Life sentence requested by Turkish authorities
Gabi Ashkenazi | Criminal Charges against former IDF Chief of Staff
A few days ago I published Hunting down Ashkenazi, where I said: “When the day comes it would be an important testimony in the trial of Barak and Ashkenazi for war crimes by the International Court of Justice.” That sentence cost me a record number of subscribers; yet, it may soon become reality. At the beginning of May 2012, Turkey’s Justice Ministry finished its probe on the IDF’s 2010 Freedom Flotilla raid. Turkish Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin requested then information from the country’s Foreign Ministry on several IDF soldiers; fact reported by the Turkish Today’s Zaman. Yesterday, May 24, it was made public that criminal charges had been placed by Turkey against several IDF officers, demanding life sentences. Among them is former IDF Chief of Staff, General Gaby Ashkenazi.
On May 31, 2010, nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists were killed by IDF soldiers in a confrontation with Shayetet 13 naval commandos that boarded the Mavi Marmara on international waters. The ship was bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Israel established the Turkel Committee to conduct an investigation; expectedly, its biased report determined that Israel’s takeover of the flotilla had been legal in terms of international law, but criticized the IDF’s preparations to the flotilla arrival as well as the operation itself.
Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit
The IDF position was outrageous. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit addressed the Turkel Committee and claimed that the naval blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in 2007 was according with international law, and that it was imposed due to pure military considerations and not as a part of economic warfare against Hamas. Showing disregard for the listeners intelligence, he then added: “Every step taken, be it part of classical warfare or economic warfare, aims to bring the other side to do what we want it to do.” Mr. Mendelblit, I am confused. Is there an economic warfare toward civilians or not? Mendelblit’s picture leaves no doubt: he is a Haredi Jew (notice his black kippa). As such, he studied the Talmud, meaning that he has at least a rudimentary understanding of logic. This wasn’t an unintentional mistake of a stupid man, but an attempt to mislead the public with carefully stated lies. In another part of his testimony, he said that “We have no desire to punish the civilian population” and “we won’t fire in an unguided manner into a civilian population.” For those finding these dubious, he added “no one in the IDF would think to violate international law.” Mr. Mendelblit, did you bother to read the Goldstone Report? Or at least the Beit Oranim Transcript? The last is in Hebrew, it should be easy for you. Both speak of repeated and intentional attacks on civilians by the IDF and of systematic violations of international law by the IDF. The Beit Oranim Transcript is disturbing; it describes the cold-blooded assassination of grandmothers, and mothers and their children by IDF soldiers and officers, who then spoke about it in a inner IDF event that took place in Beit Oranim; the report was published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Given the circumstances and its content, there is no doubt that the Turkel Committee Report is void of any value. Israel cannot investigate its own crimes.
Mavi Marmara | May 22, 2010
In early September 2011, the UN Palmer Report on the Gaza flotilla was published; it claimed that the IDF soldiers acted in self-defense, but used excessive force. Oddly enough, the self-defense of the ship crew and passengers was not properly accounted for by Mr. Palmer. In May 2012, the Turkish inquiry into the raid found that the raid was illegal. Turkish law allows for the trial of people accused of genocide or crimes against humanity even if the crimes are committed abroad; consequently, criminal charges had been placed against several of the IDF officers responsible for the mortal attack on the humanitarian convoy.
Gabi Ashkenazi | Criminal Charges against former IDF Chief of Staff
The Turkish government bases its charges—presented in a thick document of 144 pages—on the testimonies of around 600 people. 490 of them were on the attacked ship; the others are relatives of the killed. The government is asking ten life sentences for various IDF officers, including Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, back then the IDF Chief of Staff, Major General Eliezer Merom, back then commander of the IDF’s Navy and Major General Amos Yadlin, back then Head of AMAN, the IDF Intelligence Directorate. The next step would be the issuing of international arrest orders against the accused officers. Right now, their entrance into Turkish territory will lead to their arrest and trial.
Gilad and All That Jazz is an outstanding documentary by G. Kolahi, which presents in only a little over one hour Gilad Atzmon’s evolution as a jazz musician, thinker, writer, humanist, ethicist and, frankly, phenomenon that in a relatively short time has managed not only to become known as one of the best saxophone players on the jazz scene today but also to stir passions and heated debates all over the world on the subjects of Palestinian rights and Jewish identity politics.
There are great jazz musicians and there also are well-known writers and advocates of human rights, but not in one package and not with the quality of a lightning rod that Gilad seems to have. His book “The Wandering Who?” in which he develops the concept of Jewish identity politics and dissects the inherent problems for Jews and the cultures and groups they interact and collide with has attracted praise from distinguished academics and intellectuals like Mearscheimer, Falk, Pilger, Boyle, Mezvinsky, Qumsiyeh, Bricmont and others, but also activated a vilification response of rarely seen aggressiveness on both sides of the Atlantic, including the accusation of “anti-semitism.”
The film does not quote the by now well-known accolades of the former but does give plenty of footage to the latter, which amounts to giving them enough rope to stridently hang themselves. Some of them provide a measure of comic relief, like the self-professed pro-Palestinian rights BDS zionist who says Gilad’s ideas are “dangerous for young Palestinians” and that…
We are in a position to say what criticism of Israel is kosher and how Israel should be criticized.
The interviews with his parents, his wife and his close musical collaborators, and in particular Gilad’s own poignant reminiscences of his road to ethical awareness and growth create a very moving and intimate portrait of the complex and powerful personality of the artist and thinker.
What the film does exceptionally well, by seamless juxtaposition of concert scenes and interviews (all the credit goes to R. Ribeiro for superb editing), is to to convey the sense of the organic whole that the music and the ethical quest represent for Gilad. The idea is introduced from the first images: the Palestinian children wounded and the cleaning of the saxophone. It was music that led Gilad on his road, and his obvious happiness while he plays is infectious.
The scoring of the movie — Gilad’s pieces with middle-eastern influences as well as classic Charlie Parker standbys — is jazz at its best and a delight throughout the film. He reminisces that in his adolescence, having first heard the Bird on the radio and then discovered that he was black, he thought to himself:
Black?! Maybe he is a Black Jew.
Perhaps somewhere up there the Bird hears Gilad’s sax and wonders:
A Jew?! Maybe he is a Black Jew.
One of his detractors, a British “anti-zionist zionist” (a category Gilad has pinned with precision like a bug in a display case), or maybe a zionist, they are hard to tell apart, says at one point in the film something to the effect that “he could have just been a famous jazz musician but it wasn’t enough for his ego. He wanted to be larger than life.” Indeed, why wasn’t it enough? He misses a major and paradoxical difference between Gilad and himself, namely the significance of Gilad being a sabra. Born and raised in Israel in a family of devoted zionists, raised to be a proud jewish warrior, Gilad acquired the kind of total self-confidence in his “chosenness” that admits no vacillation, no subterfuges or hypocritical manipulations. His self-confidence was such that he was not afraid to peer inside himself and to examine the culture around him with a critical eye, question the given dogma and even upend it, without fear of dissolving. “Larger than life?” I like one of the Blockheads’ description of him as a musician better, and it applies to all his other work as well, as the panicked reactions of his detractors show:
A colossus of a player, quite frightening in a way, really.
A movie to see more than once and recommend to one’s friends as well.