Theodore Herzl 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Alarge and evidently growing number of sitting judges Israel believe that it is
their constitutional calling to impose the partisan political agenda of the
extreme Left upon the country, especially with regard to questions of freedom of
speech. Over the past few days, a new round of politicized judicial outrages has
Verdict A: On January 2, 2009, in the middle of
Israel’s “Cast Lead” military operation against entrenched terrorists in Gaza, a
group of Israeli leftists held a disruptive solidarity protest with the
rocket shooting terrorists, opposing Israel’s military operation.
protest took place near the Sdeh Dov regional airport (from which some Israel
Air Force planes operate).
The protesters wore masks and had fake blood
on their clothing, and called their protest a “die- in.” None of the protesters
was known to have participated in any protests against the thousands of Hamas
rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.
They handed out fliers accusing
Israeli soldiers of committing atrocities. At one point they lay down on the
road to disrupt military traffic entering the IAF section of the airfield,
preventing pilots from reaching their base. The protesters were repeatedly
ordered by the police and army to desist and move off of the road, but refused.
Sixteen were arrested and indicted for disturbing the peace, entering a military
area without permission, disrupting traffic and creating a public
A few days ago, their verdict was announced. The 16 were
cleared of all wrongdoing by Judge Hadassah Naor in Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court.
All in the name of protected speech, you see.
Compare that with verdict
B: In 1993-5, shortly after the atrocious Oslo agreement was announced, Moshe
Feiglin organized street protests against it. Feiglin is today a Knesset Member
for the Likud party, but back then was head of a grassroots protest movement
calling itself “Zo Artzeinu.” Like Im Tirtzu today, the radical Left in Israel
liked to denounce Zo Artzeinu as a “fascist” organization. In a protest in 1995,
Zo Artzeinu activists blocked a civilian traffic intersection, one having no
military traffic. Feiglin was arrested and indicted – not for creating a public
nuisance, but for sedition.
Yes, that’s correct: expressing opposition to
Oslo at a public intersection was deemed seditious by the partisan
Feiglin was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to six months’
For years his “criminal conviction” was used by Ariel
Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu to prevent him from running in Likud
Feiglin has also been repeatedly arrested for the crime of
moving his lips in quiet prayer while visiting the Temple Mount, a form of
freedom of speech the Israeli judicial establishment is never willing to
Verdict C: Israel has seen a long series of harassment SLAPP
(strategic lawsuits against public participation – legal actions intended to
silence critics) suits filed by radical leftists against their critics. In
these, the radicals claim that criticizing public political activities of
leftists is libelous. In one such case, I was found to have committed “slander”
when I criticized anti-Israel extremist Neve Gordon, who met with Arafat during
the Second Intifada. Gordon embraced Arafat publicly and defended his refusal to
turn over murderers to Israel; he never denied that he had participated in
illegaly going to Ramallah. The court ruled that my characterization of Gordon
was illegal in Israel, and not protected speech.
Other SLAPP suits have
been filed by heads of “Peace Now” to harass those who dare to disagree with
that group’s extremist agenda.
The courts have pandered to these
harassments by radicals, failing to defend freedom of speech. As demonstrated by
the case of rabbis who were arrested after recommending a book the Left found
objectionable, in Israel, freedom of speech ends when leftists find the speech
Verdict D: A few days ago, Judge Raphael Yaakobi in
Jerusalem District court tossed out the libel suit filed by Im Tirtzu student
activists against a gaggle of far-leftists who had set up a Facebook page
accusing them of being “fascists.” The judge actually proclaimed that Im Tirtzu
actually bore some similarities to a fascist organization.
was that the communist, anti-Israel, antidemocratic extremist Ze’ev Sternhell
agreed that Im Tirtzu students are fascists.
The verdict illustrates that
the judge bears some similarity to certain parts of the anatomy of a
Im Tirtzu is a non-partisan Zionist organization. By accusing it
of being fascist, the judge himself not only slandered the group from his bench
but for all intents and purposes declared that Zionism itself resembles
Like all judges in Israel, this one, who was a long track record
of politically motivated rulings, cannot be impeached.
could not be more clear: Leftists in Israel enjoy unlimited freedom of speech,
even when it involves outright lies, naked defamation or criminal interference
with military operations. On the other hand, anti-Left protesters in Israel have
no freedom of speech. When non-leftists exercise freedom of speech, they are
guilty of sedition and fascism.
The writer is an economist who teaches at
the University of Haifa.