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By Israel Shamir

The steep slopes of Wadi Keziv in Western Galilee are walled by squat local
oaks and thorny bush. On the streambed, oleanders and cypresses look into
shallow ponds formed by its springs. I like this secluded canyon. On hot
summer days, one can hide in an intricate deep cave and laze in its cool
clear waters, waiting for deer and hoping for a nymph. On cooler days, you
can climb up a steep spur rising amidst the gorge. It is called qurain, the
Horn in Arabic, hence the Arab name of Wadi Keziv, Wadi Qurain. Astride the
spur, the Crusader castle of Monfort raises its donjon high and gazes
towards the distant Mediterranean Sea.

This place holds many memories. The 12th century Zionists, Teutonic knights
of St Mary, fortified the castle on the spur and called it Starkenberg, the
Mount of Strength. The name and the remote location didn't help: they were
defeated by Salah ad-Din, the Arab paragon of valour and compassion, who
allowed them to depart with their weapons and honour for Eastern Europe.

The stony path leading to the spring was the meeting ground of the
enchanting characters of Arabesques, an exquisite novel by the Palestinian
writer Anton Shammas. Shammas, a native of nearby Fassuta, is probably the
only non-Jew in the world who writes his books and poems in Israeli Hebrew.

Farther west, the brook of Keziv flows into the sea at the ruins of az-Ziv,
the Christian village destroyed by Jews in 1948. In this village, in the
long-gone 1920s, a local Palestinian girl was visited by another local
Palestinian woman, the Virgin. In other words, it is a typical place in the
unusual land of Palestine.

These days, you can roam the canyon all by yourself. It is as empty of
people as the rest of countryside. The land of Palestine is in trouble, the
deepest trouble since the black nights of 1948. People do not venture down
here anymore, leaving the canyon to its lean and wiry boar. Walking
downstream, I spotted a few of these gracious animals, so different from
their domesticated cousins. It was only outside the gorge, on the plain of
Acre, that I came across a human presence. There were a few Thai or Chinese
peasants working the fields of a local kibbutz. A middle-aged kibbutznik sat
in the shadow overseeing their work. I joined him for a smoke and a drink of
cold water.

He was the epitome of a good Israeli, large, sunburned, with a friendly
smile, bushy mustachio and brisk talk. Fifty years ago, he, or rather his
predecessor, a fighter of the Jewish Storm Troopers, the Palmach, would
seize the lands of az-Ziv and expel its peasants to Lebanon. Thirty years
ago, he would work the stolen land with his own hands. Now, he oversees the
Thais working this land. Very soon, he told me, he will go to New York, to
visit his son, a web designer. While he is away, some Russians from Maalot
town will be hired to oversee the Asian workers for the kibbutz. Not many
Jews are interested in working the land, or even in overseeing Thais working
it, he said. The kibbutz hopes to get a building permit, build housing and
sell the real estate. It is a valuable site, near Naharia and Acre, and it
will fetch a premium price, despite the crisis, he said.

I shook hands and bid farewell to him, to the sweaty Thais, to the green
fields, to the mountains of Lebanon to the north which conceal the refugee
camps where the original inhabitants of as-Ziv dwell, and to the Galilee
mountains to the east which hold the Russian town of Maalot, where I woke up
this morning.

Maalot is a brand new town for brand new citizens, brought to Israel after
the collapse of the Soviet Union from Kharkov and Minsk, Riga and Bukhara.
There are not many young people, but plenty of babushkas, elderly Russian
ladies. I asked for the City Hall in Hebrew, but I could speak Chinese with
the same effect. Maalot speaks Russian, reads Russian newspapers, watches
Russian TV and eats Russian pork sausage with Russian beer. What made these
ordinary Russians see the light out of Zion?

In Russia, as in the US, there are probably at least some 20 million people
entitled to become Israeli citizens. One does not have to be Jewish. It is
enough if your daughter from a first marriage was married to an adopted
grandchild of a Jew: you can go to Israel with your new family. Ex-USSR
republics are in dire straits, workers get no salary for months, many
families send away their old folk to Israel, where they get a few thousand
dollars upon arrival, a small pension and public housing, if they are lucky.

