22 November 2011

Be careful what you wish for, Yoel

Yoel Meltzer, a freelance writer and a Jerusalemite, published an op-ed in Ynet, titled Leftist party is over. My sense of uneasiness started with this headline, after all, I said to myself, the grip that leftist parties had on the country, seems to have ended in 1977, with Menahem Begin's coalition victory in the elections. But, apparently, Yoel meant something else.

And indeed, the op-ed contains a number of statements to disagree with. To start with, Yoel is certain that worry about the democracy in Israel being attacked and that freedom of speech is being stymied is purely a left winger's construct. Thus (my reading) it is easy to be discounted.

I have news for Yoel, then: it is possible (maybe not in Yoel's book) to be worried about Israel's democracy and not to be a faithful follower of Karl Marx. When the Knesset, in its infinite wisdom, tries to pass a law* that will allow courts to sentence newspapers and other information sources to ridiculous fines, without proof of damage or intent to cause damage, should only left-wingers be worried? Take a good look at the absurdities caused by a similar libel law in Great Britain, to take one example.

Bibi-bashing mentioned by Yoel is, probably, also a distinguishing characteristic of a lefty. Should I respond to this one too? Nah... with all the Bibi-bashing I happily engage in, I would probably be classified by Yoel as a Maoist then.

The Supreme Court issue, which for years was a sore point for many governments, left and right as one, is also being presented by Yoel as a purely right vs left fight. It could be easy to forget that Supreme Court was always a supreme irritant of all Israeli governments. Its inherent independence was, is and will always be a bone stuck in the parliament's and government's throats - as it should be. Yoel, as many other left- and right-wing detractors of the Supreme Court, tends to simplify the picture, conveniently forgetting that Israel rarely had a government without one (or more) ministers ending his political career in jail. Or that Israeli corruption level, while marginally better than that of Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Italy and Greece, is hardly something to be proud of. In such conditions existence of strong independent judicial body is not only beneficial - it is vital.

The sad fact that many a legislative initiative pushed by this or other lawmaker ends up being squashed by the Supreme Court, due to this initiative being contrary to the basic laws of the state, while extremely irritating to the politicos (left and right), is a reassuring sign that somebody is watching and making sure that democracy doesn't destroy itself from within. I hope I don't have to remind Yoel about history of such sad events...

Says Yoel:

Similarly, most Israelis understand that the funding of Israeli organizations by foreign governments as a way to enable these governments to advance their agenda of delegitimizing Israel, especially in light of the current international campaign against Israel, is obviously problematic.
Yes, some NGOs are surely a thorn in the side of Israeli government, and I wouldn't go into details, the issue being bandied a lot recently. But is hasty legislation a way to deal with the problem? Don't we have enough safeguards in place to deal with subversive, anti-Israeli or anti-democratic activities? If the NGO in question is acting unlawfully, isn't there a way (indeed, a duty) of appropriate institution to deal with it? Is the obviously hasty legislation, that may and will backfire in the future, the best solution?
Thus, labeling any attempt to deal with this complex issue as a sign of a right-wing crackdown or a restriction of human rights is nonsense.
Could be, but it is just so happens that the current right-wing coalition is the source of this stupid initiative, so deal with it, Yoel.

And then Yoel says, to strengthen the link between the subversive thinking and the left:
The same voices that sanctimoniously claim that Netanyahu’s and Lieberman’s Israel is turning ugly and fascist, for years labeled all opponents of the disastrous Oslo process as enemies of peace in order to stifle any real discussion.
Leaving aside that "sanctimoniously" and mixing together Netanyahu and Lieberman**: if you claim that Lieberman is a fascist, you must be a supporter of Oslo process... how do you like them chickens? Probably, the opposite must be true as well (in Yoel's world): your agreement to the fascist idea of the so called "loyalty oath" makes you automatically an objector to Oslo. Oy vey...

I have more news for Yoel: fascism is not necessarily a right-wing creation. Our instinctive classification of fascism as a right wing phenomenon is just an (understandable) illusion, serving our convenience and mental laziness more than it serves our education.
Whether or not the Left finally internalizes this and stops attacking is irrelevant. Either way, the party is over as the leftist monopoly on being the sole decider on the direction of the country is finally coming to an end.
Be it as it may, and without further argument, I would offer Yoel two additional angles of the current wave of stupid legislative activism. First of all, take a good look at all the "laws" being pushed through and think carefully: could these same laws be used and abused by a leftist coalition against right wing activists, should such leftist coalition emerge in the future? To remind Yoel: what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

And secondly: Menahem Begin wasn't much more of a leftie than Bibi. Did Begin, instead of facing the objectors to his policy, resort to the hasty and cowardly way of passing a repressive law aimed at anything he disagreed with?

Deal with it, Yoel...

(*) Oh, and by the way, the initiator of this sad law wasn't a right wing MK. It was Meir Sheetrit from Kadima, and I am surprised that Yoel doesn't know it.
(**) While Bibi is not exactly an angel, he is (still) a far cry from the Lieberman's thuggish ways.


Pisa said...

Thanks, David.

Dick Stanley said...

Maybe. Right now the left in USA is so extreme it's fallen over the edge. No compromises in sight from them. Maybe after Obamalot crashes and burns next year, they'll shape up. We can only hope.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Hope springs eternal, they say.