Join 3,572 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Why Rebels Must Be Middle Class
January 30, 2005 7:15 PM   Subscribe

Israeli Pro-Palestinian activist Tali Fahima to remain in custody. Tali Fahima grew up in a conservative desert town in Israel and voted Likud for years. As the second intifada erupted she read about the brutality of the occupation on the Internet and eventually travelled to Jenin refugee camp where she met Zakariyeh Zbeideh, a local leader of the terrorist organization and Fatah offshoot, Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade. She was arrested and jailed in Israel, accused of translating a document for Zbeideh into Arabic. that allowed him to warn fighters marked for Israeli assassination.

Fahima has been under arrest nearly six months. Her case has gained prominence not just because she is an Israeli Jew supporting Palestinian resistance but because she is a Mizrahi, a Sephardic or "Arab" Jew. This group has historically formed a solid bloc of support for aggressive policies against the Palestinians. [MI]
posted by By The Grace of God (30 comments total)

 
I personally think Fahima's actions were naive and dangerous, but her treatment by the Israeli authorities reflects its double standards of justice that affect Israeli Jews as well as Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. It's also noteworthy that the internet exposed Fahima to alternative news sources and gave her the opportunity to talk to Palestinians directly.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:22 PM on January 30, 2005


I personally think Fahima's actions were naive and dangerous, but ...

Which actions, specifically?
posted by VP_Admin at 8:10 PM on January 30, 2005


I just can't understand what she was thinking. Sure, the Israelis might be wrong in some of their actions with regard to the Palestinians, but the terrorists sure as hell aren't the ones who are right. A peace activist should have as much hostility toward terrorist leaders as anyone.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2005


Might want to try reading the links VP_Admin.

She is charged with giving information to the enemy, having contact with a foreign agent, unlawful possession of weapons and supporting a terror organization.

As Mitrovarr said, objection to Israeli policy does not excuse friendly jaunts to chat with murderers.
posted by loquax at 10:26 PM on January 30, 2005


Wow, wow, wow there!

translating a document for Zbeideh into Arabic

You make it sound as though she might as well have translated Pablo Neruda's love sonnets! Let's RTFA, ok?

Fahima was accused of translating and reading to Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades members sensitive material the Israel Defense Forces had lost during an operation in the West Bank city of Jenin in May 2004.

Let's also remember that Fatah [wikipedia] is responsible for suicide bombings in Israel.

And, as loquax says: unlawful possession of weapons.

Finally, Hebrew adjectives are inflected for gender. Mizrahi can only modify male nouns. Since Tali is a woman, she'd be a mizrahit.
posted by ori at 1:27 AM on January 31, 2005


Oh, and as fair contra, here is a list of attacks on Israeli civilians for which Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade claimed responsibility [via terrorismanswers]:

# A pair of January 2003 suicide bombings in downtown Tel Aviv that killed 23 people and injured about 100 more, in one of the bloodiest attacks of the current Palestinian uprising;
# A November 2002 shooting spree at a kibbutz in northern Israel that killed five Israelis, including two children, and wounded seven more;
# A March 2002 suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed three Israelis, prompting Israel to call off ceasefire talks with Arafat’s Palestinian Authority;
# Another March 2002 suicide bombing in a Jerusalem café that killed 11 Israelis and wounded more than 50;
# A March 2002 sniper attack on an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank in which the gunman methodically killed 10Israelis, including seven Israeli soldiers, before escaping;
# A January 2002 suicide attack in Jerusalem by a female terrorist that killed an elderly man and wounded about 40 other people.

I am incensed by how irresponsible this post is. The articles you link to present Zakariyeh Zbeideh as some sort of folk hero. I realize you must be looking for some excitement to populate your pedestrian life, but stick to the choir and sermons and leave the politics to those who have some inkling of what it means to think critically.
posted by ori at 2:59 AM on January 31, 2005


ori, that's a nice list of killings. It helps me to get an idea of why Tali Fahima and others act as they do when I peruse the figures at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, which clearly show that even after adjustment for combatant / non combatant status, the Israeli Defence Force has killed more civilians that the Al-Aqsa brigade and all the other Palestinian terrorist groups put together.