Majority of arrivals had no exposure to Judaism or Jewish culture in Russia
and have no interest in it, either. Their Israeli ID cards bear inscription
'ethnic origin and religion uncertain'. They are not considered 'real Jews'
and their dead are buried beyond the fence, on a special plot for those of
'dubious origin'. After the dreadful explosion in Dolfi discoth?que it
created a visible problem: the religious undertakers refused to bury the
dead Russian girls in a Jewish cemetery, while Israeli government bombed
Palestinians in order to 'defend the Jews'.

In the blessed air of the Holy Land, many of them look for spiritual and
religious revival. Judaism attracts but a few, while others turn to the
Church for comfort. It is a risky enterprise: by Israeli laws they can be
deported for their belief in Christ. They gather and pray away from prying
eyes, but on holidays they throng the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and
Nativity of Bethlehem, St George of Lydda and St Peter of Jaffa.

In 1991, when Russia's future was exceedingly obscure, Israel received a lot
of young blood from there. Israel supporters in the US media carried out a
two-pronged campaign: they warned of forthcoming pogroms, and they promoted
the idea of a beautiful easy life for immigrants in the US. Whole issues of
Newsweek and Time concentrated on the neo-Nazi Pamyat group and rampant
anti-Semitism. At that time, I reported for the Haaretz from Moscow, and
interviewed Pamyat leaders for the paper. I found this sinister organisation
to number about as many members as the Flat Earth Society. Still, Russian
Jews would come to our countryside house to ask for protection in case of a
pogrom. I tried to calm them down, but I could not fight the mighty media
machine alone. Ten years later, I met a Russian Jewish lady writer in
Jerusalem who told me that she had initiated the rumours of pogroms.

"You Israelis should erect a monument to me," she said.

"Certainly", said I, "Any particular reason?"

"I brought you a million Russians: I announced on Moscow Echo Radio that
there will be a pogrom."

I hadn't the heart to disabuse her: her announcements would have had no
effect if Israel's American friends hadn't amplified them. Anyway, the
frightened and seduced Russians rushed for visas to the American embassy,
and at that moment Israel requested the US should stop granting visas for
the Russians. The US gates have been closed, and all this mass of people on
the move was forced to go to Israel.

They had a hard time, as Israeli elites applied to them a unique Israeli
method of what might be called "de-development," previously tried on
Oriental Jews and Palestinians. The Israeli media described them as a bunch
of criminals and prostitutes; they were required to sign contracts and
promises in Hebrew they did not understand; their specialists swept streets
or picked oranges. Their rate of divorce skyrocketed; their children were
pushed into drugs. In 1991, Israel ceased to employ the Palestinians from
the occupied territories, and yesterday's elite of the Soviet Union was
supposed to replace them doing low paid menial jobs. But sheer mass allowed
the Russians to create their own state-within-state, complete with their own
media, shops, mutual assistance. The Russians survived, and figured out the
game. Clever ones went back to Moscow, adventurous left for the US, peaceful
ones departed for Canada. Since then, Israel gets mainly old folks, single
mothers, and the desperately unemployed.

The Russians are a nice, hard-working but confused community. They hardly
understand where they landed, and incessantly try to compare their situation
with that of Baku or Tashkent. Perusal of Russian newspapers shows people at
a loss. One writer demands that Palestinians be castrated in order to solve
the demographic crisis. Another blames everything on religious Jews,
describing them as "blood-sucking parasites." Yet the third accuses the
Oriental Jews of failing to live up to his expectations. They are being
taught a brief version of the modern Jewish faith and its one commandment:
"Thou shall hate Arabs."

Now Prime Minister Ariel Sharon intends to import another million "Russian
Jews." It is possible: if the American Jewish friends of Israel will put a
harder squeeze on Ukraine, ten million Ukrainians may suddenly recover their
"Jewish roots."

There are dozens of townships like Maalot, apparently produced by cloning:
why else would they be so similar, nay, identical? It is built in a
beautiful place, a short walk to the Wadi Keziv, but townspeople never heard
of it. Even their children, after ten years in Maalot, do not venture into
the surrounding countryside. They spend their time around a pub in the
centre of Maalot, dreaming of much better pubs in Haifa.

