Thursday, March 23, 2006

Israel election: Vote X for Murder?

URI AVNERY (left, in Gush Shalom tee shirt)

AN extreme Right Israeli election candidate has warned left-wing peace campaigners that they "are bringing destruction on themselves", and called for the murder of veteran peace activist and journalist Uri Avnery.

National Jewish Front leader Baruch Marzel says left-wingers and peaceniks are as harmful as external enemies. Speaking at meetings in Jerusalem and Ramle on Monday, Marzel denounced the leaders of the Kadima party formed by Ariel Sharon as "traitors" and "criminals" . But he especially called on the army, the Israel Defence Forces, to assassinate the leader of the Gush Shalom movement, Uri Avnery.

Although reporters dismiss Marzel's speech as "the raving of a fascist", and say his miniscule National Jewish Front is unlikely to get more than one Knesset seat, Gush Shalom are taking the murder call seriously. They know that the Israeli Right has been ready to kill before, and whatever the supposed injunctions against shedding "Jewish Blood", it barely discriminates between Arabs and Jewish opponents in this respect.

In February 1983 rightists threw a hand-grenade into a peace march, killing Emil Greenzweig and injuring Avraham Burg, son of a government minister. The marchers had been demanding the removal of then Defence Minister Ariel Sharon over his part in the Sabra and Chatila massacres.
On November 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a rightist opposed to the Oslo Agreements and any recognition of the Palestinians.

Uri Avneri knows how the Zionist Right thinks and acts, having spent his youth in the Irgun Zvei Leumi. A veteran of Israel's 1948 war, he became a campaigning journalist and convinced that Israel must find its place in a rising Arab world and make peace with the Palestinians, held a knesset seat for some years. He was one of the first Israelis to defy a law against contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, and was at Arafat's funeral. In more recent years, working with Gush Shalom, he has become internationally known for his trenchant articles and determination to remain active. On his 80th birthday he was with the anti-Wall demonstrators dodging tear gas and rubber bullets at Bil'in.

What has upset hard-rightwingers like Marzel is Avnery's comment on Israel's seizure of Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Ahmed Sa'adat in the Jericho prison raid. Recalling that the 2001 assassination of General Rehava'am Ze-evi, which Sa'adat was accused of planning, was in reprisal for the killing of a PFLP leader; Avnery also reminded people that Ze'evi was an extremist who called for ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians. Avnery commented that the PFLP had not gone for indiscriminate terror against civilians, that the.assasination of Ze'evi was a "targeted killing" - the term the IDF uses for the assassination of Palestinian leaders.

Marzel said the IDF needs to target Avnery. Marzel also said, "Traitors sit in Kadima. They betrayed their own principles, Judaism and Zionism."
On Monday evening, Peace Now called on Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to examine Marzel's statements for suspected illegal incitement.
"Marzel forgot that he receives immunity only if and when he is voted into the Knesset - not before. Marzel is doing everything he can to make headlines and to shock people," Peace Now said.

In addition to attacking his political opponents, Marzel also launched an offensive against Israel's legal system and system of rule, claiming.
"Israel is ruled by the junta", and that "if polling stations were placed in the Supreme Court, it is reasonable to assume that a coalition of MK Ahmed Tibi and Meretz would win." (An Arab Knesset member and a left-zionist party).

Incidentally, it says something about the way Israeli politics is skewed that the Ha'aretz journalist who reported Marzel's rant referred to Uri Avnery, whose outlook has generally been liberal, as "far Left". As Einstein might say, it's all relative.

GUSH SHALOM has issued the following statement:


At an election meeting, the leader of the "Jewish National Front" list, Baruch Marzel, called upon the Israeli army to kill Uri Avnery - this was reported by the right-wing Haaretz reporter, Nadav Shragai on March 21. The story was also published in Maariv, and the day before in all the important on-line papers.

Clearly, the Israeli army was mentioned only in order to disguise the incitement to murder - a criminal offence - as a proposal to the military.

The call came after the official radio, Kol Israel, broadcast remarks made by Avnery to a reporter during a demonstration against the Israeli army attack on the Jericho prison. The declared aim of this action was to capture the leader of the Palestinian Popular Front, who allegedly ordered the killing of the Israeli minister, Rehav'am Ze'evi, after the killing of the former leader of the Popular Front. Answering a question, Avnery said that the killing of Ze'evi was a Palestinian 'targeted killing", much like the killing of Palestinian political leaders by the Israeli army. The radio did not quote his next words: "I am against all assassinations, both by Israelis and Palestinians."

On the day of publication, one of the most popular Israeli TV programs, "Five in the Evening", asked him to take part in a joint interview with Marzel. Avnery refused, of course. But "Channel 10" interviewed Marzel at length, with a huge picture of Avnery in the background.

Marzel's participation in the elections contravenes Israeli law, which prohibits racist lists. Marzel vows to realize the program of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, whose election list was prohibited years ago by the Supreme Court. However, in his election broadcasts, which were confirmed by the chairperson of the Election Committee, there appears a picture of Kahane.

The news of the call for murder was published abroad. It alerted several peace and human rights organizations, who issued statements of condemnation and sent protest letter to the Israeli embassies. Especially active was the "AAchen Peace Prize" committee in Germany, which years ago had awarded its prestigious prize to Gush Shalom and Uri Avnery. It demanded that the German Foreign Ministry and the Israeli ambassador in Berlin intervene in order to induce the Israeli government to indict Marzel for incitement to murder.

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