Hamas, Al Aqsa and so on repeatedly kill soldiers and civilians. The Israeli army repeatedly kills slightly more soldiers and slightly more civilians. You may wish to reconsider pointing fingers.
posted by tripitaka at 4:19 AM on January 31, 2005


take it to email, ori. I sure didn't ad-hominem you! Read my back posts. Love and kisses!
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:20 AM on January 31, 2005


ori, the main link is to Haaretz, not -- gasp! -- The Independent. nobody is endorsing suicide bombings here -- let's by all means all RTFA, but you also may wish to calm the fuck down. it's an interesting story and a good link.
posted by matteo at 8:23 AM on January 31, 2005


It's obvious that this woman acted in an extreme way and was not working to advance the cause of peace. But it's also important to remember that Israelis are among the most heavily-propagandized people on earth. Just a few miles away from their homes, people are being murdered regularly by an oppressive army force whose primary (not only, of course) goal is to protect the illegal colonization of adjacent land, and yet most Israelis are utterly ignorant to that reality. When confronted with a blast of a different reality, it is understandably how this might trigger an almost pyschotic break in someone who may not have been that stable to begin with.
posted by chaz at 8:47 AM on January 31, 2005


chaz: But it's also important to remember that Israelis are among the most heavily-propagandized people on earth.

I think this is an unnecessary conclusion. You can doubt the actions of the Israeli government; but if you've ever met any Israelis, you know that they tend to be some of the most politically-informed people on the face of the planet. You say that "most Israelis are utterly ignorant" of what goes on in the occupied territories; but this statement is shown to be dramatically false when one reads Haaretz or the Jerusalem Post for a few days. Really, read them a little; these are fairly good news sources, and pretty far from propadandist.

Since it isn't possible for all of us to go to Israel, and since I can't conjure an Israeli for you right here (though there are probably some here who could help), try for a moment putting yourself in the shoes of the Israelis. Their nation was founded by a bunch of Jews who had it in their head that the best way to overcome racism, and especially the extremely violent European racism of their time, was to leave and to found a new nation in another place. A lot of people in Israel probably think that such ideals might have been naive, but the principle of democracy is a good one, and it's strong in Israel.

No matter what you think of the actions of the Israeli government, really, try to get to know some Israelis. You'll find that the situation is much more complicated than we foreigners understand; as always, the polarization and simplification of the issues involved increase exponentially as you move away from their local source.

btw: matteo, I agree that this is interesting. But ori's concerns are somewhat realistic, if only because of the choice of stories. In fact, the original post seems a little contradictory to me. Her actions were "naive and dangerous," but her treatment "reflects double standards?" Well, maybe, but since we're not asking for the Israeli government to let all terrorists, on both wings, out of jail, shouldn't we be pointing to some cases where right-wing terrorists are let off easy? (Though I don't think such cases really exist much-- the Israeli government has been diligent in arresting right-wing militants for the last few years. I mean, since their Prime Minister was killed by one; and also because their current prime minister is more hated by them than any in recent memory, at least over the last year or so.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:31 AM on January 31, 2005


When confronted with a blast of a different reality, it is understandably how this might trigger an almost pyschotic break in someone who may not have been that stable to begin with.

This isn't psychotic break behavior, this is obviously the result of long-term planning and communication. If this guy was easy to find, he'd already be dead. She must have spoken with him over a long term to gain his trust well enough to get his location. I'd be surprised if she hasn't assisted them before.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:40 AM on January 31, 2005


Koeselitz,

I lived in Israel on and off for the last 6 years and many of my closest friends are well-educated and politically informed Israelis. Members of my family are Israeli. I stand by my assertion that Israelis are among the most heavily propagandized people on the planet. This is not to say that all or even many people buy into everything they are told.

I would say it's you who needs to meet more Israelis and try to understand the situation a little better. Most Israelis who visit the US, and who you are likely to come in contact with as a foreign tourist, are the type who are well educated and have at least some idea about what's happening in their country, even if they don't 100% believe it. However there are vast swathes of society, especially the further you get from Tel Aviv/Haifa/Jerusalem where people are completely ignorant, and this is the geographic and socioeconomic place where the woman in question is from-- which is what led me to the conclusion that her extreme actions have at least some root in the fact that she has been ignorant to the situation her entire life.

As for democracy being strong in Israel, that is true-- as long as you are a Jew. The Israeli government has de-facto control over the lives of 11m people, but only 6m can vote. Of those 6m, 1/6th are second-class citizens with routine and institutional discrimination in virtualy every sphere of public life (mainly infrastructure, education, and public spending). I would say that democracy as a whole is very weak in Israel, however there is hope that institutions can reform to make the system work for all religions.

