By Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem
Paul Auster, a prominent American Jewish writer, apparently couldn't overcome his tribal instincts recently when he sought to desperately justify his double standards of criticizing Turkey's record on human rights while keeping completely reticent about Israel's scandalous maltreatment of non-Jews, particularly its thoroughly-tormented and discriminated-against Palestinian subjects.
Instead of quietly admitting his moral duplicity, Auster resorted to evasiveness and prevarication, saying that all countries had their failings and no country is perfect.
Earlier, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan called Auster an ignoramus for visiting the apartheid Israeli state but not Turkey .
"If he comes, so what? If he doesn't come so what? Will Turkey lose prestige?" Erdogan was quoted as saying.
In a statement released last week and published in the New York Times' Arts Beat blog, the Zionist author sought to defend his decision to boycott Turkey , saying that whatever the Turkish Prime Minister might think about Israel , the fact is that free speech exists there and no writers or journalists are in jail.
Well, in truth Israel has no true freedom of speech. And it is not true that journalists are not detained and imprisoned in the self-described Jewish state.
In fact, journalists are detained and imprisoned in Israel for a host of reasons ranging from violating censorship laws to refusing to disclose their sources of information. In addition, intellectuals, including Jewish intellectuals, are barred from entering Israel if they are critical of Israel's racist policies and notoriously criminal practices against the Palestinians.
Israel, for example, has barred two American Jewish intellectuals, Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein for criticizing Israeli policies and crimes.
This writer, too, has been repeatedly suppressed and abused for speaking up against Jewish fascism and racism. Expressions of this abuse included, inter alia, a prolonged and continuing travel ban, closure of a press office and a closure of an East Jerusalem newspaper. Some years ago, the Israeli "Civil Administration" in the West Bank ordered all Arabic newspapers in the occupied territory to refrain from publishing any article by me for reasons I still don't know.
Today, there are many journalists who are imprisoned in Israeli detention camps without charge or trial. For example, Nawaf el Amer, who hails from the village of Beit Furik near Nablus, has been languishing in an Israeli military jail for working with a "hostile medium," a reference to the Beirut-based al-Quds satellite TV.
His lawyer has repeatedly appealed to the Israeli judicial authorities to inform him of the charges against his client but to no avail.
Amin Abu Warda, a Nablus journalist, is also being held in Israeli dungeons without charge or trial. According to the Tadamun Foundation for Human Rights, Abu Warda has been sent to administrative detention (a euphemism for being held hostage without charge or trial) for five months extendable, starting Wednesday, 8 January.
The flagrant imprisonment was ordered at the request of the Israel's domestic security agency, the Shin Beth.
Tadamun said in a press release that Abu Warda, 46, was taken from his home in Nablus on 28 December, 2011 and that he was being held in the Megiddo prison.
The group said the administrative detention to which the Palestinian journalist was subjected to was utterly illegal and unjust and that it proved that the Shin Beth was unable to produce any indicting or incriminating evidence against him that would stand a court hearing.
Similarly, Samer Allawi, al Jazeera's correspondent in Afghanistan was imprisoned incommunicado for several weeks and reportedly tortured by Israeli interrogators on frivolous charges.
Allawi came to the West Bank for a brief visit to his family and was arrested upon reaching the Allenby border crossing.
Eventually, every effort by the Israeli security authorities to concoct charges against the man failed, forcing them to release the 45-year-old journalist.
None the less, Israeli violations of freedom of speech are a very tiny part of the apartheid state's overall criminal discourse against millions of people who don't belong to the "holy tribe", e.g. who are not Jewish.
Paul Auster should know better than claiming that Israel is a western democracy where everyone is treated equally regardless of religion, ethnicity and sex. Failing to recognize this most axiomatic reality should raise serious questions about Auster's rectitude and honesty.
In the final analysis, Israel is or about to become a hateful theocracy ruled by anachronistic Talmudic laws that view non-Jews as infra-human beings. Yes, we know the mendacious mantra about Israel being democratic and Jewish. But even imbeciles know quite well that the practice of democracy is only confined to Jews and that when there is the slightest collision between what is democratic and what is Jewish, which comes first!
Last year, Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual mentor of the fundamentalist party, Shas, which represents Jews from the Middle East, said in Sabbath homily in West Jerusalem that non-Jews, including presumably hundreds of millions of American and European Christians who are infatuated with and hysterical about supporting Israel, were actually donkeys or beasts of burden created by the Almighty so that they will serve the master race or chosen people.
Ovadia Yosef can't be dismissed as a marginal or anecdotal figure in Israel. He enjoys the loyalty and allegiance of hundreds of thousands of people. This is the reason he is viewed as a "kingmaker" and politicians from right and left make frequent pilgrimage visits to his home, especially in election seasons.
What is especially disgraceful is the fact that Yosef's statements and other statements which are even more outrageous don't raise many eyebrows among most Israelis.
I would like to ask Auster a question: How would he react to similar statements from a Muslim or Christian religious leader, in America or abroad, that Jews are actually donkeys and that their lives are insignificant and had no sanctity?
I know that most Jewish American writers refrain from facing and tackling Israeli racism, or more correctly Jewish racism, head-on since doing so would expose the stark duplicity between the liberal values these intellectuals claim to espouse and the reality of their tribalism, e.g. supporting Israel right or wrong.
The truth of the matter is that there is an enormous gap, measured in light years, between Israel and western democracy.
Where in the democratic world, other than Israel, a state colludes and connives with criminal elements to hide evidence and legalize criminal activities? In Israel, however, such is a routine practice, especially if and when the victim is non-Jewish.
Besides, it is totally dishonest to point out to one aspect of democracy while utterly ignoring other aspects such as the nonexistence of a non-discriminatory justice system? In Israel one would have to be totally mendacious and dishonest to claim that Jews and non-Jews are treated equally before the courts.
In most cases, especially when the aggressor is Jewish and the victim is non-Jewish, every conceivable trick is sought and used to exonerate the Jew. As to the non-Jews, he or she is always guilty until proven otherwise.
As I write these words, the Israeli media has reported that Jewish settlers scrawled offensive slogans on the walls of Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem. The offensive graffiti included "death to Christianity" and "death to the Arabs." Moreover, a mixed Arab-Jewish school in Beit Safafa, south of Jerusalem, has also been the target of hateful graffiti by suspected settlers.
This is not the first time Goyem-hating settlers resort to such hateful acts. Last year, settlers attacked and torched several mosques in the West Bank. Palestinian property and olive groves have also been vandalized and torched ad nauseam, but the Israeli police and occupation army have utterly failed to apprehend the perpetrators.
Even Israeli observers of government inaction can't conceal their convictions that the police, the army and even the political level are all colluding with the settlers, the Hitler Youth of our time.
I call upon Paul Auster to devote some of his time to expose Israel's evil practices to his American audience. I know it is hard for a committed Zionist to call the spade a spade as far as Israel is concerned. But it is the moral thing to do.
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|Liaquat Ali Khan|