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Israeli society mounts resistance to assault on democracy (updated)

This post has been updated, 21 July, 2011

When we look back on this period in Israeli history, I don’t want to wonder: “why didn’t Israelis fight for their democracy? Why did they stand by and let themselves be taken over by sham leaders representing repressions that belonged to the dark days of the last century? What was the birth of our state worth if it failed to guarantee us a democracy? I learned the Israeli national anthem as a child, and when I was very young, I used to choke up at the part that says “l’hiyot am hofshi b’artzenu” (to be a free people in our country).

I’m not alone. I wish there were more people flooding the streets in protest, following the passage of the boycott law last week, but I am encouraged by important voices of protest that continue to appear daily ever since last week. Here’s just a sampling:

1. One of Israel’s most talented authors, Etgar Keret, wrote a powerfully worded column in the largest mass-circulating daily Yedioth Ahronot, in the weekend edition. Keret shows how obvious and easy it is to do what 47 MKs and about half of the Israeli public were unable to do – separate feelings about the act of boycotts from the principle of democracy.

I never liked boycotts…when a friend called me about a year ago asking me to sign a petition calling for a boycott against Ariel, it was easy for me to say no…[but] When elected officials enact violent legislation which violates the individual’s basic rights, it is nothing less than a civic duty to break it. Had my country enacted a law prohibiting men from kissing in public, I would look on the street for the first man who does not reek of cigarettes or garlic and give him a passionate kiss. When our country chooses to prosecute and persecute people because they are trying to influence in democratic ways the future of the country where they live, then I must use this forum to call for a boycott of the settlements. ” [Thanks to Adam Keller for part of the translation – note, various other writers and intellectuals have written similar calls.]

2. The Israel Democracy Institute, which used to take moderate, upset-no-one positions in the past and preferred to hold a seminar on a controversial issues rather than make a statement, came out with a desperate call in an ad in Ha’aretz. In four years of working there, from 2006-2010, I don’t remember anything so emotional and unequivocal as this coming from the IDI. The large headline read: “Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky are turning over in their graves”

The founding fathers and the people of all movements and all streams – from Jabotinsky to Berl Katznelson, from Ben Gurion to Begin – entrusted us with a cherished endowment, one that commands us to protect it fearlessly: Israeli democracy. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence gave it its authority through their declaration that the state of Israel rests on the foundations of liberty, justice and peace…will provide equality of social and political rights for all citizens without distinction between religion, race, gender…To this day, we have not completed the promulgation of a Constitution that defines human and civil rights in Israel in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Worse, short-sighted legislation is eating away at the glorious Israeli democracy…Would the current Knesset members who vote for these laws sign the Declaration of Independence today? Don’t they see that their vote does not square with the values of the Declaration?…An unprecedented stack of bills have piled up on the floor of the Knesset, and from them blow the winds of anti-democracy…they subvert the foundation of Israeli democracy and endanger  its existence.

3. A petition has been published in Haaretz, under the title “Boycott Law – No more!” The first 120 signatories appear in the paper and most of them are academics, lawyers, architects, engineers, social workers, social activists, writers, designers, psychologists and organizational consultants, environmentalists and Israel Prize winning physicists and private investigators. Within the text, it says “36 professors of law determined that “the law is unconstitutional, it is a mortal blow to freedom of political expression and the right to protest in Israel, sufficient to damage human dignity [a human right protected under Israel’s Basic Law of Human Dignity and Freedom, one of several such laws that stand in for a constitution – drs]

4. On Wednesday, the Knesset rejected the two bills to establish committees that would investigate the funding of left-wing and human rights organizations. While in many ways the vote results seemed like political maneuvering (Likud versus Israel Beitenu) rather than any true understanding of the deep insult to democracy these bills carry with them, still a 57-28 (against versus for) defeat leaves the country with one less democracy attack to worry about – for now.

5. A demonstration is being organized on Saturday night – in proper 2011 fashion, invitations are being disseminated on a Facebook page with the title: “Democracy takes to the streets: The government against the people – the people against the government.” At this moment, 1,359 say they’ll be attending – and it’s only Wednesday.

