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Dissent in Israel: On the margins, yes, in the mainstream, no

Regarding the controversy over Mairav Zonszein’s ‘New York Times’ op-ed: An ongoing climate of fear and suspicion is not conducive to ‘vibrant democracy.’ It is unfriendly to left-wing protest over security matters.   

Since my colleague Mairav Zonszein published her ballbuster op-ed “How Israel Silences Dissent” in the New York Times several days ago, there’s been – what a surprise – a backlash. There was one substantive counterpoint to the article, though, by self-described leftist Noah Efron in Haaretz, who wrote that the instances mentioned by Zonszein of threats, sanctions and violence against opponents of the Gaza war also disturbed him deeply, then he added:

But that’s the point: I watched, heard and read all these things. The criticisms reached me. The criticisms of the criticisms reached me. Discussion of the criticism and of the criticisms of the criticisms reached me. No one was silenced. The week after thugs punched three demonstrators, there was another demonstration, this one larger, and protected by more police. The actress [Gila Almagor], the comedian [Orna Banai] and the journalist [Gideon Levy] received hours of airtime and hundreds of column inches.

Good point. So what’s the story – does Israel silence dissent or not?

It does. Not all dissent, of course, and Zonszein never argued such a thing, but what Israel does is prevent dissent from reaching the mainstream. The government in Jerusalem doesn’t do it directly – it doesn’t have to. The deed is done mainly by mainstream economic entities and the mainstream media acting on behalf of their customers, the Israeli Jewish public, which supports every last thing the government does in the name of security, such as Operation Protective Edge.

Read Zonszein’s response: Silencing dissent in Israel – continued

To illustrate: On August 22, a week before the war ended, “7 Nights,” the weekend entertainment magazine in Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, ran a cover story titled “Prisoners of War” about the same subject Zonszein wrote about, but as a long feature article based on interviews, and with a lot more examples of silencing. An anonymous “senior figure in the [Israeli] entertainment world” said:

“Whoever understands marketing in the Israeli music business knows that today the big money comes from [contracts to perform for] municipalities, state-owned companies, cultural bodies funded by the government and by Mifal Hapayis [the national lottery] whose director is identified with the government. Any expression that is extreme or that contradicts the government’s official position is liable to lead to the cancellation of dozens of performances a year – at cultural events, municipal festivals, Independence Day celebrations, summer concerts and so on. …

Whoever understands is afraid, and whoever doesn’t understand – his managers are afraid. The people around the performer don’t leave him on his own – they brief him: which messages to put across when you’re a guest on [talk shows hosted by] Yael Dan or Dan Shilon, what to say when you’re doing an appearance at a hospital [for wounded soldiers or civilians], or when you perform for the soldiers. The general atmosphere is one of, ’We take you into our hearts and we’re not going to express our opinions now, and probably won’t express them ever.’

Here was a recent cover story in a very widely-read publication talking about how Israeli entertainers are pressured economically into toeing the government line, especially during wartime, as described by a source who spoke off the record obviously because he’s under the same pressure. So the silencing of dissent is being exposed for all to see – but does that mean the silencing doesn’t go on? It damn sure does, exposure or not.

What’s allowed and what isn’t

As Efron wrote, the mainstream Israeli media do report, and report critically, on violence and threats of violence against left-wing protesters, and on economic sanctions leveled against outspoken celebrities. Furthermore, as he also wrote, Haaretz, +972 and other relatively small left-wing media, as well as commenters on Facebook (except a few radical Israeli Arabs), are free to oppose the government and its wars to their heart’s content. So in these two ways, Israel does not silence dissent.

The way it does, though, is by prohibiting powerful moral criticism of the government’s “security” policy from reaching the mainstream. Gideon Levy got death threats and was hounded wherever he went not because of his columns in Haaretz, but because of his interview on the Channel 2 news while standing on a street in Ashkelon, where bystanders starting yelling at him on camera while one of the guest panelists in the TV studio threatened to walk out. Levy can slam away in Haaretz and live a peaceful life, but once he spoke his mind on Channel 2, the king of Israeli TV, he needed a bodyguard.

'Haaretz' journalist Gideon Levy (Photo by Yossi Gurvitz)

‘Haaretz’ journalist Gideon Levy (Photo by Yossi Gurvitz)

Watching Channel 2 news during the war was like watching “Salute to the IDF,” with the forlorn, muted exception of one regular panelist, leftist Amnon Abramovitch. Still, Abramovitch’s milder-than-usual sarcasm was too much for the right-wingers who shouted “terrorist” and “traitor” at him one night at the entrance of Channel 2’s studio, until a police officer put him in the car and drove him out of there.

