The Failed Test
By Israel Shamir
Among the colorful revelers on Allenby Street, in a crowded restaurant on a merry-making Tel Aviv night, a vision came to me, a vision of an angel in battle-dress writing on a wall the three words, Mene, Tekel Ufarsin. My Angel-English dictionary prompts a translation: You were tested and you failed.
These are the darkest days for the people of Israel. They are dark as ours and our fathers lamentations and protests against injustice have turned out to be about as genuine as a three-dollar bill.
In 1968, as a young Jewish Russian kid, I scrawled on the walls of my native Russian city, Hands off Czechoslovakia. The beautiful deep voice of a Jewish Russian poet, Alexander Galitch, still resonates in my ears: Citizens, our Motherland is in danger, our tanks are on foreign soil! Some Russian Jews demonstrated on Red Square against the invasion and were beaten up by the police. We protested against Russian tanks in Budapest and Prague and Kabul, as Russian citizens who valued honor above loyalty, humankind above kinship. At the same time Jewish American kids were demonstrating against their countrys intervention in Vietnam, and Jewish boys and girls in Europe were struggling against racism. Years passed by, and now our Jewish tanks are on foreign soil.
Our Jewish army murders civilians, demolishes houses, and imposes siege on hungry villages. Our crimes are on a par with the Russian crimes committed in Chechnya and Afghanistan, the American crimes in Vietnam, and Serb crimes in Bosnia. Surely Israeli intellectuals are demonstrating en masse on our equivalent of Pennsylvania Avenue or Trafalgar Square, and American Jews are raising their voices against the American-armed killers of Palestinians, and surely the Russian Jews are going to speak up for the human rights of the enslaved Gentiles of the Holy Land? No fear, our literati are busy indeed, as they exalt the courage of our Jewish soldiers, venerate the steady hand of our Jewish snipers, glorify the immense humanity of the Jewish folk who could pulverize 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 railed against the restrictions of the free movement of Jews in the Russian Empire. In our generation, Anatoli Sharansky became a symbol of struggle for human rights. Yet in our own country, the Gentiles are fenced into reservations and concentration camps that pale in comparison with the Pale.
A Palestinian cannot go to the next village without the Jewish ausweis,1 he is forever checked by our Checkists. He can only dream of the sea, washing the shores of his ancestral homewe dont let Palestinians pollute the Jewish purity of our beaches.
For years, the Jews protested against discrimination in employment and education. Yet, in our own Jewish state, we created a system of total national discrimination. In our state-owned electric company, out of thirteen thousand employees, there are six Gentiles (0.0004%).
Gentiles form forty percent of the population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, but only one in four has the right to vote. There are no Gentiles in the Israeli Supreme Court, in the Air Force, in the secret services. There is not even one Gentile on the board of the main Israeli oh-so-liberal newspaper, Haaretz.
In the light of these events, the complaints of the Diaspora Jews deserve to be revisited. We didnt really fight for human rights, but for the rights of Jews. We struggled for the freedom of movement and freedom of choicebut only for Jews. We spoke of universal suffrage, but we meant the right of Jews to vote. We do not mind invasion and occupation so long as we are doing the invading and occupying.
The sight of a child raising hands in front of machine gun toting thug grieves us only if it is a Jewish child. The Gentile kid can be shot at freely.
Apparently, when Bialik wrote The Devil did not invent a fit punishment for the murder of a child, he actually meant a Jewish child. When the scenes of pogrom horrified him, he was horrified that the violence was directed against Jews. Otherwise, there is nothing wrong with pogroms per se. Several weeks ago, the Jews of Upper Nazareth committed a pogrom of Gentiles in Nazareth, but no pogromchik was brought to justice. The Israeli Police helped out by murdering some of pogrom victims. Still worse, the pogroms of Ramallah and Beth Jallah were committed with helicopter gunships and tanks.
Tsarist Russia, the land of pogroms, was much hated by our grandfathers and eventually destroyed by them. Still, a hundred years of Jewish pogroms in Russia caused fewer casualties than we murder in some weeks. The most horrible pogrom of Kishinev claimed 45 dead and 600 wounded. Over the last three months, 400 Palestinians have been killed and many thousands wounded. After a pogrom in Tsarist Russia, all Russian writers and intelligentsia condemned the perpetrators. In the Jewish state, barely a few dozens gathered to demonstrate in Tel Aviv, while the Hebrew Writers Union has endorsed the pogrom of Gentiles.
In 1991, the majority of Russian Jews took the stand against communism and raised the banner of private property. Apparently, they actually meant Jewish private property, since we confiscate Gentile property with the greatest ease.
Take a stroll through the best areas of Jerusalem, wander through Talbieh, Old Katamon Greek and German Colonies, and admire the marvelous palaces. They belonged to GentilesGermans, Armenians, Greeks, British, Russians, PalestiniansChristian and Moslem. All of them were confiscated and bestowed upon Jews. Just in the last few weeks, hundreds of acres of Gentile property were confiscated and scores of Gentile houses seized or demolished.
