Acid Test Failed
Among the colourful revellers of Allenby street, in crowded restaurants of merry-making Tel Aviv nights, a vision came to me, a vision of an angel in battle-dress, chalking up on a wall three words, Mene, Tekel ufarsin. My Angel-English on-line dictionary prompts a translation: you were tested and you failed the test.
These are the darkest days for the people of Israel. They are dark, as the lamentations and protests of us and our fathers turned out to be as genuine as a three-dollar bill. In 1968, a young Jewish Russian kid, I wrote on the walls of my native Russian city, 'Hands off Czechoslovakia'. The beautiful deep voice of a Jewish Russian poet Alexander Galitch intoned: Citizens, our motherland is in danger, our tanks are on foreign soil! Some Russian Jews demonstrated on the Red Square against the invasion, and were beaten up by the police. We protested against the presence of the Russian tanks in Budapest, Prague and Kabul as Russian citizens who value honour above the ill-understood loyalty, humankind above blood ties. In the same time, Jewish American kids demonstrated against their country's intervention in Vietnam, while Jewish boys and girls in Europe fought against racism. Years passed by, and now our Jewish tanks are on the foreign soil.
Our Jewish army murders civilians, demolishes houses, starves millions and imposes the siege on the Palestinian villages. Our crimes exceeded the Russian crimes committed in Chechnya and Afghanistan, the American crimes in Vietnam and Serb crimes in Bosnia. Surely, the Israeli intellectuals demonstrate en masse on our equivalent of Pennsylvania Avenue or Trafalgar Square, American Jews raise their voice against the America-armed killers of Palestinians, Russian Jews speak up for the human rights of the enslaved Gentiles of the Holy Land? No fear, our literati exalt the courage of our Jewish soldiers, venerate the steady hand of our Jewish snipers and glorify the immense humanity of the Jewish folk, who could pulverise all the Gentiles of Palestine, but kindly limit ourselves to a few hundred wounded and maimed a day.
My grandfather in the Pale of Settlement complained against the restrictions of the free movement of Jews in the Russian Empire, while in our generation Anatoli Sharansky became a symbol of struggle for human rights. In our own country, the Gentiles are fenced into reservations and concentration camps that the Pale pales in comparison with. A Palestinian cannot go to the next village without the Jewish ausweis, he is forever checked by our Checkists. He can only dream of the sea, washing the shores of his ancestral home - we do not let Palestinians to pollute the Jewish purity of our beaches.
For years, the Jews protested the discrimination in employment and education. In our own state we created the system of total national discrimination. In our state-owned Electric company, out of 13000 employees there are six Gentiles. 0,0004%. Gentiles form forty percent of the population between the Jordan River and the sea, but only one out of four has the right to vote. There are no Gentiles in the Supreme court, in the government, in Air Force, in the secret services. There is not even one Gentile on the board of the main Israeli Liberal newspaper, Haaretz.
That is why all complaints of Jews in the Diaspora deserve to be re-written in the light of the events. We did not fought for the human rights, but for the rights of Jews. We were for the freedom of movement and freedom of choice - for Jews only. We spoke of the universal suffrage, but we meant the right of vote for Jews only. We do not mind occupation and invasion, as long as we invade and occupy. The sight of a child raising hands in front of the machine gun toting thug grieves us only if it is a Jewish child. The Gentile child can be shot at freely.
When Bialik wrote "Devil did not invent a fit punishment for the murder of a child", he actually meant 'a Jewish child'. When he was horrified by the scenes of pogrom, he was horrified that the violence is directed against Jews. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with pogrom per se. The Jews of Upper Nazareth committed a pogrom of Gentiles in Nazareth, but no pogromchik was tried. Police helped them by murdering few of pogrom victims. Still worse were the pogroms of Ramallah and Beth Jallah, committed with the helicopter gunships and tanks.
