Without universality, rules of the game and understanding of liberal democracy, Israel is becoming a bullying and violent place.
By Ari Shavit
It’s depressing. About two years ago MK Marina Solodkin (Kadima ) proposed banning any national newspaper whose owner was not an Israeli citizen. Although there were certain similarities between Solodkin’s bill and the one by MK Ofir Akunis (Likud ) on foreign funding for political NGOs, hers was much harsher. If Solodkin’s bill had passed, it would have shut down a newspaper with a large circulation (Israel Hayom ), dealt a fatal blow to the freedom of expression and caused the dismissal of dozens of journalists.
The law would also have left Israel’s center-right majority without a strong medium to voice its opinions. Yet, although Solodkin’s proposal was clearly antidemocratic, dozens of Knesset members from the center and left supported it. So did many journalists. No protest rallies were held in the Cinemateque. Silencing us is grievous, but silencing them is just fine. Because there is no universality in Israel, no rules of the game and no deep understanding of liberal democracy.
It’s depressing. This week the Knesset passed on first reading a bill sponsored by MKs Yariv Levin (Likud ) and Meir Sheetrit (Kadima ) designed to make it harder for journalists to publish in-depth investigative reports. Although the legislation emasculates the media and prevents the free flow of information, the prime minister and defense minister supported it. They raised their hands to gag mouths, silence the truth and build a criticism-proof government fortress.
True, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak are scarred. They have both been victims of media attacks, some of which were tainted with distortions and ulterior motives. But this cannot justify the fact that an MIT graduate and a Stanford graduate lent a hand to an expressly anti-Jeffersonian bill. Both they and their parties proved this week that there is no universality in Israel, no rules of the game and no deep understanding of liberal democracy.
It’s depressing. For many months Jerusalem District Court Judge Noam Sohlberg has been fair game. His opponents claim that anyone who lives over the Green Line cannot be a Supreme Court justice. Thus they are trying to turn a political position (which I share ) into a binding legal practice. After all, more than half a million Israelis live beyondthe Green Line. The Knesset, cabinet and Supreme Court have ruled that living beyond the Green Line is legal. So anyone who disqualifies Sohlberg is forcibly excluding more than half a million Israeli citizens.
We are liberals, obviously. Liberals who will not have aconservative on the Supreme Court; who will not have a skullcap wearer on the Supreme Court. Liberals who will not have a person whose ideologyisn’t ours on the Supreme Court. Because there is no universality in Israel, no rules of the game and no deep understanding of liberal democracy.
It’s depressing. Right before our eyes they are blocking Justice Miriam Naor’s way to the Supreme Court presidency. According to the law and custom, Naor was supposed to replace Beinisch this coming February. But Naor is an enlightened, wise, courageous and hard-working justice. She does not belong to any clique. So because she is worthy, she must be stopped.
The dark forces that are resolvedto undermine the rule of law are determined to replace her. So they arepushing a problematic law aimed at affecting one person with scandaloustiming. They are pressing, stirring and twisting; contaminating justicewith politics. They are trying to degrade an enlightened court by deposing Justice Naor. Because there is no universality in Israel, no rules of the game and no deep understanding of liberal democracy.
It’sthe bacterium of the end that justifies the means; the disease of an agenda that bends the rules. The right gags the left in one way, the left gags the right in another. The right tramples on the minority, the left tramples on the majority. Without universality, rules of the game and understanding of liberal democracy, Israel is becoming a bullying and violent place.