21 October 2017

Israel Moves Another Step Nearer Being a Police State – Even for Jews

Plan to Outlaw ‘Breaking the Silence’ the group which reveals Israel's war crimes

The reality of the most benign occupation in the world
Settler colonial societies, be it Israel, Algeria or South Africa, always created a certain democratic space for the settler population.  The indigenous population were always faced with a racist police state but Whites South Africans, French colons or Israeli Jews were always granted freedoms that resemble those that exist in Western bourgeois societies.

However the very nature of a settler colonial society leads to a situation where those members of the settler community who sympathise with and support the oppressed native population find that their democratic space is constantly being encroached upon.  So it was in South Africa that White opponents of Apartheid were also banned, detained, framed and deported.  So too in Israel, anti-Zionist Jews are increasingly coming under pressure, political and physical.  Not just anti-Zionist Jews but even those Zionists who are human rights activists and oppose the war crimes of the settler state.
How the Right see it - revealing human rights violations is a distortion of reality
I have had an argument with a good Israeli comrade, Ronnie Barkan, who tells me that ‘Breaking the Silence’ is no better than the rest of the Zionist population.  I disagree with him.  Although they, like Btselem, are undoubtedly liberal Zionists the fact is that the work they do is seen, rightly, as a threat by the Zionist regime – and not just the regime but most of the Zionist opposition too.  The 'centrist' Yesh Atid led by Yair Lapid has been one of the most hostile parties.

Israeli NGOs have already been the target of hostile legislation.  Last year they were forced to reveal prominently in their literature if they received more than half their funding from abroad.  [Israel passes law to force NGOs to reveal foreign funding]  The reason for this was in order to demonstrate that human rights activists are really traitors, who received their money from foreign governments.  Of course there was no obligation on other mainly right-wing groups or e.g. the most popular news paper Israel Hayom which is funded by US billionaire to reveal its funding.
Breaking the Silence speak out in Berlin
The aim of the new law is to ban organisations which seek to harm Israeli soldiers, whatever that means and which seek to put them on trial in international courts.  BTS which collects testimony from soldiers on the human rights violations of Israeli soldiers would be caught by this.
Yair Lapid of the 'centrist' Yesh Atid attacks Breaking the Silence alongside Israeli army officers

Netanyahu pushes for bill to ban Breaking the Silence, BDS NGOs

By Lahav Harkov,  Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2017 13:29

The bill would shut down Israeli groups that try to put IDF soldiers on trial in international courts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pauses while addressing attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. Headquarters in New York, October 1, 2015. . (photo credit:CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
New legislation supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would shut down any organization that seeks to harm IDF soldiers or try IDF soldiers in international courts.
The bill would also ban NGOs that promote a boycott of Israel or any area in its controls, meaning that it would apply to settlement boycotts, Channel 2 reported on Monday night.
The new details followed Sunday’s unanimous decision by the coalition to launch a two-pronged attack on foreign funding of political NGOs, consisting of a parliamentary commission of inquiry into “the involvement of foreign governments in the funding of political organizations and activities to harm IDF soldiers,” and legislation that will be more stringent than the current laws requiring organizations to report foreign funding and announce it publicly if more than half of their budget comes from a foreign political entity.
Israeli soldier poses with detainees
The vast majority of organizations that are mostly funded by foreign governments  – 25 of 27 NGOs listed by the Justice Ministry in 2016 – are left-wing.

Earlier this year, Netanyahu appointed Tourism Minister Yariv Levin to come up with a new bill on the topic, because he thought the existing laws are too permissive.

Closing Breaking the Silence, which collects testimony from former IDF soldiers claiming war crimes and airs them around the world, was reportedly specifically mentioned in discussions of what the legislation should entail.
Breaking the Silence Exhibition - Netanyahu wants to clamp down on such embarrassments
Breaking the Silence’s executive director Avner Gvaryahu said his organization “is here to stay, now and after Netanyahu,” and argued that the “persecution” of his NGO is a distraction from the investigations into alleged corruption by Netanyahu.