It was the same experience listening to the radio, or reading Yedioth Ahronoth, not to mention the newspapers to its right (which is every newspaper but Haaretz). There were occasional, cautious voices against the extent of Israel’s bombing and the civilian casualties in Gaza, but there were none I’m aware of, except for that one abortive appearance by Levy, who were saying or even suggesting that the war was wrong, immoral, from its inception. And if there was such a voice I’m not aware of, or even two or three, I can almost guarantee that the host made it clear to his or her listeners that the speaker’s message was ridiculous if not disgraceful.

‘Leftists’ Yonit Levy and Shlomo Artzi

All this, of course, didn’t start with Operation Protective Edge. For some reason, right-wingers think Yonit Levy, Channel 2’s star anchor, is a leftist; during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza at the turn of 2009, she caught a lot of flak for supposedly doing something with her eyebrows that signaled disloyalty. I never saw it; what I did see, a year and a half later, was Yonit Levy wincing in unmistakable disapproval when thanking Judge Richard Goldstone for coming on the show to answer her questions about his just-released report.

I also remember driving back from the Gaza border during Cast Lead and hearing somebody on the radio giving a monologue about how the whole world was against Israel for defending itself, etc. etc. The voice sounded like that of hugely popular singer Shlomo Artzi, Mr. Sensitive Israeli Male, a noted mourner of the Rabin assassination. I checked, and it was Shlomo Artzi alright.

You can criticize Netanyahu, you can criticize the settlements, but when the cannons are roaring and you’re talking to Mr. and Mrs. Israeli Consensus, you don’t criticize, you endorse, or you will pay a price, as the few Israeli public figures who’ve challenged that rule have found out.

So yes, Israel silences dissent. The United States did the same thing in the years after 9/11, until the war in Iraq went bad. In mid-2004, country-rock singer Linda Ronstadt lauded Michael Moore’s anti-war, anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” during a show in Las Vegas, and people in the audience started booing, throwing glasses and tearing up her posters, and in the end the owner kicked Ronstadt out of the hotel for “spoil[ing] a wonderful evening for our guests.” During that same time, Elton John said:

There’s an atmosphere of fear in America right now that is deadly. Everyone is too career-conscious. … There was a moment about a year ago when you couldn’t say a word about anything in this country for fear of your career being shot down by people saying you are un-American.

Things have changed a lot in America since then. But in Israel, the 9/11 atmosphere has become a more or less continuous thing, with wars every couple of years and a lengthening parade of so-called existential threats in between. An ongoing climate of fear and suspicion is not conducive to “vibrant democracy.” It is unfriendly to protest. In Israel, the political climate keeps protest safely on the margins.

And if any more proof is needed, remember the celebrated “town square test” conceived by national hero Natan Sharansky:

If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a ‘fear society’ has finally won their freedom.

Think of Gideon Levy, Orna Banai or Amnon Abramovitch, think of most of the writers at Haaretz and all of us at +972, think of Ahmed Tibi, Haneen Zoabi or Richard Goldstone walking into a public square in this country and expressing his or her views, and ask yourself if, according to Sharansky’s celebrated standard, Israel is a free society or a fear society. Ask yourself if Israel silences dissent.

Related:
Silencing dissent in Israel – continued
Israel’s Left forgot what dissent really means

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    COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      I think the way to present dissent is by the better argument.

      EVERY attitude that is unpopular is suppressed, and everywhere.

      And, I mean everywhere.

      The left suppresses dissent from its views, where the left is the norm. (It is even going so far as to advocate for academic BDS, a form of forced suppression of minority’s voices).

      If dissenters present perspectives that contain principle (more than reactions), that ring true and are adoptable, then they will eventually receive an audience.

      Its a faith in people, and also a respect of people, to let them go through their own process of what constitutes relevant comment to them.

      In contrast, in Mairav’s comments dissing Noah Ephron, there was an aura of suppression, that his perspective should not see the light of day.

      Whatever valid or invalid attitudes motivated that, it was present.

      Mairav was published, in the New York Times. (That is publication, not censorship)

      One of the reasons that conflicts with injustice are so long, frustrating, confusing, is because going through frustration and confusion, CLARIFIES ones principles and arguments.

