Amos Kenan and his
friend Shaltiel Ben-Yair, were arrested on suspicion of trying to
assassinate the minister in protest of what they saw as an act of
religious coercion. They were acquitted in court of responsibility for
the explosion, which caused minor damage, but years later another former
Lehi man, Yaakov Heruti, told me that he had taken the bomb from a
secret warehouse used in pre-state days and had delivered it to Kenan.
Heruti refused to speak to Kenan for years afterward, claiming that
Kenan had misled him by saying the bomb was intended for a store in
Jaffa that was selling German-made cigarettes.
Reports in the press at the time stated that the Canaanites, who were
indeed active against religious coercion, were responsible for the
attempted assassination of the transportation minister. The Canaanites
responded with a libel suit.
What was the Shin Bet’s take on this episode? A report titled “responses
among persons from [the journal] Aleph and its sympathizers to the
‘Pinkas bomb,’” stated that Yair Evron, later a professor of
international relations, and his brother, journalist Boaz Evron, had
been taken by surprise by the episode. “Yair says he hadn’t known about
it in advance,” the security service’s report noted, adding that “it was
apparently a spontaneous action and that the people from Aleph are
generally opposed to acts of terror.” The Shin Bet agent notes at the
bottom of the document, “Apparently the Aleph rank-and-file didn’t know
about the action. They were pleased by the noise the issue made and
treated the action itself matter-of-factly.”
The Canaanites were under the watchful eye of both the Shin Bet and the
police, relates Dr. Feraro. Among the documents he found, he uncovered
information about a protest Canaanite movement activists organized
against elegant shops that sold imported products to people who received
coupons in foreign currency from relatives abroad, during the period of
the austerity regime (1949-1953). Many times the Canaanite plans were
more talk than action, but according to the Shin Bet, some among them
were likely to make violent moves.
“These young activists,” said another secret report in Shin Bet files,
from July 1952, “demanded last year that their leadership not make do
with publishing leaflets against these stores, but should bomb and burn
them. Lately, some of them have realized that there is not much to hope
for from the present leadership, and that a fighting underground
organization needs to be established that will carry out [bank]
robberies and acts of terror for the benefit of the Histadrut
[apparently meaning against the Histadrut] without getting permission
from the leadership and even without its knowledge.”
In the course of his research, Feraro discovered that the Canaanites
were not content only to make attempts to acquire influence in
periodicals and among students and youth movements, but also tried to
establish cells in the judicial system and the army. One of the reports
in the Shin Bet files has an appendix titled “Young Hebrews in the
army,” which mentions the names of the soldiers and officers and their
military I.D. numbers. The author notes that “generally speaking, there
is no sign that the propaganda of the Young Hebrews is having success in
IDF units. Only Aharon Amir succeeded, during his service in the officer
candidates academic program of the Engineering Corps, in winning over
two male soldiers and one female soldier to his ideas.”
Indeed, the Canaanites did not win over many converts. Another document,
from 1952, puts their number “all told, at 70 official [members] and
about 30 sympathizers throughout the country.” Still, the Shin Bet did
not let up, but went on collecting pedestrian information until 1986,
when a newspaper clipping was filed in which journalist Dalia Karpel
reported about a gathering in memory of Yonatan Ratosh, in 1981. Someone
underlined the names of those present, among them the playwright Nissim
Aloni and poet Haim Gouri. And they never even knew that they were
Declassification of Shin Bet documents
By law, the Shin Bet, the Mossad and other intelligence- and
security-related organizations are obligated to transfer their
historical documents to the Israel State Archives after 30 years.
However, for years they refrained from doing so, preferring to hold onto
their archival materials, thus breaking the law. Following my own
requests dating back to the 1990s, and under the threat of a petition to
the High Court of Justice, the Mossad, the Shin Bet and the Atomic
Energy Commission announced that they accepted the authority of the
national archives. However, even then, these organizations utilized
their power and influence to persuade the government to extend the
classified status of their materials from 50 to 70 years, and more
recently to 90 years.
During Benjamin Netanyahu’s terms as prime minister, the regulations
concerning the secrecy of these archives were made even more stringent.
