Israeli champion of ‘tolerance and multiculturalism’ suggests medal of honor for army torturer

Israel/Palestine
on 59 Comments
Israeli musician Idan Raichel, from his Instagram account

Israeli musician Idan Raichel, from his Instagram account

Oh-so-hip Israeli musician Idan Raichel, known for wearing his hair in dreads (until he recently shaved his head) and incorporating Arab and African music and musicians into his act, took to Instagram the other day to suggest that a notorious Israeli interrogator accused of sodomizing a detainee with a baton deserves a “medal of honor,” according to a new report by journalist Ben White.

Doron Zahavi, a.k.a. Caption George, with his lawyer. (Photo: Israel Today)

Doron Zahavi, a.k.a. Caption George, with his lawyer. (Photo:Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

The object of Raichel’s admiration was Doron Zahavi, a former interrogator for the Israeli military (now an adviser on Arab affairs to the commander of the Jerusalem District Police), who last week came forward and identified himself publicly as the officer previously known in the Israeli media as “Captain George.” (Tikun Olam bloggger Richard Silverstein actually revealed the officer’s real name in 2010, but the Israeli press ignored his scoop.) Zahavi first came to public attention, under his nom de torture, a decade ago, when Mustafa Dirani, a Lebanese citizen who had been abducted from his home by IDF commandos in 1994 and brought to Israel for interrogation, testified in an Israeli court that “George” and soldiers under his command had abused him in a variety of ways, including keeping him naked around the clock for weeks, repeatedly threatening him with rape, and the baton sodomy.

Raichel shaved

Idan Raichel sans dreads               (photo:idanraichelproject.com)

Raichel, an Ashkenazi Jew born in Israel in 1977, is a singer-songwriter, keyboardist, and producer of what he calls “global fusion” music. His group, which he self-effacingly calls the Idan Raichel Project, includes up to 85 other musicians, among them Yemenis, Ethiopians, and South Africans. Their records include tracks in numerous languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Cape Verdean Creole, and Swahili as well as Hebrew. “Quarter to Six,” their latest CD, features guest appearances by Portuguese fado star Ana Moura, German counter-tenor Andreas Scholl, Colombian jazz-folk artist Marta Gómez, young Malian master Vieux Farka Touré, and Palestinian-Israeli singer Mira Awad.

In recent years Raichel has teamed up with Touré to form the Touré-Raichel Collective, which produced a critically acclaimed album called “The Tel Aviv Session” and a hugely successful North American tour. He  also collaborates often with the American black singer who goes by the name India.Arie in a project they call Open Door. During a U.S. tour in 2009, he told an interviewer in Seattle that his goal was to promote “tolerance and multiculturalism,” including introducing Israelis who otherwise homogenize all Arabs as “Hamas” to such wonders as Mahmoud Darwish, Fairuz, and Umm Kulthum.

All this broadmindedness has brought him enormous acclaim, not only in the world of music but also from political leaders. According to the bio on the Raichel Project website, Shimon Peres, the President of Israel, asked him in 2012 to compose music for a poem Peres had written in dedication to Israel’s Ethiopian community (the Jewish part of it, no doubt), and when Barack Obama visited Israel last March, he invited Raichel to perform at a private concert. In 2012 the Israeli Foreign Ministry sponsored him on a tour of Africa. Dr. Andy David, former Israeli consul general for the Pacific Northwest, called him “maybe the best ambassador that Israel has through his music and inclusiveness.”

Raichel with his previous hairdo

Raichel with dreads (photo:idanraichelproject.com)

Even Silverstein, who has few illusions left about Israeli society, wrote an admiring profile focusing on the radicalism – by Israeli standards – of Raichel’s multiculturalism.

But that was before he began to make his politics clear. In 2007 he agreed to perform at the 40th-anniversary celebration of Gush Etzion, the Israeli settlement bloc south of Bethlehem, provoking Gush Shalom, the peace group led by veteran Israeli activist Uri Avnery, to denounce him and fellow musicians for “selling their souls to the settlers” and even to call on “Israeli peace seekers” to boycott their performances and CDs. (For now Gush Shalom has removed the statement from its website “to avoid the  huge compensation claims for advocating a boycott of the settlements made possible by Israel’s 2011 anti-boycott law.” Meanwhile, its legal challenge to this legislation slowly works its way through the Israeli courts. A copy of the 2007 statement remains available here.)

In 2008 Raichel acknowledged the political objectives of his work,  telling an interviewer “We certainly see ourselves as ambassadors of Israel in the world, cultural ambassadors, hasbara ambassadors, also in regards to the political conflict.” He publicly justified Operation Cast Lead and provided an endorsement to a U.S. organization called Thank Israeli Soldiers, which invites donors “to show your gratitude and support to the people who are on the front lines to protect Israel and freedom everywhere” by paying for care packages and “educational and inspirational programs” for IDF soldiers.

(photo:  Adalah-NY)

Adalah-NY protest outside a Raichel performance in New York, Oct. 2013 (photo: Adalah-NY)

In response, supporters of Palestinian rights have in recent years staged protest demonstrations at numerous Raichel performances, including in Seattle in 2009, in Leeds (U.K.) in 2010, in New York (2011 and 2013), and last year in Philadelphia  .

Now that Raichel has endorsed the brutality of Captain George, we can only hope that he will face bigger and stronger opposition on his future tours!

