Left.ru __________________________________________________________________________

Doubt and certainty

  By Israel Shamir

  The Russian discotheque Dolphi, devastated by the Friday night blast,
stands on the shore of Manshieh, a destroyed Palestinian neighborhood of
Jaffa, not far from my home. Teenage friends of my sons used to frequent the
place. It is an innocent crowd, brought to the shores of Palestine by their
parents after disintegration of the Soviet Union. Kids speak Russian, their
contacts with Israeli boys and girls of the same age are quite limited, as
is their interest in local affairs. Many of them are blond and blue-eyed,
some dress in the outmoded punk style, they drink more than it is good for
them. Few of them are Jews by any reasonable criteria, and Israeli radio
informed that it would be quite impossible to bury the victims in the
hallowed ground of the Jewish cemetery. Their fate is not an easy one in the
Jewish state: they are supposed to serve in the army, but the army makes it
difficult for them to swear the oath of allegiance on the Gospel. If they
perish, they are buried beyond the fence, together with suicides.

  As Druse and Circassian minorities, one million strong Russian community
is not an obvious partner of the Jewish supremacists. The Russians are
subject to discrimination. They have low paid jobs, which provide no
security of income. They pay huge interest (three times higher than in the
US) on loans they are given as ‘a settlement grant’ or ‘a mortgage help’.
Many Russians baptize their children, pretty Russian girls often marry
Palestinians. Actually, despite separation rules, Russians marry
Palestinians as often as they marry Israelis. The blast is liable to enforce
their tentative ties with Israelis. That is why it is important to stress
that the circumstances of the explosion are still surrounded by a cloud of

  No Islamic movement claimed responsibility, though as a rule they compete
with such claims, true or false. INFOPAL expressed doubts whether “any
Islamic movement is able to  carry  out such a strong attack, given  that
most  of  the  recent  suicide bombings  have  failed  to  cause
significant  harm  or  damage”. On the other hand, Israeli intelligence has
know-how and facilities needed to cause by one blast the major shift of
alliance of the Russian community. The Mossad proved its lack of scruples in
1949, when they bombed the Baghdad synagogue and sent the Iraqi Jews running
to Israel. In 1990-s they instigated rumors of impending pogroms in Moscow
and sent the parents of Dolphi kids on the way to Tel Aviv. Killing of
non-Jewish children was already declared a ‘justifiable means’ by Madeleine
Albright. She spoke about Iraqi children, dying because of the US-imposed
blockade, but her Tel Aviv friends could make their own conclusions.

  Many years from now, Palestinians will unravel the mystery of the botched
suicide bomber wave 2001. They will discover who and why targeted the
Russian disco, or the poorest Hassidic area of Jerusalem, or other marginal
sites, as if trying to enforce the elusive Jewish unity. They will find out
why the only ‘successful’ attack was made on predominantly non-Jewish kids.

  But it is not the only doubt. Susanne Scheidt from  Italy posited a
legitimate query: "How come that last summer, when there was no Palestinian
uprising  in  sight,  we  read  about  numerous  cases  in  which
Palestinians, as soon as they showed up on the beach of Tel  Aviv with a
bathing suit in  their  bag,  were  instantly  spotted  by Israeli police
and sent away from the beach?" Could a Palestinian get as far as the queue
to the discotheque? There is an alternative version.

  Last year we witnessed a severe gang warfare for the control of Russian
night clubs. The warring parties used to throw hand-grenades into the
competing clubs, with some human casualties. Russian discos of Tel Aviv are
fighting for the same market. Their methods are not too gentle. It is not
impossible that the fatal attack at the entrance of the Russian discotheque
was caused by the gang war, rather than by a Palestinian bomber. A year ago
there was a dreadful explosion in Moscow underground station Pushkinskaya,
that was immediately ascribed to Chechen terrorists. Afterwards it became
known that the station was bombed by the racketeers, as the vendors did not
pay the protection money.

  Now, if it will be found out that the explosion was actually caused by a
rival gang from, say, a neighboring Netania, would the IDF planes bomb
Netania? Would the army besiege Netania? Would Netania city council be
denounced as a terrorist organization? No, this way of collective punishment
is meted out only to Palestinians. That is why I think we should object both
to the premature presumption of a Palestinian involvement, and to the racist
style of collective punishment. Israelis are too fast in this game.

  When a single Jewish terrorist shot a German diplomat in Paris in 1938,
the Nazi government replied with the Kristallhacht, a massive pogrom that
carried away one hundred lives. When a single pro-Iraqi terrorist shot an
Israeli diplomat in London in 1982, Israeli government unleashed the
invasion of Lebanon and killed forty thousand people. Maybe it was the thing
to do in the days of Genghis Khan, but not any more. Nobody demands ‘the
Jews’ to pay for the dirty dealings of Milken, Rich and Maxwell, or for
Sharon massacres. ‘The Palestinians’ should not pay for excesses of
individuals. While there are still reasonable doubts as to the identity of
the bombers, one thing is certain: collective ethnic-based punishment is a
crime against humanity.

  Gaza should be treated in the same way as Netania, Mahmud and Anton should
have the same rights as Doron and Boris. Then, probably, there will be no
reason even for suspicions and doubts.