Right before his arrest, the Russian Jewish media-lord Gusinsky came to Israel and sang his fervent support for the Jewish state. At the same time, he was demanding that the West assist him in his fight with the Russian authorities who have seized his TV station. His support of Israel proves that Mr. Gusinsky does not object to confiscations, he is just against confiscation of Jewish property. He is against the arrest of Jews, the Gentiles can rot forever in the prisons of the Jewish state.
In no time at all, we have succeeded in undermining the long-term achievements of Jews in the struggle for democracy, human rights and equality. What exactly did we abhor about the German Nazis? Their racism? Our own racism is no less widespread and is potentially as virulent.
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 should be eliminated, Arabs must be expelled, and An Arab is an Arab. They all have to be eliminated. I am not sure a street poll of Berlin in 1938 would produce more damning results, as the Nazi idea of the Final Solution did not emerge until 1941.
Shall we call a spade a spade? We Jews have been fighting racism as long as it was someone elses racism. We were against death squads and the Sonderkommando as long as they acted against us. Our own killers, our Jewish Sondercommando, are the object of our tender admiration. The Jewish state is the only place in the world possessing official death squads, that embrace a policy of assassination, and the practice of medieval torture. No cause for alarm, my dear Jewish readers, we only torture and assassinate Gentiles.
We were against ghettoes while we were confined in a ghetto. Now the most liberal Israeli peace plan calls for creation of a few Gentile ghettoes walled 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 ghettoes their independence, but not before we remove 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 the belief that Gentiles are not fully human, and therefore they can be killed and their land expropriated at will. After all, Israel fulfilled at least one UN resolution, the one that called Zionism a form of racism.
What is upsetting me, is that the internationalist upbringing in the Soviet Union which we Russian Jews received, could not withstand the poisonous Zionist propaganda of Jewish superiority. What I regret most, is the moral collapse of my own Russian community in the Holy Land.
Now, as the angel wrote his fiery words, as prophets called upon the people to repent, we still have a 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. Or we can persist in our evil ways, as did the people of Sodom, and wait for the flood of fire and burning sulphur to rain down from the angry heavens of Palestine.
1. Internal passport
Israel Shamir, author of The Rape of Dulcinea and The Failed Test, stands out from the great majority of Israeli Jews who support the Zionist theocratic settler state of Israel. He goes far beyond the growing minority of Israeli Jews who call for Peace Now!but who fully support the Zionist project of the state of Israel.
He courageously cuts through the whole of Zionist mythology designed to portray the Palestinian victim as the criminal and the Zionist criminal as the victim. Shamir honestly and truthfully equates the Israeli Rape of Palestine (Dulcinea) with Adolph Hitlers solution of the Jewish questionthe murder of six million innocent Jewish men, women and children that has gone down in history as the Holocaust.
We had the good fortune to have had Shamir and his views brought to our attention by one of our Palestinian American friends who thought we would find this Israeli writer and his viewpoint more than interesting. He was right to think so and it will be useful for our readers to know why.
It is because Shamir, in these articles, offers support for our strategic outlook that the ordinary men and women that make up the populations of oppressor nations like Germany during the time of Adolph Hitler, and the United States and Israel today, cannot be held responsible as a people for crimes against humanity committed by their rulers. On the contrary, we believe that given the right kind of leadership, workers everywherein both oppressor as well as oppressed nations can be won over to the strategic principle of putting their common class interests as workers above any other concept of self-identification.
Our political orientation can be summed up in just a few words: First, we support, unconditionally, the Palestinian struggle against Zionist oppression. Second, we see their struggle against the Israeli oppressor as a component of the struggle by all captive nations in the Mideastand in the world, for that matteragainst imperialist super-exploitation and oppression. Third, and central to our strategic outlook, is our view that the struggle by the worlds neo-colonial captive nations against imperialism is an integral and organic part of the world working-class struggle against global capitalism.
Fourth, we believe that, contrary to the myth of progressive capitalists, history has shown that the indigenous capitalist rulers of the worlds neo-colonial countries are incapable of mobilizing a revolutionary struggle against imperialist domination. After all, the regular armed forces of these industrially backward countries are no match for the military might of even a single imperialist powernot to mention such combined imperialist assaults as were mounted against Korea in the early 1950s, against Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, and most recently in Iraq and Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
The only force capable of overcoming the military power of the imperialists is a mass movement of all victims of capitalist exploitation led by the working class. Capitalists as a class cannot mobilize anything approaching a consistent struggle against imperialism without at the same time arousing a struggle against their own class interests as exploiters. Should they dare to arm and mobilize landless peasants to expropriate imperialist landholdings as the only effective means for mobilizing the masses against imperialist power, there would be no way to stop the same peasants from seizing the farms of their own landlords.
In our view, whether or not Israel Shamir subscribes to our view outlined above, his writings strike powerful blows at the criminal capitalist state and government of Israel.
The Failed Test was written by Israel Shamir in January, 2001.
The Rape of Dulcinea, by Israel Shamir, was written in reply to an article in The New York Times of January, 25, 2001 by Elie Weisel.
Shamir, is one of the best-known and most respected Russian Israeli writers and journalists. He writes for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and has translated Agnon, Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa and writes a weekly column in Vesti, the biggest Russian language paper in Israel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org