In the meantime, more about his hero’s history and philosophy, courtesy of the Israeli press:

Haaretz Jan. 23, 2012:

In 2000, Dirani sued Israel for damages, charging that he was tortured and raped during the interrogation, after a former colleague of Capt. George’s told Dirani’s Israeli lawyer that the investigator was “brutal” and that he had witnessed him inserting a baton into a suspect’s rectum.

“I saw this with my own eyes,” the colleague, a colonel in the reserves, told attorney Zvi Rish in 1999. “When he put [the baton] into the rectum of a detainee and told him, ‘Go ahead, sit on it.’ He said, ‘Go ahead, sit on the baton, and if you don’t talk, it will go in.’ That’s what I saw.”

The colonel was questioned under caution by the Israel Police in 2007 and retracted some of the allegations.

Capt. George, who served at the time as an officer at Military Intelligence Unit 504 and is now the Arab affairs adviser to the Jerusalem police, questioned Dirani for several weeks. He said he had followed the regulations and his commanders’ directives, but that he had been expelled from the Israel Defense Forces after being accused of violating the law during the interrogation. He also said the army was concealing evidence that would prove his innocence.… a videotape from Dirani’s interrogation showing that it was the unit commander who had interrogated Dirani while the militia operative was naked.

The colonel who worked with Capt. George in Unit 504 said the investigator regularly entered interrogation rooms with a baton, hit the suspect and threatened to insert it into his rectum if he lied or refused to talk. He said in one interrogation, he witnessed Capt. George stripping a suspect naked, forcing him to drink tea or coffee from a used ashtray, and shoving either shaving cream or toothpaste into the suspect’s mouth.

“I was dumbfounded,” the colonel said. “I would be sitting in a room and observing, and he would walk into the interrogation with brutality, dump the suspect off the bench, stomp on him, kick him, threaten him that he will [expletive] him, and if not him, then others will [expletive] him and rape him.”

 

Haaretz Feb. 10, 2012:

Now Captain George is paying the price – his commanders have thrown him to the media hounds. He himself doesn’t see any particular problem with his conduct; that’s what everybody does in Unit 504 of the Shin Bet security service, with the knowledge and approval of all the top people. “Do you know how many people have died under interrogation?” he asks, and immediately replies: “They died, they died, and they’ll die in the future too …. Nobody really wants me to get up on the witness stand and tell all.

 

Haaretz May 12, 2013:

[L]ast Friday evening, the Channel 2 current affairs program “Ulpan Shishi” aired an interview with “George.”

“When you are in the midst of an interrogation,” George said in the interview, “when it involves hardcore terrorists who understand what we’ll call the laws limiting you, sometimes you need to show them a bit more, so they understand that from your standpoint at least, everything is allowed.”

 

Ynet News Feb. 1, 2013:

According to the State, though Dirani was not raped, as he claimed, he was indeed threatened: An IDF soldier testified that the plaintiff instructed him to take off his pants in front of Dirani in order to frighten him. Another soldier gave a similar testimony regarding another detainee.

According to another testimony the plaintiff made handcuffed detainee walk naked in the holding facility’s yard while another officer touched the detainee’s buttocks with a club.

 

Haaretz Jan. 2, 2014, Gideon Levy: Pity the Poor Interrogator:

In an installment of Channel 2’s investigative journalism program, “Uvda,” which was broadcast in late 2011, video clips of Dirani’s interrogation were screened: Captain George, who says the state besmirched his “good name,” can be seen in those video tapes in an arrogant Israeli pose, his feet on the desk, sitting opposite Dirani, who is in his underpants, hunched over, looking humiliated and frightened. The commander, Col. S., threatens to sodomize Dirani; the soldier who will commit the act of sodomy is on his way. “What a lovely skirt you are wearing, you mother-fucker … just open your legs wide” is the utterance made in the name of the State of Israel when Dirani is forced to stand on a chair, naked, before the watchful eyes of his investigators. At Base 1391, Israel’s version of Guantanamo, this was – and perhaps still is – just a routine questioning session.

According to testimonies that have become public over the years, a chilling picture of Base 1391 emerges: a canister of shaving foam emptied into the interrogated person’s mouth, water mixed with ash that Dirani and other people being investigated were forced to drink from an ashtray, along with the usual repertoire of sleep and food deprivation, beatings, abuse and other acts intended to humiliate the subject. This is how the work was carried out. There are still some people around who defend it. This week, Israel’s singer-philosopher, Idan Raichel, called on Instagram for the IDF to award Zahavi a medal of honor.

 

A final irony: in 2010, when Zahavi was appointed to his current position as adviser on Arab affairs to the Jerusalem police, a police official  told Haaretz that “The adviser must be an accepted and welcome figure in the Arab community, with excellent interpersonal skills – someone they feel they can trust, otherwise he cannot succeed in the job.”

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59 Responses

  1. Walid
    January 4, 2014, 11:46 am

    A bit of background to the Mustafa Dirani abduction by Israel. Israeli commandos landed by helicopter at his house in the Bekaaa Valley and at the house of a spiritual leader (sort of a chaplain) of Hizbullah, Cheikh Abdul-Karim Obeid. Both were abducted in the middle of the night along with a neighbour that was visiting one of them and were taken to Israel’s secret concentration camp, Facility 1391 a torture camp so secret that the Israeli Minister of Justice was not aware of its existence. The camp was run by the Military Intelligence Unit 504 mentioned in Henry’s article above. The 2 Lebanese men were abducted to be used as bargaining chips by Israel to get information from Hizbullah about the Israeli missing aviator, Ron Arad. They were held and tortured for 10 years until finally released in a prisoner swap with Hizbullah in 1994.