They allow information to be kept from the public, even if it cannot
harm state security. The legal system, including the High Court, tends
to accept the position of the state, according to which the exposure of
any information will harm security. As a result, Israel is probably the
only Western democracy in which historical material relating to such
organizations is inaccessible to the public.
Given this situation, how did Shai Feraro gain access to the Shin Bet
documents about the Canaanites? Over the years, petitions to the High
Court of Justice compelled the intelligence organizations to moderate
their position and to begin to reveal materials whose release was deemed
not to threaten state security. The index itself is secret, and
declassification of the documents is proceeding lethargically, to put it
mildly – although there are some positive cracks.
Feraro is a case in point. In January 2020 he asked permission, via the
website of the state archives, to examine whether its archive had Shin
Bet files relevant to the Canaanite movement.
“Some time later, the state archives informed me that my request had
been passed on to the Shin Bet and that I would be notified when a reply
arrived,” he relates. “But then I didn’t hear a thing from them. About a
year later, during a routine search for new materials on the website, to
my surprise, I came across 21 new files about the movement, which had
been uploaded to the site and originated with the Shin Bet. As of now,
these are the only Shin Bet files that have been declassified and
uploaded to the website of the state archives.”
Strange arrest, prosecution and death in prison of young Israeli soldier:https://www.richardsilverstein.com/2021/06/03/idf-cyber-intelligence-analyst-tomer-eiges-dies-in-military-prisonrelative-a-crime-took-place/
Letter from the parents condemning the IDF treatment of
Film about childhood on Kibbutz:
Under military censorship in Israel, but this independent journalist can
publish it on his site:
“On June 7th, Israel’s ambassador to Azerbaijan announced (see above)
his country had reached an agreement with the Azeri regime to build what
it called a “smart city” in Zangilan, a town on the Azeri-Iran border.
It had been part of Nagorno Katabakh till Azerbaijan conquered and
occupied it in its war with Armenia. The very notion of building a
technologically advanced city in the midst of the abject rural poverty
of this region is laughable.”
Many things to critique here, from several aspects, but still you may
find this interesting.
When I was 17-18 I took a part in a group of a few dozens “refusers”
(rather than “conscientious objectors”, since some of us called
ourselves “political objectors” etc.) that included girls and boys with
similar leftist world view to the girl in the interview, but we also had
more radical elements such as myself (at the time less developed, but
still more radical than the majority of that group) and others – some of
which were not entirely anti-state but were still against the Israeli
army in its entirety, and we few did critique the entire idea of a
national military and obligatory service, of being soldiers etc. But
since then, each passing year it seems to me that that type of wider and
more complex critique is less and less common for young people in
Israel… And I don’t think it’s mainly due to the long-ruling
right-wing parties and the consequent social atmosphere, but on the
contrary, that it’s due to the powerful influence of a less and less
radical Israeli left on oppositional discourse, which is in some way
also a result of a global trend – with identity politics, privilege
discourse, “wokeness”, representation etc… that fits well with other
consumerist-nature trends of the modern spectacle. The history of
radical opposition to this society, of the history of class war and the
war against the state – even the possibility of learning and engaging in
this history and its relation to the present is taken-over by the
abovementioned leftist reformist discourse, which as I said is even
stronger in Israel from what I can see, at least with regards to the
nature of Israeli society and its nuisances.
It’s now almost unheard of to critique aspect of the world on your own
behalf and for your own good rather for an oppressed Other or a CAUSE
outside of yourself and your everyday life. I mean, to have your own
subjectivity or desire as a starting point, from which one can go on
exploring the totality of social processes and their dependence on
relationships, the nature, meanings, behaviors and possibilities of that
dependency and the relation between the individual and the Others,
rather than acting and thinking ONLY in terms of a fixed self helping
the Other or helping THE CAUSE. This is perceived as a contradiction for
most leftists (and many anti-authoritarians as well) before it even
reaches their consciousness and expressed, which in my view brings them
to live a life full of repressions and denial – which is the unfortunate
situation of maybe the majority of people in our current society.