* * *

But that was yesterday. I hitched a ride to Nahariya, and from there, I took
a train homewards to Jaffa. The train carried a few Africans, probably
illegal immigrants judging by their shy demeanour. A Romanian building team
was gulping beer and burping loudly. They were imported from their
impoverished East European land to build the houses for elderly Russian
immigrants. Just like in California, the Israeli Jews do not want to be
employed in construction.

A Jewish Israeli lawyer in black yarmulke leafed through papers in his
semi-opened briefcase. A group of Moroccans discussed the closure of the
Acre steel plant and their slim chances of finding other work. The crisis is
deepening, one of them said. It is as bad as in 1966. An Israeli soldier,
blond and armed, talked Ukrainian with its fricative h's to his corpulent
girlfriend. He extolled his own heroic fight against multitudes of Arab
terrorists under her admiring eyes.

I remembered myself in his age, a young paratrooper, pleased with my red
boots and Uzi sub-machinegun. I was training not far away from the places we
passed by, in a remote hollow of Marj Sannur, embraced by mountains from all
sides. It was early spring, when the highlands of Palestine are as beautiful
as anyplace in the Mediterranean. Sometimes I recognize their lovely
features in the bare hills around Les Baux de Provence, or in the
olive-studded descent from Delphi to the sea, as one imagines seeing one's
beloved in a crowd of strangers. A snow-white thick fog covers Sannur valley
in the early morning, turning every day into White Christmas. As the fog
lifts, green grass glitters under the blossoming almond trees on the rise.
Chilly February winds blow their pinkish petals away and they fly about like
snowflakes and cover the stony ground.

Across the wire fence of the army camp, I saw a peasant ploughing around his
olive trees. He could be my father, a broad-shouldered strong, suntanned man
in white headgear. I lowered my gun and greeted him; he replied with a
greeting and put down his tools. We sat on different sides of the fence, I
took out cigarettes and he gingerly took one with his calloused hand. We
spoke of olive oil and of thyme, the main local products, of the holy tomb
of Sheikh Ali on the hilltop, of a spring of water in the valley. On my day
off I changed into civilian clothes and went to his village. I was invited
for a cup of strong Arab coffee with a cardamom seed floating in it.
Neighbours came to greet the stranger, and we carried on interminable
Eastern conversation, asking in turns whether one is pleased with one's
life, children, and work. Apparently they were pleased with their hard but
satisfying peasant life. For them, Israelis were just another set of
foreigners, coming after Jordanians, British, Turks, Crusaders, Romans. They
harboured no hate, just an ordinary slight curiosity about a stranger. My
host's wife brought greenish olive oil, punchy thyme and freshly baked
village bread, a common Palestinian meal.

We walked to the nearby well. Lukewarm pure water poured out of the opening
in elaborate centuries-old masonry bearing an Arabic dedication. Beyond the
masonry, a 100 yard tunnel, work of his ancestors, was cut into the face of
the cliff. Palestinian springs need permanent attention; they easily silt up
unless their water course is cleaned regularly. It was the job of his son
Elias to take care of the spring, but he was in an Israeli jail, he said
matter-of-factly. Elias brought home a Communist newspaper, somebody
informed the authorities, and they offered him a choice, to go abroad or to
face jail. Palestinians can be detained without a trial; it is called
'administrative detention'. Formally, it is limited to six months, but it
can be extended as often as the military want. Elias preferred jail in his
homeland to exile.

Envy is an ill feeling, but I envied him, this Elias from Sannur. I envied
his place in this serene landscape, and his devotion to it. Why wasn't I
born in this house near the cool spring, beside the vineyard, on this
goat-trodden slope, why had I found myself locked up in the urban ghetto
"for Jews only"? I am entitled to live in a similar village in Greece or
Provence, but not in Palestine. It is not because of Palestinian lack of
hospitality. They would not mind me buying or renting a place in the
village. But the Jewish state would not allow me, or any 'Jew' to live in a
Palestinian village. A Jew may reside only in a segregated settlement "for
Jews," where a Palestinian can come only as a menial worker. Outside, a Jew
must go armed. A tourist from abroad can walk Palestinian areas freely, but
the Jewish state jails an Israeli Jew who goes there, unless he is
participating in some armed intrusion.