    The story of the secret torture facility in Israel that Haaretz broke:

    link to web.archive.org

    • Henry Norr
      January 4, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Thanks for bringing up Facility 1391, Walid. I intended to add a mention of it when I was revising my first draft of thrice, but somehow it slipped my mind. I hadn’t seen the Haaretz piece – thanks for that link – but first learned about Facility 1391 from an article Chris McGreal did in the Guardian in November 2003. Obviously it wasn’t the scoop I had thought it was, but it’s still very good, IMO: link to theguardian.com

  2. Helena Cobban
    January 4, 2014, 12:23 pm

    Another word for all this Idan-dominated “multiculturalism” would be large-scale cultural appropriation/exploitation, no?

    • Citizen
      January 5, 2014, 6:14 am

      @ Helena Cobban
      Yes, same as with native food, except Raichel does not, to my knowledge, directly claim he invented what he sells and does–he let’s hasbara suggest it.

  3. Shmuel
    January 4, 2014, 12:26 pm

    Raichel posted a photo of a newspaper report titled “Captain George Revealed”, adding the following comment (in Hebrew):

    The man to whom we owe the information on Ron Arad — instead of getting a medal, is fighting for his [good] name. Absolutely shameful. Dirani never gave Arad his most basic rights, and I really don’t care how “George” got information from Dirani on Arad. What a disgrace.

    In response to a comment expressing some reservations about his position, Raichel answers:

    Ron Arad was not given the minimum rights of a POW … Would it have been enough to read Dirani 15th-century Hebrew poetry in order to break him completely and get him to tell what he knows about poor Ron Arad? I have the feeling that “George”, on the one hand, is not that familiar with such poetry and, on the other hand, knows his job.

    Welcome to the Idan Raichel Project: Peace, love, tolerance and … torture.

    • OlegR
      January 4, 2014, 1:26 pm

      But he is right Dirani is not some innocent bystander.
      He did deny Ron Arad his basic rights.He used to transport him in trunk of car from one safe house to the next.
      He deserved much more then what he got, even if it upsets your delicate moral values which you do not extend to his victim.
      Being open to multiculturalism and peace and love and tolerance does not mean
      that you extend that courtesy to people like Dirani.

      Good for Raichel that he does not go the familiar easy way of most Israeli
      artists that do and say all the “right” things.

      • Shmuel
        January 4, 2014, 1:54 pm

        But he is right Dirani is not some innocent bystander.

        Neither was Ron Arad, but he still had human rights that should have been respected.

        even if it upsets your delicate moral values

        “Moral values” and international law and conventions to which Israel is a signatory.

        which you do not extend to his victim.

        On the contrary, I believe that both Dirani and Arad (and Arad’s victims) were entitled to protection under international law. Raichel rightly abhors the fact that Arad was denied his rights as a POW, but has no problem with the fact that Dirani was denied his rights (including lack of access to the Red Cross for the first 6 years of his 10-year detention).

        Being open to multiculturalism and peace and love and tolerance does not mean that you extend that courtesy to people like Dirani.

        Generally speaking, promoting peace, love and tolerance does in fact preclude support for widely-recognised violations of human rights, such as torture — even of “people like Dirani”.

        Good for Raichel that he does not go the familiar easy way of most Israeli artists that do and say all the “right” things.

        How many Israeli artists have condemned the use of torture in Israel (in general or in the case of Dirani)? Or the closure of Gaza? Or Cast Lead? Sadly, the “familiar easy way of most Israeli artists” in such cases is to wrap themselves in the flag and salute the IDF/GSS. The idea that the Israeli art/music scene is a hotbed of raving dissidents is a myth. Torture — certainly in the case of Dirani — is “ba-consensus”, and that includes artists.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:24 pm

        No i don’t think interrogators should get medals for their work.
        (Some macabre joke about “Life Achievement” awards just begs to be told here)
        A good psychological treatment is more likely.

        Yes i think the MoD threw him under the bus.
        I also understand why they did it and i don’t feel any particular pity toward him.Nobody forced him to do what he did or serve where he served.
        His kind of work is sometimes a necessary evil but an evil nonetheless.
        I don’t have any illusions about that.

        In any case nothing particularly bad will happen to him or the rest of his civilian career.
        But Israelis that roll their eyes in anguish “ow how horrible” are being hypocritical.

      • Shmuel
        January 4, 2014, 3:37 pm

        So you’re not quite in sync with Raichel, who thinks Zahavi deserves a medal and resents the way he was treated.

        Of course Zahavi was thrown under the bus (considering who did the throwing), and he seems to have landed a pretty good public position anyway. No, definitely no reason to feel sorry for him.

        But Israelis that roll their eyes in anguish “ow how horrible” are being hypocritical.

        Definitely lots of hypocrisy there, but a principled and consistent position against torture and other human rights abuses is hardly hypocritical. What is really hypocritical is opposing such things only when they are done by others (e.g. Arad’s captors).

