Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Prominent Israeli Writers, Law Professors, and Intellectuals Back "Breaking the Silence"

On the front page of the print edition of yesterday's Haaretz, the following advertisement appeared:

"Enforce the Law in Hebron!

"For the past three years activists of the "Breaking the Silence" organization have been conducting tours in the city of Hebron.

"More than 5000 people have participated in one of the 300 tours that the organization has conducted in the last three years. The aim of the tours, conducted by veterans who have served in the city either as regular or reservist soldiers, is to expose to the Israeli public what is happening in the city of the patriarchs. This activity has encountered from the outset violent opposition from the setters in the Hebron, and has had to overcome difficulties from the security forces. Over the last few days, certain persons in the Israeli Police, including the commander of the Hebron District, Avshalom Peled, have called the activists, "provocateurs," "militants," and "lawbreakers." Assertions such as these, which aren't supported with any real facts or evidence, arouse the suspicion of political persecution. The background for these absurd statments is the weakness of the police, and its unreadiness to discharge the state's commitment, within the framework of the petition against obstructing the tours, submitted recently to the High Court of Justice. In response to the state's commitment to the court to permit a renewal of the tours, the settlers increased their attacks, and they continue to obstruct physically the tours. Caving in to the settlers's violence, the police have prevented the tours from being conducted. As always in Hebron, violence pays.

"We demand that the Israeli Police retract their scandalous and unsubstantiated assertions.

"We demand that the Israeli Police enable "Breaking the Silence" to conduct the tours in Hebron.

"We demand that the Israeli Police enforce the law with respect to the Hebron settlers.

"We call upon the Israeli public to take part in these important tours and to see for themselves the horrible reality in Hebron."

[Signed] Shulamit Aloni, Michael Ben Yair, General (res.) Shlomo Gazit, Ruth Dayan, Michal Zamora Cohen, A. B. Yehoshua, Prof. Yirmiyahu Yovel, Shomo Cohen (former chairman of the Israeli Bar Association), Amos Oz, Sami Michael, Colonel (res.) Paul Kedar, Yair Tzaban, Yehoshua Kenaz, Prof. Mordecai Kremnitzer, Judith Karp, Yair Rotloy, Yossi Sarid


Anonymous said...

The "prominent intellectuals" in the list are the "usual gang of suspects" affiliated with the Israeli far Left. They are not people "concerned with law and order", their dream is for the police to go into Hevron and drag all the Jews out of the town and for all the synagogues which were refurbished in recent years to revert to being goat sheds, as they Arabs made them after the Jews were driven out of the town before 1948. I would be more impressed if they had a list of people other than those affiliated with the MERETZ/HADASH types.

Jerry Haber said...


A.B. Yehoshua "far left"? Where does that put Uri Avnery or Yitzhak Laor?

Anyway, you miss the point. If Breaking the Silence is adopted by the Meretz Zionist Left, then they have won. Because that is very much within the consensus.

Oh, one more thing -- would you accept a thousand dollar contribution for every person on that list publicly associated with Hadash?

You ought to get your steering realligned.

Anonymous said...

HADASH is also pretty much in within the mainline consensus of the political establishment of Israel. The pariahs today are the pro-settlement Right wing like MAFDAL, Ihud HaLeumi (National Union) or the Haredim (SHAS, UTJ). I think it is inconceivable today that the MAFDAL-NU will be in any government coalition, even if the Likud wins the election. Netanyahu has already said that he will form a coalition with the Left, and the Left can demand that the MAFDAL/NU be kept out, and possibly including only one Haredi party in the coalition, as was the case with Sharon's Likud gov't and Olmert's current gov't. Netanyahu would have no choice but to go along. This is not to say that the public feels that way, they consider MERETZ and HADASH on the fringes, but what the public thinks is of no importance in modern Israel. Uri Avnery is also a fringe figure with the public but he is a revered figure by the political establishment and a very flattering television biography of him was broadcast a coupld of years ago. Would they broadcast such a program about Hanan Porat or Rav Moshe Levinger today?
I can prove what I am saying....Sheli Yechimovich stated that she voted for HADASH before she joined the Labor party . Did anybody say that being is such a supposedly extremist party disqualified her from being in the Labor Party? Sharon in effect had HADASH as a member of his coalition because he needed their votes to destroy Gush Katif. Did Sharon ever criticize them? He did call his former allies in the settlement movement (who got him into power in the first place) "extremists, crazed messianists, threats to the state", and other such choice epithets. You also have stated that you support HADASH. Thus, you are much closer to the positions of the rulers of the state than I am. Olmert much prefers your group than mine. Be encouraged!