I want, I believe, I hope and I pray that thousands of people, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands – 7.75 million – will unite in support of our freedoms – all of them, for all of us.

This post has been updated, 21 July, 2011

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    1. RichardNYC


      Reply to Comment
    2. Sam Smith

      Dahlia, we’re with you on this one.

      Reply to Comment
    3. weinstein henry

      But it’s just a short-term ridiculous Hasbara-inspired bill…
      Compared to the Loyalty Oath bill and other recent xenophobic bills, it’s a third-rate assault on Israeli democracy.
      And still no Israeli constitution, still Emergency Laws…

      Reply to Comment
    4. lidia

      1) when there is NO “democracy” for Palestinians, some Jews are wondering : Why could not Israel be a democracy? Answer: because democracy in Israel is ONLY a tool of settler colonialism – and when the tool is no longer useful, it is put away. The majority of Zionist Jews got it and do not bother. They understand perfectly what such “leftists” like Keret could not – that with or without “democracy” Israel is the same colonialist state made from the beginning for the master race – i.e. “a free people in our country” (on somebody else’s land). Master race is important, “democracy” is not. So, Zionist rulers are doing their best to save the important one. Not that they could – the Zionist colonial state is near its end, no matter with or without freedom for Keret to “do not like boycotts”

      Reply to Comment
    5. lidia

      2) WHY do left-Zionists like Dahlia “hope” that Zionist Jews in Israel would be for the right of boycott Zionist enterprise – i.e. themselves? The right is only needed by anti-Zionists. Of course, some “left-Zionist are ready to boycott “settlements” as if ALL Israel is not one big colonial settlement in the Palestinian (and Lebanese, and Syrian) land.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Neil

      If democracy in Israel is dying, it would be no surprise.

      Israel has had it’s problems from day 1. Has anyone considered what the demographic make up of Israel would be today, if the massive movement of the Arab population had not happened.

      Consider this. The number of Jews in Israel approximately equal the number of Arabs and the refugees from their homes that are now in Israel.

      That’s right, without the Arab population movement, Israel would have approximately equal numbers of Jews and Arabs today. A Bi-Narional state.

      Now consider why the Arabs moved. Was it voluntary or was there some pre-planning needed to ensure that 531 villages were vacated and 400 of them destroyed. The other 130 re-populated with Jewish immigrants.

      Does Plan Dalet come to mind? 2 years in it’s planning and then implemented during 1948/49. Look the truth about Plan Dalet up.

      Best wishes

      Reply to Comment
    7. Sam Smith

      It’s wonderful to see how quickly any discussion of Israel turns into foaming-at-the mouth Antisemitism, usually turning on the age-old idea that the Jews do not have the same right to establish a nation state that other peoples do. I also love Lidia’s repeated predictions that “the Zionist colonial state is near its end” – honey, we’ve heard that for 63 years, including when Israel was one of the poorest countries in the world and had to rely on Czech weapons to fight off 5 invading armies. You’d love to see Jews rounded up again, but I’m afraid you’ll never see your wish come true.

      Reply to Comment
    8. lidia

      It’s wonderful to see how quickly any discussion of Israel turns into Zionists’ foaming-at-the mouth cries :Antisemitism!!!!!, meaning that Jews should have “right” to colonize other peoples’land. Of course, the hysterics about “Jews rounded up again” has NOTHING to do with reality in which Zionists DO round up Palestinians, whose only crime to be born in the land Zionists want to their colony

      And Israel is the LAST colony, many of others lasted MUCH longer than this one.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Sam Smith

      Lidia, who exactly do you think you’re fooling with your Orwellian vocabulary? Israel was recognized as a Jewish state by the UN in 1947 and it’s not going anywhere. It *IS* antisemitic to deny the legitimacy of just one country in the world, which happens to be the Jewish state.

      Reply to Comment
    10. weinstein henry

      Praying, Dahlia.

      I suggest (I’m still praying, believe me!) to promote a No Hasbara vs Intifada Day, a Day Propaganda Free!

      Wouldn’t it be nice to have a break, to have the possibility to think out of the Propaganda’s Box?

      Ok, I’m not praying, I’m dreaming…

      Reply to Comment
    11. lidia

      I would not give a damn about “recognized as a Jewish state by the UN in 1947”, esp. because Zionists are SO beholden to UN resolutions 🙂

      Anyway, the deal was NOT binding, only “recommended”, but, even more important – SO WHAT? Israel is here because of USA support and USA suppression of anti-Zionism in the ME (by propping up dictators and toppling popular rulers). It is NOT forever. So, Zionists could repeat their mantra of “it’s not going anywhere” – it will, and soon, even though yesterday would not be soon enough.

      And it is racism to support Zionist colonialism of Palestine, esp. because Zionism from the beginning was NOT representing all Jews or even the majority of them. Zionists used Hitler to herd a lot of Jews into Palestine, but still Israel is NOT all Jews and being anti-Israel is NOT anti-Semitism, just like being anti-Rhodesia was not being anti-British.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Right Wing Zionist

      Many past haters, like you LIDIA dear, died without realising their dream of destroying Israel. Here is a list of their names:
      – Amin Al Husseini
      – Gamal Abdul Nasser
      – Ahmed Shukeiri
      – Yasser Arafat
      – Assad Senior
      – George Habash
      – Many others
      They went to their graves, frustrated, while seeing a strong Israel going from strength to strength. You will too LIDIA dear.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Right Wing Zionist

      Too late LIDIA dear, on another thread you admitted that most Israeli Jews are Zionists.
      “Being-Israel is NOT anti-Semitism, just like being anti-Rhodesia was not being anti-British”(LIDIA)
      Not so fast, the white Rhodesians had a home land, a country to return to if things got tough. In fact, more than one country, they could return to:
      1. Britain
      2. USA
      3. Canada
      4. Australia
      All Christian Anglo Saxon countries. Where would Israeli Jews go to if people like you would realise their sick dream and the Jews of Israel would be ethnically cleansed? Would you send them back to places where they were persecuted for 2000 years?
      Anyway your sick dream will never come true. We will make sure of it. Never again!
      And yes, hatred of Zionism IS racism. Because Zionism is nothing other than hating the aspiration for the self determination of the Jewish people. The proof of this is there are Zionists across the political spectrum. Ranging from right wing to left wing Zionists. The only non Zionist Jews can be found amongst EXTREME leftists (very few of them) and a very small number of ULTRA ORTHODOX Jews (the Netura Karta). The rest of us Jews, most of the 13 million Jews world wide, are Zionists. So if you hate Zionists, you hate most Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Right Wing Zionist

      “meaning that Jews should have “right” to colonize other peoples’land”(LIDIA)
      What makes the land of Israel “other peoples land”? The repetitive obsessive assertions of people like you sure doesn’t.
      Get over yourself!

      Reply to Comment
    15. lidia

      I see that hasbara man is tracing me 🙂

      he could repeat his hasbara till he is blue of face, but the colonial nature of Israel is clear, and was even openly called such by the first Zionists – then the world was not out of mode still.

      Regarding anti-Zionists – the majority of whites in aparteid SA were also racists – so what? It is only logical for a settler on other people land be a racist – it is the only real base for a claim on the land. Other claims – i.e. – god’s gift, natives being not really natives – are used by Zionists just like it was used by racist whites, but in both cases it was mostly for propaganda purpose.

      Reply to Comment
    16. lidia

      A lot of anti-colonialist people also came to their graves before the end of colonialism in other places. So what? Their path were traveled by others – more and more others. And they won. Period.

      Reply to Comment
    17. lidia

      if WH wants the end of both hasbara and intifada – i.e. the defense of colonialism and anti-colonialist struggle, I suppose he could take part in putting the end on colonialism in question – i.e. Zionism. Till the end of Zionism he will be better off on the moon, if he is so bored by the results of Zionism.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Sam Smith

      Lidia, did Norwegian colonialism also bring your friends in Oslo to do what they did today? Let me guess, it’s your new form of “non-violent opposition”.

