Oct 23, 2010

#BDS: Ardent Zionist turns boycott advocate

Occupied East Jerusalem (IPS) - A former captain in the Israeli Air Force, previously an ardent Zionist who lost many members of his family in the Holocaust, has been labeled a psychopath and denounced by many Israelis for the moral stand he has taken against the Israeli occupation.

Yonatan Shapira, 38, was fired from his job, has been verbally abused in public, subjected to death threats in newspaper talk-back comments, called a traitor by many Israelis, falsely charged with assaulting Israeli security forces, and interrogated by Israel's domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet.

While Israel often gets a lot of negative publicity for its brutal treatment of Palestinians and the inherent racism within its society, there is a growing core of Israeli human rights activists who are challenging government policy -- and paying a high price for their courage.

Shapira made international headlines recently while on board the Irene, a boat sent by Jews for Justice in an effort to break the siege of Gaza but which was intercepted by Israeli commandos. On board the small boat were a number of Israelis and several Holocaust survivors.

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