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:52 pm

        I never said i was in sync with him.
        I have my own moral compass and i try to follow it as much as i can.

        Raichel had a good point about the hypocrisy of people that now condemn Zehavi.

        /but a principled and consistent position against torture and other human rights abuses is hardly hypocritical/
        That would depend on the person in each case i have no idea who Raichel was talking about or if he was talking about someone in particular.
        Hell i didn’t even know about any of his remarks before i read this post.

        /What is really hypocritical is opposing such things only when they are done by others (e.g. Arad’s captors)./
        There is cause and effect in play here.And no this is not a double standards issue. Arad was treated as he was treated because of who he was.
        Dirani for what he knew and did.
        There is no equivalence in my eyes and no i am not neutral here.

        You think you are, fine i can only envy your moral cleanliness.

      • Shmuel
        January 4, 2014, 4:38 pm

        I never said i was in sync with him.

        You seemed to agree with him.

        That would depend on the person in each case i have no idea who Raichel was talking about or if he was talking about someone in particular.

        The hypocrisy argument is yours. Raichel simply said the guy deserves a medal for “getting the information” from Dirani and who cares how he got it, and that he shouldn’t have to fight for his “[good] name” (the subject of his lawsuit against the MoD).

        There is cause and effect in play here.And no this is not a double standards issue. Arad was treated as he was treated because of who he was. Dirani for what he knew and did.

        Lots of causes and lots of effects. Arad was treated as he was treated presumably because he was an enemy fighter, in possession of military information, and a potential bargaining chip. Dirani was treated as he was treated because he was an enemy fighter, in possession of military information, and a potential bargaining chip. Seems pretty equivalent to me.

        i am not neutral here. You think you are, fine i can only envy your moral cleanliness.

        It’s not a matter of “moral cleanliness”, but of an attempt (not always successful) to apply the same standards to everyone. You make no such attempt. So was the treatment of Ron Arad despicable or could it merely have been a “necessary evil” from the perspective of his captors?

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 4:57 pm

        /. So was the treatment of Ron Arad despicable or could it merely have been a “necessary evil” from the perspective of his captors?/

        You tell me Shmuel.

        Mustafa Dirani is alive and well afaik.He got representation and had his day in Israeli courts.He met representatives of the Red Cross.
        He sued Israel for his mistreatment and an Israeli court allowed him.

        Ron Arad is rotting at an unknown location.

      • Shmuel
        January 4, 2014, 5:08 pm

        Mustafa Dirani is alive and well afaik.He got representation and had his day in Israeli courts.He met representatives of the Red Cross.
        He sued Israel for his mistreatment and an Israeli court allowed him.
        Ron Arad is rotting at an unknown location.

        You didn’t answer the question. Either Arad’s treatment was wrong or it wasn’t – both you and I believe it was. Either Dirani’s treatment was wrong or it wasn’t – I believe it was and you believe it wasn’t. When you apply different standards, why shouldn’t others do the same?

        He met representatives of the Red Cross

        Only after six years in captivity. Not nearly as bad as never, but still a serious violation of his rights under international law. Would it have been OK if Ron Arad had “only” been denied access to the Red Cross for 6 years?

      • puppies
        January 5, 2014, 4:39 am

        Dirani fought against an invader, his basic right. Arad was an invading enemy, may he rot in peace. Kidnapping of a foreign national from his home by an aggressor is another war crime.

      • yrn
        January 5, 2014, 5:59 am

        Shmuel

        The white Angel of Humanity.
        What have you done for your fellow country man Ron Arad to get his rights under international law.

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 7:10 am

        yrn, my dear chauvinist,

        No less than I have done for Mustafa Dirani.

      • OlegR
        January 5, 2014, 7:20 am

        /When you apply different standards, why shouldn’t others do the same?/
        I don’t expect things from others Shmuel but their actions will have consequences on my behavior within the boundaries of what i see as morally permissible.

        You are trying to portray some equivalence between Ron Arad and Dirani
        and i am saying that there isn’t one neither in the treatment they received nor in their eventual fates.
        So yes Dirani’s interrogation was an evil but it was morally justifiable
        and it was performed within boundaries of what i deem to be permissible
        in regards to the likes of Dirani.

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 7:39 am

        So yes Dirani’s interrogation was an evil but it was morally justifiable
        and it was performed within boundaries of what i deem to be permissible
        in regards to the likes of Dirani.

        Dirani wasn’t interrogated for 10 years. He was held as a bargaining chip, and his treatment (such as being held at a secret prison and denied access to the Red Cross for the first 6 years) was in fact meant to parallel Arad’s (although Dirani was neither the first nor the last prisoner at 1391). Furthermore, whatever information was extracted from him, Arad was never found. Torture has that tendency. The important thing is that you and Raichel and Zahavi think it was worth it.

        Fortunately, international law isn’t determined by what you or Raichel or Zahavi “deem permissible”. Under the circumstances however, Israeli complaints about the treatment of Arad or Shalit (who is, thankfully, still alive and trying to recover from his captivity) or any other prisoners ring very hollow. Either all’s fair, or international law and conventions apply across the board. You can’t have it both ways.

      • just
        January 5, 2014, 7:42 am

        “morally justifiable”?

        “permissible”?

