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freedom of speech

  • Hebrew U. cancels conference on Palestinian prisoners, following pressure

    Hebrew University canceled the conference after a student group associated with Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home party penned an open letter to the university president. 'The very existence of this conference lends legitimacy to terror.' By Eli Bitan Hebrew University announced it is canceling an academic conference on the topic of Palestinian prisoners, which was slated to take place this Tuesday. The conference, which was organized by the The Harry S. Truman Research Institute, was to feature a study by Dr. Maya Rosenfeld on Palestinians in Israeli prisons. [tmwinpost] Despite the timing of the conference, which would have taken place as over 1,600 Palestinian prisoners…

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  • Former IDF ethicist tapped to censor 'political speech' in Israeli universities

    Professor Asa Kasher, whose code of ethics for the IDF found expression in the devastation of the 2014 Gaza war, is set to decide what lecturers at Israel's universities and colleges can and can't say. Education Minister Naftali Bennett intends to lay down new “ethical rules” for what lecturers at Israel's centers of higher learning can and can’t say regarding politics, Haaretz reported on Thursday. The move is the latest in a long line of Bennett initiatives aimed at making Israel's academic institutions more right-wing, more Zionist and more — as he would see it — loyal to the state. Israeli lecturers, spooked by the prospect of…

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  • How Im Tirtzu dominates Israel's public debate

    While its campaign of intimidation against supposed left-wing Israeli artists seems to have backfired, Im Tirtzu's role in Israel's current political climate cannot be overstated. The political climate in Israel has become so draconian and repressive lately that it was slightly surprising how quickly everyone rushed to denounce Im Tirtzu's latest campaign against mainstream artists and celebrities who sit or have sat on the boards of human rights organizations. Leaders across the political spectrum condemned the campaign, including Netanyahu, who has previously sung Im Tirtzu's praises on camera.  Following the backlash, the group told the Israeli press they had made a…

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  • When filming a protest ‘endangers state security’

    Anti-occupation activists say that two soldiers threatened them, and when they called police, the cops detained them instead — on suspicion of endangering state security. By Michael Salisbury-Corech Like every week the past 26 years, a group called “Women in Black” held a demonstration against the occupation in Jerusalem’s Paris Square last Friday. Across the street, around five people held a counter protest, which two Israeli soldiers eventually joined. At some point, the soldiers decided to cross the street, and according to Women in Black activists threatened them and demanded that they stop filming — because they are soldiers. Feeling threatened,…

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  • New anti-boycott law to ban foreign BDS supporters from entering Israel

    A new Israeli law would ban BDS activists from entering Israel and 'regions under its control.' Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org Earlier this week, while most international coverage was focused on the escalating violence in the region, Israeli lawmakers were addressing another threat — as they see it — to Israeli security: nonviolent grassroots activism. A new law proposed by MK Yinon Magal of right-wing Jewish Home party would ban entry to foreigners who promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. “Anyone who…

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  • Are Israelis too scared to have opinions anymore?

    A law barring public broadcasters from expressing opinions is just the latest in a long line of legislative and regulatory attempts to limit speech in Israel. At 3:24 a.m. on September 3rd, Israeli parliamentarians passed a controversial law to revamp the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the body responsible for public radio and television. At the last minute, right-wing members of Knesset from ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism and Likud snuck in an article stating that public news broadcasters must “avoid one-sidedness, prejudice, expressing personal opinions, giving grades and affixing labels, ignoring facts or selectively emphasizing them not according to their…

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  • For Palestinian artists, freedom of speech is anything but guaranteed

    By forcing Arab actors to perform in West Bank settlements and closing down Arab theaters, the government is proving once more that freedom of speech is solely reserved for Israel's ruling class. By Hasan Masri As an artist, I write these words with great trepidation that I may be judged based on my background, religion, skin color or political beliefs. I want to express myself — I want to write, perform, sing, and dance however I see fit. I love my job, I love the world I live in, I am opposed to all injustice or forms of oppression. Until when…

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  • BDS is being used to stifle dissent in Israel

    Israeli members of Knesset, along with journalists, commentators and others are taking advantage of the boycott movement in order to delegitimize Israeli human rights groups at home. As all eyes in Israel obsessively turned their attention to BDS, a subplot emerged that has gone by the wayside — one that I believe is the real story regarding the boycott movement's current role within Israeli society. [tmwinpost] Last week Israel's Foreign Ministry called on Switzerland to pull its funding from an event put on by Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, in an effort to force the organization to cancel its upcoming exhibit featuring soldiers'…

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  • 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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