Israel Edges Toward Thought Control

I don't like the term "Nakba," or catastrophe, what Arabs have taken to calling the events of 1948, mainly because it didn't have to be a "nakba" -- much of the catastrophe was self-inflicted. The UN, after all, offered half of mandatory Palestine to the Arabs, and the Arabs refused, and launched a war of extermination that they then managed to lose. And wallowing in suffering only gets in the way of achieving real advancements for Palestinians, who have been badly served by their national liberation movement for as long as it has existed. (Yes, of course, wallowing isn't so healthy for Jews, either).

But now comes a group of Knesset members who want to make the term "nakba" illegal, and who want to make the "negation" of Israel as a Jewish democratic state illegal as well. According to Ha'aretz, this second bill would outlaw the publication of any 'call to negate Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state, where the content of such publication would have a reasonable possibility of causing an act of hatred, disdain or disloyalty' to Israel."

In other words, anyone who says that Israel isn't a democracy will go to jail. I understand Israeli Jewish fears about the extremism found in certain sections of Arab Israeli society, but is outlawing expressions of dissent the way to battle this extremism? In the countries that border Israel, many thoughts are held to be illegal. But is Syria now the model for Israeli democracy? Gershom Gorenberg asks, "What could possibly be more undemocratic and more utterly, insanely un-Jewish than banning disagreement? What could cause greater disdain for the state?" Might I add, "What could undermine the justness of Israel's cause among Jews and non-Jews than the introduction of fascistic legislation?"