by Steven Plaut
In its latest act of illicit intervention in Israeli public life, the foreign (mainly U.S.)-funded "New Israel Fund" (where their 'New Israel" means Palestine) has filled the Israeli press and the country's billboards with a McCarthyist anti-democratic vilification poster that essentially endorses all who seek to deny freedom of speech in Israel to non-leftists.
Seek to deny freedom of speech in Israel to non-leftists.
It is the NIF's response to the campaign by the student Zionist movement Im Tirtzu against 'Shtulim' (plants) in Israel, meaning foreign-funded anti-Israel subversives. In the NIF ad, it shows Yitzhak Rabin with the slogan "THEY already took care of that plant," meaning "THEY" collectively murdered Rabin. By THEY the NIF does not mean Yigal Amir and his brother. It means all Israeli critics of the left.
For decades, the mantra of Israel's anti-democratic left has been that Rabin's death was caused by the exercise of freedom of speech by non-leftists in Israel, especially when they criticized Rabin and called him names. Their conclusion is that criticism of the left by non-leftists is a clear and present danger that produces murder and so must be suppressed. Just how they know that assassin Yigal Amir's behavior was not caused by his attending law school has never been explained. In any case, the catechism of the left, which includes most journalists, is that the Rabin murder was caused by "incitement." Curiously, they are not reminding people what Rabin really thought of leftist NGO B'tselem!
It is hard for people outside Israel to appreciate just how hostile the Israeli media and much of the public are to freedom of speech. This hostility is manifested in the "incitement" bogeyman. One cannot read five lines in the anti-Israel leftist daily Haaretz without seeing screaming warnings and condemnations of "incitement" – meaning criticism of the left by non-leftists. In other newspapers, the count is not far behind.
Likud is almost as much to blame for this as the left. Likud invariably responds to charges from the left about "incitement" by yelling back in sandbox-manner that the left are the real inciters – instead of demanding that the word "incitement" be removed altogether from Israeli discourse.
"Incitement" is a nonsense word that simply refers to the expression of opinions that someone dislikes. When the left says "incitement," it means criticism of the left. When the right says "incitement," it means expressions of opinions by the left. It is a demonstration of the weakness of the commitment to democracy on the part of so much of the Israeli public that so many Israelis accept it as axiomatic that "incitement" is and should be a crime.
In real democracies, "incitement" is not a crime at all, or at most is used as an additional charge to up the ante when someone is indicted for a real crime. Murderers facing trial for murder might face the additional charge of incitement to murder, but they would never be charged with incitement alone, without the murder charge. Ditto for bank robbers and rapists.
After the Rabin assassination, the Israeli Labor Party and its captive media invented the myth that murderer Yigal Amir did what he did because he was "incited" to do so. Never mind that Amir himself says he was not. That closed the case in the "minds" of the left, proving that "incitement" by right-wingers causes murder. Of course for the 50 years before that, Israel's left, right and center every day engaged in "incitement" far worse than anything preceding the Rabin assassination, and no one was assassinated. Ben Gurion with his shrieks that Begin was a Nazi was probably the worst of the inciters, and the Knesset protocols of the 1950s and '60s are endless litanies of "incitement."
Since 1995 the left grew accustomed to silencing its critics with some success by screaming "incitement." Not a single law professor in Israel has denounced the anti-democratic McCarthyism in the jihad against "incitement." It goes without saying that none of the "human rights" NGOs ever took a stand against criminalizing "incitement," nor defended free speech rights for non-leftist "inciters." Even the ACLU in the U.S. defends the free speech rights of fringe groups, but not a single NGO in Israel claiming to be the Israeli analogue of the ACLU will defend free speech rights of the "right."
Into all this steps the New Israel Fund, using funds raised from people protected by the First Amendment and living in a country where they enjoy freedom of speech. It places gutter ads in Israel denouncing the exercise of freedom of speech by "THEM" – speech it insists resulted in Rabin's murder. The thousands of people whose murder was preceded by Arab incitement to murder are not considered by the NIF a reason to restrict freedom of speech or even to protest the murders. The NIF would be the first to defend Ezra Nawi, the leftist accomplice of the PLO's Gestapo, who not only incited, but also murdered people.
The left-wing NGOs funded by the NIF have virtually no local support in Israel. They are propped up using the NIF contributions from the ilk of George Soros and the Ford Foundation.
The McCarthyist ad campaign by the NIF is the best and most persuasive argument that could be found to support and endorse the current bill before the Israeli parliament that will regulate foreign-funded subversive NGOs in Israel.
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