Jerry Haber said...

bar kokhba,

That's an interesting comment, and calls for a more nuanced answer than i give, especially when i am in the middle of making shabbat dinner and i should be cleaning my room....

The ideological settlers are indeed viewed as pariahs, and the hebron settlers are viewed as kooks, even by the konsensus ha-leumani. ditto for the haredim. but that doesn't mean that both groups dont have real power, much more power than the Arabs that constitute over 20% of the citizenry. Well, it's a Jewish state, after all. The settlers who were thrown out of Gush Katif, where they were living with fat government subsidies, from houses to jobs, got enormous compensation. They did that not just because of guilt, but in an effort (that only partly succeeded) to buy them off.

Hadash is considered legitimate because the Arabs are allowed to have parties. They are in no Jewish consensus, even though it may be bon ton in certain Tel Aviv quarters to flirt with voting Hadash. You would be surprised at the number of Jews who think that Hadash is only an Arab party. I once told somebody that I voted for Hadash, and they couldn't stop laughing -- because they didn't believe me.

It is not particularly radical in my circles to vote Hadas, or, for that matter, in Meretz circles. But the Zionist left doesn't vote Hadash in any significant numbers. If they don't vote Meretz it is because of other reasons.

I am hoping, though, that more Jews will vote Hadash, if only because of Dov Chenin.

If the rightwing parties are not in Bibi's government (they have been in the past), they will have more power than Hadash had in the Rabin/Meretz 1992 government. If they don't join the government, it won't be because they weren't asked. When was the last time that Hadash was asked?

Anonymous said...

You said in a previous comment:
The settlers who were thrown out of Gush Katif, where they were living with fat government subsidies, from houses to jobs, got enormous compensation

Yossi Sarid wrote something like this at the time saying essentially they were lazy parasites sucking the blood of the state. I think that is rich coming from him....his MERETZ and Labor Party kibbutzim have been getting fat subsidies for decades (which he provided for them out of MY taxpayer money), he himself was a politician for decades, living off the public purse. For that matter, how much do the Humanities departments of the Universities contribute to the economy of the state? They only survive because of fat subsidies. Lots of Israelis get fat subsidies, but the outrage againt subsidies only applies to one's political opponents. Politicians, among them Sharon and RABIN encouraged settlement of Gush Katif because they said it was in the "national interest". I think it is really low to turn on these people now, especially since their lives have been ruined. They lived under very difficult conditions for years, built flourishing communities and built a very successful agricultural export business that sold IIRC tens of millions of shekels of produce to Europe every year.

I want to clarify something I said in my previous comment. When I stated that the "settlers" and their supporters on the Right are "pariahs", I emphasize I mean among the political Elite that runs the country (at one time this Elite supported them) and of which the Likud is now a part. However, I don't agree that the population at large views the "ideological settlers" that way. This is the mistake Olmert made at Amona. He felt a show of force there would make him seem "tough", in order to fill Sharon's big "bitchonist" shoes, but it backfired and he realized he shouldn't do that again. No doubt the MERETZ/HADASH crowd was cheering when they saw all those kids with their skulls crushed and bleeding, but Olmert realized that MOST Israelis were appalled and he backed off after that.

Ben Bayit said...