“This is yet another pitiful witch-hunt from a right-wing government that knows its days are numbered,” he stated. “Yet again, Netanyahu chooses to use IDF soldiers, who have broken the silence and oppose the occupation, as a human shield, deflecting the consequences of his own criminal entanglements. Neither a commission of inquiry nor legislation will deter us. There is only one way to stop Breaking the Silence: end the occupation."
Opinion The Right-wing Assault on Israeli Democracy

Chemi Shalev Haaretz, Oct 17, 2017 5:45 PM

The reported plan to declare the anti-occupation NGO Breaking the Silence illegal is an indication of Israel’s heavy-handed government and of its weakened democracy. It would be considered breaking news were it not for the fact that it is actually more of the same. The blacklisting of Breaking the Silence, which would surely serve as a gateway to banning more dissent, is part of the overall right-wing assault on the liberal democracy that Israel once aspired to be. Like the (apparently false) claim that a frog will tolerate water being heated up until it’s boiled to death, Israeli public opinion, including the part that was supposed to offer resistance, has adapted to the dismantlement in stages of the country’s democracy. If and when the public wakes up, it might very well be too late.

The onslaught is being executed on many fronts. It is a calculated and integrated campaign. To allow the government to enact anti-democratic laws as it sees fit, it must first revoke the authority of the High Court of Justice to nullify Knesset legislation. To diminish the stature of the court, the justice minister tries to clip its wings through legislation while her fellow coalition members delegitimize the High Court’s decisions and makeup. Without the threat of High Court nullification, right-wing lawmakers can start dreaming about remaking Israeli democracy into the Jewish ethnocracy they desire. To justify the required curtailment of equality and civil rights, Israeli Arabs are portrayed as a Fifth Column, opponents of the occupation become terrorist collaborators and demonstrators for the rule of law are dubbed anarchists and harassers. All the while, the government’s education commissar tries to edit academic freedom to make it conform to government policy and its culture czar threatens the livelihood of artists who challenge dogma and buck right-wing convention.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to save himself from what increasingly look like likely indictments only add fuel to the fire already consuming Israeli democracy. A frantic and haunted prime minister waging a personal vendetta against the media and the legal system for his own survival is a crucial element in the anti-democratic revolution. So the coalition stays silent when Netanyahu attacks the police just as they will look the other way when he will try to intimidate his potential Justice Ministry prosecutors, not to mention the ecstasy that engulfs right wingers whenever Netanyahu tries to torment the media. He launches bitter personal attacks on journalists, like Donald Trump on steroids, opens and closes public broadcasting stations, like Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu or Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, enforces regulations or relaxes the rules to send a message to reporters – but mainly to those who pay their salaries – that investigative exposés and biting criticism might not be the shortest avenue to fame and fortune.

The breaking and smashing frenzy, which is slated to peak in the Knesset’s upcoming winter session, is shared by cynical politicians and true fanatics. The former are looking for headlines that will grab their incited voters but the latter represent a comprehensive world view that derides Western and liberal values and seeks to replace them with an authoritarian regime in which Jews reign supreme. They want to discriminate between Jews and Arabs without knee-jerk liberals getting in their way, to grab Palestinian land while the High Court cowers in the corner, and to continue managing the occupation in darkness, without the rays of disinfecting sunlight occasionally shed by NGOs such as Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

This aggressive campaign is fed by the right wing’s perpetual self-victimization, orchestrated and conducted by Netanyahu himself, and by the arrogance of Likud politicians – and those from the national-religious Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) Party even more so – who show no compunction about undermining the values that made Israel what it is today. Maybe their amok is a function of an urge to erase the last remnants of the Israel in whose creation and consolidation their political movements played only a minor role. After the mission is accomplished, the internal destroyers and demolishers of the Zionist revolution that created the state can continue pretending that they are its children and successors.

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