For the sake of the young generation and for those who forgot: On October 29, 1956 a group of 11 Border Guard police officers shot to death 49 Arab citizens, including women and children, and wounded 13 at the outskirts of Kfar Qassem.
On government orders, the IDF censor banned the publication of any details regarding the massacre, but after former Knesset Members Tawfiq Tubi and Meir Vilner visited Kfar Qassam, which was facing a curfew, the facts came to light and public pressure built up.
The police officers who committed the murder as well as Colonel Isachar Shadmi, the brigade commander in the region who ordered the killing of civilians, faced a military tribunal.
Judge Benjamin Halevy wrote in the verdict, which was handed down two years after the incident, that the police officers carried out a cold-blooded murder lacking any legal justification. By the way, the responsibility of the political echelons (prime minister and defense minister Ben Gurion) for the massacre was never investigated.
The irony of fate is that while marking 50 years since the massacre, again racism has the upper hand and Avigdor Lieberman joins the government - a politician who rejects Arab citizens' civil rights and calsl for expelling them from the country.
The massacre in Kfar Qassem was carried out under the cover of a war that Israel, along with Britain and France, launched on the very same day against Egypt, which was then described as the "center of evil."
Another irony of fate: Upon entering the Olmert government, Lieberman declared that it is essential to escalate the campaign against the axis of evil (Iran and other countries), so that under the cover of such escalation he would be able to implement his racist plan to remove tens of thousands of Arab citizens from the country.
While Olmert views the addition of Lieberman and his new-fascist party to the government as a lifesaver for his faltering coalition, for Israeli society this move is akin to a death sentence to the chances for peace, democracy, and civil and human rights.
Lieberman's addition is at the same time akin to spitting in the face of the Arab population, fans the flames of hostility, and legitimizes racism, revoking the citizenship of Arabs, and undermining their very existence as a national minority in Israel.
Olmert and his minister for "strategic affairs" will together prepare the next war (Gaza? Iran? Syria?) as well as the targeted assassination of Israeli democracy.
As political demagogues, they may also exploit the next war in order to encourage exaggerated reaction, using it to pass the 2007 budget and proceed with many more privatizations, more cuts to workers' rights, and further elimination of the welfare state – as well as a current-day version of the Kfar Qassam crime.
The government and society overall have not internalized the following lesson of that massacre: In a place where the murder of peaceful citizens by uniformed officials is possible only because the victims are members of another people (or a different religion or faith) there's no democracy or freedom. In such country it is possible to appoint as a "minister for strategic affairs" someone who scorns democracy and views it as an obstacle.
Lieberman's propaganda campaign
In the last elections campaign, Lieberman engaged in a propaganda campaign in two languages: For Hebrew speakers he marketed softer messages, while Russian-language signs read: "Lieberman – a strong man for a strong people".
The term "strong man" does not refer to his physical attributes. Through this term, Lieberman already marked himself as an Israeli dictator, who in the best of fascist tradition will "put the country in order" and promote ethnic cleansing.
Lieberman's eagerness to join the government led by Olmert, who was a senior partner to the disengagement plan, and to sit together with the Labor party, after rejecting a partnership with it several months ago, is not coincidental. Just as the predator who lies in wait for the prey to weaken, Lieberman acted the same.
He smelled the increasing weakness of the faltering government, which is quickly losing the faith of the public, and decided this was the time to enter the coalition and take over its agenda (strategy minister) and later, take over the government itself.
Lieberman is the punishment for the government's sins: The Lebanon adventure, the elimination of peace negotiations, the policy of deepening social gaps, and neglecting growing sectors of Israeli society while marginalizing them. All those delighted over what they characterized as the war's contribution to "national unity" paved the way for Lieberman, who will be taking care of a "unity celebration" that never ends, through ongoing war both internally and external.
Therefore, Lieberman will not stop waving the "state of emergency" flag – that same blood-soaked flag under whose shadow the massacre in Kfar Qassam took place 50 years ago.
Amir Peretz and the Labor Party leadership, who were able to but did not want to prevent Lieberman's addition, will soon discover the price they're paying. Lieberman has already declared that everything in the government will change, as "its basic lines are not worth much," and soon his party will have more ministers in the government.
The "black flag" of an inherently illegal order Judge Benjamin Halevy warned against is now turning into the black flag of an inherently illegal policy. Therefore, it is our civil duty to resist this new-old government, defend Israeli democracy, and fight together, Arabs and Jews, for civil rights and genuine equality.
The writer served as a Hadash Knesset member and currently lectures at Ben Gurion University, Sapir College, and the Socioeconomic College