After reading a couple of very interesting articles in the Jerusalem Report
the scale of the problems facing Israeli citizens from their own MK''s is very worrying indeed.
It is easy to protect your country from foreign enemies, it''s the domestic ones that make life really tough though. It''s tough because they speak the words that I want to hear, they tell me that they have the answers to all of my problems and then they point to the person or group that is causing my problems and tell me that if they are taken care of everything will be fine. They go a step further, anyone who disagrees with them is of course one of the ''other'' a non-patriotic enemy of their beloved country.
At the moment the Knesset is reviewing potential new legislation that will fundamentally alter the nature of the country. This new legislation covers every area of society and will impact on all Israeli citizens. This legislation comes from both the governing coalition as well as the opposition, meaning that citizens don''t have many places to which they can turn in order to fight the proposed changes to the country.
In an attempt to ensure that the State of Israel remains Jewish in character, the former head of the Shin Bet and MK for Kadima, Avi Dichter, has proposed a bill intended to subordinate Israel''s democracy to it''s Judaism through introducing a number of new measures. One of these measures is an oath of loyalty to the "Jewish, Zionist and democratic State of Israel" for all new citizens and removing Arabic as an official language of the State of Israel. In addition to Dichter''s Basic Law there is also legislation passed that has been entitled The Boycott Law. This is an attempt to, in effect, boycott the boycotter. The BBC
described the law in the following way: "Under the new law those who sponsor a "geographically based boycott" - which includes any part of the Jewish state or its settlements - could be sued for damages in a civil court by the party injured in the boycott call. The petitioner is not required to prove that "economic, cultural or academic damage" was caused, only that it could reasonably be expected from the move."
As the Executive Director of the Israeli civil rights movement in Israel, Hagai El Ad, said at the time:"No reasoning has been suggested to explain why the boycott of settlement goods should be uniquely cherished as opposed to the right of the Israeli citizen to protest."
This pales in comparison to the measures being proposed that, if voted in, will change the nature of Israel''s Supreme Court. Well known for upholding the rights of the individual in Israel be you Jew or Muslim, Israeli or Palestinian, the Supreme Court has ruled against the state numerous times. Though there are several different pieces of legislation on the cards to change the nature of the Supreme Court, by far and away the most significant is a Bill that will require Supreme Court judges to be vetted by the Knesset Constitutional Committee. The argument in favour of this being that the Supreme Court doesn''t represent the people but rather the Tel Aviv elite. This would effectively end the independence of our Supreme Court and make us utterly subordinate to the whims of government without being able to challenge actions taken by the state.
There are also proposed changes to libel laws so that the newspaper could have to pay "not only for commensurate compensation for any tangible damage caused by the publication, but for an additional sum of NIS 300,000 − without having to prove damages"
according to Haaretz
Then there are the proposed restrictions on the amount of money that can be donated to NGOs here in Israel. The reason for this is the perceived (not by me) success of the de-legitimisation efforts of various groups abroad and the support that they provide to certain NGOs here in Israel. It is the activities of these particular NGOs that elements in the government want to curb.
There are a number of proposed efforts to do so. MK Ofir Akunis from Likud has proposed an amendment to the Associations Law (the Banning Foreign Diplomatic Entities'' Support of Political Associations in Israel amendment). This will limit the amount of money that a foreign government can donate to an NGO to no more than 20,000NIS per year.
Israel Beiteinu MK Fania Kirshenbaum has proposed her own piece of legislation that would force NGOs to pay 45% income tax on foreign donations. Despite approval from the ministerial committee the bills have been shelved indefinitely by the Prime Minister after both internal and foreign dissent. The fact that these bills were shelved, at least in part because of foreign dissent makes this action particularly interesting.
For a country that argues itself to be the only democracy in the Middle East these actions are incredibly worrying. I haven''t covered all of the legislation being proposed and there is more and more coming making this a very worrying time to be an Israeli. I wonder what on earth I can do to change the situation when it is my own representatives who are voting in these measures in overwhelming numbers. During the summer 400,000 people took to the streets to voice their discontent and have largely been ignored.
I am starting to wonder it''s too late to defend our freedom from those who regard the people who cherish it as enemies of Israel?
We have already seen the thugs take their cue from the politicians in power. What will come next?