I don't see how you can say the settlers got enourmous compensation. The compensation clauses were the clauses in the Gush Katif Evacutaion law that the HCJ overturned in its ruling on the legality of the evacuation. The HCJ very rarely overturns knesset legislation (or at least that's what the law & order) legalists are always claiming, so overturning 4 clauses in one ruling is a big deal. Furthermore even after the final legislation, most of the setllers who chose to pursue private tort cases against the government are WINNING their cases in the lower courts (see the artcile in this past weekends makor rishon). The government tried to stiff them and they are winning their cases. That means the government did not make them whole by the standards of Israeli law.

I would add that those rabbanim of the left - especially Rav Moshe Lichtenstein - who used the supposed compansation as justification for instructing soldiers to obey orders, basically have all of the gezel committed by these soldiers on their own souls. For the simple reason that the residents were not made whole - having to go to court to get what is due you is not being made whole.

Speaking of making whole and gezel, when will you sell your Baka flat for the original amount you paid for it giving the difference to the "zochrot" people who are trying to resettle the Palestinian refugees?

Jerry Haber said...

Well, it looks as if I disagree with the Supreme Court on that one, doesn't it?
Look, Israel had a moral and a legal responsibility to compensate the Gush Katif settlers/freeloaders. They should have determined how the flats were worth before the Knesset decision, how much it would cost to purchase a modest apartment in the south, and come to some happy medium. Then, they should have said to the settlers, "You have every right to appeal the decision to the court, as a group, or as individuals. In the meantime, here is the money."

And that would have been the end of the story, except for some lawsuits.

In addition, the government should have offered retraining subsidies.

And that's about it.

None of this stuff about relocating communities, or getting comparable housing, or building new communities, blah, blah, blah.

That is fair and generous. After all, who pays me compensation for subsidizing the free ride those guys got for years in their Gush Katif villas?

Anonymous said...

Again, I ask you why the Gush Katif people are "freeloaders" but not the Professors of the Humanities, the Kibbutzim affiliated with the Labor Party and MERETZ (who had hundreds of millions or even billions of shekels of debt "forgiven" some years ago), the politicians who live off the public purse, various government functionaries who sit in their offices all day and twiddle their thumbs, the Histadrut and various government offices notorious for featerbedding, Israel Television (there was a report on this in Makor Rishon), also a major featherbedder, etc, etc.
Unlike all the others I mentioned here, they produced a real product that was sold for export. I saw it with my own eyes. Please answer.

Ben Bayit said...

That's what the government did. The court just determined that certain sections of the law were unconstitutional for various reasons. Property rights are constitutional in Israel.
The settlers are winning court cases because the estimates were set too low, because the government cooked the books on the estimates and told the estimators to lie, and they are winning the lawsuits. There is a doctrine for what it means to be made whole. One the major arguments of the left - especially the religious left like the Har Etzion folks - was that this is no difference than standard expropriation decisions. To come and then say they were freeloading and only "deserve" a modest flat is ridiculous. YOU are freeloading in a flat stolen from Arabs and yet you refuse to give them their profits back and go to a modest flat in Yerucham next door to Leah Shakdiel and her leftist friends. Why should the Gush Katif people be forced to do that?
It is also not unreasonable that i an expropriation decision of this magnitude that the communities should not be made whole. That's part of making people whole - something that is constitutionally protected in the State of Israel.

Jerry Haber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jerry Haber said...

Bar Kokhba

Who is a freeloader? Very simple.

If the subsidies given to a sector are such that they are able to afford housing well beyond their means, on land which is occupied and hence violates international law, and is not recognized by any government as belonging to the state of Israel, including that of Israel, and are given all sorts of other subsidies in education, employment, etc., that other sectors, even in development towns, don't have ,then they are at least in part freeloaders. And when those things are taken away from them, they shouldn't be crybabies about it. They should get just compensation, but not more.

Your comparisons with other sectors are most illuminating. I don't know why, but I thought you were a Republican. Apparently, you favor government handouts as long as they are for your own sector. Now the other sectors did get subsidies. Many sectors get subsidies. But no sector got the sort of subsidies that allowed them to live in the sort of luxury that many of the Gush Katif folks did. Show me kibbutzim that got that much. And by the way, stop giving me the sort of crap that was old crap when Begin said it. In case you don't know it, the kibbutzim are dying or dead. And they didn't get anywhere near what the Gush Katif folks got.

