Tuesday, May 07, 2013
The Israeli Left Defends the Inalienable Right to Defame
The Israeli Left Defends the Inalienable Right to Defame
By Steven Plaut
Oh dear. The Left in Israel is all upset again about yet another "fascist assault against democracy" coming from the non-left. Periodically the Left has conniptions whenever a law is proposed that would rein in the atrocities of the Left. You will recall how upset the Left got when it was proposed that transparency laws similar to those in effect in the US be introduced to require that anti-Israel NGO's reveal the sources of their funding. Another "fascist" proposed laws that upset the Left sought to require a pledge of loyalty to the country by those sitting in the Knesset, Israel's parliament. Another proposed allowing those groups of businesses in Israel injured by the efforts of anti-Israel leftists who organize international boycotts and sanctions against Israel to sue those instigators in Israeli civil court for damages.
In any case, the latest bugaboo of the Fascist Left in Israel is what people are calling the "Jenin Jenin Law." As you recall, a slanderous lying propaganda film was made by Mohammed Bakri, entitled Jenin Jenin, accusing Israeli soldiers of conducting genocidal mass murders in the Battle of Jenin in 2002 (see http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=46&x_review=10) . In that face-to-face street battle in which Israel attempted to capture and kill wanted terrorists, numerous Israeli soldiers were killed and some 20 Palestinian civilians were killed in the crossfire. The Israeli army was criticized inside Israel for not using artillery to level the buildings containing the terrorists and thus save Israeli military lives.
Bakri made a Goebbels-like propaganda film, one he himself later admitted was a tissue of lies (http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=9865 ). (See also http://isracampus.org.il/third%20level%20pages/other%20-%20Beit%20Berl%20College%20-%20Michal%20Chacham%20and%20the%20Atrocity%20at%20Beit%20Berl.htm .) The soldiers involved in the battle filed a defamation lawsuit against Bakri. Later leftist activist judges on the Supreme Court tossed out their suit as "infringing freedom of speech." That is correct, the same Supreme Court that has upheld rulings that criticizing the public political activities of anti-Israel leftist traitors is "libelous" was unwilling to convict Bakri of libel and slander.
Well, many years too late, the Knesset is now considering a new law that would grant the legal standing to sue people making false defamatory claims about the actions of soldiers. The idea is that if someone claims falsely that Israeli soldiers carried out some sort of atrocity or crime against humanity and it could be proved that the claims are lies and the person making the claims knew they were lies, than the liar could be sued for defamation in civil court. Anyone who has any evidence of actual misbehavior by any soldier would of course be protected from being sued. Any soldier or civilian could file civil suit against the liars. Read more about the law here: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Knesset-ctee-approves-law-to-ban-defaming-IDF-312235
The Israeli fascist Left of course is up in arms and is screaming to high heavens about this new "assault against freedom of speech and democracy." This from the very same people who spent recent years cheering on the persecution of rabbis and others for endorsing or recommending a book the Left considered to be racist, or who cheered on the denial of freedom of speech to the Kahanists.
The Left insists that defaming Israeli soldiers is part and parcel of freedom of speech. The very same far leftists who cheer on the leftwing academics who file fascist SLAPP harassment suits against anyone who dares to criticize THEM and tell the truth about THEM are now suddenly all upset about the possibility that leftwing liars could be sued for defamation.
The leftwing Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, by the way, opposes the law. Thus demonstrating once again the foolishness of Netanyahu offering her this post. All the tenured radicals also oppose the bill and the chat lists of the tenured Left are full of shrill denunciations of it. Some have taken time off from cheering on the tenured leftists who engage in lawfare and who file SLAPP harassment suits againstthe critics of leftists who dare to exercise freedom of speech. In a worrisome development, even Yair Lapid, regarded as centrist, shifted to the Left and opposed the bill.
The anti-Israel far-leftist daily Haaretz described the law as "criminalizing" the defamation of soldiers (http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israeli-ministers-back-law-calling-libel-against-idf-a-criminal-offense.premium-1.519564 ) , and as usual Haaretz twists the facts to fit its agenda. Nothing in the law involves criminalization. It just defines the defamation of soldiers as a civil tort.
Among those praising the initiative to pass the law is the "Im Tirtzu" Zionist student group. According to the Jerusalem Post: 'Im Tirzu (a political activist group) issued a press release praising the vote, saying that the law implemented "the unwritten, but obligatory, contract between the IDF and civilian society and representatives of the public, which dictates that IDF soldiers will be ready to risk their lives so that every Israeli citizen can live and for the State of Israel to continue to exist." The statement added that, "as a price for this sacrifice of time, and if necessary, of a soldier's life" there is a duty to "defend them in the parliamentary, judicial and public arenas.'
According to the text of the bill, "Those who defame Israel, waging a campaign of de-legitimization against it in the international community, who wish to bring about a boycott of the state and its citizens have chosen IDF soldiers as a comfortable target in recent years, fully aware that no legal steps can be taken against them….Though many fabricated claims against IDF soldiers have been exposed over the years, but due to procedural constraints, the soldiers who were trampled and whose reputation was damaged were left without any legal solution."