      More substantive, more clear, more able to be communicated as they appeal to something that is real from multiple perspectives.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard

      This whole line of argument has an odor of dishonesty because the word “Israel” is used to refer to subsets of Israeli society, but Mairav and Derfner both know it will understood by many people to mean the Israeli government or Israeli society as some kind of unified rational actor. When the “same thing” happened after 9/11, according to Larry, nobody talked about the media’s lack of critical thinking as “America” doing anything, let alone “silencing dissent.” The Israeli far left is disingenuously trying to fool people into thinking about their opponents as being more organized, centralized, and officially sanctioned than they really are. Calling yourself a victim of censorship or “silencing” under these circumstances is a sign of desperation. When people get angry that you are protesting the fighter jets that are killing the people shooting rockets at the very square you are protesting in, you shouldn’t be surprised to lose the argument. And you’re not – you clearly know that you have. That’s why Mairav and now Larry are claiming victim status – because that’s the only card left to play.

      Reply to Comment
    3. bir

      “If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a ‘fear society’ has finally won their freedom.

      Think of Gideon Levy, Orna Banai or Amnon Abramovitch, think of most of the writers at Haaretz and all of us at +972, think of Ahmed Tibi, Haneen Zoabi or Richard Goldstone walking into a public square in this country and expressing his or her views, and ask yourself if, according to Sharansky’s celebrated standard, Israel is a fear society or a free society. Ask yourself if Israel silences dissent.”

      Fair question. So I asked myself as you suggested and my conclusion was that if any of the people you mentioned entered Rabin Square and spoke loudly about their beliefs, they would be able to do so without fear. There might be a few of the more, um, assertive Israelis we all know and love voicing loud and extreme displeasure at what they’re saying – and some of them might even push and shove if the police aren’t there – and there will also be a few of the more, um, assertive but “nice” and “good” Israelis we all know and love yelling right back about the right of these people to say whatever they’re saying.

      Then they’ll be done saying it, Harretz will publish it, 972 will publish it and the rest of the media will publish it if interesting and ignore it if it isn’t. Anybody who watches Israeli TV for any length of time knows precisely how open and heated the debate gets…and it’s a debate and that debate often includes some of the very critics you mention. Heck, I see Jibril Rajoub on Israeli TV!

      Regarding government bookings, etc., if I live in the USA and our soldiers are at war risking and giving up life and limb for our policies (and in Israel, it’s quite tangibly for Israelis’ direct protection, not something abstract thousands of miles away), then I would expect any government and tax-payer based organizations to act supportively in that effort. Should they undermine those soldiers? With tax money? Hell, no. If that’s what you consider “stifling dissent” then your bar is set pretty darn high. I guess you expect your tax dollars to both send soldiers out to protect you and, at the same time, support some singer who wants to accuse them of war crimes. No, that singer can go to a private venue or a public square, but the same government which sent soldiers to war cannot at the same time slap them around. That has nothing to do with stifling dissent.

      The shame of Mairav’s article about stifling dissent in Israel is that the debate in Israel is so precisely and clearly robust. Her article and yours are representative of two issues: 1. sour grapes that your views have been proven wrong and overtaken by events and the Palestinians; and, 2. Your tactics of besmirching Israel all over the Western world in order to gain the leverage and traction you have been unable to secure with Israelis who know the situation just as well as you and who disagree with your conclusions in very large numbers.

      Reply to Comment
      • “if I live in the USA and our soldiers are at war risking and giving up life and limb for our policies (and in Israel, it’s quite tangibly for Israelis’ direct protection, not something abstract thousands of miles away), then I would expect any government and tax-payer based organizations to act supportively in that effort. Should they undermine those soldiers? With tax money? Hell, no”

        No, not exactly as you say. PBS’s Newshour undoubtedly produced segments highlighting early dissent over the Iraq War, and PBS till receives some (albeit dwindling) tax dollar support. Similarly, NSF grants in social science may well go toward positions incompatible with government positions, as too National Endowment for the Humanities grants, although these latter have been under scrutiny for years now.

        There are limits. An old style Marxist isn’t going to get Newshour time. An NSF grant denying climate change will now likely fail funding. And, as said, art expositions too strident may be refused funding. As to Newshour, talk to any political aware conservative, especially on the religious right, and you will hear about too much bias toward “the left.”

        While you are not wholly wrong, neither are you wholly right here.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          If we’re going to start talking about media support, then Derfner’s point fails entirely. Israel constantly supports cinema and TV that is aligned with the left. In fact, very little right wing material is ever supported in Israel.

          In fact, thanks for this. Hey Larry, if Israel stifles dissent, can you please explain why it is that the majority of government-supported films and TV programs lean to the left, sometimes quite far to the left?

          Reply to Comment
    4. bir

      Actually, I’ve just realized the biggest evidence that you, Mairav and Dahlia are absolutely wrong.

      Yesterday, just before PM Netanyahu met with President Obama in what is clearly a very important and sensitive moment for Israel, Peace Now released a press release about something that happened a week earlier relating to “settlements.”

      Not only did Peace Now do this without any fear or concern, when Netanyahu, shocked and enraged that his meeting was undermined by an unelected fringe NGO, told reporters that this group was undermining Israel’s national interests, Peace Now lashed out publicly right back and blamed their press release on him!

      And you know what will happen to Peace Now and Yariv Oppenheimer today, tomorrow, next week, next month and next year? NOTHING.

      Stifling dissent, my tuches.

      Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        Speaking of Netanyahu’s “shock and rage” at Peace Now’s “undermining” of his meeting with Obama: The very fact that this pathetic excuse for a prime minister mentioned Peace Now by name and their supposed crime against the state is tantamount to incitement and is effectively a call to action against Peace Now. One of Netanyahu’s attack dogs in his government – Yisrael Katz – even went further than Netanyahu and said that Peace Now is POISONING Israel’s relationship with the U.S. As the saying goes in Israel: Ha’mevin Yavin.

        This is a perfect example of what Mairav was talking about in her excellent NYT article. Thank you for bringing it to the fore.

        Reply to Comment
        • bir

          Nice rant. Except that Netanyahu didn’t mention Peace Now by name.

          Peace Now responded directly, however, as if he did call them out by name.

          So now you have a group that is unafraid to take on the Israeli PM in the most public fashion possible and when the PM or his office respond, somehow this is “stifling dissent?” Does Peace Now look stifled in any way? They could not be happier right now at their “success.” Do they care if they deflected attention from real issues? No. They are being bold and loud and in-your-face.

          Like I said, stifling of dissent my tuches.

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            Netanyahu may be a simpleton and an ignoramus, but he is not a complete lame brain like many of his peers in the government and the Likud. He knows full well that for Israel to continue to be able to assert that it is The Only Democracy in the Middle East (TODME for short), it needs to maintain the fallacious facade of freedom of speech and freedom of dissent. Of course, in practice, Netanyahu has done everything in his power to limit these basic rights through a well-coordinated campaign involving many arms of his government (specifically the police, which has been squashing leftist demonstrations for quite a while now). Another method of silencing dissent that Mairav mentioned is the tightening of ministerial purse-strings based on political identification – a clear no-no for democracies that respect individual freedom of expression, which Israel clearly doesn’t.

            You should also take note of the more than 500 Arab Israelis that have found themselves behind bars in the last few months solely for the crime of demonstrating against the war in Gaza. What is that, if not the squashing of citizens’ right to dissent?

            Lastly, there were the reports of Arab citizens being called in for questioning in the last little while. Their crime? Putting anti-government posts on their facebook pages.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            In other words, you concede that you were wrong about Netanyahu and Peace Now.

            As for Israeli Arabs being arrested in certain types of demonstrations, I encourage you to look at many other countries where people get arrested in certain types of demonstrations. No, I don’t mean China and Russia, I mean the US and UK. Sometimes, even in the most democratic of nations, you need to maintain order. The biggest evidence against you is that the Muslim Brotherhood continues to hold large, well attended public meetings in Israel and this is an organization that openly seeks Israel’s destruction:

            http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.596522

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            “No, I don’t mean China and Russia, I mean the US and UK.”

            Ah yes, that bastion of democracy where economic gulfs separate the haves and have-nots more than any country in the western world, and where dissent is squashed by police forces equipped with military hardware (Ferguson). Israel has much to look up to when it looks at the broken and dysfunctional United States of America.

            As for the U.K. – I have yet to hear about the right of dissent being denied in Britain. If you can find information about that, please send it over.

            Reply to Comment
          • bir

            Ah, okay then. So now we’re not talking about the US or UK any more because they aren’t democratic enough for you (UK – you can look up arrests during G20 summit or arrests last year after the beheading of that soldier on the street). Now we’re looking for MORE democratic countries than the US and UK to prove that Israel “stifles dissent.”