Mitovarr, I don't know anything about pyschiatry so maybe it was the wrong choice, but what I meant was I believe her extreme reaction (not the single meeting, but the entire shift in her orientation) could be in part caused by the deep ignorance she talks about having before she changed her mind and embarked on her new identity.
posted by chaz at 9:59 AM on January 31, 2005


chaz: Point taken. I'm sorry to have presumed. Usually, these days, when people say, "Israelis are..." they aren't talking from experience as you are; and, in some crowds, Israelis are routinely criticized as a bunch of simplistic bigots; this is troubling for me, especially as Israel's survival is important to my country, the United States. But I know that I don't know much about popular movements, and I know that the Israeli right is as bloody and skewed as can be. I should look into those more.

Again, sorry if I sounded insulting.
posted by koeselitz at 11:31 AM on January 31, 2005


No offence taken, I understand where you are coming from also. Furthemore, you made a really excellent point which I should have highlighted, which is that people living with the conflict day-to-day definitely have more nuanced and shaded views on the subject (and in my experience are much more likely to be amenable to a fair peace settlement) then those commenting from outside the region.
posted by chaz at 12:01 PM on January 31, 2005


to leave and to found a new nation in another place
What a wealth of sins are hidden behind that bland phrase!
posted by lathrop at 12:25 PM on January 31, 2005


if you've ever met any Israelis, you know that they tend to be some of the most politically-informed people on the face of the planet.

as much as I dislike generalizations, I really second this -- Israel strikes me as at the very least a heaven for political junkies. the political debate there is as strong and well-informed as you can get worldwide, I guess (but then, as mentioned above, I meet the Israelis who travel abroad. I don't personally know, for example, any settlers).

I have to strongly disagree with the depiction of the Post as propaganda-free. I read the online, English language edition so I can't judge the Hebrew original, but really, their English edition is about as propaganda-free as FoxNews is. I understand Likudniks generally hate Ha'aretz with a vengeance, so there's probably a strong point of view there, too
posted by matteo at 12:40 PM on January 31, 2005


Just as an aside, there is no Hebrew original of the Jerusalem Post; it is published exclusively in English and French.
posted by boaz at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2005


matteo: I don't really believe that the JPost isn't biased. But slanted doesn't make something "propaganda." There are countries in the world where people can only read state-run newspapers. The JPost isn't a state-run newspaper-- the Likudniks don't have an iron grip on power, either-- and I mentioned it alongside Haaretz in order to point out that there is at least something like a diversity of news sources. There are more than these two papers in Israel, too.

For those interested, the Wikipedia articles on the two papers are worthwhile.
posted by koeselitz at 2:01 PM on January 31, 2005


Hamas, Al Aqsa and so on repeatedly kill soldiers and civilians. The Israeli army repeatedly kills slightly more soldiers and slightly more civilians. You may wish to reconsider pointing fingers.

tripitaka, you might want to take a much, much better look at that very same database you linked to. Particularly Figure 2.9 and Figure 2.10--the part where it mentions that 79.1% of Israelis killed were non-combatants, compared to 18.8% of Palestinians killed. Absolute numbers of the dead on both sides are shocking, and absolute numbers of non-combatant Palestinian deaths are indeed, as you point out, slightly higher than non-combatant Israeli deaths. But the entire reason for the existence of that database, as its opening paragraphs and bullet points makes clear, is that raw data is meaningless without the context of gender/age/civilian status/dates of attacks and other statistical breakdowns, all of which clearly show a difference in who the attackers are and who the victims are on both sides.

Also, it's not clear whether or not the listed number of Palestinian non-combatants killed takes into account the numbers killed by Palestinians, because in at least one section of the paper, it doesn't: "The number of Palestinians killed by actions of their own side – including suicide bombers, “work accidents”, collaborators, and people killed in intra-Palestinian fighting – has increased strongly over time. So far, over 200 Palestinians have died in this way; they represent more than twelve percent of the total Palestinians killed (see Graph 1.11)."

In any case, the data is at least seven months out of date. I would be curious to see the updates to their then-tentative "Phase Four" nomenclature and whether they'll go with a "Phase Five" that concentrates specifically on the rocket attack/IDF retribution tit-for-tat surrounding the Gaza pullout.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:52 PM on January 31, 2005


lathrop: You name a country in human history without those sins.
posted by semmi at 8:08 PM on January 31, 2005


But it's also important to remember that Israelis are among the most heavily-propagandized people on earth.

I don't necessarily agree with this. In my experience, Israeli news, especially Haaretz, tends to be much more objective, and critical, of the occupation than any major American newspaper, which are consistently and depressingly free of historical context.

