Writing about Israel/Palestine can be a hazardous business. Many militant Zionists believe that only one interpretation of the conflict is acceptable, and critics, especially Jewish ones, are traitors. This news is therefore very troubling:
The Zurich-based research journalist Shraga Elam received threats on his life in telephone calls. On November 16 and 17 he was repeatedly called by a man unknown to him. The stranger, who speaks German with a Russian accent, finally left a message on Elam’s mobile mailbox. The audio file with the content of the 25 seconds long message was sent by the journalist to some networkers who forwarded it to the German press and to other networkers. The translation of the message is: “Hello Shraga, why don’t you pick up your mobile phone? Henryk M. Broder Brigades have sentenced you to death. In the entrance of your house (address) you will be shot dead, like Politkowskaja, swear word, traitor”. The Russian journalist and critic of the government Anna Politkowskaja became a victim in a hired killing in October. Shraga Elam’s audio source is here with the editorial office. As the threatened reported there was a frontdoor bell ring later on, but he did not answer.
Shraga Elam, author of “Hitler’s Forgers” and co-author of “Switzerland at the pillory. Banks, bosses and the Nazis”, is an advocate of the one-state solution in Palestine/Israel. He is active in the peace movement and a critic of the Zionist policy. Without exaggeration, one can say that he is dedicating his life to work for a time without violence in international politics. Journalist Henryk Broder, who lives in Berlin, has several times polemically dealt with Shraga Elam on the internet. It is true that Broder is not responsible for people who claim to speak in or with his name, and yet Broder’s aggressive utterances fuel a climate in which incidents like the one documented above almost appear like a consequence, for Broder uses to justify the targeted killings of human beings in Palestine, in Lebanon and elsewhere in public. In this way, the frameworks of Middle Eastern conflicts are being transferred to us in Europe.
Alarmed networkers have been warning of the overzeal of self-declared anti-Semitism hunters for years, but the public has not yet approached this phenomenon, probably in fear of getting into a conflict of values. When there are similar threats from violent Islamist bigots the newspaper report about it, maybe even with background information about the aims and plans of the underlying ideology. Our freedom of press is in danger! people will say, and: our journalists are threatened, because the other side does not comply with the democratic rules according to which one has to bear criticism and not react with violence. – It is time to talk about limits. Intimidations are beyond the democratic limits, even if they are carried out in the name of “battling anti-Semitism”. Here the public is required to keep the policy of collateral damages and liquidations from entering our culture. Here a broad front is necessary.
Elam is a Walkley award winner and a colleague. I spent time with him in Sydney in late 2004. He is a fierce critic of current Israeli policy and strongly believes in the concept of a one-state solution.
There is an undoubtedly ever-increasing campaign to intimidate outspoken critics of Israel (I regularly receive vicious hate-mail and even worse earlier in the year.) As the world starts to realise that the present Jewish state is unsustainable, undemocratic and based on racially divisive lines, militant Zionists feel the need to ramp up the rhetoric.
Sadly, very few Jews speak out against such practices.
In the occupied territories, thuggish behaviour by Jewish extremists occurs daily:
A 19-year old Swedish human rights worker had her cheekbone broken by an Israeli settler in Hebron today. Tove Johansson from Stockholm walked through the Tel Rumeida checkpoint with a small group of human rights workers to accompany Palestinian schoolchildren to their homes. They were confronted by about 100 settlers in small groups, who started chanting in Hebrew “We killed Jesus, we’ll kill you too!”, a refrain the settlers had been repeating to internationals in Tel Rumeida all day.
After about thirty seconds of waiting, a small group of very aggressive settler men surrounded the international volunteers and began spitting at them, so much so that the internationals described it like “rain.” Then settler men from the back of the crowd began jumping up and spitting, while others kicked the volunteers from the back of the crowd and from the side.
The soldiers who were standing just a few feet behind the internationals at the checkpoint just looked on as the internationals were being attacked.
One settler then hit Tove on the left side of her face with an empty bottle, breaking it on her face and leaving her with a broken cheekbone. She immediately fell to the ground and the group of settlers who were watching began to clap, cheer, and chant. The soldiers, who had only watched until this point, then came forward and motioned at the settlers, in a way which the internationals described as “ok… that’s enough guys….”
The settlers, however, were allowed to stay in the area and continued watching and clapping as internationals tried to stop the flow of blood from the woman’s face. Some settlers who were coming down the hill even tried to take photos of themselves next to her bleeding face, giving the camera a “thumbs-up” sign.