I also think that these type of interviews and documentaries [the girl
is the subject of a recent documentary] sometimes create or strengthen a
type of hero-worship that, regardless of the importance or lack of it of
that person’s specific actions, camouflages or keeps in the dark other
important political and social manifestations of the same social
processes but that are not part of a specific ideological framework or
political subculture. For example, soldiers imprisoned in military
prisons for various reasons – from drug dealing, drug use, weapon
smuggling to desertion (the crime that contains all crimes) and WHO ARE
NOT conscientious objectors and not explicitly political – sometimes
develop a MORE radical perspective than that girl or similar objectors,
though without putting it to practice in most cases or even framing it.
This I know from stories of past- friends who were also in military
prison. A popular slogan one could find written on the walls of military
prisons at a certain point, written by “regular” military prisoners
rather than conscientious objectors, was “dismantle the MPC
infrastructure” (MPC being the Military Police Corps, the unit
responsible for tracking deserters, punishing and imprisoning soldiers
etc.). What makes me like it so much is that it’s a pun on the then
current political trope “dismantle the Hamas infrastructure”, both names
sound very similar in Hebrew (MPC in Hebrew is Hamatz)…
The link in the comments box above is paywalled, but here, after this comment by T, it is :
Key sentence in my view:
“I’m an activist in solidarity with Palestinians against the occupation, and I live in a commune. Since April, when they started to block Damascus Gate, we started to go there – the army is less violent towards us, so we would film things, and the Palestinians would stand with us because they knew that the [mounted police’s] horse wouldn’t trample us, but would pass us by.”
Trailer of film about this woman
A Young Woman Refused to Serve in the Israeli Army. This Is What Happened to Her
A Young Woman Refused to Serve in the Israeli Army. This Is What Happened to Her
Atalya Ben-Abba decided to refuse to serve in the Israeli military, due to her opposition to the occupation and Israeli policy. She tells Haaretz why there are more female than male conscientious objectors and the prices she paid for her decision
23 year old Israeli Atalya Ben-Abba actually dreamed of becoming a combat soldier. When she was little, she loved to watch the TV show “Xena: Warrior Princess,” to see the fearless Amazon fighting the Greek gods and mythological creatures, and to fantasize about how one day, she herself would become a warrior princess: a courageous heroine who would rescue people and fight for justice.
At a certain point, when she got a little older and had to adapt the fantasy to reality, the closest she could get was the idea of being a combat soldier. But as her draft date drew nearer, the dream began to crumble. Ben-Abba realized that as a combat soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, she wouldn’t really fight for justice, but would be required “to help a system that oppresses people, denies their rights and maintains a regime that is racist, discriminatory and belligerent,” she explains. “And if I want to work for justice, apparently [the IDF] isn’t my place.”
Ben-Abba is the protagonist of the documentary “Objector,” which was screened last week at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque. It reveals how she arrived at her decision to refuse to serve, as an act of protest against the Israeli occupation in the territories and the violation of the Palestinians’ human rights. The film records her doubts, her visits to the West Bank before forming her opinion, the friends she made there, and her conversations with her brother, who also refused to serve in the IDF for the same reasons.
“Objector” also presents arguments between Ben-Abba and her parents and grandfather, who try to convince her to enlist. It also accompanies her family during the period when Ben-Abba was in prison, and describes her path in the end – after 110 days in a military prison – to receiving an exemption from military service, to volunteer for national service in the community and to become an anti-occupation activist.
In one of the scenes in the film, after a discussion in which her grandfather tries and fails to change her mind about enlisting, Ben-Abba says: “When my grandfather was my age he saw entire villages of Palestinians loaded onto trucks and expelled. He told me that it broke his heart, but that he thought it was necessary. Those people or their families could have been my friends. So I ask myself, what can I do? What power do I have to change things? And then I understood that I have the power to refuse.”
The idea for the film began several years ago when Ben-Abba’s brother, Amitai, had an American girlfriend, Molly Stuart, who was studying film in San Francisco and came to Israel to shoot a short film. Stuart directed a 15-minute documentary about Ben-Abba’s story of conscientious objection, and when the film piqued interest in the festival scene, she decided to direct a full-length documentary on the subject together with Amitai. “Objector” was released in 2019, and was screened at the prestigious International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.