History came round. By locking Palestinians out, we locked ourselves in. The
very idea of Jewish emancipation was to get out of the ghetto, and now we
have forced ourselves back into the ghetto. We really did not deserve it. We
Israelis are less 'Jewish' than anybody you know. Quite a few people
demanded that we be described as 'Israelis' or 'Hebrews' in the identity
cards we have to carry at all times. But the High Court forbade it: we have
to have "Nationality: Jew" written in our documents.

Our fate was forced upon us as it was upon the Young Frankenstein of Mel
Brooks. In this horror spoof, Dr Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), an
American professor, descendent of the Monster's creator, inherits his
ancestral castle in werewolf-bountiful Transylvania. He is a rational modern
American, but the locals expect him to continue the unpleasant traditions of
infamous Frankensteins. He tries to fight his fate, insists to be called
American way, 'Fronk-en-steen', but the loyal family servants stubbornly
stick to 'Frank-en-schtain'.

Unwittingly, the brilliant Jewish film-maker created the fable of the Jewish
state reborn. The founders wanted to begin their lives anew, to become
"Israelis," another of the tribes of Palestine. They dropped Jewish names,
dropped the Jewish language, dropped the synagogue and Talmud, and learned
to work the land and to use the gun. They were joined by many people who
never knew their way to a synagogue in the first place. But the Jewish fate
descended upon them all and returned them to the ghetto.

The train rolled through Nathania, and I thought of the hundreds of
thousands, maybe millions of Americans, Jews and Christian Zionists, who
lobby, pray, support and pay - no, not for the Jewish state built on the
ruins of Palestine, as they imagine. That would be bad enough. But the
reality is worse. I thought of the millions of Palestinians, rotting in
refugee camps and jails, dispossessed, expelled, - victims not of Jewish
greed for land, as they imagine, but of something worse - of a ghost.

The Jewish state is a virtual state that is quickly losing all remaining
connection to reality. This ghost of a state kills people and collects money
in America; it continues some nefarious existence, like the legal term,
'estate of the deceased'. Its fields are worked by imported guest workers,
guarded by imported Russians and Ethiopians, explained by Israeli professors
who are forever off lecturing in American universities and by brave generals
on the lookout for a big kickback from American weapon-makers. Unemployment
grows daily, vital services are on strike; the tourist industry has
collapsed months ago. Hotels are boarded up and other branches of the
national economy are close to collapse. Israelis buy flats in Florida and
Prague, while houses in Israel go begging for buyers. Sharon's desire to
punish the Palestinians has the sting of punishing one's own left hand.
Palestinians and Israelis are intertwined and integrated, and this
separation kills the economy of both.

>From far away America, Israel looks like a giant nuclear state, the great
ally of the United States, a Jewish state that is a source of pride for
American Jews. A visitor leaves our shores with a strong feeling of our
identity and prosperity. Only we, permanent residents, know that it is a
cardboard sham. Israel is collapsing, as its active citizens emigrate in
despair, while generals complete the destruction of the country. A cruel
fate befalls the native Palestinians: a ghost kills them, a spiritless body
walking the corridors of the Congress and the deserts of the Middle East in
Zombie-like trance.

For the sake of this spectre, important American Jews squeeze pennies from
their employees and countrymen, cut down on pensions to the old and
assistance for children, reduce the health and education budget, dry up help
to Africa and Latin America, build improbable coalitions with notorious
racists of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell's kind, demand destruction of
Iraq, bless the bombing of Afghani refugees, keep Afro-Americans in their
ghettos, undermine their host society, make enemies for themselves and for
America. These deeds would be vile enough even if they would accomplish
something of value to someone, but they are worse because they are useless.

The Zionist experiment has practically collapsed. It can run for many years
to come on life-support, as a brain-dead vegetable. It can kill some people;
maybe even start the next world war. But it cannot become alive.

