Shimon Tzabar

Dissident writer and activist


Shimon Tzabar, journalist, writer, artist and activist: born Tel Aviv, Palestine 5 March 1926; married (two sons); died London 19 March 2007.

Shimon Tzabar was probably the only Israeli who could claim to have once been a member of all three anti-British underground groups active in Palestine before the establishment of Israel in 1948: Haganah, Etzel and Lehi (aka the Stern Gang). In the course of his long, jolly and very active life, he was many things for many people: a friend, a husband, a father, a lover, an artist, a cartoonist, a satirical writer, a mycologist, a journalist, a poet and an activist.

Tzabar immigrated to the UK in December 1967, disillusioned with the prospect of changing Israel's Zionist character and ending the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, which were taken by Israel during the war that broke out six months earlier. Despite having participated as a soldier in Israel's first three wars - the 1948 war that led to its establishment and to the Nakba ("Catastrophe") of the Palestinian people, the Suez campaign of 1956 and the Six-Day War of 1967 - Tzabar recognised the perils of the occupation from its early days.

In September 1967, he initiated the publication of a paid advertisement in the daily broadsheet Haaretz, signed by himself and 11 others, in protest against the occupation. The prophetic text read:

Foreign rule leads to resistance. Resistance leads to oppression. Oppression leads to terror and counter-terror. . . keeping the territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims.

Before emigrating, Tzabar had been a journalist for Haaretz, in which he wrote a column entitled "Kutzo Shel Tzabar" ("The Thorn of a Sabra"), and for the provocative left-leaning political weekly Haolam Haze ("This World") that was owned and edited by the journalist and politician Uri Avnery. Tzabar was involved in the first attempts at satire in the Israeli newspapers, a fact he was proud of until his very last days. In an autobiography he wrote for his sons and never published, Tzabar told of his decision to leave Israel:

"I just wanted to do something, to carry on the fight against the occupation abroad and then to return home. I still did not know how I would fight the occupation.

"It was only during the sea journey that I got the idea of publishing a satirical magazine in London. Satire is a good weapon, one that I was familiar with. It could match all the weapons that the Israeli army keeps in its arsenal, including their nuclear ones."

In London he began irregularly to publish a satirical magazine, Israel Imperial News.

He wrote 27 books in Hebrew, among them travel books, children's books, cookery books, novels, political satire and essays. He was also an amateur mycologist and published on the subject, including a CD-ROM of his watercolour illustrations of nearly 500 fungi. His The White Flag Principle: how to lose a war and why, a provocative and eye-opening thesis on the merits of losing wars as a vehicle for a nation's development, was published by Penguin in 1972.

Tzabar's paintings were loaded with snippets of life in the old, maybe naïve, days in Palestine. He also designed an alternative Israeli flag, showing two light blue stripes, as in the original, and a light blue tank in the middle replacing the Star of David. The flag appeared on posters carried by Israeli protesters during demonstrations against the war in Iraq in London in 2003.

A publication that got Tzabar into some trouble was his "Much Better Than the Official Michelin Guide to Israeli Prisons, Jails, Concentration Camps and Torture Chambers". The self-published pamphlet, which looked like any other Michelin guide, was a successful PR stunt but nearly drove him to bankruptcy. Michelin appealed to the High Court in 2004 and Tzabar had to agree to stop distributing his enlightening study of Israel's prisons.

Daphna Baram

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on