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“Trust, concern and respect” are the key words in Haverford College’s honor code.
This weekend at least some Haverford students who care about Israel weren’t feeling as if any of those terms applied to them.
There was an event at Haverford College on Sunday, Nov. 24, called “The Soldier and the Refusenik.” The two speakers who presented are traveling throughout the U.S. on a fundraising tour for their organization, Anarchists Against the Wall. That organization attacks not only the “Occupation,” but Israel’s very existence.
And perhaps worst of all, the Haverford Center for Peace and Global Citizenship was not only a co-sponsor of the event, it also provided technical and financial assistance.
During Sunday’s program, students were told by Israel-critical Israelis such “facts” as:
- Israel uses the “West Bank” and Gaza as its own private lab where it experiments on Palestinian Arabs and then sells the weapons it perfects to the “worst dictators in the world, including the United States”;
- Israeli soldiers kidnap young Arab children from their homes in the middle of the night. The Israelis then hold those children in military detention centers for one to three days, during which time the children aren’t given any water or allowed to see their parents or a lawyer. The Israelis then coerce the children into lying and saying that certain Arab leaders told the children to throw stones at Israeli soldiers. The Israeli soldiers then release the children and arrest the Arab leaders;
- Israeli soldiers pretend to be Arabs and join the “peaceful, non-violent Palestinian Arab demonstrations.” The soldiers pretending to be Arabs then throw stones at the Israelis, which unleashes the “hundreds of IDF soldiers” with guns and tear gas canisters who were waiting for the legitimacy provided by the undercover IDF to attack the non-violent Arab protesters;
- Under Israel’s military law, any threat to Israeli rule is terrorism. In fact, any Arab who does not “wholeheartedly” accept the occupation is officially deemed a terrorist.
Many of those underhanded strategies of entrapment and undercover work are essential, the speakers explain, because “the IDF can’t have these Ghandi types undermining our Occupation.” That’s right. The speakers described the Arab Palestinian leadership who are getting arrested as “Ghandi types.”
FIRST, THE FORMER SOLDIER
The presentation began with the former soldier, Eran Efrati. Efrati has a buoyant, engaging personality. He wove a very personal tale of his early childhood in a typical Israeli Zionist home, one in which his Auschwitz-survivor grandmother also lived. The Nazis’ arrest of his grandmother’s father in the middle of the night was an episode seared into her brain, and also Eran’s, especially because it seemed so arbitrary.
The word “arbitrary” was a leitmotif of Efrati’s talk. He wove it into his own experiences in the IDF and those of other soldiers who, according to Efrati’s tale, arbitrarily arrest and terrorize Palestinian Arabs.
As he tells it, there was a pivotal moment in Efrati’s military career which scarred him. But rather than the story revealing a fundamental malevolence in the Israeli military, it sounded more like a description of a moment in which Efrati could have, but failed to, do the right thing. As a direct result of his own inaction, an apparently innocent Arab was arrested and held for days.
The short version of that story is Efrati, stationed in Hebron, tried to make friends with the local Palestinian Arab children by bringing them candies and the ubiquitous peanut butter snack, Bamba. One child finally took a packet of Bamba from Efrati, and offered Efrati a piece. That sent Efrati into paroxysms of joy – he was “fulfilling his destiny.” But that very same night Efrati was tapped for night mapping exercise.
A Mapping exercise is when the IDF go into Arab homes in the middle of the night, wake everyone up, and as the male head of household takes them through the house, an IDF troop makes detailed drawings of the inside of the house. The reason given for the mapping exercise is so that in case of a terrorist attack, the IDF knows all the means of ingress and egress from all the homes.
Of course on the night of Efrati’s rise to grace the last home he is told to go into is the one in which the young boy who shared the Bamba with him lives. Somehow Efrati ends up in the bedroom of the boy who is standing there, stark naked. Efrati points his gun at the boy’s head and the boy wets himself. At that moment the boy’s father comes in the room and starts screaming and hitting the boy, yelling “don’t take him, he’ll be punished!” Just then, Efrati’s fellow soldiers enter the room and, thinking Efrati was in danger, they arrest the father.
Efrati gets in the jeep where the father was placed, and goes with them where the father is “tied up for days at the entrance to the base.” Finally Efrati asks his officer what is going to happen with the Arab man and the officer tells Efrati to release him. You see the point? The arrest and the detention of the father was simply arbitrary. Just like the Nazis did to Efrati’s great grandfather. Why Efrati never explained to his fellow soldiers that the father had done nothing wrong is not addressed.
