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|Israel...we didn't know?!|
|03/28/02 at 17:35:28|
Thursday, March 28, 2002 Nisan 15, 5762
You won't be able to say, `we didn't know'
By Gideon Samet
It's no longer a matter of reports from people
obsessed with how the good boys in the
army treat the Palestinians. The oppressive
descriptions made it to the Friday night TV
news magazines on both channels last weekend.
Those who averted their eyes when a
few stubborn people brought in such stories, can
no longer hide behind their denial and
rage in their living rooms. It was on TV.
The programs only showed what could fit into short
items. There were the soldiers who
"love" to see the bodies of terrorists and to have
(as one soldier so graphically
demonstrated with a deep inhale) the smell of
their bodies. The small screen carried
descriptions of how soldiers abuse Palestinians at
checkpoints, and the inner torment of
embarrassed soldiers who just followed orders. And
there was a mention of the babies
who died while their mothers, asking to reach a
hospital, remained stuck in those traffic
jams of the horror's routine.
It was impossible to include a lot from the past.
For example, the discussion last summer in
the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee about the deaths of three women in
Khan Yunis, who were killed by a shell.
Representatives of the Israel Defense Forces in
that meeting at first denied that the shell
carried a payload of flechettes: a particularly
lethal cluster bomb of small darts that are
released over a large radius. Using them against
people is a violation of the Geneva Convention.
But bits of metal don't evaporate from a
body. Amos Harel of Ha'aretz reported that the
army uses those shells in Gaza, but -
because of a tiny nuance of distinction - not in
the West Bank.
The IDF Spokesman, who has given the army's word a
very bad reputation over the past
year, was forced to explain the next day that "the
IDF and its officers don't lie"; they were
misinformed, by the field. In other words, the
General Staff's officer in charge of
operations, Brig. Gen. Eli Amitai, didn't lie to
the committee. Other officers lied to him.
Despite the proliferating exposes, there was
nothing on TV or in the press about another
FAD Committee meeting last Wednesday, to discuss
flechettes again. A blanket of
secrecy was hung over that discussion, as usual.
This time the IDF couldn't but show,
among other things, an operational film about tank
fire in Gaza. The shells carried flechette
cluster bombs. If there was any doubt in the minds
of the MKs, Prof. Yehuda Hiss, head of
the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir,
brought with him some of the metal darts
he had removed from bodies in the Gaza Strip. In
such cases, the IDF tends to explain that
the dead were hit by nail bombs of their own
making, exploding in a "work accident." Yet,
the darts on the Knesset committee table now
rendered that evasive answer impossible.
Mounting evidence of such things happening
routinely in the army was also offered by
Amir Oren in this weekend's Ha'aretz. He reported
about attempts by the army to benefit
from past combat operations in avoiding harm to
civilians. One of the General Staff
commanders, Oren wrote, said lately that the army
could learn from the way the German
troops operated in the Warsaw Ghetto. No doubt, he
only meant well. That's the kind of
erosion scrambling the minds within the officer
MK Yosef Lapid also has fallen victim to that
syndrome. When he said last week, apropos
the song "You Aren't" by Mizrachi crooner Amir
Benayun, that Tul Karm is occupying
Israel, and not the contrary, he apparently didn't
realize he was comparing Benayun to the
Arabs whom Lapid detests so much. But this wasn't
merely a vulgar, racist simplification.
Beyond it, Lapid hasn't had a word to say about
what the occupation of the Tul Karms is
doing to Israeli values. His exclusive interest
seems to rest in how the residents of the
territories are occupying us through their proxy,
Benayun. No wonder. Lapid, born in
Serbia, expressed sympathy for the Serbs in
Bosnia, whose leader is now on trial for
These are difficult times. Israelis are being
hurt, again just yesterday. It's almost impossible
to control the urge to wave the terrorist attacks
in the air and to dismiss that the IDF
assassinations only increased the number of terror
victims this month. The urge is also to
shake out of our heads cases of Israeli
aberrations. But despite everything, pay attention
to our moral faults. Time will come when you won't
able to say, `we didn't know.'
|Re: Israel...we didn't know?!|
|03/31/02 at 19:07:06|
Posted on Wed, Mar. 27, 2002
Author compares Palestinian city to Nazi death camp
JERUSALEM - (AP) -
Portuguese author Josť Saramago, a Nobel laureate, set off a storm
in Israel on Tuesday after he compared a Palestinian city blockaded
by the Israeli army to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
Holocaust survivors and intellectuals, including leftists who are
highly critical of the Israeli government's policy toward the
Palestinians, condemned Saramago's statement as false, wicked and
Saramago is visiting the Palestinian areas with members of the
International Parliament of Writers, including Nigerian author Wole
Soyinka, also a Nobel laureate, and American film director Oliver
Saramago toured an Israeli military checkpoint on the outskirts of
the West Bank town of Ramallah and met with Palestinian leader
Yasser Arafat on Monday.
Afterward, Saramago told reporters: ``What is happening in Palestine
is a crime which we can put on the same plane as what happened at
Auschwitz, at Buchenwald. Even taking into account the differences
in time and place, it is the same thing.''
Saramago said that ``from the point of view of the [Israeli] army,
all of Ramallah is an enormous barracks, and you [the Palestinians]
are confined, prisoners.''
When a reporter noted that there are no gas chambers in Ramallah, as
there were in Nazi death camps, Saramago answered: ``There are no
gas chambers yet. But that does not mean there will never be gas
chambers . . . one can kill without having gas chambers.''
While touring the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the convoy of writers was
held up at an Israeli military checkpoint for four hours, a typical
example of the delays Palestinian residents often have to deal with.
Israel says the checkpoints and the closures are necessary to
prevent attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants. The
Palestinians say the blockades, which have badly disrupted daily
life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, amount to collective
Commenting on Saramago's comparison of Auschwitz and Ramallah, Chief
Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a survivor of the Holocaust, said that ``it
is terrible that a man at whose feet generations will be educated,
whose books are an object lesson and a model, could tell such a
coarse lie at a time when people with numbers printed on their arms
are still among us.''
The Nobel laureate also infuriated leading Israeli authors who are
themselves critical of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policies toward
Dovish novelist Amos Oz said Saramago, author of Blindness, had
himself shown blatant moral blindness. ''He who fails to distinguish
between different levels of evil becomes a servant of evil,'' Oz
wrote in a front-page commentary in the Yediot Ahronot daily.
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