Israel's Dark Deeds

It is still possible to make people disappear even in the Israel of 2013. On whom can Israelis rely to report how many there are and who are they?

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Many thanks to Australian television, which has reminded us of what a dark state we are living in. Many thanks to the three Israel-hating members of the Knesset - Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and Dov Khenin (Hadash) - for saving its honor. And many thanks to a handful of media outlets and human rights organizations for trying to do their job despite everything.

All the rest should now be ashamed. They should be feeling profound shame for having betrayed their responsibilities, thereby committing a far greater act of betrayal than the implied act of treachery ascribed to citizen Ben Zygier. But more than that, they should also be forced to face and account for the imbecilic role they play in the Israeli regime. Alongside the organizations of darkness was the collaborating judicial system, the newspaper editors who were keen to bring back the days of the disgraceful editors' committee, the newspapers and the broadcast channels that only two days ago were trying to suppress the affair - all the agents, lawyers, jailers, censors, police and investigators who knew and kept quiet.

A person was made to disappear in Israel - not the first and apparently not the last person, and maybe not the only one at this time, either - and they acted as though they didn't have the slightest idea. This raises very big questions. The State of Israel tried to flip another switch off and bring down more darkness. Who are the Electric Corporation employees compared to those operators? When the late electricity workers union boss Yoram Oberkowitz turned off the switch, we all at least knew about it (and raised an outcry). When Mossad director Tamir Pardo does it, Israelis don't even know. Most of them, presumably, would not make any noise even if they did know. That's how it is when the religion is security and hush-hush is the ritual. That's how it is when in the name of these idols it is permissible to do anything here: to assassinate, to make people disappear, to torture and imprison.

There will be a day when it becomes clear just how much good was cultivated in the shadows and how much damage and terrible rot grew there. How many of these dark deeds were essential and how many were no more than infantile adventures of those who love this genre, those who run the country, who are addicted to these deeds and think the public doesn't even deserve to know.

Little is known about the affair, too little. But even the spotty details that are known cannot justify the disappearance of a person. Nothing can justify it. Zygier was an Australian, the circumstances of whose life and death are hidden in the fog. Maybe he committed suicide, maybe he was murdered. Maybe he committed treason, maybe not. And how will we know? Will we continue to rely on what they tell us? Is it conceivable that we will not know? Most likely there are others like him. And how will we know how many there are and who they are? On whom can we rely to report to us?

Okay, an Australian, and an investigative program in his country. And what about Arabs and Palestinians, who don't have an investigative reporting TV program on Channel 2? How many of them have been made to disappear and have disappeared, "committed suicide" and died?

After all, even in Israel, disgracefully, there is no truly subversive investigative program. And there is a court system and a censorship system which, in their gall and stupidity, withhold from citizens information that was broadcast on Australian television.

The thought that there is a handful of Israelis who have their finger on the switch, and on the prison lock, and only they decide what the public will know is chilling. Chilling, as is the thought that even in the Israel of 2013 it is still possible to make people disappear. We thought Mordechai Kedar, who in the 1950s was tried on secret charges, and even supposed KGB agent Marcus Klingberg belonged to the past, to those cold days that would never return.

And then along came this current affair and proved that nothing has changed. This is Israel, like sinister regimes; this is Israel, like the 1950s, here and now. Indeed it was just yesterday that Judge Tal Avraham prohibited publication of any identifying detail regarding "the respondent's wife and his two daughters, including their place of residence." Why? Concerning those details, too, we will have to wait for the good graces of Australian television.

Zygier's blood is crying out now. But this isn't a matter of the circumstances of his life and death. This is a matter of something much deeper: This affair is not (only) one that concerns him. It is an affair that concerns all of us, and tomorrow it will be forgotten.

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