The “refusenik” (yes, it is indeed insulting to call Israelis who refuse army service refuseniks when the term of course is used to refer to the Soviet Jews who were “refused” the ability to flee from the Soviet Union. This was pointed out at the end of the event, and the two Israelis claimed they never heard the term used for Soviet Jewry and didn’t mean respect, but really, there is a similarity, isn’t there? No.), Maya Wind, is an Israeli woman who, upon graduation from high school, refused to serve in the “occupation” army. She was part of the infamous Shministim, the refusers.
Although Wind occasionally finds a heartstring to pull, she isn’t the softy that Efrati is. Her grandparents were also Holocaust survivors, but they “built their socialist kibbutz, Nir David, on the ruins of Palestinian villages.”
Wind is the political and economic theorist, and more of a slogan slugger than her counterpart. While Efrati is a lovable lug who just wants everyone to be nice to each other, Wind is all about explaining the economic exploitation of everyone by the massive military industrial complex that is the state of Israel.
Wind provided a five point checklist “proving” the entire Israeli economy relies on the “Occupation.”
First, there is the economic exploitation of Palestinian labor. This includes the checkpoints and the menial jobs in Israel the Arabs are forced to take. Second, there is the exploitation of the Arab’s natural resources. This is illustrated with slides of Israeli swimming pools juxtaposed with dessicated Arab fields. None of the Gaza water parks or swimming pools of PA millionaire’s homes are shown for some reason.
Third,Wind ticks off, is the Israeli control of the Arab population. This refers back to the checkpoints, the security fence and the security forces. Fourth, is the massive weapons complex that is Israel. Wind shared with the audience that Israel has the fourth largest military industry in the world – but it’s such a tiny country! Wind really got into the jargon on this one – the multinational corporations make millions of dollars, as do the Israeli contractors, amongst whom are the military elite and the “hundreds of thousands” of private security forces in Israel, some of which are exported internationally. Fifth is the military knowledge and expertise that is exported all over the world.
This last step is where the rhetoric really ratcheted up. You see, Wind explained, “for decades Israel has been marketing itself as a global leader in counter insurgency and counter terrorism.”
“But this would not be possible if we did not have our own private lab – the West Bank and Gaza – to try them [the weapons and tactics] on the Palestinians, and then sell them elsewhere.” And the elsewhere, she explains, is to a list of the world’s most brutal dictatorships.
“The Israeli military elites are literally making a killing off this economy,” Wind intones.
CO-SPONSORED BY HAVERFORD, BUT FUNDRAISING FOR ANARCHIST FEDERATION ORGANIZATION
The event was co-sponsored by the Haverford Center for Peace and Global Citizenship and the college’s Students for Justice in Palestine.
The speakers were introduced by a member of the Haverford Students for Justice in Palestine. In addition to providing background information on the two speakers, she also thanked the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship for its “financial and technical assistance.”
During the course of the evening the speakers asked for donations for their causes. That’s right, Haverford College – indirectly, but still – is raising funds for a radical leftist political organization known as Anarchists Against the Wall, a member of the International of Anarchist Federations.
The Center self-describes as a source of “innovative scholarship and responsible civic engagement around issues of global significance” by sponsoring and supporting a broad menu of programs.
At the close of the presentation one of the students in the audience asked whether the speakers thought their presentation was likely to “make students more hopeful towards finding a solution, or feel more rage, more anger towards one side.”
That was a question aimed directly at the mission of the Haverford Center for Peace.
But Wind missed the softball. Her response was that although there may be two sides to most stories, just as with the Jim Crow laws in the American South, or with Apartheid South Africa, “one side doesn’t have such a good case.”
In other words, Israel is beyond the pale. And, not surprisingly, both speakers adamantly support the economic and legal warfare movement against Israel known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. They also both reject the Two States idea and instead hope to see Israel become “one secular, democratic state.” Wind acknowledged that Jews would become a minority in such a state.
“So what? Jews live very nicely as minorities elsewhere, such as in Iran, Jews are a little people, they’re going to have to get used to minority status.”
After sharing their fantasies and fabrications with the Haverford College crowd, Efrati and Wind went on to the University of Pennsylvania where they spoke Monday evening. Next up on their dance card is the University of Maryland on Dec. 2, and American University on Dec. 4. Their fundraising tour continues throughout the U.S. into this spring.
Parker Snow, executive director of the Haverford Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, failed to return numerous phone calls from The Jewish Press on Monday.
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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