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

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
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
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

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

Java/Calypso Developer

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, ...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Senior Marine / Shipping Solicitor - South Coast

Highly Competitive Package: Austen Lloyd: SOUTH COAST - MARINE / SHIPPING Th...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment