Israel Verges on Anti-Free Speech Law

BBSNews 2014-01-17 — By Michael Hess. Jerusalem Post in Israel published an editorial on Thursday discussing an impending Israeli law that will restrict free speech in the country making the word “nazi” and any similar WW II Holocaust imagery illegal in Israel and subject to jail and fines.

In the editorial “Policing Speech” JPost editors write:

“According to the proposal, the use of Nazi or Holocaust symbols, calling someone “Nazi” or similar names or expressing hope that the Nazis’ plan will be completed will carry a NIS 100,000 fine and can be the subject of civil suits.”

For anyone who routinely reads Israeli news one will quickly find in the comment sections of all of them that this is quite common. Israelis will call each other and others “nazis” for the “offense” of daring to disagree with the Israeli policy of illegal colonies, but don’t dare participate in these comment sections for yourself because you also quickly, often within seconds, will be subject to these types of nasty types of attacks.

israel_sm_2013Some Americans might think this is an exaggeration or uncommon behavior but it is not. Full disclosure, it is happening to this writer even as I write this. I was reading another Jerusalem Post column today entitled “Netanyahu confidante: Jordan wants Israel to keep presence along West Bank boundary“. I wrote in frustration to a commenter called “zion101”:

“Then DO IT!

Stop the impotent talk. It is a different world out there. Annex (illegally) the Jordan Valley!

Come on, stop the BS talk and do it. Even the US and Australia and Micronesia will leave you people then…”

After covering these issues for a couple of decades and reading comments in Israeli news, I am constantly amazed at how Israelis and their so-called “supporters” clamor for illegal actions that are tantamount to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity as if this would bring Israel peace and at this point the time for this author diplomatic language is long past…

It is simply contrary to all facts and reason that Israelis and their supporters continue to go down this path when so much of the world recognizes that illegal “settlements”, the “settlers” and their criminal “Price Tag” actions so far surpass any largely imaginary “incitement” on the part of the Palestinians and that there simply is no moral equivalence to suggest further War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity in response. This illogical behavior certainly does not encourage peace or civilized discourse.

Yet this is common, as is the logical fallacy of attacking the messenger. The supreme irony here, is that the sheer vitriol and frankly nearly incoherent and nonsensical vile comments that come back are a study in themselves that likely would run afoul of this new anti-free speech law making its way through the Israeli Knesset.

A smattering of examples:

From someone named “Eduardo Kelerstein”, “I am trembling already ruuudy, trembling. Can you recommend me a good Jewish doctor or is mengele taking care of your family?”

From the same author: “Spandau? Are you the SS?”

And one more from “Eduardo Kelerstein: “Will you report me to your gestapo friends? I bet wiping their toilets is your job!”

All of these seem to run contrary to the new law and are going to lead to absurd enforcement decisions where media outlets such as Jerusalem Post will have to scrub their pages of any such references.

They are legion. Here a few more from the Jordan Valley thread that are addressed to me:

“zion101” writes, “Thanks for the encouragement… but, we don’t need encouragement from a NaXi”.

Also from “zion101”, “Are you a fascist ? Do you still wear your black shirt on Sunday’s ?”.

And then a threat from someone with the name “Malmequer0”, “Better think of your future Or else you’ll wind up in jail Ruuuudy a message to you.”

And many more in this very same vein of the most vile sort. There seems to be no one in these comments sections on the so-called pro-Israeli side who is capable of carrying on a rational conversation without resorting to the most foul and disgusting rhetoric in response to quoting something as innocuous as United Nations Resolution 242.

Ironically I tried to point out the new “free speech” law a couple of times and Jerusalem Post was not letting their own editorial link be published; to be fair they have since relented to their credit.

Nevertheless, just like the unintended consequences pointed out in JPost’s “Policing Speech”:

“For instance, it would outlaw Abba Eban’s reference to the 1949 Armistice Lines as “Auschwitz borders,” a reference Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin recently reiterated during a tour of the Jordan Valley. It would forbid Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to compare leaders of Iran’s Islamic Republic to Nazis, as he did in 2008 when he said, “Ahmadinejad is a modern Hitler” in a conversation with Stephen Haldey [sic], US national security adviser in the Bush administration.”

Just as likely the new legislation will outlaw all of the above comments that I pointed out, making those writers subject to jail and fines, and it would also lead JPost to have to simply scrub all such comments en masse lest they be held responsible.

The Israeli press is not at all free (rated worldwide as Partly Free as it is), it is subject to huge constraint. Israel has a military censor that vets all Israeli media, and if this new law passes, the comments sections at JPost and the rest of Israeli media will look entirely different than they do today.

It is unenviable for JPost and the other Israeli media outlets to have to police these areas based on the new law, on the other hand, it would take away a huge Public Relations problem for Israel when Americans and others from around the world might possibly for once be able to talk to rational people instead of finding only these vile and ubiquitous “nazi” imagery posters that abound today.

Maybe the law should not be passed and JPost and others could just voluntarily rid their comment threads of posters who cannot refrain from calling every dissenter from Israeli official policy a “nazi” or far worse.

I encourage Americans to look for themselves and see how Israeli and their “supporters” talk about America, but wear your asbestos underwear…

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Michael Hess

Michael Hess

I started writing and editing BBSNews in 1990. Before the 'web, back in the Bulletin Board System (BBS) days. My pursuit of factual and reality based information informs my worldview. The ever evolving BBSNews contains New Mexico news, South Florida news and features, national and international news, politics, space, foreign policy and in particular; news and facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have a long background in technical engineering, I hold several patents including on Disaster Recovery based on work after Hurricane Katrina and I am dedicated to finally seeing the rule of law properly and across the board evenly applied and enforced in the Middle East, particularly with respect to the state of Palestine. See our About Us page for more details.