The Jewish state of Israel is a state of mind, a projection of the American
Jewish mind. The worries and problems it articulates are American Jewish
problems. For Israeli 'Jews', there is no need for segregation, war, or
subjugation of natives. We eat no bagels with lox, speak no Yiddish, read no
Saul Bellow or Sholom Aleichem, and avoid synagogues. We prefer Arab food
and Greek music. My neighbourhood has seven pork butchers to a kosher one.
Forty per cent of Tel Aviv weddings are performed outside of the Jewish
framework: young Israelis prefer to go to Cyprus to get married, just to
avoid contact with Rabbis. Tel Aviv is the gay capital of the Middle East,
though according to Jewish law, gays should be exterminated. Sometimes I
wish that our great supporters, American Jews, would give us a stern and
sober look and walk away in disgust. It is just a case of mistaken identity.
We are not what they think we are. We need their protection against the
Gentiles as much as fish needs a pair of waterproof boots.

* * * *

I reach my home in Jaffa the Maritime, a dilapidated town of crumbling pink
mansions built by Arab nobles and traders. My neighbours are out: the imam
went to his small mosque, the Moroccan family next door are busy fixing old
cars in their garage, the Armenian guide took his guests to Jerusalem;
another neighbour, a Russian painter, comes to borrow a lump of sugar. We
live together, one of the few desegregated communities, in a small sliver of
the land between the road and the sea, a remainder of Jaffa of old.

Salinger's Esme would love this place of squalor. Bulldozers of the Jewish
state have torn down every second house, and give the town its jagged look.
They have also dumped building waste on the seashore, in preparation of big
real estate development. They intended to build another Maalot here, but the
intifada tension upset the plans for "Judaising" Jaffa. It has remained
semi-ruined and unkempt since local people are not permitted to repair their

Still, it is a good place, reminiscent of Durrell's Alexandria Quartet. The
big Cadillacs of drug dealers cruise its unpaved streets; kids in long
galabie dresses play at the corner; the bells of St Anthony Catholic church
blend with those of St George Orthodox church and with the call of muezzin
from nearby Ajami mosque; fishermen carry their catch to the seashore
restaurants for the diners from Tel Aviv; Palestinian women crack seeds and
chat outside their homes; the smell of fresh falafel comes from market
stalls; ten stray cats stare down a king-size rat; the French ambassador
returns to his residence; a film crew shoots a Beirut scene.

Jaffa was once called the Bride of the East, and it competed with its
neighbours, Beirut and Alexandria. It was a big city with one hundred
thousand inhabitants, the first cinema in the Levant, and the headquarters
of European companies, surrounded by fragrant orange groves. Americans and
Germans built their red-roofed houses next to it, while in 1909, the East
European Zionist Jews established Tel Aviv further to the north.

On the evil day in November 1947, the UN, under heavy pressure from the
United States government, decided to divide the land we shared. It was not
necessary, not even asked for. The religious Jews were against it;
enlightened Jews from Germany, such as Buber and Magnus, were against it.
Palestinians were against it. We could live together as brothers, and
eventually create a new nation, uniting Jewish fervour and Palestinian love
of the land. But American Jewish organisations supported Ben Gurion and
Golda Meyer, advocates of partition. Expectedly, it did not work out well.

Three fifths (55,6%) of Palestine were given to the Jewish rule, two fifths
were supposed to remain Palestinian. Even in the new Jewish state, the
native Palestinians were a majority. Jaffa was supposed to remain
Palestinian. It was a rough deal for Palestinians, but the new Israeli
leaders thought it not rough enough. They besieged and shelled Jaffa, until
its population shrunk to five thousand out of pre-war population of one
hundred thousand. The rest escaped to Gaza and Lebanon, to the refugee camps
where they live until this very day.

The mansions and palaces of Jaffa were repopulated by Arab refugees from the
destroyed villages in the hinterland and by Bulgarians, a nice Balkan folk,
imported to fill the vacuum. A small part of the city was gentrified and
became the Old Jaffa, a neat and exclusive museum piece, the preferred abode
of kitsch painters and antique dealers. Our Jaffa remained a lingering
memory of One Palestine, Complete, the Paradise Lost. It attracted a few
artists, who moved into the ruined mansions, living next to the local
Palestinians, sharing their hopes and sorrows.

