Israel Moves To Criminalize Statements Against Israel’s Right to Exist

660px-flag_of_israelsvgLegislators in the Knesset gave initial approval to a law that would make it a crime to deny the right of Israel to exist — mandating a year in prison for such an exercise of free speech.

The new law introduced by conservative legislators makes it a crime for anyone to “call to negate Israel’s existence as a Jewish and democratic state, where the content of such publication would have a reasonable possibility of causing an act of hatred, disdain or disloyalty” to Israel. The vote was 47-34 to approve the bill.

MK Zevulun Orlev with the right-wing Bayit Hayehudi party introduced the bill.
Citing a controversy over former MK Azmi Bishara’s flight from the country after visiting Syria and Lebanon (where he praised Hezbollah), Orlev insisted that words “very quickly leads to actions.” It is the traditional excuse for cracking down on free speech: free speech can lead to criminal conduct.

The bill is particularly problematic for Arabs who live as law-binding citizens but continue to challenge the right of Israel to exist. Journalists, academics, activists, and politicians would all be subject to the law, which is clearly designed to chill and silence critics. Israel’s right to exist should be defended by logic and history, not preserved through state censures or prosecutions. What is astonishing is that the law will only succeed in forcing the debate underground and confirm the view of some critics that there must be something illegitimate about the status of Israel to justify such draconian measures. Free speech and free press are the inherently the best defense for any free nation.

Yet, the law is part of a disturbing trend in the West in cracking down on free speech, here and here and here. For a prior column, click here

For the full story, click here.

31 thoughts on “Israel Moves To Criminalize Statements Against Israel’s Right to Exist”

  1. “I’m saddened beyond words that peace has remained so elusive for all.”

    So am I. As far as your agreeing with Carlyle, he is a good person who happens to disagree with me on this issue, as I see you do. Good people often disagree, what makes you both special I think is that you are both open to other viewpoints and that to me shows intelligence and self awareness.

  2. Mr. Spindell,

    I am honored by your reply.

    I personally feel similiar to Mr. Moulton in regards to the U.S. harboring greater goodwill towards Israel rather than the Saudi’s. If for no other reason than the terror that violence will erupt and engulf the world from this tiny slice of land.

    I am amazed at the contributions of Jews to society at large. Their contributions proportionally far outnumber their humble numbers. At the same time, I’m saddened beyond words that peace has remained so elusive for all.

  3. Nate,
    You raise some interesting questions so let me try to answer them to the best of my ability, noting that while I speak as a Jew, I do not speak for Jews. We’re far too internally contentious as a group for anyone to speak for us.

    1. I personally do not believe building a Temple would solve anything and as a Jew I would be against building one. The destruction of the Temple around 70CE actually save Judaism. It then fully turned into a Synagogue based, Rabbi oriented religion that grew in perspective far beyond what it was. The Temple was a place for ritual sacrifice of animals and who needs that? The gospels portrayal of the Sadducees and Pharisees was incorrect from a Jewish perspective. The Sadducees were a priestly cast, that allied itself with Rome and took the Torah literally and harshly. The Pharisees, of whom Jesus was probably a member given his teachings, opposed Rome and acted to make Jewish Law more humane.

    2. There should be a separate and viable Palestinian State. This will go a long way towards healing the problems. however, as I’ve written here and on other threads I’m not convinced the Despots running the other ME governments want that really. I think they need to keep Israel around as a distraction to their people to keep them from seeing how miserable their life is under these despots.

    3.From the Israeli perspective and from my own the situation wasn’t bringing the post Holocaust Jews to America, it was the idea that Jews needed their own country. America in the post war era was still largely anti-Jewish in most parts of the country and the Jewish need for a State arose out of the feeling that in whatever country they resided the possibility of being turned on was real, based on our history. I also believe that there were many Jews in Israel prior to WWII, although other believe differently. Research both sides and make up your own mind.

    4. While there is much responsibility on Christianity and Islam for ill treatment of the Jews, there is a logical reason. If Judaism is true as a religion, than Christianity and Islam aren’t and vice versa. Much anger arose in the formative years in both those religions as to the Jews stubborn refusal to accept them. The Jews refusal was of course problematic because Jesus was Jewish and Mohamed saw Islam as also going beyond Judaism. To me the problem is that people of all faiths are unable to understand that the basis of all religion is “Do unto others….etc.” and instead feel threatened by people who don’t believe as they do. Almost every war in history has been caused by religion because of this and therein lies the real problem.

    5. Finally, my leanings on religion is towards the Deist. I believe there is a creative force that informs the universe, but that we humans are not able to comprehend its’ true nature. Instead we hold onto our cherished beliefs and fear others who believe differently. The truly religious person is one who gains comfort and strength from their own concept of God and does not feel threatened by others differing belief.