        Oleg, from your ‘bio’:
        “Soviet Union born, Israeli raised , Jew, Humanist, Liberal, Zionist ,Nationalist, , IDF reservist , Cast Lead participant and many other things”

        It all makes sense– except for the ‘Humanist’ and ‘Liberal’ parts. How do you ‘feel’ about Gitmo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, etc? I know you think that kidnapping is ok; how about extraordinary rendition? Black sites? Caging children in freezing cold?

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 8:07 am

        Oleg,

        As a soldier still on active duty, you might want to reconsider your position on international law and conventions concerning POWs (i.e. that what is “permissible” is at the discretion of the captors and doesn’t apply equally to all prisoners).

      • OlegR
        January 5, 2014, 8:01 am

        / Either all’s fair, or international law and conventions apply across the board./

        There is serious problem with this sort of puristic black and white all or nothing moral attitude.It doesn’t hold up well to real world problems.

        When one side completely disregards “international law and conventions”
        and i don’t think AMAL was ever a signatory to them (Oh god i am just inviting another of Hostages copy paste attacks) and i am not sure international law properly addresses asymmetric conflicts.

        It can’t expect to be extended the same courtesies it denies others.
        And there is a pretty wide grey area in between full disregard of any rights including the right to live(Ron Arad) and a partial one (Dirani) neither is moral but they are not equivalent and one was the cause for others.

        You don’y play nice and gentlemen like with people who are neither.
        That does not mean that you stoop to their level but you are certainly allowed some leeway in your actions.

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 8:31 am

        one was the cause for others

        Was their no cause for the capture of Arad? Was he sightseeing over Lebanon? Was he “playing nice and gentlemen like”? Were no Lebanese held and tortured before Arad’s capture?

      • OlegR
        January 5, 2014, 8:36 am

        /As a soldier still on active duty/
        I am fully aware that being captured by a regular enemy army and a terrorist organization would be two very different experiences regardless of what
        international law says or Shmuel thinks.
        And while the former would not be pleasurable a quick death might be preferable to the latter.

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 8:51 am

        I am fully aware that being captured by a regular enemy army and a terrorist organization would be two very different experiences regardless of what international law says or Shmuel thinks.

        Yes, you could be treated like Obeid or Dirani or other prisoners at 1391 (or Khiam), many of whom never made it home (or returned as shattered shells), or you could end up like Gilad Shalit. Your treatment as a bargaining chip might depend on how Israel treats your Palestinian or Lebanese counterparts, or international public opinion (and law). You never know and I hope you never have to find out.

      • OlegR
        January 5, 2014, 8:41 am

        /Was their no cause for the capture of Arad? /
        Yes there was his plain crashed.

        /Was he sightseeing over Lebanon? /
        No
        /Was he “playing nice and gentlemen like”?/
        To the extent that war in general can be described as such.

        / Were no Lebanese held and tortured before Arad’s capture?/
        Did Israel invade Lebanon because it was bored or to satisfy it’s sadistic impulses ?

        We can go on and on here in the who started conversation .
        I suggest we cease since i think we already demonstrated our positions and understood where each one of us stands,
        and now we are starting to repeat ourselves.

      • Shmuel
        January 5, 2014, 9:04 am

        We can go on and on here in the who started conversation .

        Exactly why your “cause and effect” argument is pointless – just like the argument that the “permissibility” of human rights violations depend on who’s rights are being violated and who is doing the violating. ‘I’m uncivilised because they’re uncivilised’ is about as circular as they come.

      • American
        January 4, 2014, 2:04 pm

        ”Being open to multiculturalism and peace and love and tolerance does not mean that you extend that courtesy to people like Dirani.”’…..Oleg

        Just remember that also can apply to people like you.
        If you are uncivilized that is the kind of treatment you will eventually get in return.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 2:46 pm

        /Just remember that also can apply to people like you./
        I do actually.
        But i don’t necessarily play civil with uncivilized people.

      • Sumud
        January 5, 2014, 9:47 am

        But i don’t necessarily play civil with uncivilized people.

        NEWS FLASH.

        War Crimes and possible Crimes Against Humanity participant claims to be a civilised person.

        What’s next …’I was only following orders’ ?

      • Walid
        January 4, 2014, 2:39 pm

        “But he is right Dirani is not some innocent bystander.”

        Probably not, Oleg, since Dirani was a military commander in the Amal militia in whose hands Arad fell before being diverted elsewhere to another faction, probably Iranian, where he could have died.

        But not forget that Ron Arad too was not an innocent bystander; he was the navigator on the Phantom bomber on a mission to carpet-bomb Shia villages to kill innocent civilians when his plane went out of control and he had to parachute down. That makes him a terrorist but I still feel sorry for his parents even though Israel was doing some very horrible things to the Lebanese. Have you ever heard of Camp Ansar, a concentration and torture camp Israel was maintaining in south Lebanon that Noam Chomsky wrote about and have you ever heard of the prison at Khiam and the 1 meter X 1 meter boxes Israel kept the prisoners in? If not, Google Camp Ansar/Chomsky and Khiam Prison.

        Arad’s disappearance in 1986 was directly tied to the disappearance of the 3 diplomats and the photographer of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut that all indications pointed to their having been abducted by a Lebanese Christian militia of Sabra-Shatila fame and handed over to the Israelis.