            Okay. Why don’t you do a Google search for “denmark police arrest demonstration?” You see, they also arrest people in demonstrations. Replace Denmark with France. Or Holland. How about Brazil before the world cup? Chile? Nope. How about Canada? Is Canada democratic enough for you?

            http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/arrests-fines-as-anti-capitalist-protest-in-montreal-declared-illegal-1.1802692

            Reply to Comment
          • Ray

            In every one of these “democracies” (and in places like China and Russia) you find people fighting for actual democracy, and for social justice. Only Israelis seem to not care much about what kind of government they have. As long as the Evil Arabs are trotted out, everything else is unimportant.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            Israel is at war. An existential war. And it has been so for the last 100 years.

            Considering that, it has been a vibrant democracy even much more so than the great western democracies were in their great wars.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Whiplash

      Both Katz and Netanyahu were right and they both have the right to express their opinions. This not suppression of anyone’s opinion but freedom of speech by elected representatives of the people of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    6. ***Regarding government bookings, etc., if I live in the USA and our soldiers are at war risking and giving up life and limb for our policies (and in Israel, it’s quite tangibly for Israelis’ direct protection, not something abstract thousands of miles away), then I would expect any government and tax-payer based organizations to act supportively in that effort. Should they undermine those soldiers? With tax money? Hell, no. If that’s what you consider “stifling dissent” then your bar is set pretty darn high. I guess you expect your tax dollars to both send soldiers out to protect you and, at the same time, support some singer who wants to accuse them of war crimes. No, that singer can go to a private venue or a public square, but the same government which sent soldiers to war cannot at the same time slap them around. That has nothing to do with stifling dissent.***

      No wonder you just DON’T GET IT.

      In the US, immediately post 9/11, dissent WAS suppressed by those dishonestly calling on ‘national security’ grounds, ‘must be patriotic’ etc excuses to shut those up who disagreed with G’ment policy. It’s a dirty trick, that’s all. Ditto Israel.

      As always there are twits like Bir who justify this.

      Bir, it YOU that’s laying the bar very low.

      In a free society free speech is umimpeded, regardless of circumstance, otherwise *this* circumstance or *that* one could always be invoked to suppress free opinion. You can’t see that because it’s not your opinion that’s being suppressed.

      Reply to Comment
    7. JohnW

      It is very simple isn’t it?

      People have opinions.

      There are minority opinions.

      The government has opinions.

      There are dissenting opinions.

      The majority has opinions.

      Sometimes the opinions are polarised.

      Sometimes the opinions are very strong on both sides and there is nastiness.

      In fear societies, the government stops dissent. It establishes reeducation centres.It establishes gulags. Or worse, it strings people with dissenting opinions up after torturing them.

      In democracies, the government attempts to protect everyone with an opinion. Can they do this perfectly? At all times? No matter what? No of course not but at least they try to protect all people from physical harm. Not necessarily physical threats. The only way to protect all people all the time from physical threats would be to form fear societies with reeducation centres and gulags, at the least. Because idiots will be idiots whether they are left wingers or right wingers and some idiots issue threats against those whose political opinions they don’t like. The law SHOULD deal with it but sometimes the sheer volume of what needs to be dealt with does not make it possible on a practical level. This tends to happen during wars when peoples nerves are particularly raw. If you can’t accept that, you cannot accept human nature.

      Reply to Comment
    8. When people claim other people’s opinion amounts to ‘treason’ (as happens frequently on the comment threads of this blog) they’re trying to silence dissent by criminalising it. It’s so transparent a strategy you’d have to be blind not to see it.

      Reply to Comment
    9. JohnW

      Gert

      Like I said, Idiots are idiots, whether they are leftists or rightists. Want an example?

      One leftist Idiot threatened me personally, in one of his posts, right here in + 972 Magazine, that if he could, he would shoot me in the back of my neck. Why? Because of my right wing views.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ray

        Victor Arajs?

        Reply to Comment
        • JohnW

          No. Goldmarx. Thank goodness he has stopped posting here. He was a particularly unpleasant piece of a hater.

          Reply to Comment
          • Goldmarx

            I haven’t stopped posting here.

            You are a Likud troll who initiated personal insults. That is when I responded in kind, not before.

            Reply to Comment
          • JohnW

            “I haven’t stopped posting here.”

            OK Brian. I suspected as much. Thanks for confirming. Do you still want to execute us, “Likud Trolls”?