Tsarist Russia, 'the land of pogroms', was much hated by our grandfathers, and eventually destroyed by them. Still, hundred years of Jewish pogroms caused fewer casualties than we murder in a week. The most horrible pogrom of Kishinev claimed 45 dead and 600 wounded. Last weeks in Israel, 300 were killed and many thousands wounded. After the pogrom in Tsarist Russia, all writers and intelligentsia condemned the perpetrators. In the Jewish state, hardly few dozens gathered on the demonstration in Tel Aviv, while the Hebrew Writers Union supported the pogrom of Gentiles.
In 1991, the majority of the Russian Jews took the stand against communism and for the private ownership. They actually had in mind Jewish private property, as we confiscate the Gentile property with greatest ease. Go through the best areas of Jerusalem, Talbieh, Old Katamon, Greek and German Colonies, and see the marvellous palaces. They belonged to Gentiles, - Germans, Armenians, Greeks, British, Russians, Palestinians - Christian and Moslem. All of them were confiscated and given to Jews. During last weeks, hundreds of acres of Gentile property were confiscated, and hundreds of Gentile houses seized or demolished.
Just before his arrest, the richest Russian Jewish media-lord Gusinsky came to Israel and expressed his unlimited support. At the same time he asked the world to help him in his fight with the Russian authorities who try to save the TV from his clutches. His support of Israel proves that Mr. Gusinsky approves confiscations on the ethnic base. He is just against the confiscations of the Jewish property. He is against Jews being arrested - the Gentiles may rot in prisons forever, as it happens in the Jewish state.
In no time at all we succeeded to undermine the long-term achievements of Jews in the struggle for democracy, human rights and equality. What we did not like about the German Nazis? Their racism? Our racism is not less wide-spread and poisonous. The Russian language newspaper Direct Speech published in Jerusalem asked hundreds of Russian Jews about their feelings towards the Palestinians. Typical answers were: "I would kill all Arabs", "All Arabs must be eliminated", "Arabs must be expelled", "An Arab is an Arab. They have to be eliminated". I am not sure you would get better results in Germany in 1938. Even Nazis did not intend to kill their Jewish enemies until 1941.
Let us put it straight, we were against racism as long as it was somebody else's racism. We were against death squads and Sonderkommando as long as they acted against us. Our own killers, our Jewish Sonderkommando is the object of our tender admiration. The Jewish state is the only place in the world possessing legitimate killer squads, embracing the policy of assassinations, practicing torture on the medieval scale. Do not worry, dear Jewish readers, we torture and assassinate Gentiles only.
We were against ghetto while we were pushed into a ghetto. Now the most liberal Jewish plan calls for creation of a few Gentile ghetto fenced by barbed wire, surrounded by Jewish tanks and Jewish-owned factories at the fence, where the Arbeit will macht the Gentiles frei. We shall give the ghetto full independence previously removing all sources of income and sustenance.
Israelis are brainwashed from kindergarten, they are taught they belong to the Chosen People, who are Uber Alles. They were indoctrinated in belief that the Gentiles are not fully, human, and t,herefore they, can be killed and expropriated at will. After all, Israel fulfilled one UN resolution, the one that called Zionism a form of racism. What is upsetting that the internationalist upbringing in the Soviet Union could not withstand the poison of Zionist propaganda of Jewish superiority. I do regret the moral collapse of my own Russian community in the Holy Land.
Now, as the angel wrote his fiery words, as prophets called the people to repent, we have the choice. We can choose the way of Nineveh, to repent, to return the stolen property, to give full equality to Gentiles, to stop discrimination and murder, and hope to be forgiven by God, if not for our sake, then for the sake of our cats and dogs. We can persist in our evil ways as the people of Sodom and wait for the flood of fire and burning sulphur from the angry heavens of Palestine.
The author, Israel Shamir, is one of best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writers and journalists. He wrote for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Tel Aviv and writes a weekly column in the Vesti, the biggest Russian-language paper in Israel.