When they tried to screen the film in Israeli schools in recent months, many doors slammed in their faces. “The idea was to use the film to start a conversation in Israel about an alternative. Not a conversation that called for people to refuse to serve, but one that presents brave women who took responsibility and paid a personal price for that,” explains Shelly Danosh, who ran the movie’s marketing campaign. The plan was to screen the film in high schools, youth movements, pre-army preparation courses and so on, but they soon learned that it’s no simple task. Danosh says that of about 150 offers to various institutions to show the film and hold a discussion, there were only about 20 takers.
Ben-Abba was born and raised in Jerusalem and is the youngest of four children. Both her parents are architects. When she was 16, her brother returned to Israel after two years of studying abroad with a more critical attitude about Israel’s policy in the Palestinian territories. He started talking about the occupation, got into bitter arguments with his parents and decided not to enlist. His younger sister listened to these discussions and arguments, joined him during visits to the West Bank and to Sheikh Jarrah and began to entertain doubts about her upcoming enlistment.
At the time she was living in a commune with other members of her Nahal Brigade core group – a program that combines agricultural work with military service. “In the seminars, they often talked to us about social responsibility and social ethics, and for me that really resonated with conscientious objection,” she says. “Because there are many ways of getting out of the army, but when you refuse to serve you’re making a very clear statement, and that’s something that’s really lacking in the Israeli discourse: to be really clear about what you think, and not to hide or downplay it.”
How did your friends react?
“The friends who lived with me in the commune saw the processes I was going through. We used to talk about it a lot, and those who were close to me understood why I chose it. It’s not a choice that they themselves wanted to make, and I didn’t try to convince them. It was understanding it together. But none of them attacked me or were angry at me. But at a certain point after they enlisted I could no longer be part of the group, because their discourse was already too militant for me, or it was simply a discussion about a different life. They talked about the army, and I talked about what I saw in Umm al-Hiran or some home demolition. Then I was no longer a part of the group.”
The choice to refuse to serve excluded you from that group, and later from Israeli society as a whole
“In a lot of ways, it made me value this outsiderness. After completing my year of national service, I worked for half a year in some restaurant in Jerusalem, and I was incapable of telling them that I was going to refuse to serve. I said that I would have to leave at some point for ‘army matters.’ I was afraid of losing the good relationship I had with my boss. But the truth is that as an objector, I wasn’t alone, but part of a network called ‘Mesarvot’ [Female objectors].
“Even while I was refusing service, there were two other female conscientious objectors from the north with me. Two of us were in Prison 6, and the third in Prison 4 … It’s true that we’re not part of the hegemony, but it’s not a feeling of loneliness. It’s true that there are many groups that try to frighten and silence anyone who tries to criticize Israel’s policy – and that’s been very clear in recent weeks – but for me, part of my activism is to speak. To choose to be here and to speak. Not everyone has to think that I’m right, but let’s talk.”
Were there moments when you felt like you were paying a price for your refusal?
“Of course. From the start, when I decided to refuse I chose a particular path for my life. I knew that an entire part of the job market would be closed to me in advance. From the start, I didn’t apply to jobs where I knew it would be problematic. At the university, for example, we had a kind of forum in which everyone had to write an analysis of a phenomenon, and one of the students chose to analyze conscientious objection. It was very personal and directed at me. He knew that I study with him and that I’m a conscientious objector, and he wrote why he thinks that what I did is privileged.”
Conscientious objection usually does comes from a place of privilege.
“True. But that doesn’t make it illegitimate. It’s true that I come from a place of privilege, but I could have done many things with the privileges I was born with – for example, to advance in a career for myself. But I chose to take advantage of it to do justice, to take the voice I was given use it to speak on behalf of those who can’t. As far as I’m concerned, the fact that I was born a white Jewish woman in Israel means that I have to use that for the benefit of Palestinians.”