Before the intifada, a refugee from a Gaza camp would come to visit his lost
home. It was a horrible situation, for present dwellers and for the true
owners, since the owners are not allowed back. My neighbour, a nice
Bulgarian lady made a noble attempt to return her house to the expelled
Palestinian family, but the government did not permit it. It is hard to
repay a loan, people say: you take somebody else's money, but return your
own cash. You borrow for a while, but return for good. It is even harder to
return stolen goods. Still, sooner or later it has to be done. There was a
good chance to solve the problem in 1967, when Palestine was reunited.

Many good people see the Six Day War as the "mother of all the troubles."
Without it, Jews and Palestinians would have been able to live separately,
they say. But separate states would not bring the refugees back from Gaza
into their homes in Jaffa, and I think it would be wonderful to see their
return happening. Besides, I think it is better for us to live together - we
are rather complimentary types and personally manage together very well.
That is why I do not mind the 1967 conquest per se (as opposed to the
occupation military regime). We could return the refugees, settle old
quarrels and live together in equality, children of Palestine and newcomers.
We would not be an exclusive Jewish state, but we would be happy and content

There was an illusion of a choice, to be a Jewish state, or a democratic
state. We chose none, as we disenfranchised natives and disdained democracy,
while our Jewishness is, at best, a virtual idea. If American Jews did not
bribe Israelis on a large scale, we would just forget about the Diaspora and
dissolve into the hospitable Middle East as another of its tribes. If they
continue to bankroll us, we shall oblige them with a small show of

We are master-sellers of illusion, and as long as there are buyers, we shall
provide the goods. In 1946, a group of dedicated men from all over the world
came to Palestine under the aegis of the UN. They were sent to prepare the
ground for partition of the land. Among other places, they visited the
southernmost kibbutz, Revivim in the arid Negev. There, they came across a
wonderful flowerbed with roses, anemones, and violets in front of the
kibbutz office. In their report, the members of the delegation expressed
their amazement and stated, 'Jews make the desert bloom, let them have the

As they left, the kibbutz youngsters went out and pulled the withering
flowers out of the sand. They had just bought the flowers same morning on
the Jaffa market and had planted them as props for the duration of the
visit. They learned the trick from Tel Aviv municipal employees, who stuck
trees in the sand next to their Mayor's house to make a favourable
impression on Winston Churchill. This small show had transferred Negev with
its two hundred thousand Palestinians to the Jewish state. Most of the
natives were expelled across the newly drawn border, to the camps of Gaza or
Jordan. It was cruel and useless: even now, fifty years later, the Negev
south of Beersheba has a smaller population than in 1948.

In Palestinians' stead, the Mossad persuaded the Jewish communities of North
Africa to leave their homeland for Israel. The North African Jews are fine
but broken people. They were worried of their future, as the French planned
to leave Africa. Only the strongest personalities made the right choice and
remained with their people: Moroccans, Tunisians, Algerians, Libyans. They
had no reason to regret it: now they are ministers and advisers to the
kings. Others, seduced by the great charm of French civilisation, rejected
the phantom of the Jewish state, and moved to France. They gave to the world
Jacques Derrida and Albert Memmi.

Those who moved to Israel supply 75% of its jail population. Their income is
a fraction of that of European Jews. Their scientists and writers have
little chance to get tenure in Israeli universities. Their self-esteem is
exceedingly low. It is not shame to be a Moroccan, the Israelis say, and
quickly add, it is not a great honour either.

The North Africans were brought in, sprayed with DDT lice-killer and placed
into refugee camps that soon became the towns of Netivot, Dimona, Yerucham.
They are still there, in the stark desert outpost towns full of unemployment
and misery, drawing social benefits and nursing a deep dislike for the
Ashkenazi Jews who lounge in Tel Aviv's cafes. Some Oriental Jews came to
the conclusion that the Holocaust was a fit punishment for the hated
AshkeNazi, as they spell it. Israel is probably the only place on earth
where you are liable to hear, "it's a pity you didn't burn in Auschwitz."
Even the great Sephardic luminary Rabbi Obadiah Joseph recently explained
the Holocaust in terms of the European Jews' sins.

