Fifth Estate Collective
Powerlessness and the Power of the Prank
This is part of a communique from France, “La lettre versatile de Jimmy Gladiator,” translated by FE collective members.
Being especially partial to the sort of collective punishment that was declared illegal by the Geneva Conventions governing the conduct of occupying powers during war, the Israeli state periodically cuts the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip (Israel bombed Gaza’s only electrical plant in 2006). Israeli human rights groups and the anti-colonial movement launched their usual protests, but it was some members of the extra-parliamentary far left that took an original initiative with the goal of getting people to think.
Early in December 2007, 10,000 residents in the three most important cities of the country (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Haifa) were surprised to find an announcement from the General Electric Company (the Israeli utilities giant) in their mail boxes. These announcements informed recipients that they would soon be subjected to power cuts, explaining that “electricity will be restored when Israel ceased depriving Gaza residents of electricity.”
Stamped with the official logo of the power company, the small public notices were signed by the mysterious “Gaza Liberation Front.”
The authors of this hoax were not agents of the electrical company nor combatants in an unknown armed movement, but were in fact Israeli militants from Anarchists Against The Wall.
One of the initiators, Adar Graevsky, explained that “the indiscriminate measures taken by Israel against Gaza residents seem to us to be equally cruel and useless. They’re only acts of vengeance.” He added that “pressuring the residents of Tel Aviv couldn’t stop the government’s actions any more than pressuring the residents of Gaza could stop Kassams (rockets) from being fired.”
The anarchists responsible for this unusual protest hope to get that message across even if the current doesn’t pass between them and the Israeli public opinion. According to Hagai Mattar, a conscientious objector and a militant with the Forum Against War Crimes, the goal of this action “wasn’t to scare the population but to make the citizens reflect on what their government is doing in their name.”
Were the members of Anarchists Against The Wall taken to court because of their action? No, they were taken to court for illegally using the logo of the electrical company. The utilities enterprise is claiming monetary damages with interest.
It appears that while they chose to express their indignation against violations of international law, there will always be those that prefer to be upset about some violation of Israeli commercial law.
As the number of Israeli activists joining Palestinian popular resistance gradually increases, the Israeli government has escalated its legal campaign against anti-occupation activists, and especially against the “Jews Against Ghettos” anti-wall activists. Since 2003, hundreds have been arrested and dozens of indictments have been filed. The heavy load of the legal persecution and operational expenses, such as communications, transportation and legal expenses, have already amounted to a debt of over $34,000 (US), and still rising.