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Thought crimes in Israel

Neve Gordon | Redress | 5 November 2010

Would Meryl Streep, Spike Lee, Tim Robbins or Susan Sarandon be willing to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States and its policies in order to receive public funding for feature films that they star in, direct or produce? In Israel, the far-right Knesset member Michael Ben Ari has proposed a bill that would require entire film crews to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and to declare loyalty to its laws and symbols, as a condition for receiving public funding. It’s just one of more than 10 bills to be discussed during the Knesset’s winter session that several commentators in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz have characterized as proto-fascist.

As in most countries, all new Israeli citizens must declare loyalty to the state and its laws, but the cabinet last month decided to support (22 in favour, eight against) an amendment to Israel’s citizenship law that would require all newly naturalized citizens to declare loyalty to the Jewish character of the state. In Britain, this would be like requiring Jews, Muslims and atheists who wish to become citizens to declare loyalty not only to the laws of the United Kingdom but also to the Church of England.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has warned that this amendment, which will soon become law, is the tip of an iceberg. Some of the bills now going through the Knesset, which have a good chance of being ratified, would make support for an alternative political ideology, such as the idea that Israel should be a democracy for all its citizens, a crime.

A proposed amendment to the existing anti-incitement bill, for instance, stipulates that people who deny Israel’s Jewish character will be arrested. This extension to the penal code, which has already passed its preliminary reading, incriminates a political view. Another bill lays the groundwork for turning down candidates for membership in communal settlements built on public land if they do not concur with the settlement committee’s political views or are adherents of a different religion. The point of this is to make it legal to deny Palestinian citizens of Israel access to Jewish villages.

Still another bill that has already passed its first reading stipulates that institutions marking the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 will be denied public funds. This is like denying public funding to schools in the United States that wish to commemorate slavery or to memorialize the crimes perpetrated against Native Americans.

Then there is a bill against people who initiate, promote, or publish material that might serve as grounds for imposing a boycott against Israel. According to this proposed law, which has also passed a preliminary reading, anyone proven guilty of supporting a boycott will be ordered to pay affected parties about 8000 US without the plaintiff’s need to demonstrate any damages.

Finally, eight Knesset members are proposing a bill to ban residents of East Jerusalem from operating as tour guides in the city, potentially putting hundreds out of work. The rationale behind this is that Palestinian residents of Jerusalem should not be certified guides because they do not represent Israel’s national interest well enough “and in an appropriate manner”.

November 5, 2010 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism

6 Comments

  1. This master race mentality is the poison seed planted in Palestine in 1948. The hoary weed it has grown into is toxic in the extreme and must be pulled out by the root.

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    Comment by hybridrogue1 | November 5, 2010

  2. The only thing missing is “Sieg Heil mein Führer”

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    Comment by B.Benhamid | November 5, 2010

  3. The next bill in the Knesset probably will call for selecting/electing a rabbi to be the next prime minister of Israel.
    Israel cannot have it both ways – a Jewish state and a democratic one- when laws in the Knesset are written to cement Jewish superiority over all other (non-Jewish groups of the society) who are in fact the original natives of the land.

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    Comment by Tarzan/Texas | November 5, 2010

  4. But is Israel/Zion not just a particulary extreme example of the national corporate state seeking psychological security in ethnic/sectarian solidarity? The problem is deeper rooted than just 1948 and far more widespread than just Palestine.
    Failure to recognise this ubiquity gives ammunition to Zionist claims of ‘anti-Semitic’attack and special status and aggravates a paranoia based on a history of actual persecution that Europe has displaced onto the Middle-East.It is classic manipulation of majority ignorance and fear to serve a power-addicted junta.Ulster Unionism, Russian oligarchy, and neo-con martial usurpation follow the pattern.

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    Comment by opus diablos | November 6, 2010

  5. “The problem is deeper rooted than just 1948 and far more widespread than just Palestine.”~opus diablos

    Yes, the points you make are true, but this is squarely in Amerika’s court as it is Zionized Amerika that supports the tresspassing Zionists in Palestine–which is of crisis proportions.
    USA must clean up its act, or it is doomed. Zionism is the key crisis world wide.
    It drives the New World Order empire–via the IMF, and the financial plutocracy.

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    Comment by hybridrogue1 | November 6, 2010

  6. The problem,I think, becomes whether we can scoop the democratic infant out of the ongoing neo-con takeover in Washington.Its driving Europe up the same tree, which will leave us to Chinese corporatist state/Arab oiligarchy/Russian neoKGB rule.If America implodes(QE is Weimar returned)and the Tea Party loonies find their fuhrer, who pulls the chestnuts from the nuclear fire?Latin America looks increasingly like the only mass population learning from its history.But I agree Israel is the major unstable detonator in the keg, and, as such,a special case.

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    Comment by opus diablos | November 6, 2010


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