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Democracy Dies in Silence

indiaopines.com

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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One-State Solution: Options Three, Four & Five

972mag.com

As I promised you in my last post, I’m returning to the acute topic of the “One-State Solution,” and to the next three proposals making the rounds in Israel, especially among the settlers. To refresh your memory, these proposals were specified in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, on the day Prime Minister Netanyahu had met with President Trump at the White House – a day we might consider from now on as the ‘official’ day the two-state Solution has finally died. It was titled, “A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future,” and was written by one Yishai Fleisher, “the international spokesman of the Jewish community of Hebron.”

No matter what we think of this unknown (until now) ‘official’ spokesman, and of such a position for that community, we have to take it seriously since, as I firmly believe, they carry more probability of materializing than the two-state solution, as well as other solutions being mentioned. In this respect, just as the settlers’ movement has kept to its mission undeterred for almost fifty years, and has won the day, so are these proposals more likely to become a reality as “facts on the ground” sooner or later. As I mentioned also in my last post, none of these proposals take into account the just, legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for an entity, capital and state of their own. Still, it’s incumbent on us to take them seriously. Which I intend on doing.

Here then is the third proposal, as written in that Times’ op-ed piece: “… (it) is promoted by Prof. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University, near Tel Aviv. His premise is that the most stable Arab entity in the Middle East is the Gulf Emirates, which are based on a consolidated traditional group or tribe. The Palestinian Arabs are not a cohesive nation, he argues, but are comprised of separate city-based clans. So he proposes Palestinian autonomy for seven non-contiguous emirates in major Arab cities, as well as Gaza, which he considers already an emirate. Israel would annex the rest of the West Bank and offer Israeli citizenship to Arab villagers outside those cities.”

This proposal, which we might term the seven, or eight-state solution, is so laughable that to treat it seriously is border on the absurd. And yet, Israel is already being accused – lately by a UN body of some sort – as an Apartheid state de facto. A proposal like this, taken straight out of the South African regime playbook for its “Bantustans,” is nothing short of racist in its most cruel manifestation. However, it is proposed by an Israeli professor, who had been brought to Sacramento by the “Stand With Us” organization, and was received with great fanfare and applause in our very own congregation of Mosaic Law. Just think of this. It runs deep, I tell you, fascism in disguise of academic bullshit. But I tell you one more thing: Just like in South Africa, and despite the hidden wishes of many, it has no chance of ever becoming a sustainable reality.

“The fourth proposal is the most straightforward. Caroline Glick, a Jerusalem Post journalist, wrote in her 2014 book, ‘The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East’ that, contrary to prevailing opinion, Jews are not in danger of losing a demographic majority in an Israel that includes Judea and Samaria. New demographic research shows that thanks to falling Palestinian birth rates and emigration, combined with opposite trends among Jews, a stable Jewish majority of above 60 percent exists between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean (excluding Gaza); and this is projected to grow to about 70 percent by 2059.”

This proposal, supported by a growing chorus of voices – among them none other than the Israeli President Mr. Rivlin – is fair in its basic premise of equal citizens’ rights to all the state’s residents, Jews and Arabs alike. But it’s very much debatable in its demographic conclusion, and to my understanding, and knowledge, her numbers have been strongly reputed by real experts in this field. However, even if we take her numbers as somewhat correct, we are left with a very problematic, unsatisfying solution. What kind of democratic Israel, a Jewish state would it be with a 40% Arab minority, at its rosiest possibility? What kind of a future will this bi-national state hold for a peaceful, humane, democratic Jewish nation? Not to mention the function of the Knesset, with almost evenly split Jewish and Arab representatives (with an Arab United Party maybe the largest party…) It might be a one-state solution, but a Jewish one-state solution most certainly not.

“Finally, there is a fifth alternative, which comes from the head of the new Zehut party, Moshe Feiglin, and Martin Sherman of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. They do not see a resolution of conflicting national aspirations in one land and instead propose an exchange of populations with Arab countries, which effectively expelled about 800,000 Jews around the time of Israeli independence. In contrast, however, Palestinians in Judea and Samaria would be offered generous compensation to emigrate voluntarily.”

Good luck with that. Jews offer money to Arabs to relocate. Moving the Palestinians to the Sinai Desert, I heard it being mentioned. Or to Saudi Arabia, as if they would be welcomed there. This last proposal is just a way of avoiding the truth, and the inevitable: the disastrous conundrum Israel is finding itself in because of 50 years of occupation, of building illegal settlements, and of doing all it can to avoid bringing to fruition the one acceptable, sustainable solution: The two-state solution. But that one, as I’d mentioned before, is all but dead. So it’s either an Apartheid state now, or a Bi-national state later, which won’t be a Jewish state as we know or want it to be, or as Herzl envisioned it in the first place. Take your pick. And the rest, as they say, is history.

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

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