Friday, November 22, 2013
Israel's Would-by Book Burners
1. The Israeli Supreme Court is ordering the Israeli government (executive branch) to appear in court and justify the fact that it is NOT suppressing freedom of speech.
No, that was not a misprint. The Supreme Court of Israel, which has never been willing really to defend freedom of speech, ordered the government to justify and explain why it refuses to prosecute two rabbis who wrote a controversial book, and also two other rabbis who recommended to people to read that book.
The whole case involves the controversial book "The Path of the King," also titled "King's Torah," written by Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur. It is a rabbinic text that discusses, among other things, circumstances under which Jews may kill non-Jews, such as in war. The book has been denounced as "racist" by the Left and also by some not on the Left. It appears to have been published by the authors less as an exercise in scholastic research and more as a provocation. Because of its sections discussing killing of non-Jews, it has long been featured by every Neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic web site on earth trying to paint Jews as ghouls. I have not read the book nor do I plan to read it. From my impression of it in the media reviews of it, I think it would have been preferable had the authors never published it.
The Supreme Court was petitioned by members of the Reform synagogue movement in Israel, which is deeply involved with the Israeli Left. They petitioned to have the two authors indicted for "racism," along with two other highly-controversial rabbis who endorsed the book, Dov Lior and Yitzhak Ginzburgh.
Now it is quite possible that the contents of the book are as upsetting as what its critics are claiming. So what?
Since when is it the job of the government in a democracy to arrest or indict people for exercising their freedom of speech? Suppose the book is really as "racist" as its critics are saying, although one should always bear in mind that in Israel the word "racism" in general is used merely to refer to people who disagree with the political agenda of the Left. So what? Since when is it legitimate for a government to arrest people for holding or expressing racist opinions and feelings?
It is not against the law in any real democracy to hold and express racist opinions. It might get you punched in the nose and a judge might even deal with the puncher leniently, but you will not be arrested for expressing your opinions. If you were to arrest every person in the United States who had ever expressed a racist or anti-Semitic thought or opinion, the bulk of the population would be behind bars.
So here we have the spectacle of the book-burners from the Reform-synagogue Left in Israel (itself a microscopic Israeli movement) petitioning the anti-democratic Supreme Court with a demand for the indictment of rabbis who exercised freedom of speech and who dared to express their opinions in a book. The Court then demands that the government appear and justify the fact that it has NOT indicted (yet) the rabbis for this felony.
And let us note the selectivity of the jihad against freedom of speech. Even if the rabbis' book is as bad as the media are saying, it still would be nowhere near as racist as the books by, say, Prof. Shlomo Sand from Tel Aviv University or Ilan Pappe, to mention but two members of the tenured anti-Semitic campus pogrom. Their books appear in every university library in Israel and are sold freely in book stores. No one has initiated a campaign to ban them. No one burns anti-Semitic leftist books. You can buy books in Israel by Walt and Mearsheimer, Chomsky, and even Norman Finkelstein. No one censors the anti-Semitic outbursts in the Israeli Arab media. No dogs in the airport attempt to sniff out anti-Semitic books being carried in by travelers.
A big part of the problem is that the devotion to and understanding of basic democracy and freedom of speech is extremely thin and weak and superficial in Israel, and this weakness extends all the way to the top of society. The number of law professors in Israel who protested the past persecutions of these and other rabbis when they exercised their freedom of speech or who protested other attempts to deny freedom of speech to non-leftists is exactly zero. The Supreme Court has yet to overturn the ridiculous law proclaiming the Kahanist factions terrorist organization, whose freedom of speech is denied in Israel. Israel's "anti-racism" law is simply an anti-democratic bludgeon used to persecute right-wingers and suppress their freedom of speech. It has never been used to prosecute leftists or Arab. Laws against treason in Israel are almost never applied against anyone.
Instead, for years the judicial Left, led by the guy who was just appointed State Prosecutor, attempted to silence the Right with police harassment and prosecutorial persecution. Settlers, a professor, teenagers who attended anti-Oslo protests, rabbis, and many others became the target-rich hunting environment for the judicial Left. Leftists openly calling for non-leftists to be murdered were never touched. The Supreme Court has never demanded that the government appear and justify its past prosecutions of rabbis for expressing opinions deemed "racist" by the fascist Left. To the contrary, it now orders the government to explain why it has not prosecuted them ENOUGH!
The anti-democratic hostility towards freedom of speech by the Israeli chattering classes continues to metastasize. It is today bordering on book-burning.
(news report on background to petition: http://www.timesofisrael.com/academics-petition-to-prosecute-torat-hamelech-authors/ ):
Shelly, whom I have long called Little Bo Peep, was the rather clueless chief of the Israeli Labor Party, preaching and dreaming of a grand socialist society based on 19th century socialist utopianist ideas. Yesterday she was defeated in a landslide by Isaac Herzog in the Labor Party primaries. The turnout was 53% of party registered members.
I had been hoping Shelly would win the primaries. That is because I think Labor is more likely to implode with Shelly in command. Herzog comes across as more intelligent and polished.
But do not hold your breath waiting for him to restore the Labor Party to the vision and values of David Ben Gurion.
3. Haaretz joins the Said campaign of lies:
I'm sure you remember how in 1999 Edward Said's life story was exposed (by Justus Reid Weiner in Commentary) as a total fabrication. Said claimed to have grown up in Talbieh in Jerusalem and to have fled with his family at the age of 12. Whereas in fact Said's family came from Egypt and, although born during a family visit to Jerusalem, he was raised in Cairo.
Well here is what Haaretz wrote in an interview with Said's daughter this August:
Edward Said was born in Jerusalem in 1935. When he was 12, the family moved to Cairo, the home of his extended family, which owned a large number of businesses. None of them expected that a war would erupt the following year that would prevent them from returning to their home in the upscale Talbieh neighborhood in Jerusalem's western section. Said immigrated to the United States in 1951 and eventually became a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia. His ties to Jerusalem were purely conceptual, as he never lived in the city again after leaving it at the age of 12.
In 1992, Najla writes in her memoir, when her father was ill and knew he did not have many years left to live, the family decided to make a trip to his childhood haunts. When they came to the address in Talbieh, Edward Said was tense and agitated, not knowing how he would react when he saw his childhood home again after so many years.