        To bring this back to what’s happening today, once again Israel demonstrates how it is proud of its torturers and you’re in there, Oleg, to root for them.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:01 pm

        I am not proud of torturers.I don’t want to be “Captain George” best friend.
        But i don’t necessarily go and condemn people that get their hands dirty for my security, which was the point of Raichels tweet.
        Psychological pressure was applied to Dirani as part of interrogation tactics
        which are not nice or pleasant or moral but are necessary.
        Unless you can suggest a better way to get people like Dirani to talk.

        Indeed Arad was not an innocent bystander but he was subject to certain rules of treatment of POWs that were not observed by Dirani and AMAL.
        That is why i considered Dirani’s rights to be null and void for the most part since he didn’t extend them to his prisoner.
        Moreover his interrogations were not conducted out of spite or revenge but in order to provide concrete information about the whereabouts and fate of Ron Arad to whom Israel is completely responsible which in my opinion certainly superseded the rights of his captors.

        /navigator on the Phantom bomber on a mission to carpet-bomb Shia villages to kill innocent civilians when his plane went out of control and he had to parachute down./
        Are you sure that that explicitly was his target , i think not.
        In any case this is not a conversation about Israeli involvement in Lebanon
        which i would be first to admit was not the epitome of moral, just or sensible behavior.Though you also can’t argue that Lebanese did not make a fine mess of themselves even before 1982.

        / Beirut that all indications pointed to their having been abducted by a Lebanese Christian militia/
        And promptly murdered by them, but that is besides the point.
        Dirani was not an Iranian operative.

      • Shmuel
        January 4, 2014, 3:06 pm

        I am not proud of torturers.I don’t want to be “Captain George” best friend.

        Do you think he deserves a medal? Do you think that his treatment at the hands of the MoD was “shameful”?

      • Walid
        January 4, 2014, 3:28 pm

        “Though you also can’t argue that Lebanese did not make a fine mess of themselves even before 1982.”

        No argument from me on that, Oleg, they still haven’t learned or changed.
        Speaking of messes, back in 2006 in Lebanon, your glorious army was so busy dragging corpses back to Israel for future bargaining chips, that it abandoned bodies and body parts of fallen Israeli soldiers. It also abducted or took prisoner, a mentally-ill elderly ex-Hizbullah fighter sitting on his balcony while the fighting was raging in front of his house and kept him prisoner for a year in spite of Red Cross having provided Israel medical records that the man was schizophrenic. It released him to Hizbullah in a swap for the drowned Ethiopian swimmer and the abandoned corpses of Israeli soldiers. Israel too is a very messed-up country.

      • Danaa
        January 5, 2014, 2:59 am

        OlegR – Ron Arad was a war criminal as are most israeli pilots who killed indiscriminantly men women and children. As are the israeli regime rulers and most of the commanders in its criminal colonialist army (known otherwise as IDF). I would rather see a murderer like this Artad person hauled in front of an international court rather than be killed. In any case, whatever Dirani was guilty of pales by comparison to evil people like “captain george” or, for that matter, people like Ron Arad who were no doubt “just following orders”. ideally, lebanon would have had a proper Air Force and anti aircraft defense that would have shot Arad’s plane down more conclusively and no one would suggest that this was not an act of self-defense.

        In any case the noises israeli make about someone like Arad are truly puzzling. he was a trained killer who could navigate a plane, and had the moral fiber of the Huns and the Conquistadors. so it’s really hard to feel sorry that there was one fewer of them. Of course, the Spanish Inquisitors who followed the conquistadors would have been much worse than good old george, surely (and no doubt georgie-boy wishes he could have only been more effective using Spanish instruments of torture rather than mere batons).

        As for Dirani, it’s good that he sued. His biggest error was to hand over Arad to others. They should have tried him upon capture and provided the same courtesy extended by the IDF to Palestinian children.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:38 pm

        Replying here.

        War is hell Walid.
        An organized mess where people are wounded or die for no good reason all the time.It should be avoided whenever possible.
        A lesson i hope Hezbollah learned though their current involvement in Syria suggests otherwise.
        Israel is messed up on A LOT of parameters but then again there is messed up and there is Messed Up.
        Looking at the world not to mention our close neighborhood i can honestly say that i am content with our current position.Given the cards we were initially dealt with we have done pretty well for now.

      • Walid
        January 4, 2014, 4:17 pm

        Hizbullah is in Syria for 3 reasons and since you don’t have a clue why, this may help explain:

        1- to protect the 30,000 Lebanese Shia permanently living in several villages inside the Syrian border areas (a Sykes-Picot aberration) that were being mauled by the rebels and that the Syrian army was unable to protect.

        2- a sort of thank you to the Syrian regime for having stood by Hizbulah all these years, and most importantly

        3- the fundy crazies made it clear that they were about to bring their holy war into Lebanon, so Hizbullah attacked them first.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 4:32 pm

        You are forgetting the 4′s most important reason Walid.
        Their Iranian patrons/overlords would really hate to see Assad fall.

        But i guess getting involved in your neighbors civil wars which was forbidden
        to Jews is ok when you are an Arab.
        May it turn out just as well for them as it did for us.

      • seafoid
        January 4, 2014, 3:47 pm

        86 was when Amal was the main Shia militia, before the Hezb got going. Israel could kick Amal around but things were to change.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:54 pm

        Thank you seafoid,
        How are things at the Dahia, all is well i hope ?

