Monday, March 17, 2008

Women in Black - Courage & Steadfastedness

The Personal is the Political
Dafna is active in Women in Black in Jerusalem. If Dafna is in the country, then rain or shine, she and her sisters take up their position in Hagar (Paris) Square denouncing the occupation and violence. I must admit that if there is any serious security tension in Jerusalem towards the end of the week, I become fraught with concern over the possibility that the vigil may be attacked. The criminal attack at the Merkaz Ha’rav Yeshiva occurred on Thursday at 8 PM. The country, the media and many ordinary citizens were seething with anger, most of it blatantly racist. If you are planning to go to the streets to continue the weekly protest, you are worried about Israelis who might be looking for revenge. There are settler crazies out there plotting away, though they really prefer taking out their frustrations on Palestinians. But there are any number of Jerusalemites, who can become unhinged. It was clear early Thursday evening that the vigil would be tense.
The vigil does enjoy a modicum of police protection, but it is very lay back. Their goal is more to protect the peace than anything else. Still, better than nothing. There were indeed 3-4 passers by that felt the need to scream and curse. Pretty ugly, but this is par for the course, when it looks like you can assume that the verbal attack will not get physical. But on Friday, March 7, 2007, the women were accosted by an extraordinarily viscous brute. The hooligan, who seems to have been an American, was brandishing the front page of a newspaper brandishing the photographs of the eight Merkaz HaRav victims right in the faces of the women and screaming Hamas Whores, Hamas Whores. He was of course working himself into a frenzy and screaming (in English). A policemen did gently move him away from direct physical contact with the women, but then the thug took up a position in the middle of the street and continued his harangue, explicitly demanding that the Hamas Whores submit to his crazed sexual demands. The police did not see this as a reason to interfere.
He was still uncomfortably close to the vigil when it began to break-up. The women had previously decided to have a very small party at the end of the vigil for one of the participants who was marking her 99th birthday. The thug had by this time gathered around him a few local fanatics. These grouped into a small gang of hooligans which accosted three groups of women on their way from the vigil, pushing and shoving and banging on the car of one woman. The police were gone by then. During the week, a delegation of women met with the police and requested a firmer hand against any form of harassment, which can easily set the stage for really violent attacks. Things were generally quiet this last Friday.
So if you want to know the meaning of courage and steadfastedness in the face of mounting chauvinist tension, come then, in body or spirit, to their vigil and stand with the Women in Black who are standing in Paris Square for peace, against hatred and racism. then, in body or spirit, to their vigil and stand with the Women in Black who are standing in Paris Square for peace, against

Sunday, March 2, 2008

It’s a Success Story

They finally succeeded. It cost 4,000 dead and another 29,000 seriously wounded US soldiers. But after almost a million dead Iraqis, after 500,000 Iraqi refugees who fled the country and another 500,000 “internal” refugees in the country, and after spending three trillion (three thousand billion) dollars, George Bush and his cohorts finally succeeded in organizing a royal reception by the Iraqi government for the chief of the axis of evil, Ahmadinejad, in Bagdad.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Concern over Anti-Semitism?

Lithuania Issues Warrant for Arrest of Former Yad V’shem Director. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Received with Honor by Current Director at the Yad V’Shem Memorial Museum.

The criticism of Israeli policy, however well deserved, is vilified by “friends of Israel” as a pernicious form of anti Semitism. This kind of attack is a major element in the desperate strategy of the pro-Israel forces to delegitimize any criticism of Israel. The threat of being accused of anti-Semitism by powerful forces in the Jewish community is a highly effective weapon. One could conclude, under the impression of this state of affairs, that Israel really cares about anti-Semitism. It is certainly the declared goal of Israel to spearhead the fight against anti-Semitism whenever it rears it ugly head.

WANTED: Dr. Yitshak Arad by the Government of Lithuania

Yitshak Arad (aged 81) is about as close as you can get to being an Israeli legend. Trapped behind German lines in Lithuania as a teen- ager, he became a decorated fighter in the partisans. After the war, he made his way to Israel, had an impressive military career in the IDF, retiring as a brigadier-general and then went on to a highly distinguished academic career. He was appointed director of Yad V’shem, and served for more than twenty years (1972-1993).

The State Prosecutor in Lithuanian wants to interrogate Yitshak Arad, under suspicion of murder. The reason is that Arad, has written openly and proudly of his contribution as a partisan to the liquidation of several ranking Lithuanian Nazi collaborators. Lithuania was unique in that most of the Jews murdered in that country were victims of Lithuanian authorities. The Lithuanian government brazenly dared to use diplomatic channels to approach Israel some five months ago in an effort to get their hands on Arad.

A Most Dignified Welcome for a Most Dignified Guest

The Lithuanian Foreign Minister, Petras Vaitiekunas was in Israel last week and met with the President, Shimon Peres and the Foreign Minister, Tsipi Livneh. Relations between Lithuania, a member of the EU, and Israel seem just fine, though the very same relations served a few months back as the official conduit for the certified, still outstanding request by the Chief Prosecutor in Lithuania to the Israel Ministry of Justice. The Lithuanian authorities just want to ask Mr. Arad some questions about the deceased Lithuanian fascist collaborators. It would not be wise for Mr. Arad to contemplate a visit to Vilnius.
Viatiekunas (of course) visited Yad V’Shem, where the current Director, Avner Shalev, received him with honor and respect. Shalev did deliver into the Ambassador’s hands a rather strange note complaining that the Lithuanian government has not ended the investigation against Arad. The note also suggests that the Lithuanians are guilty of rewriting history. The hypocritical Israeli government coddles an anti-Semitic regime in Vilnius and pawns its official representative on to the Yad V’shem bureaucracy. The government sidesteps the issue and lets the Holocaust Memorial beg for the cancellation of the outrageous threat to Arad. But the diplomatic niceties will not help. The ongoing proceedings against Arad are based on Holocaust denial and smack of Holocaust renewal. And official Israel falls silent.

This friendship between the anti-Semitic Lithuanian government and Israel which pretends concern for Jewish honor is food for thought. The name of the Israeli game is, sadly enough, to smear your critics as anti-Semites while you embrace dangerous anti-Semites from Vilnius.

(See IHT, February 27, 2008 and Anshel Feffer, Ha’aretz, February 27, 2008. Ha’aretz devoted eight lines on page six to the meeting in Yad V’shem.)