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Democracy Dies in Silence

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The order to silence the messenger, kill him or her if necessary, came directly from the Prime Minister. He commanded his top four ministers—Security, Justice, Culture and Education—to do all in their power to establish and maintain the big hush. The people must realize, he instructed, that there’s law and order in this country. Voices—such as those in the opposition, especially artists, writers, journalists, bloggers and the like—must not, “I repeat must not,” disrupt the ‘peace’ with their loud messages of protest. We can continue to have control over the people, and win future elections, only if we can continue to have control over the media. When you leave this office, go out into the streets of the country and silence them all. Literally.

Of course, my dear readers, you think to yourselves that here he goes again. Fantasizing. Our devoted blogger, you say, is resorting to his old ways. Think himself Kafka again. Or someone like him. Talking probably about Russia, or Turkey, or China. Certainly not about Israel. Not about us Jews. Of course not. That’s impossible. But you’re wrong, my friends, because I am talking about Israel. About the Jews of Israel. I realize, though, that I must convince you in the seriousness of my accusations. So here are three cases (out of many others), occurring lately in our ancient holy land, to illustrate my point.

First, I let you read this sentence, published in Ha’aretz’ article on September 7th. I myself have read it again and again, yet couldn’t get enough of its contradictions. It defies all logic in its absurdities. So here it is: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Government Press Office to remove Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem bureau chief Walid Al-Omari from a state-sponsored seminar on freedom of speech planned for Thursday.” Furthermore, it continued, “The prime minister instructed that legal steps be taken to deny press passes of all Al Jazeera journalists working in Israel (among them Israeli citizens, H.D.), and to close their offices in Israel.”

Now, let’s try to analyze together what we’ve just read. There is a ‘seminar on freedom of speech,’ fine and dandy, but… it’s ‘state-sponsored.’ Got it? That’s absurdity number one: ‘state-sponsored.’ Then we have the head of that state, the Prime Minister, orders that a certified, known, respected global media organization, and its journalists, would be excluded from said seminar. Hear me on this? ‘Freedom of speech’—but you, with the Arab name, though you carry a press-card issued by the state—you are not allowed in. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, anybody? That ‘freedom’ here is limited, and is ‘sponsored’ by the state, and I’m the head of that state. Orwell is probably rolling in his grave laughing.

I can go on and on about this story, but you probably get the gist of it already, and we have other cases to cover here. So let’s go right to the next example. This one involves the new Israeli film “Foxtrot,” which has won recently the ‘Silver Lion,’ the grand jury prize at the Venice Film Festival. A major film festival—considered the third most prestigious film festival in the world—and therefor a significant award and achievement for the Israeli filmmakers. You’d think that folks in Israel, especially those in political power—who are usually so eager to congratulate, and celebrate any minor achievement for the state in the international arena—would jump on the opportunity to do so in this case as well.

Not so. One of the four ministers receiving the order to ‘kill the messenger,’ as mentioned above, is none other than the Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev. She attacked the film furiously—mind you, before even seeing it—claiming it tarnishes the Israeli army’s reputation. Apparently, she was told by a senior official at the ‘Culture Ministry’ about a scene where a group of soldiers at a checkpoint turn violent on Palestinians. As if that has never happened. “It the type of film that gives tailwind to the Israel boycott movement,” she was quoted as saying. In other words, as we continue along this path of absurdities, never mind the actions themselves, they are fine. The depiction of them and their messengers are the problem. Go figure.

The film went on to win eight major Ophir Awards—Israel’s version of the Oscars—and most probably (unless a government special decision to the contrary intervenes) would represent Israel next year in that most prestigious American, global competition. All the same, Mrs. Regev threaten to withhold all financial support from now on from any film that doesn’t subscribe to her—i.e. the Prime Minister’s—version of Israeli patriotism. Get the picture? And did I mention already here the country of Russia?

Over a year ago, the Educational Minister Naftali Bennet—another of the four executioners of the apocalypse in the Prime Minister’s office, as described at the outset—had “disqualified a novel that describes a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from use by high schools around the country. The move comes even though the official responsible for literature instruction in secular state schools recommended the book for use in advanced literature classes…” Reported Haaretz on 12/31/15 “Among the reasons stated for the disqualification of Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (literally “Hedgerow,” but known in English as “Borderlife”) is the need to maintain what was referred to as “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector.”

Need I say more? Only that one of the corruption investigations currently ongoing in Israel by the police is of PM Netanyahu’s attempt to influence, and strike a deal with the publisher of the widely read newspaper in Israel ahead of the last election, in order to sway media coverage, and have favorable stories and editorials about him in that paper, Yediot Acharunut. As if he doesn’t have already another paper, Israel Hayom – Israel’s Pravda—as his private newspaper.

