Press Release 7/11/2000
In the past twenty-four hours, an attack is being mounted against Gush Shalom (The Israeli Peace Bloc). Knesset Member Collette Avital (Labor) has actually lodged a complaint with the police, claiming that cartoons presented on our website constitute "incitement". And the powerful American Jewish organization "Anti-Defamtion League" found time, even on Elections Day over there, to disseminate a message of defamation against Gush Shalom, which already resulted in hate emails being sent to our address. All this seems to be part of the ugly atmosphere of witchhunt which begins to pervade Israeli public life in the past weeks - particularly manifested in inflammatory accusations and police investigations against Knesset Member Muhammad Barake of Hadash and his fellow Arab parliamentarians. This campaign is apparently intended to delegitimize all those who dare to speak out against the oppressive policies of the Barak Government. Following is Gush Shalom's answer to Rabbi David Rosen of the Anti-Defamation League. We also advise you to see for yourself the cartoons in question, on our website http://www.gush-shalom.org/ - down on our site's frontpage and in the "gallery".
Gush Shalom Infoteam
In an ADL press release which was published today you are quoted as expressing "outrage" at Gush Shalomís portrayal of Prime Minister Barak as a killer of Palestinian children in a caricature on its web site, and as stating that "The image of a militant Barak standing on the bleeding bullet-ridden body of a Palestinian child is abhorrent".
We fully share your feelings of outrage and abhorrence - outrage and abhorrence not at a cartoon, a few bytes of virtual reality, but at the true cruel reality which that cartoon faithfully reflects. A reality being enacted day after day after day in the Occupied Territories, a reality of Israeli military snipers taking careful aim with their telescopic sights and shooting high-velocity ammunition at unarmed opponents - men and women, boys and girls.
Snipers aiming carefully at the upper part of the body, shooting with deliberation and the full intention of causing death or grave injury. One of these snipers spoke on prime time Israeli TV two weeks ago, describing quite frankly what he is about. He was not particularly happy about what he is doing - which did not prevent him from going on doing it day after day. (Surely his regret is a great consolation to the parents of his victims). Yes, we do indeed feel quite a lot of outrage and abhorrence at this reality in which we live: a reality of blood and brains dripping off into the dust, of more than a hundred young lives extinguished, of thousands of other young lives irrevocably crippled and blighted. Lives such as that of the 14-year old girl Ghazala Jradat, hit in the head by an Israeli bullet and left clinically dead on the afternoon of Saturday, November 4 - the very same day on which Mr. Ehud Barak, Prime Minister and Defence Minister of Israel, had the unbelievable chutzpa to mount the podium at the Rabin Memorial Rally in Tel- Aviv, address a crowd estimated at 150,000 people and unblikingly present himself as "A peace seeker"(sic).
Outrage and abhorrence is, indeed, what we feel. Also some twinge of guilt - for not only did practically all of us in Gush Shalom vote for Barak last year, but we even published an ad endorsng his candidature. Of course, we did it in the sincere hope that he would be true to his campaign promises, that he would indeed make a historical peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Neverthless, now that reality turned out to be diametrically opposite, we bear a share in the responsibility for horrors perpetrated by the leader we chose. We are all the more duty bound to raise our voice in the loudest protest which we could manage with our limited means and resources.
The cartoon of which you speak, which depicts Mr. Barak with but a small portion of the ugliness with which he so richly deserves to be shown, is part of that protest, part of our expression of outrage and abhorrence. Publishing it is, in our view, about the most fitting and becoming act which an Israeli organization advocating peace can perform at the present dark and shameful period in the history of our country.
Still, after consulting with my fellow activists I am in a position to make an offer. Should a complete week - seven (7) days - pass in which not a single unarmed Palestinian is killed by the Israeli armed forces which are answerable to Mr. Barak, we would remove the abovementioned cartoon from our website.
As for the ADL - an organization which claims to "counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry" - can you truly find no other places to search for such, with Israeli society in its present condition, except at our modest website?
Gush Shalom Spokesperson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Laura Kam Issacharoff
(02) 566-7741/ 054-930-977
ADL Outraged at "Peace" Groupís Portrayal of Prime Minister Barak as Child Killer
Jerusalem November 7, 2000--The Anti-Defamation League expressed outrage at Gush Shalomís portrayal of Prime Minister Barak as a killer of Palestinian children in a caricature on its web site.
"The image of a militant Barak standing on the bleeding bullet ridden body of a Palestinian child is abhorrent and certainly unbecoming of a group which describes itself as 'advocating peace,'" said Rabbi David Rosen, Director of ADLís Israel Office.
"At this particularly tense time, and as we are commemorating the fifth anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin it behooves individuals and organizations to express their political views in a responsible manner avoiding inciteful language and imagery. Regretfully, this is not the only example of offensive and inciteful web postings by Gush Shalom," he added.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.
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