Meet the affable Major Adrian Agassi, a senior Israeli judge in the military courts of the occupied West Bank. He is one of the most important officials in Israel’s judicial administration of occupied Palestinian territory, with responsibilities that include overseeing land conflicts arising out of settlement construction and serving as special judge for administrative arrests of Palestinians.
In an absolutely stunning interview in the Guardian (UK), he explains his motivations:
“When we [Israelis] say that this is a political conflict, then we lose the battle,” adding that the land of Israel is “given to us by the Bible, not by some United Nations”.
“You say that these lands ‘passed into Jewish hands’. Others would say that they came back into Jewish hands. Others would say that they are obviously ours, inherently,” he said. It was, he claims, a mistake to call it the State of Israel. “If we would have named it the State of Jews, the Arabs would have understood that this land belongs to the Jews.”
Agassi says settling Jews on lands that made up ancient Israel stands above all other biblical commandments.
[He] says a peace agreement with the Palestinians “goes against nature”… Agassi uses the term Arabs because he claims Palestinians do not exist.
Based on confidential intelligence reports, without trial, Agassi sent several hundred Palestinians—deemed to be terrorists or security threats—to prison for six months or more.
“You read the raw intelligence material and you see that most of them are moved by religious doctrine, not by a political one. They use religion in order to justify killing as many Jews as possible. Is this not a religious war?”
Some additional facts about Major Agassi from the Guardian and others:
- He sees himself as fulfilling a “higher duty” when adjudicating on the confiscation of Palestinian land for Jewish settlements.
- In addition to serving in the legal department that oversaw the confiscation of Palestinian land, he also sat on the military court that decided Palestinian appeals against the seizure. The Palestinians almost never won.
- Although he still serves as military judge, some of his rulings are seen as so extreme that on one occasion the military prosecution itself appealed against his ruling to Israel’s High Court.
- According to the Promised Land blog, Agassi is a settler who worked under the late Plia Albeck, an attorney in the Justice Ministry who considered it her goal to “free” Palestinian land, and who was the mastermind behind Israel’s use of Ottoman law from 1858 to steal land that wasn’t under active cultivation.
This is a terrifying example of the contradiction between democracy and religion.
The usual response of Israelis and American Jews to “pro-Palestinian” arguments about Israel’s blatant theft of Palestinian land, or about Israel’s meager response to settler violence against Palestinians, is to highlight the legal efforts Israel has established to “safeguard” rights. But then you get charming fellows like Agassi, who are the ones actually implementing those decisions.
How much private Palestinian land has this man allowed settlers to steal? How many innocent Palestinians has he imprisoned? How much damage has this man done to Palestinians, to Israel, indeed to the world?
When exactly will Jews take responsibility for such people in their midst, for the damage caused by these all-too-powerful Jewish extremists?