Tuesday, February 3, 1998

The Gavison Affair

Tuesday, February 3rd, 1998
I reread the Kol Ha’ir artilcles (January 30, 1998)by Dafna Baram and Michael Sfarad. Since I have no reason to doubt the honesty and the professionalism of the two reporters, it appears that Gavison has expressed a rather strange lenience towards torture.We are told in the report that “Gavison refrained yesterday from responding to the information and claimed that ‘I do not have time to answer questions on internal documents, regarding which I have no knowledge as to how they came into your hands.”
Though, I sense that Gavison expressed herself regarding the important issues in a matter unworthy of her post and her record, I did not rush to judgement. Simply stated, there is a known procedure to clear up this kind of matter, or at least to get your version of the affair before the public, friend and foe, included. It’s called a specific and detailed letter of denial. If she has not written such a letter to Kol Ha’ir she certainly must. The absence of this letter, that should have been the only proper rebuttal to here critics, is, to say the least, very saddening.
However, at this stage, there is every reason in the world to thank Gideon Spiro for his wonderful habit of whistle blowing – which demands quite a bit of courage and determination. Orchids for Yitzhak Laor for not permitting the matter to be filed away….There was one point that I think that Yitzhak was trying to make, that should be underlined. We are all of us, members of a privileged stratum in a privileged society. As such we tend to be very forgiving to associates, friends, members of our families who just happen to be members of the apparatus who –let’s face it – blood on their hands. Private weaknesses aside, such leniency is unforgivable in public figures who have assumed responsibility for the defense of human rights.
The Israeli legal system works hard to maintain its “humane and progressive image,” especially, in international circles. But we know that when it comes to the rights of the Palestinians, the legal system has and still condones the worst forms of immoral and even illegal activity by the security forces. Why would any humanist express any sort of understanding for the “predicament,” of the courts after it has long been clear that these same security forces are corrupt and inefficient and the link between the real world of systematic torture and legitimate security concerns is, at the best, highly tenuous.Moreover, has not the whole security argument been totally and completely contaminated by the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues thanks to the policies of the Israeli government which refuses to recognize Palestinian national and human rights?
The whole scene is further clouded since, quite recently, there are many liberals who are beginning to realize that “Bibi is a wizard” and he might be successful in ending the conflict by settling all the West Bank and keeping the Palestinians in ghettoes. In the absence of a clear and convincing denial by Ruth Gavison of the points made in the Kol Ha’ir article, one must fear that she was influenced, hopefully unconsciously, by the recent wave of illusions. I am talking about those illusions that assume that we will get away with anything because we are the only democracy in the Middle East….