Also, Palestinians are heavily propagandized, largely by default given the limited news choices available to them.

Aparagirl, you make interesting points, but it must be taken into account that the large majority of civilian deaths caused by the IDF are committed in the act of defending an illegal military occupation and illegal Jewish settlements. The same general legal reasoning applies here as when a robber shoots and kills someone in the course of a burglary: regardless of whether he originally intended to commit murder, given that the killing took place in the course of a crime, under the law the burglar is now guilty of murder. There is simply no moral equivalence between deaths caused in the course of defending an illegal occupation, and deaths caused in the course of resisiting that occupation.
posted by Dr. Boom at 8:58 PM on January 31, 2005


but it must be taken into account that the large majority of civilian deaths caused by the IDF are committed in the act of defending an illegal military occupation and illegal Jewish settlements.

Sez you.

Seriously, that's sort of the whole question here, isn't it? Your illegal occupation is another's hard-fought home. And vice-versa. And your logic is plain wacko when you somehow claim that homicide bombers targeting children in discos and buses are justified in any reality. Read your reasoning again. Did you honestly mean what you said? If so your moral compass deeply disturbs me.
posted by loquax at 9:07 PM on January 31, 2005


Sez you.

And sez Ariel Sharon, who nearly two years finally recognized what the rest of world knew to be true, that the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza in fact is an occupation.

Seriously, that's sort of the whole question here, isn't it? Your illegal occupation is another's hard-fought home.

That is utter trash. Leaving aside, though of course never forgetting, the issues involved in the Zionist conquest and takeover of Palestine, given that Sharon himself has recognized that Israel maintains an occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, and given that Israel is a signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which assigns certain responsibilities to occupying powers (responsibilities which Israel has consistently failed to meet), suggesting that my "illegal occupation is another's hard-fought home" is to suggest that you are simply unmoored from reality.

I suggest you read my post again, and find where I approved of suicide bombing (your use of the risible non- sequitur "homicide bomber" immediately identifies you as someone who watches Fox News for something other than entertainment)? I don't defend violence against civilians, but I think attacks against an occupying army (as well as against settlements, which are an integral and especially disgraceful part of Israel's occupation endeavor) are entirely justified. In the case of settlements, it is the Israeli government who, through both economic incentives and manipulation zealous religiosity, has cynically placed its own citizens in harm's way.

Or I suppose that I could assert that Palestinian terrorists are simply endeavoring toward a "hard-fought home," just as did the terrorists who helped to found Israel.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:35 PM on January 31, 2005


There is simply no moral equivalence between deaths caused in the course of defending an illegal occupation, and deaths caused in the course of resisting that occupation.

Perhaps it was my mistake. What does this sentence mean? Asparagirl brought forward the fact that almost 80% of casualties on the Israeli side are civilians and that was your response (along with a ham-handed analogy about robbers or something). What am I to infer from that but that you approve of the tactics employed by those "resisting" the "occupation" by engaging in homicide by way of bombs?

Regardless, I did not mean to stir up this long and complicated argument that has been discussed to death here. Violence aside, who are any of us to say who is right and who is wrong. I only took objection to your statement of fact regarding the relative legal situation and your assignment of the moral imperative to the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Aqsa and friends. We'll have to cheerfully agree to disagree about what's up and down over there.
posted by loquax at 10:33 PM on January 31, 2005


Asparagirl brought forward the fact that almost 80% of casualties on the Israeli side are civilians and that was your response (along with a ham-handed analogy about robbers or something). What am I to infer from that but that you approve of the tactics employed by those "resisting" the "occupation" by engaging in homicide by way of bombs?

My point is that a very large part of the deaths on the Israeli side can be attributed to resistance of, and rage over, the occupation. It is true that there are Palestinian elements which reject Israel's existence right out (and I do not support those elements. I believe that Israel should be able to exist in peace and security within its 1967 borders), but according to survey research which I've seen a broad majority of Palestinians would be happy to coexist with Israel, and it is the occupation (which at this point exists primarily to facilitate the expansion of settlements), and the daily harassment and humiliation that it entails, which continues to radicalize Palestinians.