In the film they note that most of the conscientious objectors in Israel are women. Can you explain why?
“First of all, Mesarvot is a feminist movement, a network whose aim is to help political objectors – and not only those who are opposing the occupation. For example, we help Haredim, Druze and reservists who refuse to serve. In my opinion, this connection is very strong and very interesting, especially in today’s very divisive Israeli reality.”
ut why are there more women objectors?
“I think that the feminist nature of the movement is strongly connected to conscientious objection, due to the rejection of militarism and the very patriarchal values that accompany it: violence as the only option for a solution, the oppression that comes with the patriarchy, and the internal violence against women – and men – in the army. And all of these are ideas that are more accessible to young women in Israel. I think that the connection we’ve created between conscientious objection and feminism draws in more women.”
Do male and female conscientious objectors have different experiences?
“Yes. First of all the military prison is different. Because there are far more male military prisoners than women, they’re divided into departments according to the severity of their infractions – which doesn’t exist for women. And because of that, [a woman] could share a cell with someone who deals heroin, which means that the discipline in prison is stronger.
“So female conscientious objectors are imprisoned in a tougher and more rigid prison, compared to the conditions of male objectors who are held in a low-security prison, and therefore enjoy far more freedom. And the social attitude [in prison] is different. Many of the women say that the girls [the other prisoners] were wonderful, supported them and strengthened them. Whereas the men say that it was harder for them to form social ties.”
You spent 110 days in a military prison. In hindsight, how do you sum up this experience, and how did it affect you?
“I made the most of it, to the best of my ability. I arrived in prison with a very sharp awareness – it was clear to me why I was there. As opposed to the other prisoners, I chose to be there and that gave me a lot of peace of mind. For most of the girls, what was hard is the sense of injustice, the feeling that they’re treating you like a criminal, but I was ready for that. Mesarvot also prepared me, and there were female attorneys who came to visit me, so it didn’t deeply threaten me. So I had some bad experiences there, and sometimes I have nightmares where I wake up and I’m in prison, but all in all it was a very interesting and instructive period, and I really loved the girls. I formed deep friendships there.”
Were there any difficult moments that shook that sense of readiness you arrived with?
“Yes. Solitary confinement. In a military prison, there’s a solitary confinement cell just as you would imagine, a small cubicle with white fluorescent lights that are always on. The girls who enter it present a danger to themselves or to others, but they’re mainly girls who are a danger to themselves – in other words, suicidal – and that was terrible. Because of course being in solitary confinement like that pulls them down even further.
“The entire time that they’re in solitary confinement, someone is with them there, one of the prisoners, in four-hour shifts. I had two weeks when I had guard duty in solitary confinement from 2 A.M. to 6 A.M every night. Then I wouldn’t sleep either, and the girl who was in solitary at the time – it was seeing a person at her lowest point. They bombarded her with psychiatric medications, she barely ate, she barely slept. I had a good relationship with her, but it was very hard to see her and to realize that you can’t help her at all, because she wants to die. It was very hard.”
Four years have passed since you left prison. What have you been doing since then?
“I did two years of national service in a place that provides temporary shelter for teenagers who have been removed from their homes. And now I’m studying sociology, anthropology and philosophy at the Hebrew University. I’m an activist in solidarity with Palestinians against the occupation, and I live in a commune. Since April, when they started to block Damascus Gate, we started to go there – the army is less violent towards us, so we would film things, and the Palestinians would stand with us because they knew that the [mounted police’s] horse wouldn’t trample us, but would pass us by.”
Left-wing activists aren’t very popular at the moment. How did you feel about publicly presenting yourself as an objector and an activist?
“It’s a very frightening place, because you’re constantly exposing yourself to personal attacks, whether it’s on Facebook, in the street, or with people who study and work with you. It’s being open to attacks all the time, so it’s not a very comfortable place. On my Facebook page, for example, I delete things – I delete responses that I don’t like. And some of the things I don’t even read. For example, I don’t read posts that people send me if they aren’t my friends. If you let those responses get to you, it’s very depressing. That’s why you have to distance yourself from them, you have to engage in self-preservation.”
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