Comment: You can't legislate people's thoughts

The anti-nakba bill is unenforceable - and unnecessary.

By DAN IZENBERG
May 25, 2009 23:23
2 minute read.
Comment: You can't legislate people's thoughts

thought police 63. (photo credit: )

The most potent power that MKs have is the power to legislate. Sometimes, this power - and the fact that the MKs are a select group who often get carried away with their own sense of self-importance - lead them to produce empty, if not harmful, legislation. This particular government and this particular coalition, a majority of whose members are highly nationalistic, may be especially affronted and outraged by the fact that the Israeli Arab community considers the establishment of the State of Israel a catastrophe and is demonstrative about these feelings. The answer - not only that of Alex Miller but of an overwhelming majority of the Ministerial Legislation Committee including Justice Minister Ya'acov Neeman - is to support a bill which they, for some reason, believe would do away with the phenomenon that causes them so much discomfort. Leaving aside for a minute the constitutionality of such legislation, one must consider its practicality. How does MK Alex Miller, Neeman and all the other ministers and MKs who support the bill, intend to implement it? Will they mobilize the entire police force to scour the country and arrest everyone who takes part in nakba commemorations? How will they prevent secret nakba commemorations? Will they assign patriotic Jewish informers to keep their eyes open for nakba commemorations and alert the police when they discover one? Will Israel turn the Israeli Arab population into Jewish Marannos who are forced to live their true lives underground and observe their nakba in secret? Do the supporters of the bill expect the Israeli Arab population to stop mourning their defeat in 1948 just because a majority of MKs doesn't like anyone to mar Israel's Independence Day? If they do, perhaps they should read Prof. Benny Morris' books on the War of Independence to get a broader understanding of what the war entailed. When before has Israel ever prevented freedom of speech except for security reasons or to prevent violence? Do the supporters of the bill believe that the nakba commemorations in themselves pose a threat to state security? Israel already has laws against sedition, incitement to violence and terrorism. If a participant in a nakba commemoration violates these laws, he can be arrested without resort to new legislation. There is, it seems, only one way to enforce Miller's law and that is by taking a leaf out of George Orwell's novel, 1984, and forcing people to think the way you want them to. Miller and those who support his bill ought to know that legislation is not meant to make people feel better by outlawing behavior that aggravates them. That is an abuse of the law.


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