      • eljay
        January 4, 2014, 3:03 pm

        >> He deserved much more then what he got, even if it upsets your delicate moral values which you do not extend to his victim.

        What he deserved was to be held accountable for his crime. Torture is what hateful and immoral assholes like you condone when you’re not actually doing it (and enjoying it).

        Well, at least it’s nice to know you won’t be complaining when the supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel and its hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist supporters like you get what you deserve, even if it upsets your delicate immoral values.

      • seafoid
        January 4, 2014, 4:41 pm

        If baton rape is a necessary evil to keep the disneyland going it’ll be good enough for the chosen people in the post Zionist future. That’s the problem with bots making up their own standards and jettisoning international law.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    January 4, 2014, 12:38 pm

    RE: “Tikun Olam bloggger Richard Silverstein actually revealed the officer’s real name in 2010, but the Israeli press ignored his scoop.” ~ Norr

    MY COMMENT: I know Henry Norr well enough to be certain that he by no means meant to diminish Richard Silverstein by referring to him as a “blogger”, but I must take this opportunity to say that I consider Mr. Silverstein to be much more of a journalist than the vast majority of supposed journalists working for what Ray McGovern likes to call the ‘Fawning Corporate Media’ (FCM)!

    • Henry Norr
      January 4, 2014, 1:09 pm

      I definitely didn’t mean to diminish Richard Silverstein in any way, Dickerson – I completely share your assessment of his work. Not all bloggers are journalists, in my book, but to me “blogger” doesn’t say one way or another whether one is or isn’t a journalist, just that his/her outlet is a blog. In that sense it’s kind of a parallel to the old word “newspaperman” or “newspaperwoman.”

  5. Daniel Rich
    January 4, 2014, 3:00 pm

    Q: …the people who are on the front lines to protect Israel and freedom everywhere…

    R: …my left pinky toe is as much a Muslim as Russian born Abe Foxman is a semite…

    Yeah, both lines make as much sense now…

  6. OlegR
    January 4, 2014, 3:10 pm

    I don’t really get these posts.
    Judging artists due to their political views or sympathies.

    I don’t think any less of Roger Waters the great musician of Pink Floyd fame just because Roger Waters the man turned out to be a hypocritical little bigot.

    Just listen to their music people.

    link to youtu.be

    • Philip Munger
      January 4, 2014, 3:38 pm

      Some of my Seattle friends participated in the protest against Raichel’s show at the Seattle tavern-restaurant, the Triple Door, in 2009. The article about the protest that Henry Norr links to contains this gem:

      At some point, we talked about settlements, and he says he only plays in settlements that, by International Law, would eventually be part of Israel. I told him every single settlement is illegal, according to International Law, and he acted like he didn’t know that. Then we somehow got onto the two-state (dis)solution, and I said something about “what, the 17% of historic Palestine that would make up the Palestinian state?” and he said he doesn’t know what percent of historic Palestine remains, to the Palestinians. I told him he should know that.

      Basically, it was all denial of statements he has made (such as the one in Forward), claims of ignorance, and claims of being all about culture, not politics. Eventually, he needed to go in to his show, and offered me a free ticket, and I said no, I have not been convinced that he is not whitewashing Israeli crimes, and that I/we will continue to protest and boycott his shows until he denounces Israel’s crimes.

      He insisted that he refuses to make any political statement, and I quoted him Arhundati Roy: “The trouble is, once you see it, it can’t be unseen. And once you see it, saying nothing, doing nothing becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no neutrality. Either way, you are accountable.”

      On a further note regarding the escalating culture wars, Norwegian singer-songwriter-performer, Moddi, has cancelled a February Tel Aviv concert, in response to a letter from Gaza students and educators. From Moddi’s Facebook page:

      I have chosen to cancel my performance in Tel Aviv on February 1st. This is without comparison the most difficult decision I have ever made as an artist, and one that hurts almost as much as it feels right.

      The reason for my decision is the situation in Israel and the areas it controls. Although music can be a unique arena for public debate, the debate over these territories has been misused for a long time. Discussion and dialogue creates an impression of constant progress. The realities of politics are very different. An example: as we speak, John Kerry is negotiating peace talks between Israel and Palestine, while at the same time Israel announces the construction of 1400 new settlements on occupied land. While everyone speaks about a two-state solution, the constant scattering of the West Bank through the building of new control posts, security fences and walls are making such a solution practically impossible.

      The discourse of peace creates a thick veil, concealing the increasingly tighter besiegement of Gaza, the ongoing fragmentation of the West Bank and the continuing discrimination of Arab-Israeli citizens. By encouraging ‘dialogue’ and ‘tolerance’ as ideals, I am afraid that my voice will do nothing but to increase the already dysfunctional divide between words and action in a conflict where no one seems to trust each other’s intentions.

      I know that I disappoint many of my Israeli listeners and I am truthfully sorry that it has to stay like this for now. I believe that you will understand, although you might not agree. Again, I encourage you to read Jello Biafra’s article, which provides many perspectives and no clear answers to the questions he has been faced with. Like him, I am overwhelmed by the complexity of the situation. Therefore, I will be going to Israel and to the West Bank to see things with my own eyes, meet some of the people who have joined the discussion and try to understand the situation better.

