Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Prisoner X Marks the Spot


Two weeks ago a new starter at work started talking to me about Israel. Obviously Jewish, they were mentioning, amongst others, that Israel must be a great place to live in. I told them what I think of Israel; signs of heartbreak could be seen on their face.
Yesterday I took part at a numeracy workshop held by my son’s school in order to help parents with their children’s studies. Our two hour long tour's guide told us they just came from a visit to Israel. There were only two guys in a room full of mothers, yet the instructor “volunteered” yours truly first. They then moved on to ask where I’m from in Israel, I answered, and then they told me how great Israel is. You know me, I don’t muck about; I told them in one sentence what I think of Israel. Yet again I got that sad look on the face.
As the above two examples demonstrate, the pattern repeats itself rather too often. Non Israeli Jews recognize me, either by name or accent, to be a member of their exclusive club. With that recognition comes the automatic assumption that I regard Israel as the pinnacle of creation. When they realize they are in the wrong something cracks; second thoughts about everything they believe in creep in. For at least a brief minute their entire perception of reality is on the brink.
No, I do not understand this automatic association between non Israeli Jews and Israel. It is as if a Jewish person is not allowed to criticize Israel. Worse, it is as if Israel is the true representation of these people; yet, if that is the case, why don’t they pack up to go and live in the country of their dreams? Maybe then they would realize there are some significant differences between being Jewish and being an Israeli.
Me, I want neither Judaism nor Israelism. After all, I left Israel for a reason and at a hefty price. As for Judaism, while I cannot escape the cultural impact it had on me, I think describing the culture I grew up on as Israeli would be much more accurate. Racially I may still be Jewish (definitely so by Hitler’s standards), even if the actual racial profile of Jews today is made of a mix of everything; hardly anyone can boast a bloodline that comes purely out of the small number of Jews exiled from Israel a couple of millennia ago. And if your definition of Judaism relates to religion then you should know I’m all for equality: I despise all religions the same.
I do wonder if these Israel oriented Jews realize what they look like in the eyes of any other citizen of the country they hail from. In other words, can Australia’s Jews complain about racial prejudice when they declare themselves to be Israel’s first and Australia’s second? When they pledge allegiance to a country they hardly know much about over the country they grew up at and by any rational account belong to?

Case in point: the whole affair of Prisoner X. Australian Ben Zygier who relocated to Israel, seems to have worked for the Mossad, then got secretly imprisoned and died in jail under dodgy circumstances. Zygier represents all the problems I’ve talked about thus far; his family’s silence on the matter, coupled with the deafening silence from the Jewish community here in Australia and Melbourne, only seems to further prove my point.
What astounds me is that Australian Jews can still express their unconditional affection to Israel when the latter proved itself perfectly capable of throwing one of them in jail, make the rest of world unaware of the guy’s existence, and enforce total silence on the matter. These are tactics worthy of Stalin.
Israel’s judicial system should take a deep long look at itself in the mirror. And so do this world’s Jews.

P.S. If you ask for my opinion on the best coverage of the Prisoner X saga (actually, it should be called Detainee X;  Zygier was never convicted), I would point at the this Hebrew speaking blogger.

Image by Ilana Tamir, Creative Commons license


wile.e.coyote said...

Well I’m sure you understand why the Jewish people want to assist Israel.
They have a vague memory of an event that happened in the last century.
Jewish people see Israel as a safe harbor in time of problem, it is logical you would like to defend this safe harbor in case of clear and present danger.

As for Israel’s judicial system not sure where is the issue? If a person provides top secrets to another country he is counted as traitor in any country.
If by exposing identity of such a person will reveal additional secrets and him, his family and his lawyer are ok about keeping his arrest as a secret, who are you say something else?

You can also watch this movie from 00:00:26 to 00:01:44 to get another view on the problem @ http://www.mako.co.il/mako-vod-keshet/eretz_nehederet-s10/VOD-6ef498cce0eec31006.htm

Moshe Reuveni said...