      Reply to Comment
    19. weinstein henry

      Lidia, I’m so bored with intolerant people from both sides who are so addicted to their manic propaganda they cannot help but even re-write & distort comments made by others…

      Reply to Comment
    20. Right Wing Zionist

      I asked LIDIA a simple question. I asked her to tell us what makes the land that Israel is on, “other peoples land”?
      And what’s her answer? She talks in slogans and endlessly repeats key words (Goebbel’s tactics). Words like ‘colonialism’, ‘illegal’, ‘occupation’, ‘racists’, ‘apartheid’ BS, BS, BS, no context, no history, no justification just endless, obsessive, boring repetition of slogans.
      Now here it is in a nutshell why she is wrong.
      – Israel is built on the ancstral home land of the Jewish people
      – Jewish people lived here for thousands of years
      – Yes, since the late 1800, hundreds of thousands of Jewish people returned
      – During the same period, the ranks of the local Arab population were boosted by Arab immigrants who came as a result of the economic upturn in Palestine.
      – So both Jews and Arabs lived in Palestine for a long time and there was both Jewish and Arab immigration.
      That makes the Palestine a land of two peoples, the land of the Jewish people and the land of the Arab people. And since the Jewish people have the right to self determination, like the Muslims of Kosovo, or the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, the solution was and still is the TWO STATE solution. The Jews have accepted this since 1947, the UN voted for it in 1947 but the Arabs openly rejected it in the past and are still trying to use trickery to overwhelm the state of the Jewish people. They will never succeed.

      Reply to Comment
    21. lidia

      I wonder, was WH ever interested, whether some people were so bored with ntolerant people from both sides during the WWWII, that they did not give a damn what Hitler was doing to Jews? After all, a lot of Jews, esp. Zionists like to express their astonishment that so many people were not interested at all to stop the crimes against Jews . And Hitler had NOT started with the mass murder, it was stated with some laws, defining difference between Jews and non-Jews, something remaining me about some laws of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    22. lidia

      Of course, Arabs rejected a resolution which was granting colonial settlers a big part of their land. After all, Zionist Jews were a minority in Palestine even after all years of colonization, and owned less than 10% of land, but were “granted” more than half of Palestine.

      Of course, being a minority had not stopped Zionists who simply ethnic cleansed 90% of Palestinians from the land they were “granted” and beyond this.

      Of course, the foreign body “granting” colonizers other people’s land was quite common in the past. Modern day Brazil was “granted” to Portugal by the pope. So what?

      Reply to Comment
    23. Right Wing Zionist

      LIDIA is still blowing her single minded slogans and mantra about “Other People’s Land” but she still refuses to justify her claimd. But I am willing to justify my claims with facts (which of course LIDIA and her like minded will deny staunchly. But any one fair minded can check it out for themselves.
      FACT 1: The Jewish people were not given the majority of Palestine, the Arabs were, in two instalments.
      The land of Jordan was part of historic Palestine and was known as Eastern Palestine prior to 1921. Here is a link that verifies this.
      “This electronic edition is a republication of the original; no alterations have been made to the maps. One additional map not published in the original series has been included: a map made by later surveyors of a portion of Eastern Palestine (modern Jordan). Unfortunately, the Survey of Eastern Palestine was never completed”
      At 1921, Eastern Palestine which represented 80% of Historic Palestine was given away by the Brits to the Arabs. Then in 1947, the remaining part of Palestine (which was 20%) was further divided between the Jews and the Arabs and the Jews got 55% of 20% which is about 13% of historic Palestine. So the Jewish population which represented about 30% of the population, were allocated 13% of historic Palestine.
      To be continued …

      Reply to Comment
    24. Right Wing Zionist

      FACT 2: There are plenty of examples where lands are partitioned between minorities and majorities. Take India for example. The Muslims represented about 12% of the population but they insisted on self determination. So India was partitioned in 1948 and Pakistan was born.
      Anpther more recent example is Kosovo. Again the Muslims insisted that they want to be independent of Serb rule so Kosovo was declared as an independent state.
      It seems that no one makes a fuss when Muslim minorities insist on self determination. So put up and shut up when the Jewish people insist that we should be accorded equal treatment.
      To be continued …

