THE ISRAELI LEFT
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was associated with a double-pronged assault upon Israeli democracy. The first prong was of course the murder itself by a lone fanatic gunman. The second prong, and the one that may prove the more threatening in the long run, was a campaign by the Israeli Left of nonstop assault upon freedom of speech in Israel.
This assault was launched by the government of Shimon Peres shortly after the assassination, motivated by the catchy, baseless and pseudo-scientific theory that reckless speech caused the assassination.
In the aftermath of the trauma of that event, freedom of speech has been under attack in Israel with increasing ferocity for over a year. Nary a day goes by without calls from the Left to prosecute someone or other for his statements and expressions.
After the assassination, a Commission to Suppress Incitement and Rebellion was set up by the Labor government; its name sounds like an eerie echo of Robespierre's Committee of Public Safety. Then there were all the proposals to introduce "speech codes" into Israel,
delineating the boundaries of "acceptable" speech. Finally, we had a long series of interrogations and indictments and show trials of anti-Oslo dissidents for "incitement" and "rebellion."
More recently, Meretz Knesset Member Naomi Hazan petitioned the Attorney General to indict people who put up posters and bumper stickers that read "They Gave Them Guns," referring to the arming of the PLO by the last Labor government.
Meretz Knesset Member Dedi Zucker seems to divide his time between calling for indictments against the Oslo dissidents for "incitement" and himself calling for flagrant violations of the law, disobedience of army orders by soldiers, and advocating a "non-violent civil war" against the government.
Meretz and Labor Knesset Members recently called for prosecuting a Jerusalem rabbi for making a tasteless joke about the sexual practices of the parents of leftists. Last year, Knesset Member Amnon Rubinstein, who was then Minister of Education, called upon school children to report to the police the names of teachers involved in "incitement";
as a result, every teacher now has to think thrice before giving out a C- or a detention, lest some disgruntled student turn him in to the police. Labor backbencher Dallia Itzik has made a full-time hobby out of demanding indictments against everyone with whom she disagrees, including rabbis who oppose archaeological digs or who criticize Supreme Court justices. The list could go on and on.
One might have thought that the assault on free speech would have ended with the change in government and the election of parties who were the main targets of leftist McCarthyism last year. One might have expected that the first decision by the new government
would have been to disband that Commission on Suppressing Incitement and Rebellion. This, however, has not been the case.
The most outrageous example of a McCarthyist show trial, initiated by the leftist government of Peres and directed against non-violent dissidents, is the current prosecution of members of Zo Artzeinu, a rightist protest group, under charges of "incitement" and "rebellion." These are two charges that are not even considered crimes in most democracies.
Regardless of whether or not one agrees with the political views of the Zo Artzeinu protesters, their indictments and trial are themselves a serious indictment of Israeli democracy. What exactly did the Zo Artzeinu protesters do? Well, they held a demonstration without a police permit and they blocked some traffic intersections.
Now if the Attorney General just gave them a traffic ticket and a fine for these wrist-slappable misdemeanors, which is all that they deserve, their story would have been long ago forgotten. But the prosecution wants them to do jail time for their protests.
Their trial is taking place at the same time that the far-left Yesh Gvul organization is calling for massive disobedience of army commands by soldiers, when Meretz Knesset Members lead illegal marches daily in closed-off military areas, and where Dedi Zucker calls for "non-violent civil war against the government."
Arab Communist Knesset Member Uzmi Bashara recently called Rabin a murderer and urged that people boycott his commemoration ceremonies. None of these leftist "violations" has been prosecuted. So why is traffic blocking by Zo Artzeinu dissidents suddenly at the top of the agenda of the Attorney General?
The prosecution of Zo Artzeinu members is a travesty of democracy. It should be ended at once and in its place (at most) traffic tickets should be issued to the "violators." (Given Israeli driving habits, prosecuting someone for blocking traffic is a bit like jailing people for
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