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freedom of speech

  • The thin line between incitement and freedom of the press

    On the face of it, a protest by Likud youth against one of Israel's most prominent newspapers seems like a non-issue. But in the context of last summer's war and the growing threats against left-wing journalists, freedom of the press may no longer be able to protect the media. By Gaby Goldman Journalists, editors, media outlets - we all love simple stories. Something straightforward, black and white, good or bad. And this is what makes it harder for me to admit that the Likud party's demonstration in front of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily's building on Sunday night is not a simple…

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  • How freedom of speech was crushed during Protective Edge

    One of the side effects of Operation Protective Edge has been a dramatic narrowing of the political conversation in Israel. The author aggregates all the major incidents during the Gaza War in which freedom of speech in Israel was curtailed, often violently. By Orli Santo An entire spectrum of formerly acceptable left-leaning opinions and sentiments – from defending Palestinians’ human rights to merely empathizing with their suffering – has become taboo. In the past two months people who publicly expressed such opinions were beaten on the streets, derogated in the media, threatened, boycotted, and fired from their jobs. Lawmakers who…

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  • Jerusalem police arrest Palestinian activist in his Hebrew U dorm

    Khalil Gharra has been taking part in daily vigils in support of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. After arresting him in the middle of the night, police fail to present any evidence against him, and he is released without bail.  Shortly after midnight on Sunday, armed plainclothes policemen entered Khalil Gharra's room in the dorms at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The detectives waved a warrant at Gharra and another friend who happened to be there. They searched his room, confiscated a couple of laptops and threw Gharra in a cell at the infamous Russian Compound in Jerusalem. This wasn’t the first time Gharra…

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  • Israeli MK incites violence against leftists, Palestinians

    It is reassuring to know that in Israel everyone can have their voice heard. Thus, an Israeli anti-war demonstration held last Thursday was countered by a rally supporting the military operation in Gaza by Israeli forces. But there should be a limit on free speech, especially when some of those voices are calling for violence against others. In developed societies, incitement to violence is a punishable offense. Israel's standards should be no different. During Thursday's rally, right-wing Israeli member of Knesset Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) is seen encouraging the chanting crowd with phrases like, "leftist traitors," and "leftists out." He then…

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  • Nakba Law in action: Students must pay expenses for ceremony

    A new law forbidding the commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe prompted Tel Aviv University to charge students organizing a joint Israeli-Palestinian ceremony on May 14th in order to pay the security expenses. A little over a year ago, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nakba Law, stating that institutions who receive state funding are not to permit any commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe in 1948. During Israel's War of Independence, 80 percent of the Arab population in what later became the State of Israel was displaced. Some of the Palestinians fled battle grounds, others were forcefully removed. None were allowed back,…

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  • High Court rejects NGOs' petition against Nakba law

    By Noa Yachot and Roi Maor The High Court of Justice dismissed on Thursday a petition contesting the so-called “Nakba Law,” which enables the state to reduce public funding for institutions that commemorate the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. Read the ruling here (in Hebrew only). The law, passed in March of last year, originally sought to criminalize the commemoration of the Nakba Law. Its latest version, called Amendment 39 to the Budget Foundations Law, threatens to withdraw public funds from bodies considered to have acted to associate feelings of mourning with the establishment of Israel's independence. From the petition to the Supreme…

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  • Clampdown on campus politics in Israel feeds social apathy

    By Issa Edward Boursheh Let me start by making a few essential points: I believe that academic work should not be politically influenced, pressured or manipulated, and any argument that is discussed in class must be supported by methods, terms, tools and criticism that fit the world of research methods. I am against professors promoting their political agenda in class, based on emotions or so-called facts, which are not supported scientifically. Having said that, I think it’s the role of students to bring politics into universities and campuses by any legitimate means necessary. The main demand of the Free Speech…

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  • Palestinians demand freedom for detained Syrian blogger

    Following the arrest of Syrian-American blogger Razan Ghazzawi on December 4 by Syrian authorities, Razan subsequently faces various anti-state charges that carry up to 15 years of imprisonment. Today, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists issued the following statement of support, which appeared on a range of internet outlets and blogs and follows weeks of campaigns for her release. The statement read: We, a group of Palestinian bloggers and activists raise our voices loud and clear in solidarity with all the prisoners of the Great Syrian Revolution. We stand with all the prisoners, activists, artists, bloggers and others, all who…

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  • Newscaster resigns on air over apology to Netanyahu patron

    The host of Channel 10 News flagship program resigned live on air after the channel was forced to broadcast an apology to Netanyahu's American patron Sheldon Adelson for an unflattering report. The program's editor and the CEO of the news company resigned earlier this week. In an extraordinary move, the host of one of Israel's main news programs resigned live on air, citing a "breach of ethical and professional values." The resignation of newscaster Guy Zohar came at the end of a program which saw a junior colleague read out a text of an apology to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's…

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  • Knesset outlaws political boycott by 48 votes to 37

    The Knesset just passed into law the anti-boycott initiative bill of MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud), by a majority of 47 to 38. Many Knesset members, including Shas, top Likud members and all of Atzmaut (Ehud Barak's faction) were absent. Netanyahu was also absent from the vote. We hope to have the names of the MKs for you and for posterity soon. As Roi Maor wrote here earlier, ....the law seeks to penalize those who call for boycotting Israel, the settlements, or anyone related to the occupation. If a person, for example, calls for a boycott of academic institutions that participate…

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  • What is the anti-boycott law? Who does it affect?

    Israel's parliament, the Knesset, is set to pass (after some convoluted last minute wrangling) today one of the most anti-democratic measures in the country's history, the so-called "Anti-Boycott Law." A link to the full text's translation can be found here. Simply put, the law seeks to penalize those who call for boycotting Israel, the settlements, or anyone related to the occupation. If a person, for example, calls for a boycott of academic institutions that participate in the occupation, he could be sued in civil court, and ordered to pay compensation. If a company agrees not to purchase products manufactured in…

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  • The new Nakba Law: Privatizing freedom of speech

    By Hagai El-Ad | Originally published in Hebrew on NRG The creeping depreciation in the value of freedom of expression in Israel is part of a broader  erosion process of democratic principles, but even lengthy processes have their breaking moments. Amendment 39 to the Budget Foundations Law "reduction of budget or support as a result of activities against the principles of the state" expresses exactly such a fracture point. Yesterday (March 22, 2011) the Knesset voted into law Amendment 39, previously known as the Nakba bill. During the legislative process, the bill's scope was expanded: not just the "commemoration of…

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  • Civics schoolbook slashed for being too civic

    Haaretz reports today that the Education Ministry has begun re-writing the book used in civics studies in high schools. The book, promisingly titled "Being citizens in Israel - a jewish and democratic state" (read in full) was released in the late 1990's, and certainly needs updating- the civic situation in Israel got considerably worse; but the charges levelled against it now are lack of patriotism, focusing too much on internal rifts, highlighting discrimination of Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and mentioning the possibility that some Druze (touted in Israel as "sensible, loyal allies", a kind of a juxtaposition to "unreasonable, hostile"…

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