1. Assisting Israel is one thing. Unquestionably agreeing with everything Israel does is another, something I would expect from Asad & Co - not from a democracy where debate is of utmost importance.
Besides, if Israel is so important to them because of the holocaust - go and fucking live there.
2. Zygier was offered a deal in exchange for a confession. That is not something you give to a "traitor".
It is one thing to hold a trial behind closed doors for reasons of secrecy. That is being done all the time (for example, in cases of child abuse). It is another thing altogether to banish a person from the face of the earth and to forbid anyone from reporting it. Particularly someone who is yet to be convicted. Again, that is something I would expect of Asad & Co.
You may be happy for your country to do so, but how would you be able to tell whether you're next in line? I hear you did some dodgy things in Canada. You may have even commented on blogs expressing anti Israeli views. You look suspicious.
3. They did awful Aussie accents. I thought it was the easiest one to imitate: just block your nose, mates.

Moshe Reuveni said...

Further comments:

1. "his family and his lawyer are ok about keeping his arrest as a secret": Do you really think they had much of a choice here? It's obvious they didn't, and it's obvious this tilts the power gauge heavily towards the state. The main idea of the judicial system is that it is under public scrutiny. Again, would you happily accept such conditions if you were on trial?

2. Back to your original point about "assisting Israel". I would like to point out that as far as I am concerned, I am assisting Israel by providing it with constructive criticism. In my book, that is a much stronger form of love than saying "yes, yes" to everything the state does.
The best example: children. You do not say "yes" to everything they ask for, and you criticize them when they do something wrong. You do so because you love them. It takes an effort, unlike silent compliance.

wile.e.coyote said...

It feels as if you are enjoying your anti patriotic state of mind and less focused on the facts.
>If his Australian family were so concern about the fact that he is in jail in secret that could have go to the media 2 years ago.
>The idea of a safe harbor is that you can continue sail the happy and warm water of living in one of the best countries in the world, once the shit will hit the fan, you can run away to your safe harbor.
See a view from your favorite newspaper on the problem Aussie Jewish people got with double loyalty http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1935814
>whatever I did in Canada stays in Canada

Moshe Reuveni said...

Yes, I have been known to enjoy myself. The same way you have been known not to answer questions.
With regards to your arguments. It is interesting you keep invoking the holocaust argument. If my history is right, one of the symptoms that led, eventually, to the proper extermination of people was the disappearance of people for no reason and without a trial. Sounds familiar?
With regards to my opinion on how the holocaust is used (or rather, abused) to the altar of Israel's current ethos: you can read it at http://www.reuvenim.com/2008/03/candle-in-wind.html . I'm sure you will disagree.

Going back to your points on Zygier's family and the behavior of Jews in general (and that Haaretz link you sent), the whole point of my post was to point at the irrationality of this behavior. You obviously disagree, which is perfectly fine; but again, my point is that in my opinion, they are irrational. It is this irrationality that is the cause of confusion with the Australian Jewish community. The way I see it, it is not different to that of a scientist studying evolution but also believing in one of the popular myths of creation; the two cannot go together without a huge eclipse of rationality.
The case of Zygier's family is more complicated. The father is a leader in Bney Brit, and thus stands to get burned on either side. Recent revelations in the media indicate Israel paid the family quite a lot of money, probably to guarantee their ongoing silence. Regardless, my question still stands: if it was you being arrested, would you accept your family's silence? Would you happily allow for your very existence to be hidden? You probably will because you don't have much power against the state, but I'm pretty sure you will not like the situation you're in.

wile.e.coyote said...

Well based on the latest news, the liberal and open media country of Australia was officially informed about the arrest of Ben.
It sound a bit weird that such a wonderful democracy will allow this dark act of holding information from the public for 2 years
But maybe ASIO knows what they are doing

Moshe Reuveni said...

I don't know what makes you think Australia is as pure of heart as you think it is. Australia has knowingly collaborated with the USA when the latter held and tortured two Australian citizens at Guantanamo (see http://r-views.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/guantanamo-my-journey-by-david-hicks.html ). Australia also fabricated a terrorism case and totally humiliated an innocent doctor (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhamed_Haneef ). For all its sins, however, to my knowledge Australia's justice system never went as far as totally hiding the existence of a person the way Israel did. A person that should still be regarded as innocent, by the way.
For the record: In Haneef's case, the Australian media made the revelations that incriminated the state. In Hicks' case, his father made a whole lot of noise that eventually got his son released. Both would have not been possible in Zygier's case.

And even if Australia was the worst place on earth, place that makes North Korea look like a kindergarten, in what way does that mean that Israel should treat people like shit?