I can go on, but enough said. So I say to you my friends and colleagues in Israel, and everywhere else for that matter: Keep writing; keep talking; keep showing; keep playing; keep filming; keep producing. Because remember: It’s not only that democracy dies in darkness, as the Washington Post reminds us daily on its pages, but it’s also that democracy dies in silence.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue

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Animal Farm: a White House Story

animal-farm-1
Or how I was forced by real, yet surreal events and frightening circumstances, to join the resistance once again. Either way, the message being written on the wall is very clear: Things are not normal in today’s America, following the election and its aftermath, and we shouldn’t pretend—though some good, and not so good people suggest we do—as if they are normal. But hold on a minute, let’s backtrack a bit here for the sake of clarity, and out of the need to bring you all up to speed, so that we can read from the same page. In short: learn how a bad joke became such a sad story.

In England, on August 17, 1945, George Orwell published his allegorical, dystopian novella: Animal Farm, a Fairy Story. In my library I still have the old Penguin Modern Classics edition, which I bought and read in London when I first arrived there for my studies (up above is the cover, as illustrated by Paul Hogarth). In the back cover, it says this in part: “The animals on a farm drive out their master and take over and administer the farm for themselves. The experiment is entirely successful, except for the unfortunate fact that someone has to take the deposed farmer’s place. Leadership devolves almost automatically upon the pigs, (naturally, H.D.) who are on a higher intellectual level than the rest of the animals. Unhappily their character is not equal to their intelligence, (get this? H.D.) and out of this fact springs the main development of the story.

You remember the rest of the story, don’t you? Or can find it out for yourself. Now Orwell is known to have written this book about the Russian Revolution in general, and Joseph Stalin in particular. He was a Democratic Socialist, Orwell, and a fierce critic of Stalin and his “cult of personality,” his style of dictatorship; though it was disguised—to the cheers of many European intellectuals—as enlightened, democratic, sun to the nations kind of a regime. Indeed, I propose to you here that all dictators, and all dictatorships, no matter their names and disguises, are inherently the same, and operate according to the same set of rules. Autocratic by nature, they are all alike: From Napoleon (the name of chief pig on the farm) to Hitler and Stalin. No wonder Putin helped Trump win the election.

Now hang on a minute, before you accuse me of jumping the gun here. Trump won the election democratically, you say, fair and square. (BTY: So did Hitler.) Now let’s see how democratically was it, really, and how fair and square. First, while Trump won the electoral collage, Hillary won the popular vote. What kind of a (rigged) democracy is that? Here are some stats: America, by land area, voted 85% Trump, 15% Hillary; by population, Hillary won 54% to 46%, or even by a wider margin, as by now (and counting) Hillary has more than two million votes over Trump. A democracy, you say? Second: The Russians interfered directly in our election by hacking into the DNC, and by illegally spreading that damaging information through WikiLeaks, and otherwise through a sophisticated operation of fake news online (even Facebook apparently got into the act), and now we hear that they might have interfered with the results of the election in three crucial states as well. The FBI, for its part, first joined forces with the Russians by refusing to disclose their attempts to sabotage our “free” election (and probably by not taking them seriously in the first place), and second by the action of the head of the FBI himself, James Comey, who interfered in the election, and had stopped the momentum of Hillary Clinton’s campaign on its tracks, saying he’s reopening the investigation into her “emails affair,” and a week later saying he’s not. You call that democracy? You call that fair and square?

I don’t. But wait: there’s more. Almost every TV network, every newspaper, every social media outlet would gladly tell you that Hillary Clinton is the fifth major candidate in history to win the popular vote in an American election, and lose the election. But guess what, none of them would ever tell you—why, exactly?—which party these losing candidates were leading: Democratic Party or Republican Party. It drove me nuts, so I did my own research on the matter. And guess what: All five candidates who ultimately lost the election, after winning the popular vote, were leading the Democratic Party. (An exception could be made only for the first one, Andrew Jackson, but not really, because after all he was a democrat, and created the party because the election was stolen from him due to a “corrupt bargain.”) So is that a democracy?

I say NO! I say it is a rigged system, par excellence, designed to favor the Republican Party every step of the way. Just as the Republicans did some major redistricting throughout the land in order to assure them control over the Congress for many years to come. While the majority of the American people have voted for the Democratic Candidate, and are leaning towards the Democratic Party, the Republicans will now have the power in the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court. What kind of a s system is that? A broken system, my friends, that what it is. For all these reasons and more, too numerous to count here—not the least among them is the character of the “chief pig on the farm,” who is a bigot, a sexist, and a racist, whose first appointment was of a white supremacist (who reportedly had refused to send his kids to school with Jewish kids) as his “Minister of Propaganda”—we must reject the notion of the appeasers. He is not our leader. The system is rigged against us. Therefore—democratically, civilly and disobediently, in the courts and in the streets—we must resist!

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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