Two Articles by Dr. Steven Plaut:
Israel's Increasingly Selective Democracy &
Israeli Police Arrest Salman Rushdie
Israel's Increasingly Selective Democracy &
Consider the following statements. At the end of them you will be asked to explain what exactly the difference is among them:
1. Mohammed was a pig.
2. Butcher the Jews.
3. In fire and blood we will redeem Palestine.
4. Zionists are Nazis.
5. Bibi Netanyahu is a Nazi.
6. Rocks are not enough; bullets must be used by Arabs to liberate themselves.
7. The children of Jewish settlers are Hitler jugend.
8. When I see religious Jews I really understand the Nazis.
9. The Germans had the right idea of how to deal with the Jews.
10. Israeli soldiers are Nazi storm troopers.
11. Religious Jews are collectively guilty of murder.
12. Judaism is a gutter religion.
13. Zionists are Judeo-Nazis.
14. We need many suicide bombers and "Engineers".
15. We will have a jihad until Israel ceases to exist.
16. Rabin was a mass murderer of Arabs and no one should honor him.
17. It is right and proper that settlers be gunned down.
18. We will never stop killing until Israel ceases to exist.
19. Zionism is a form of racism and colonialism that must be ended with force.
Ok. So what is the difference? Well the answer is simple. Quotation #1 above is criminal speech in Israel, for which one will do real hard jail time. All the other statements above are protected speech, legal expressions of legitimate political opinion in Israel. Not only may you say all of these other things in Israel, for some of them you are likely to be granted tenure at the Hebrew University.
Statements #2 and #3 are the universal chants at each and every gathering of Palestinians, and increasingly also of Israeli Arabs. Number 3 was chanted at Haifa University by Arab. For #8 the "artist" Yigal Tomarkin was almost granted a Yad Veshem honor last week. Professors at the Hebrew University have stated #4, #5, #7, #10, #11 and #13. Arab Knesset Members from the Communist party have stated #6, #15, #16 and #17. And PLO officials have said almost all of the above, except of course #1. As for #12, Chicken Lou Farrakhan's famous chirp, this did not cause Israeli officials to deny him entrance to Israel.
Of all the above, except for #1, it is the official position of the Israeli political establishment and of the Israeli courts that the statement is simply protected free speech, perhaps crude, vulgar and objectionable, but protected speech nonetheless. Tatiana Suskin is a fanatic, a naif, and probably more than a bit dangerous. She has poor taste and is vulgar and crude. Yet her poster of the Prophet Mohammed as a Pig would be protected (if tasteless) speech in any true democracy in the world. But not in Israel. In Israel it is a crime for which one does real jail time in hard-core prison, for a period of two years, more than many drug smugglers and rapists get.
Suskin's case is just the latest proof of how selective democracy has become in Israel. Ever since the Rabin assassination, the Israeli Left has promoted a unique political philosophy holding that free speech protection should apply only to leftists, and that expression by non-leftists is criminal incitement and sedition. This was the official position of the Attorney General and the courts under the misrule of Israel's increasingly-fanatic Labor Party and its Marxist Meretz partners.
And incredibly, this is ALSO the position today of the Likud, the party that was victimized by leftist McCarthyism under the Peres regime. The Likud has orchestrated the conviction of the organizers of protests by the Zo Artzeinu protest movement. For sedition. They now face jail time as well, this for holding a protest without a police permit and blocking traffic intersections. Other anti-Oslo dissidents have also been prosecuted under Likud rule, including the Hillel Rabbi at the Hebrew University. And now the Likud is continuing its efforts to out-Mapai the Labor Party by convicting pathetic little Suskin.
The Israeli establishment argues that Suskin's actions offend the Moslems. Well, Moslem speech and actions offend the Jews, or at least all Jews who are not self-hating lemmings. What is worse, porking Mohammed or applauding the Engineer and the mass murderers of Jews?