      As long as ‘dialogue’ continues to be a goal in itself and not a means to solve one of the deepest, most intense conflicts of this time, I will not lend my voice to it. For now I’ll keep away, hoping that things can change for the better and that one day I can carry through with my very first concert on an Israeli stage.

      Meanwhile, today (Saturday) Cyndi Lauper performed in Tel Aviv.

      link to my.firedoglake.com

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 3:41 pm

        Yes some artists cave in to boycott demands and some don’t, good for them.

      • amigo
        January 4, 2014, 4:20 pm

        “Yes some artists cave in to boycott demands and some don’t, good for them.”oleg

        That,s because some artists have morals and some don,t .We know which you support eh zio.

      • seafoid
        January 4, 2014, 4:55 pm

        In a few years the only supporters of Israel left in Europe will be Jews and Germans and Dutch over 60.

    • Walid
      January 4, 2014, 3:59 pm

      Oleg, the video was very perplexing. How could people write such tender words and yet admire torturers of people? Who is going to save the Palestinians from the darkness and the depth of Israel’s oppression? Something’s not right if I listen to the song and think of what the evil of Zionism is doing to the Palestinians. I think of Israelis being at ease only with militaristic music.

      • OlegR
        January 4, 2014, 4:18 pm

        Raichel was not admiring Zehavi he was making a hyperbolic argument.

        /Who is going to save the Palestinians from the darkness and the depth of Israel’s oppression?/
        I would venture and take a guess that it would be a Palestinian leadership first of all willing tell a painful truth to their people.
        Israel is there to stay , it will remain a Jewish state, with a sizable Palestinian minority but, a Jewish state.
        We have to accept it and try and build our own state from what we have got.
        (Joprdan btw is also what the Palestinians have got but they are being very hush hush about it )
        No we are not going back to Haifa Lidda or Acco.
        That would be a start.

        But there are delusions i don’t think there ever will be such leadership
        so i have no idea Walid as to how this is gonna be resolved.

        /I think of Israelis being at ease only with militaristic music./
        Actually as militaristic music goes it more on the lines of
        “shooting and crying” style or anti military “was is hell ” songs.
        We are very reflexive.
        This here is a good example from a good movie.

        An explanation what goes on in Lebanon from a simple grunt.
        link to youtu.be

        and a song to match.

    • talknic
      January 4, 2014, 5:41 pm

      @OlegR “I don’t think any less of Roger Waters the great musician of Pink Floyd fame just because Roger Waters the man turned out to be a hypocritical little bigot”

      False accusations are against the basic tenets of Judaism. Why do you make them?

      • OlegR
        January 5, 2014, 7:22 am

        What have you got against Pink Floyd, they were great.

      • talknic
        January 5, 2014, 9:05 am

        OlegR “What have you got against Pink Floyd, they were great”

        Instead of providing evidence to back your claim that Roger Waters is a hypocritical little bigot, you make a nonsensical comment. So typical.

      • just
        January 5, 2014, 9:25 am

        Reminds me of Jethro Tull’s:

        “Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
        My words but a whisper your deafness a SHOUT.
        I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
        Your sperm’s in the gutter your love’s in the sink.
        So you ride yourselves over the fields and
        you make all your animal deals and
        your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.”

        …..

        “You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone,
        you meet the stares, you’re unaware that your doings aren’t done.
        And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
        But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
        I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
        your rings upon your fingers
        and your downy little sidies
        and your silver-buckle shoes.
        Playing at the hard case,
        you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
        who lets you bend the rules.”

        Thick as a Brick.

  7. richards1052
    January 4, 2014, 5:10 pm

    Thanks Henry for mentioning my exposure of Doron Zahavi’s identity in 2010. Even today, Haaretz, in its own “scoop” “exposing” his name isn’t acknowledging my role. Bad case of journalistic amnesia. But you did.

    As for Raichel, yes I didn’t know much about his politics when I wrote about his music. It’s the damndest thing that a brilliant performer can have such vile politics.

    I should add that Raichel also performed at a rock festival in Nokdim the settlement that Avigdor Lieberman calls home. That was my first indication that Raichel’s politics were so objectionable. Thanks for writing this post.

    • Walid
      January 4, 2014, 5:19 pm

      Greetings, Richard.

    • Henry Norr
      January 4, 2014, 6:08 pm

      Thank you, Richard, for your work on this case and everything else.

      Of course, it’s not just Haaretz that fails to give you credit – same goes, as far as I can see, for the JPost, Ynet, etc. Did anyone give you credit?

      MW readers who are interested in the Capt. George/Zahavi saga should definitely check out Richard’s several posts about it over the last several years. In addition to the one I linked to above, see in particular Captain George (aka Doron Zahavi) Rides Again from Dec. 18, 2011 and IDF Torturer Doron Zahavi Wants to Sodomize Arabs and Get Medal for It from Feb. 5, 2012. (Maybe the latter is where Raichel got the idea of giving him a medal!)

      Nokdim is part of the Gush Etzion bloc, isn’t it? I believe it was Raichel’s performance there, as part of a 40th-anniversary celebration for the Gush Etzion settlements, that inspired the Gush Shalom call for boycotting him.

      • seafoid
        January 5, 2014, 3:21 pm

        Lieberman lives in Nokdim. Total scumbag, one of the most powerful Zionists and a settler.

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