Friday, June 04, 2010

Racist Treatment by IDF of Flotilla Prisoners?

This is from the Paul McGeough piece:

Several Europeans were distressed by the clear distinction the Israelis made between their ''white'' and ''brown'' prisoners.

The Norwegian activist Randi Kjos, a woman of some refinement, was genuinely shocked by what she observed. "They treated us with hatred - the old were made to kneel for long periods and women had to sit with their arms crossed. Some of the wounded were naked to the waist … many were in shock.

"Palestinians and Arabs were treated very differently to Europeans or Westerners. Palestinians who asked for anything were belted, pushed around or treated with contempt. People warned me of the hatred I would see - but still, I was shocked."

The Norwegian observed that many of the women prisoners were denied a phone call on the grounds that a functioning telephone ''was broken''' Others were furious on behalf of many Turkish women who were denied a call home because they could not satisfy their guards' demand that they converse in English.I wish I could be surprised, but I'm not. Stories are rife these days about tension between Ashkenazim and Sephardics in Israel. I just read a bit on CNAS that speaks to this:

I met for coffee one morning with a retired Israeli general officer to discuss the fighting in southern Lebanon during the 1990s, and before too long, the two of us were engrossed in conversation about guerrilla warfare, Lebanon, the learning process that militaries go through in combat, and a host of related subjects. One hour became two, and two hours became three. The two of us must have downed three cups of coffee apiece, and my hand cramped from all the notes I was taking. At the end of the conversation, though, this retired officer took my hand, squeezed it hard, and said, "Andrew, just remember one thing: the Muslims are like shit. They stink, and there are plenty of them for all of us."

Now in 3+ years of living in the Arabic-speaking world, I have to admit I have heard some pretty horrifically anti-Semitic things said in both polite and not-so-polite conversation. But pardon me if I was a little struck by hearing this language from a retired, educated military officer rather than from, say, a taxi driver in Beirut or some 16-year old Palestinian kid who grew up in Bourj al-Barajneh.
The author goes on to relate another incident:

Fast forward two days to another formal interview, this one at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv. I was meeting with a colonel there, again discussing southern Lebanon, and with us was a young PAO from the IDF. The PAO, I discovered, was of Iraqi Jewish descent. I had my notebook open, and the PAO had a tape recorder as well as a notebook. Again, the conversation was going great, and I was learning a lot about the learning process the IDF went through in southern Lebanon in the 1990s. But halfway through the conversation, with two notebooks open and tape recorder running, this officer then started on an off-color riff about why the Jews had managed to win so many Nobel Prizes and the Arabs and Muslims, despite their numbers, had won so very few. I was shocked -- not because someone might say such things but because someone might say such things to a visiting researcher with an open notebook. I looked at the PAO to my right, and this Iraqi-Israeli was obviously growing uncomfortable.
He does point out that this was notable precisely because he didn't normally hear that sort of thing. But he did leave those interviews wondering "whether or not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sentiment was widespread within the officer corps and whether that might have an effect on Israeli operations in the territories."

It may not affect Israeli operations. But it looks like it might well affect Israeli corrections.

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