But...again, I have to agree with some of what you said. The sectoral and corrupt socialism that was at the heart of labor Zionism found its greatest expression in the settler movement -- which allowed them to buy dirt cheap in the occupied territories and then for many of the settlers to have no productive labor of any sort but to live on self-perpetuating bureaucracies like local councils.

Again, they should have gotten compensation. But the problem is that they were used to living on handouts and you rightwingers are hypocritical if you think that some handouts are ok if they are for your sector.

If you want that kind of rampant socialism, then at least make the rules fair. Let the Palestinian Israelis get their turn to feed from the trough.

And now for Ben Bayit.

Please give evidence of "all the lawsuits" that the settlers are winning. I haven't heard of more than one or two. If the government cheated them, then I have no problem supporting the settlers. We are paying for our own stupidity. We should pay what we have to pay.

Since I don't live in a flat owned by Arabs, I don't know what you were talking about. And since I paid good money for the flat I do live in -- which was built around eight years ago -- and which cost about five times as much as the villas that the Gush Katif people lived in -- I have no idea what you are talking about.

Don't get me wrong, both of you. The primary responsibility for the wholesale theft of Arab land in the territories and selling it cheap to Jews from Russian and Brooklyn, etc. is the government's, i.e., those of us who support Israel and pay taxes to us. None of us is clean. I feel sorry for the settlers who were evicted from their property. I do. But I feel more sorry for the Palestinian people whose property they were thrown off of. And after them, I feel more sorry for the poor suckers like me who paid taxes that supported the folly.

Perhaps if they had lived more modestly I would have fewer gripes. If they had lived in the same sort of apartments they would have been able to afford within the State of Israel proper; if they had a little tzeniut, then that would have at least supported their claim of being pioneers.

You may not like it, but there will be more withdrawals. And there will be more settlers moved. It is only a matter of time, and everybody knows it. It won't bring peace, but it will happen. And then how will you be able to justify the colossal waste of time, money, and emotion.

Every prime minister since Rabin including Netanyahu has promised most of the Golan to Syria. One day it will go back. Why are we doomed to being so stupid and to make long term plans to develop things we will be leaving eventually.

Ditto for Jerusalem. There is not an intelligent person in the world who thinks we will not withdraw from parts of it. You guys will be upset about it, but you know that it will happen. Israel Harel will write the one millionth op-ed about the failure of Zionism, but it will happen. So why act now as if it will never happen? OK, you want to improve the bargaining position...but at what cost?

June 23, 2008 4:58 AM

Ben Bayit said...

and in academia you don't live on handouts?

and in academia they don't have a lack of productive labor of any sort but to live on self-perpetuating bureaucracies like academic councils.

From the original Baka Lefties post:
"Now I don’t live inside an Arab house, but I do live on top of one; my flat was built around ten years ago on somebody’s roof. Needless to say, the Palestinian owner of the roof didn’t get a penny from the purchase. I have no idea who he or she is/was. I can console myself with the idea that I am not living inside his house. But so what -- I am living on a roof that does not belong to me, utilizing air rights that don’t belong to me."

Unless there are two Jerry Haber's you have a weak claim for stating:
"Since I don't live in a flat owned by Arabs, I don't know what you were talking about. And since I paid good money for the flat I do live in -- which was built around eight years ago -- and which cost about five times as much as the villas that the Gush Katif people lived in -- I have no idea what you are talking about."

I think we should first evacuate Baka before we evacuate any more settlements. That will put any further withdrawals on the moral high-ground.

The settlers in Gush Katif lived in exactly what they could afford to live in on homes on the coastal plains XYZ Kilometers south of Tel Aviv. People go to far off suburbs and get larger homes. It's perfectly normal and perfectly consistent with the way real estate works. The only difference is that their supposedly "stolen" land was worth less that your supposedly "stolen" land so for the same money they could live in a villa for 25% of what you paid to live on a roof.

as soon as the article on the court cases goes up on-line I'll send it in