By jailing Suskin, Israel is sending the signal that its sovereignty is open to blackmail and negotiation. That Israel will give up its protection free speech if the Arabs find such protection of democracy offensive, and that tomorrow Arab violence can drive Israel to give up Hatikva, the Law of Return, independence and elections.
And why should Israelis feel the need to flagellate themselves in repentance over Suskin when each and every blood-curdling threat of genocide coming from the Moslem world directed against Israel is greeted with universal applause there? When was the last time you saw a Moslem leader flagellate himself or go out of his way to denounce such verbal (or physical) assaults upon Jews?
It was sufficient for Israeli politicians to declare that they denounce and disown Suskin's opinions and actions. Jail time for Suskin is an outrageous human rights violation and assault upon Israeli democracy. This by precisely the same Israeli politicians who grant absolution to the PLO after each and every call for jihad or beatification of suicide bombers, on grounds that it is "just talk" and does no real harm to anyone, simply lets off steam. When Arafat held a rally of support for the Engineer after that murderer got himself reverse engineered, Peres and the Labor lemmings congratulated Arafat for showing moderation and restraint.
Israeli freedom and democracy is now in serious danger, this from the party of that great believer in democracy and constitutionalism Menahem Begin.
News Flash (Reuters) -- Jan. 15, 1998
In a surprise development it has just been learned that Israeli police, tipped off by the Mossad, have arrested controversial author Salman Rushdie. The exiled Iranian writer had been on a private visit to Israel. Rushdie was apprehended while visiting the Middle East Studies department at the Hebrew University. He had originally been scheduled to address the literature department there, but the professors of literature all announced that they had decided to boycott Rushdie's talk, since Rushdie was offensive to Moslem sensitivities and politically incorrect.
Upon commencement of his talk at the University, Israeli police suddenly broke into the lecture hall and dragged a handcuffed Rushdie away. He is being held in isolation in an unspecified Israeli prison while his fate is being decided. Rushdie's arrest came as part of Israel's new campaign to imprison those whose expression and speech is offensive to Moslems. It will be recalled that a fanatical woman named Tatiana Suskin was recently sentenced to two years in Israeli prison for distributing posters in Hebron that show the Prophet Mohammed as a pig. Unnamed sources have been quoted as saying that Rushdie and Suskin will be sharing the same cell.
The Knesset immediately went into emergency session to debate the Rushdie Affair. The government's recommendation is that Rushdie be handed over to Iran as a goodwill gesture. Iran has an outstanding warrant for the arrest of the author, and it is believed he would be immediately executed if extradited to Iran.
The Hadash Communist Party has initiated a Knesset resolution that would create an exemption to Israel's criminal code, which generally bans capital punishment, and would allow Rushdie to be executed within Israel itself, or at least turned over to the Palestinian Authority for execution. The Likud and Labor Party are expected to vote in favor of the Hadash proposal, while other parties are still undecided. Newly appointed Likud spokesperson Shimon Peres insisted that both arrests were part of the breaking out of good relations in the New Middle East.
Congratulations to Israel have been coming in from all over the world. The heads of the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress in the United States have issued statements supporting the arrest. "After all," explained ADL chief Abraham Foxman, "Rushdie's 'Satanic Verses' is at least as objectionable as Suskin's pig poster. Israel is to be congratulated for its defense of freedom of expression."
Reactions in the Moslem world have been mixed. While congratulating Israel for the arrests of Suskin and Rushdie, the Prime Minister of Malaysia added that this still did not excuse the international Jewish conspiracy to destabilize the Malaysian economy. Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, backed by singer Cat Stevens, is quoted as saying that while both Rushdie and Suskin deserve the death penalty for offensive statements, Judaism is still a gutter religion. Jesse Jackson expressed satisfaction that Rushdie and "that hymie girl Suskin" got what they had coming for making offensive statements.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yassir Arafat expressed satisfaction that the Oslo peace process was at last producing some progress and forward momentum.
Dr. Steven Plaut teaches economics at the University of Haifa in Israel.