      Reply to Comment
    25. Right Wing Zionist

      FACT 3: Israel did not carry out an organisex ethnic cleansing of Arabs in 1948. Prominent Arab leaders admitted as much in BBC interviews. Here is a link:
      And quotes from the article:
      “The video focuses on an interview with Hazem Nusseibeh, a member of one of Jerusalem’s most prominent Arab families.  In 1948 he was an editor of the Palestine Broadcasting Service’s Arabic news”
      “In this interview with the BBC he admits that in 1948 he was instructed by Hussein Khalidi, a prominent Palestinian Arab leader, to fabricate claims of atrocities at Deir Yassin in order to encourage Arab regimes to invade the expected Jewish state.  He made this damming admission in explaining why the Arabs failed in the 1948 war.  He said “this was our biggest mistake”, because Palestinians fled in terror and left the country in huge numbers after hearing the atrocity claims”

      Reply to Comment
    26. lidia

      I wonder – had not the Zionist heard about the mass-murder in Norway? Should he not be busy doing hasbara on the news cites blaming Muslims? A lot of his folk do – never mind that the terrorist was anti-Muslim racist. I bet he loves Zionism too.

      By the way, the hasbara about India’s partition is new to me, but still is SO pathetic. India was NOT parted between Indians and the Brits, for ex, even though British colonizers lived in India WAY longer than Zionists in Palestine.

      Other hasbara parts are so stale they do not even need to be ridiculed 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    27. lidia

      it seems i was right – the Norway terrorist WAS a Zionist. Why am I not surprised?


      Reply to Comment
    28. Right Wing Zionist

      “India’s partition is new to me”(LIDIA)
      Say thank you. You have learnt something from me.

      Reply to Comment
    29. lidia

      The Zionists should not neglect his hasbara duty – to cry “Muslim terrorism” about the work of a Norway Zionist. It is sad to see how the Zionist is wasting his hasbara time here 🙂

      Reply to Comment
    30. Lidia, Right Wing Zionist – I think you have taken this discussion in a direction far beyond relevance to my piece and the tone is getting very close to violation of our comments policy. Please end the current discussion and let people focus on the content of this article. thank you.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Right Wing Zionist

      I understand your concern. Pity you didn’t start enforcing this standard earlier, before I felt it necessary to rebutt LIDIA’s gratuitous insult about “right to colonize other people’s land”. I believe that’s the exact insult that she used. That was off topic too. I hope you will uphold your standard, which by the way I do consider appropriate, from now on.
      Anyway, I am outa here.

      Reply to Comment
    32. lidia

      Dahlia, I agree, I even tried to stop it 🙂

      Anyway, I am leaving now, also I still have not got a reply to my questions – I do not count hasbara as a reply, but I am leaving nevertheless.

      The “content” of your article is about your wish of Zionists starting to subvert their own interests – i.e. Zionist colonization of Palestine, which, of course, needs to be sustained by such laws. If you cannot see it, too bad.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Mitchell Cohen

      Lidia is CLEARLY the one who hi-jacked this thread. “Anyway, I am leaving now, also I still have not got a reply to my questions – I do not count hasbara as a reply, but I am leaving nevertheless.” [end of Lidia] I think I am going to take out the perennial violin now.

      Reply to Comment
    34. @Right Wing Zionist

      “LIDIA is still blowing her single minded slogans and mantra about “Other People’s Land” but she still refuses to justify her claimd [sioc].”

      West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (yes, it is still occupied by the perimeter) is occupied land. This is Palestinian land, not Israeli land who are illegally transferring their population to Occupied Territory.

      I find it amazing the Right Winged Zionists a) expect that in 1947, the non Jewish population of Palestine should have accepted the partition without resistance and b) have no problem justifying the violation of basic, fundamental human rights of a whole population on a land claim dating back thousands of years ago.

      In addition, no one is suggesting to dismantle the State of Israel. The land we are talking about is the Palestinian land which the Israel government is stealing bit by bit, each and every day.

      Reply to Comment
    35. Sam Smith

      Margaret, many people here are suggesting to dismantle the State of Israel. Herein lies the problem – they want 2 Palestinian states, and not a real 2-state solution.

      Reply to Comment
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