            By the way, anyone who is not an extreme leftist like you is a “Likud Troll”, right, Goldmarx/Brian?

            Reply to Comment
    10. Mikesailor

      Oh my Lord. According to JW, Bore, Richard and Whip: their views are silenced by the nefarious “left-wing’. You know, the “left-wing”: the entity that really doesn’t ecist as a political force in Israel. Is Meretz “left-wimg”? I suppose if you use Einstein’s theory of relativity: If you ciompare it to Likud or the other Zionist parties, it mau be considered “leftist”. If you compare it to anti-Zionists it fails miserably. I don’t recall Meretz dissenting from Operation Gaza Slaughter. But few Israelis did. At least not Jews. The Israeli Arabs did protest and were arrested and beaten by the paragons of virtue and defenders of civil rights: the Israeli police and security forces. Not to mention the West Bank where Palestinians were beaten and shot during non-violent protests. But that is not news. Only Israeli Jews count, isn’t that right? The “other” always deserve what they get because the either a) weren’t born Jewish or converted their religion/ethnicity (I always find the idea that obe can convert ethnicities a novel albeit idioric idea), or, b) they didn’t accept Jewish natural right to overlordship in the area. Isn’t that the real crime? While some Israeli Jews kvetch about the obstacles to dissent promulgated by other Jews, the right to dissent for Palestinians is the one really denied. And where are the Jewish protesters against that?

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        “Oh my Lord. According to JW, Bore, Richard and Whip: their views are silenced by the nefarious “left-wing’. You know, the “left-wing”

        Huh? Where did I say that, Mikesailor? This is typical of you. This is why you don’t know your left hand from your right hand about the ME conflict. Because you only believe what you set out to believe but ignore reality.

        I said that idiots attempt to intimidate. I did not say they succeed. I am as scared of the Goldmarxes of this world as I am scared of the Mikesailors of this world. In other words, I am not. I think of you lot as malicious fools.

        Reply to Comment
    11. JohnW

      “Oh my Lord. According to JW, Bore, Richard and Whip: their views are silenced by the nefarious “left-wing’. You know, the “left-wing”

      Huh??

      Where did I say that, Mikesailor? This is typical of you. This is why you don’t know your left hand from your right hand about the ME conflict. Because you only believe what you set out to believe but ignore reality.

      I said that idiots attempt to intimidate. I did not say they succeed. I am as scared of the Goldmarxes of this world as I am scared of the Mikesailors of this world. In other words, I am not. I think of you lot as malicious fools.

      Reply to Comment
    12. JohnW

      It is very simple isn’t it??

      People have opinions.

      There are minority opinions.

      The government has opinions.

      There are dissenting opinions.

      The majority has opinions.

      Sometimes the opinions are polarised.

      Sometimes the opinions are very strong on both sides and there is nastiness.

      In fear societies, the government stops dissent. It establishes reeducation centres.It establishes gulags. Or worse, it strings people with dissenting opinions up after torturing them.

      In democracies, the government attempts to protect everyone with an opinion. Can they do this perfectly? At all times? No matter what? No of course not but at least they try to protect all people from physical harm. Not necessarily physical threats. The only way to protect all people all the time from physical threats would be to form fear societies with reeducation centres and gulags, at the least. Because idiots will be idiots whether they are left wingers or right wingers and some idiots issue threats against those whose political opinions they don’t like. The law SHOULD deal with it but sometimes the sheer volume of what needs to be dealt with does not make it possible on a practical level. This tends to happen during wars when peoples nerves are particularly raw. If you can’t accept that, you cannot accept human nature.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Richard

      People seem to change the titles on their articles here more frequently these days. That’s not very encouraging…

      Reply to Comment
    14. RICK

      most of these dialogues go ad hominem quickly and the pattern is clear. The right “I agree with everything the Israeli gov’t does” disguises a lack of argument with a personal attack. Mike said there were no real “left” parties in Israel because they all adhere to a Zionist ideology that claims special rights for Jews and is inherently anti-democratic. He didn’t say that exactly but I am saying it. The U.S., being an ex-colonial settler is similar, just more evolved in expressing its racism. But having just been in Israel, there is a lock-step thinking that combines great fear with great privilege, and that is an explosive mix, particularly in a completely segregated society without a constitution or borders. We better pull the plug on their dollars or they’ll blow up the world with their fear and hatred.

      Reply to Comment
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