    “Because I AM ignorant and uninformed”

    To be truly ignorant one must be afraid to explore new data and ideas, that may even make one uncomfortable. By that definition and your subsequent posts, I see you as neither ignorant, nor uninformed. You are like most of us humans, searching for meaning in life and seem brave enough to go beyond your comfort zone.

  4. I found a set of documentaries that helped me better understand the situation by offering me a perspective from those people living in Israel. It’s called Variations On A Theme: To Be An Israeli Woman. It documents the lives of several different Israeli women with vastly differing backgrounds living in Israel.

    The ones I found most informative were that of Lea, a religious woman living with her family in a settlement.

    and Aziza, an Arabic Muslim Israeli citizen whose family experienced first-hand the property confiscations under the occupation.

    The sixth part of the series I haven’t been able to find online (available to the public). It documents these women’s lives during the last intifidah and their coming together to try and find answers to end the madness. There was such a sense of hopelessness that it left an indelible mark on me to somehow, someway, contribute to these lives that have been marred by decisions made in part by my own people.

    Each of these segments are about an hour in length to those inclined to watch them.

  5. In rereading my post, I realized that my comment “I only wished the U.S. would have welcomed the remainder of the European Jewry here” can be taken out of the context I intended.

    I wish that Christian wrongdoing towards Jews (and everyone else) in all its myriad forms had never taken place. After the abhorrent evil we Christians contributed to in WWII, I wish the remainder of the European Jewry would have been offered a welcome home here in the United States.

    The last time I stated my shock at “Christian” wrongdoing on a public board and apologized for it, the beat-down I received (inevitably from Christians) ensured I never returned. Still, pointing fingers at others without looking inward will ensure the problems we’ve created will continue to be the problems our future generations will be afflicted with. All while diminishing our own relevance in the here-and-now.

  6. Mr. Spindell,

    Because I AM ignorant and uninformed, I feel the need to ask you personally… It seems to me that what the two parties need and lack are thus: the Israeli’s a temple and the Palestinians civil rights. Couldn’t the Israeli’s build a temple in the weeping wall plaza in exchange for giving the Palestinians civil rights?

    Mr. Moulton,

    Having inherited Christian parents and the subsequent upbringing, it turned my world upside down to discover and personally believe that Christians did indeed play a tremendous role in the Holocaust. A personal confession here which probably mirrors at least partially the oft unspoken and unconfessed realities… My “Christian” upbringing had me believing that the Jewish race was responsible for the death of my personal God. It took a great deal of personal growth to accept that Jesus forgave everyone during his death.

    It is my understanding that those Christians that haven’t accepted Jesus’ forgiveness of the Jews imposed a great deal of pain and suffering upon them through the centuries.

    Personally, I only wish the U.S. would have welcomed the remainder of the
    European Jewry here. As you have pointed out, we had simply taken this land
    from others. Perhaps blindly, I wonder to myself if had we done so, might
    not we both have prospered so much so that the Jews could have gone forth in the greatest real estate land transaction purchase in history?

    I find it difficult oftentimes to be completely truthful and to apologize for my personal failures…

    How do we fix it from here?

    One last thing. I’ve got this quote from Albert Einstein that I wrote down after watching a documentary on his life.

    “If we don’t find a way of honest cooperation and dealings with the Arabs, we have not learned anything during our 2,000 years of suffering and deserve any fate that will hit us.” – Albert Einstein: How I See the World

  7. Carlyle,
    While you and I disagree on much regarding Israel, it is always a pleasure to read your comments. Your responses to Ms. Oliver displayed thoughtfulness on your part and a sense of intellectual fairness. While I believe it would be fruitless to argue our differences, we are quite evenly matched and neither of us will convince the other, despite open mindedness on both our parts. The reason this is so is that there really is no right answer, so the argument devolves on who are the “good guys” and who are the “bad guys.” I think that in both our minds that answer is not clear cut, though for different reasons.

    Then too, as a proud Jew and a lifelong supporter of Israel, I admit that I’ve got more investment in the game than you do and so there is probably an element of pre-judgment at work in my beliefs. Then too, I think of myself as an American and I do have deep feelings for my country, despite the many blights on its’ history.

    Where I think we are of common bond is that we both hate the oppressions of this world that drive humanity apart and allow so many to live in poverty, disease and misery. The answer to Israel, the ME and to the inhumanity of humanity to itself, lies I believe not in politics but in an evolution that would free ourselves from our “lizard” brains. How this would come about I have no idea, but in its’ necessity humanity hangs in the balance.

  8. CM:

    World opinion would have condemned Israel, can you imagine the nightly news casts? It would have been settled long ago.

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