Your complaints notwithstanding, my analogy to murder committed in the course of a burglary is entirely appropriate: Israel is in fact in maintaining illegal occupation and colonization, and Palestinian deaths which can be attributed to Israel's defense of that occupation and colonization effort should be classified simply as murder.
posted by Dr. Boom at 10:56 PM on January 31, 2005


Dr. Boom, in 2000, for better or worse, a choice was made made the Palestinian people. That choice was not for peaceful co-existence or further negotiation with the support of the world, but for the violence and turmoil of the last 5 years in search of what? A better deal? An extra 10%? 20%? Marching the Zionists into the Mediterranean? I honestly have no idea, but I know enough to blame Arafat. To claim that Israeli military action against mostly hostile and murderous enemies is protecting an occupation is to ignore Arafat's megalomaniacal hunger for glory, and his damning of his own people in search of it. The Palestinian people are indeed harassed and humiliated, and they are certainly not free. But there is a long list of those I would blame for that before I would blame Israel. The "occupation and colonization" would have been over for years but for the actions of the "leadership" of the PA and the thuggery of the usual suspects.
posted by loquax at 11:13 PM on January 31, 2005


loquax, I'm impressed that you were able to compress so much wrong within a single paragraph. Your entire statement is a laughably, tragically ignorant repetition of received wisdom (were you in fact reading from an AIPAC press release?). Arafat deserves his share of the blame, but certainly no more. The myth of Israel's "generous offer" at Camp David has been conclusively discredited at this point, and is taken seriously by no one except Likud types and their useful idiots.

For you to locate the cause of the I/P conflict solely in Palestinian rejectionism, after almost forty years of Israeli occupation, colonization, expropriation, house demolition, IDF thuggery, and general harassment and humiliation (Baruch Kimmerling has termed it politicide), is to reveal yourself a fool of the first order.
posted by Dr. Boom at 9:16 AM on February 1, 2005


Dr. Boom: Right. So obviously when confronted with that mythical Camp David offer the appropriate reaction was to riot, murder Israeli civilians as a matter of policy and throw away years of hard-fought economic and political gains. Like it or not, in 2000 the Palestinians fired the first shot, led by Arafat and then dominated by the various radical terrorists. I am not discussing the last 40 years of history, only the last 4.

I'm sure we'll never agree on what an equitable solution to the problem will be, but you must agree that an imperfect and even an "unfair" peaceful, two-state solution would have been better than the thousands of deaths on both sides, and the undoubtedly less "fair" solution that will result.
posted by loquax at 10:40 AM on February 1, 2005


Like it or not, in 2000 the Palestinians fired the first shot

You are incorrect. First of all, it is a distortion to say that the Palestinians "fired the first shot". It's true that a Palestinian security officer killed his Israeli counterpart during a joint patrol, and it's true that a single Israeli soldier died in a roadside bomb a few days before that. However both of these incidents were minor, involved soldiers (not civiliams) on occupied land, and could have been smoothed over if both sides had acted better. In fact, the Taba negotiations, which got much closer to an acceptable settlement based on international law, was being brokered all during this period! But the violence which was inflamed into the deaths of thousands was clearly initiated by Israel's consistent and pervasive lack of respect for Palestinian life.

On September 29, 2000, one day after Sharon's provocative 'visit' (in which he brought 1,000 heavily armed "body guards" to the Temple Mount), 4 Palestinians were killed while throwing stones at Israeli riot police during a demonstration which got out of hand. 200 Palestinians were injured, as well as several Israeli riot police and soldiers.

61 Palestinians and 12 (unaarmed) Arab-Israeli citizens were killed in the next couple of weeks, before the first post-Sharon-visit Israeli death. The first suicide bombing takes place months later.

Compare that reaction to stone-throwing to the recent Israeli settler demonstrations where they hurled stones at riot police. There can be no dount that Israel has one standard for Jews, and another for its Arab subjects. It is this heavy-handed, murderous response to unarmed rioters which is the "spark" which has, in my opinion, brought us to where we are today. That is just my opinion, and you are welcome to disagree with the underlying causes, but an examination of the facts should tell you that at the very least, Israel's deadly crowd-control techniques caused the first civilian deaths in the current conflict.

I do not disagree that Arafat and the terrorists are equal partners in ignominity with various Israeli governments. But I can also not overlook the fact that one side is an occupying power, and the other is under seige. I also think it's important to have an accurate representation of history, especially the last 4 years. Even the most biased, Pro-Israel website will tell you that after Sharon's visit, there were a minimum of 65 Palestinian deaths before the first Israeli was killed, and something like 100 before the first Israeli civilian died.
posted by chaz at 11:14 AM on February 1, 2005


« Older "Unsatisfactory movie viewing can only be attribut...   |   filmaffinity.com... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments