Kept in a Cage

We sat in the community room at a major LA shopping center. Over sixty people gathered on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to hear two members of the Flotillas to Palestine.

One of the speakers was an Israeli, Yonatan Shapira, a helicopter pilot who co-founded Combatants for Peace and is a member of Boycott from Within; the other Mary Thompson, an American-Canadian who co-founded the Free Gaza Movement.

Thompson in her own words: “I underestimated the power of Palestine.” It is a constant call of action to her, ever since she saw “a little boy [al-dura] shot and killed in front of my eyes.” For Yonatan it was “when you see families crush and evaporate in the bombs … horrible things start happening.”

Except, the boy’s “death” was made for international consumption (he changed his position after pretending to be dead for 45 minutes; his father protecting him under constant fire was not even scratched) and Israel is the one country that goes to lengths like no other country to ensure civilians are kept out of harm’s way, even when terrorists hide at schools, mosques and hospitals.

They fight to end Occupation and against Apartheid in Israel, although they have never met before. They came to speak in front of a coalition promoting non-violent resistance against Israel. [The label “non-violent” is misleading to us and quite flexible for them, for it justifies practically any means, including knowingly breaking the law.]

I have spent much time over the past three years covering Gaza that the event sparked my interest. I finally got to meet members who were on the boats determined to break the blockade over Gaza. The fact there was never a maritime route to Gaza is inconsequential to them.

I was eager to listen, and I was not disappointed, it was a loony-land (lunatic + Hollywood) delusional extravaganza, an exciting production even I had not seen before. Well except perhaps in *Sunset Boulevard* when reality got so blurred when Gloria Swanson said, “I am ready for my close up, Mr. De Mille,” and walked toward the cameras.

I often write about the failures of the Israeli public relations machine and the prospect of Israel’s downfall as a result. Little did I know how wrong I was until that event. According to the speakers, the Israeli Hasbarah (propaganda machine) is doing so well that only Israel’s position is heard (including, apparently, on the front pages of the major international papers). Israel itself is so strong that it is able to twist the arms of countries to do its bidding, whether it is Greece or Egypt, not to mention the US of A which acts as Israel’s outsourcing arm.

Some readers may wonder if the three billion dollars the USA gives Israel each year are also a result of Israel’s persuasive powers. Is Israel holding the US hostage, forcing it to give the money?

Those Jews must be very powerful indeed! Or so one would think.

What sounded like a story made into a movie turned out to be two solid hours of straight Israel-bashing. A good Jewish boy in a very affluent part of Israel, son of a squadron commander who became a helicopter pilot himself, volunteers his time with new immigrants in crisis and helps disabled children. Then he wakes up one day and realizes Israelis are brainwashed and he must help them to awake as well. “We do horrible things” he says and becomes a one-person mission to correct all of Israel’s supposed evils.

“Gaza is a cage of animals, not people, the majority of whom are children, that once you open it, …” says Yonatan thus explaining why Israelis are afraid of the Gazans.

“One million of the 1.6 million Gazans are the original inhabitants or their direct descendants of now Occupied Palestine. Israel keeps them locked up since they are a LIVING WITNESS of that era (1947 – 1949) …” it was explained to those in the audience who did not follow. If Israel had not caged them, how would the world know the truth? Perhaps Israel should have prevented the passage of 15,523 patients and accompanying individuals who exited the Gaza Strip for medical care in Israel in the past year.

“The Blockade is not a recent thing, it has been going on for 30 years. [Our struggle] is not about humanitarian aid, it is about freedom.” Falsehoods notwithstanding, one must be very careful, since the “freedom” sought is freedom from Israel’s very presence.

What does Israel want? “The West Bank has water. Gaza has offshore natural gas. Israel wants these resources.” [I was ashamed: Israel only wants material things, gas and water. What about the very air the Gazans breathe – has Israel not tried to deplete it too? Has Israel not thought yet to prevent the Gazans from their most basic human right of free and limitless air in addition to thirsting them and stealing their reserves?]

Israel keeps the Gazans “locked in a huge open air prison, a ghetto, and bombs them all the time.”

I was aghast. What type of military succeeds to hold 1.6 million innocent civilians in an extraordinarily dense open-air prison, constantly bombarding-to-kill them and yet their numbers keep growing? What are the brutal occupiers bombing the Gazans with – candy? Flowers? Love letters? What a lousy military indeed!

The battle lines are drawn: “Race laws, Apartheid, Occupation; Justice, Human Rights.” Lady justice must be blind to reason, logic and facts.

The truth eventually emerged during the presentation, because as a pro Zionist propaganda organization (Stand With Us) has shown, there are thriving and bustling shopping malls, hotels and restaurants throughout Gaza. Their businesses are flourishing. There is no shortage of supplies. Interestingly, initially it was a “humanitarian crisis of the worst kind,” until exposed, so naturally the narrative needed to be changed. Not a problem, TAKE II or III or IV or V.

The story is so fantastic that I was astonished. Israeli soldiers were apparently deeply disappointed that Greece stopped the most recent Flotilla from leaving, since it prevented them from killing some of the participants and stealing their computers and money. Allow me to use the speaker’s own words. She said, “We knew Israeli pirates [naval soldiers] were ready to commit violence and kill us.” Taken directly out of the *Pirates of Penzance*.

An opportunity of a lifetime: steal money from those aboard the ship and kill them, knowing they advocate only non-violent resistance. Are Israeli soldiers so destitute their only wish in life is to be pirates on the high seas, targeting peace activists for their money and lives? Apparently, the $3b a year is not enough to appease the bloodthirsty Israelis.

Yonatan, the pilot, explained that a “pilot does not hover if you think someone is going to shoot you.” Israel had full knowledge that those on the Mavi Marmara were not armed, he claims. He can even prove it, if Israel were to release everything (hundreds of hours of tapes) that was confiscated. I still am at a loss: Why stop at (killing) nine, when there were hundreds (unarmed and benign peace activists) on the Mavi Marmara? Why not just sink the ship and let the people drown in agony?

Since many in the audience call themselves “Jews” and given that at least two of the co-sponsoring organizations have the word “Jew” in their name, I was wondering about their purpose. My question answered in a most amazing manner by Yonatan who said:

“We opened the door a bit, other people are inspired.” “We must be very creative.” “Engage.” “I am part of a non-violent struggle to do ASIAT NEFASHOT” (to bring other souls closer to one’s cause).”

To the Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel movement in Los Angeles (BDS-LA) he offered the following advice: “Use our voice of Israelis and Jews supporting BDS and magnify and raise the awareness. There is a huge gap between reality and what is said in the media.”

This last statement, said for the mth time, was the tipping point; I could not stop laughing. “Our” side has the very same complaint; the media portrays only the other side and is biased and misleading. Apparently, the “other” side thinks the same.

Laughing aside, I became very serious: There was nothing in the presentation about the evils of Israel’s enemies, as if they are not part of the picture in any way. In the presenters’ most perverted world perception, it is all Israel’s fault.

There was not a single positive things said about Israel, like free press, the ability to assemble without fear and to freely express one’s opinion (even if it is against Israel), the medical, agricultural and other help Israel provides to the Gazans, the equality in its society to all, irrespective of one’s religion or skin color, the ability of Arabs to serve in the Supreme Court or the Knesset, as Ministers and Judges.

Nothing. Not a single positive thing is associated with Israel. I thought I was watching a Klan meeting discussing black people, I was that outraged.

My friend and I were singled out at the very beginning, when Yonatan said, “maybe this whole event is for you.” It mattered not what we would have said – history, facts or logic – nothing would resonate unless we bashed Israel and protested (non-violently of course) its so-called Occupation and Apartheid Regime.

So we had our pictures taken from all sides, videos rolling, and became the constant center of attention for the two hours of Israel-bashing. It was a circus of perverts who make money and attracts attention by luring audiences to enjoy two hours of non-stop mockery of reality and good sense, a non-stop attack on human kindness and everything good the world has to offer.

I was ready to shout, “this is not the Israel Defense Forces you are talking about; this is NOT Israel you are describing,” but it would have been useless. If one lie is exposed, like Gazans are not starving under the Blockade as shown by Zionist-evil-propaganda-machine Stand With Us, then just make up another lie.

Yonatan did not stand for the IDF, nor did he stand for Israel. He is the example not of goodness but ungratefulness; how a person can lie in a soft voice, all legitimately done, in his eyes, to reach his end.

He is neither ashamed nor humble about his plans. State them clearly and explicitly and be specific, sixty some people will gather on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to support you. You are fighting a fight to annihilate Israel, a just and noble cause, and you have described the means you employ to achieve this goal.

It was indeed a private showing for my friend and me. All others were part of the choir, part of a sick movement to destroy Israel. I doubt they mean good, for their hatred knows no bounds, driving them to insanity sugar-coated as “peace activists.”

Discourse will do little, for it is not possible to persuade a heart and mind filled with hatred. Those so blinded by anger and hatred that anyone who dares to say “I am Israeli (who does not hate his country’s very existence)” will be automatically blocked out and instantly scorned.

I am an Israeli and a Jew, and I am very proud of Israel. What I witnessed today, Israelis and Jews masquerading as “concerned liberals and progressives” who seek good, would be terrifying and upsetting to any reasonable person.

Israeli soldiers do not spend their days training to murder people and their nights salivating and fantasizing on murders not committed. Israelis do not view Gazans as animals that must be caged or Arab women as sub-human thus not worthy of being raped. Israelis spend their time creating medicines and technologies to extend lives, not erase them.

One needs only look to Syria today, that is a government that murders rivals and opponents for the sake of murder. Where bodies are thrown into the water due to an inability to bury them. Why do these purveyors of good not protest that sort of evil, voice inequality of women in Arab society throughout the Middle East and countless other injustices?

No-Israel is at fault. It is their pet hatred and their own self-loathing sickness. I am a Jew who hates myself, ergo I also hate Israel. Israel rules the world. Israel is Evil (and by extension the USA that enables Israel’s dirty deeds).

I left there sad and upset to my very core. It is a sad day indeed for the Jewish people. These twisted minds are trying to make Israelis into the new Nazis.

Those fighting for our very existence are the products of the two freest societies in the world; the United States of America and Israel. Where else but in a free society could these people spew their venomous lies? Perhaps they should fly to Syria and give rebellion a shot. Shot is exactly what they would get.

Ari Bussel
In the series "Postcards from Israel," Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports from Israel as seen by two sets of eyes: Bussel's on the ground, Zager's counter-point from home. Israel and the United States are inter-related - the two countries we hold dearest to our hearts - and so is this "point - counter-point" presentation that has, since 2008, become part of our lives.