Monday, September 01, 2014

Here to help

I attended the Start-of-the-Year event at the Bar Association today. The food (the main reason I go, let's be honest) was excellent as usual. The speeches frightened me.

There was an all-star lineup- President Rivlin, Chief Justice Grunis, Justice Minister Livni, the Attorney General, etc. etc. It started blandly enough, although the speakers (even the "rightists") did their best to imply that the greatest threat Israel faced over the past summer was a bunch of hotheads on Facebook making un-PC remarks. (Rockets? What rockets?) Of course, protecting free speech, speaker after speaker told us, is essential to democracy. But when they got to specifics, I couldn't shake the impression that the "unpopular" speech that they feel needs protection is limited to that of leftist critics of Israel, while the right-wing equivalent is to be condemned, period.

Now, simple condemnation of a political view by those in power is bad enough- "chilling effect" and all that. But they didn't stop there. Oh, no, such speech needs to be *prosecuted*. "Racist" and "inciting," wouldn’t you know. Free speech is great! Free speech is essential! Free speech needs to be protected! Except the stuff we don't like! That has to be suppressed- in the name of democracy, Livni earnestly informed us in the very same breath.

This is, of course, of a piece of the sickness sweeping Western democracies, in which- not only for societal well-being, but for our own safety and wellbeing, of course, and of course that of "the children"- we are told that certain liberties are, well, too much. Nor is this limited to UK and Israel, without written constitutions, or to any country without a First Amendment. Nope, you see it in the United States too. And among the finest liberal Americans to make Aliyah. And Israelis, unfortunately, seem particularly prone to it, whether through some sense of mamlachtiut, or threats of disunity, or threats of war- all the usually ways the progressives/fascists (and you can see them on both ends of the spectrum here) work their little tricks. As I said, it frightens me.

OK, a bit of a funny note: The main presenter was the deputy head of the Bar Association or something. His name didn't give it away immediately to me, so I tried picking out his accent- Russian? Arabic? I settled on Arabic before he gave it away: This was the start, he said, of the year "Tet-Shin-Ayin-Heh." Bingo!