Freedom of speech under attack by politicized judges

When non-leftists exercise freedom of speech, they are guilty of sedition and fascism.

Theodore Herzl 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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 been perpetrated.
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.
The 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 nuisance.
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 judge.
Feiglin was convicted in 1997 and sentenced to six months’ community service.
For years his “criminal conviction” was used by Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu to prevent him from running in Likud primaries.
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 defend.
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 objectionable.
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.
His “evidence” 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 horse.
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 fascism.
Like all judges in Israel, this one, who was a long track record of politically motivated rulings, cannot be impeached.
The conclusion 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.