A somewhat confusing slogan, "AshkeNazis to Auschwitz," adorned my Russian
friend's Jerusalem house for quite a while. He complained to police, but
received no response. The lowest positions in the police are taken mainly by
Oriental Jews, and they have no time for Russians' complaints. They were in
the position of the Russians, but they were de-developed even more

Whenever an Oriental Jew moves upward, the system arranges his downfall.
Popular Oriental politicians who could possibly threaten the Ashkenazi elite
dominance find themselves in jail. Arye Der'i, a brilliant Moroccan
minister, who brought his party from none to 17 seats in the 120-strong
parliament, is still in jail after a ten-year-long police surveillance
produced some doubtful charges. His predecessor Aharon Abu Hatzera, son of a
Moroccan Jewish sainted Rabbi and a minister, was sent to jail for financial
irregularities, quite ordinary for our Middle Eastern country. Powerful
Iraqi publisher Ofer Nimrodi spent over a year in prison before his trial
and was quickly released afterwards, as the charges against him collapsed.
Yitzhak Mordecai, a Kurdish Minister of Defence with an eye on the Prime
Minister's post, was set up as a sexual abuser. The Moroccan Professor and
Minister Shlomo Ben Ami was made a fall guy for Sharon's infamous Progress
to Temple Mount.

While the Oriental Jews are unhappy, the kibbutz did not manage too well
either. Ari Shavit of Haaretz published some beautiful reportage on Negba,
the famous and well established kibbutz in the Negev. It has been a long
time since they were able to celebrate the birth of a child. Kibbutzim Negba
and Ruhama became an old folks home, while their youth moved away to Los

Thus the conjuring tricks of Revivim, the conquest of Negev, the expulsion
of Palestinians and the destruction of the Moroccan Jewish community
succeeded separately, but ultimately failed altogether. It could be
expected: evil and immoral deeds cannot bear good fruit. Zionist leaders
dreamed of making Palestine as Jewish as England is English. They failed.
Palestine is Jewish as Jamaica is English.

We children of Jews have a great luxury of choice. An Italian is an Italian;
that is his language, his culture, his faith, his tradition, his art, and
his landscapes. He can not be separated from Dante and Giotto, from Tuscany
villages and Madonna, from pasta and Venice. Being a Jew is a matter of
choice. An Italian Jew can become an Italian. An American Jew can be just an
American. Not many descendants of Jews stick to our old religion; even fewer
numbers speak Hebrew or other Jewish languages. The majority have parted
with traditional Jewish ways of making living.

The individual choice remains in the hands of each individual. A rich and
powerful American of Jewish origin may feel about his Jewishness as he feels
about any other hobby. Maybe he collects stamps, or plays golf, but probably
he would not create a Philatelist State on ruins of Monaco (this
Principality prints beautiful stamps), or endow his golf club with the
newest F-16. If American Jews would forget about us for ten years, we would
sort out our problems and reach a new normal equilibrium in Palestine. If
they have too much money and desire to influence, let them spend it on
improving the lot of their Afro-American neighbours.

They actually did it before the advent of Zionism. An Israeli writer and
historian Tom Segev tells of a Chicago businessman Julius Rosenwald, the
owner of Sears, Roebuck and Co., who supported schooling for Afro-Americans
in 1920s to the tune of $2 million a year. (A Zionist emissary complained,
"It's hard for us to accept the idea that one of ours gives his money to
backward niggers".) This tradition could be regained. It is said, charity
begins at home, and their home is America.

The land of Palestine is being ruined now, in front of our very eyes. Its
beautiful old villages are bombed to oblivion; churches are emptied of their
flocks; olive trees are uprooted. Such ruin has not befallen the land since
the Assyrian invasion 2700 years ago. Nothing can comfort us in the face of
this great destruction, and certainly the people responsible for it -
whether Israeli killers or their American supporters - will be damned

Still, a wry irony of history will remain as a footnote in the books: the
Jewish leadership committed these crimes in vain, and failed to achieve its
purpose. Even if the last Palestinian were to be crucified on the hill of
Golgotha, even that would not breathe life into the virtual Jewish state of

Israel Shamir is an Israeli journalist based in Jaffa. His articles can be
found on the site www.israelshamir.net In order to subscribe to this list or
to be removed from it, please write to info@israelshamir.net No copyright
for electronic transmission, but ask for permission in order to publish as
hard copy.

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