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Aftermath of Israeli Anti-Free Speech Law Passage

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 Aftermath of Israeli Anti-Free Speech Law Passage - by Stephen Lendman


Buoyed by passage of their anti-boycott bill, Knesset Yisrael Beitenu and Likud party extremists taste blood and want more. Most worrisome is a proposed measure to investigate leftist group activities, heading for a final vote next week.


YNet News writer Moran Azulay quoted Meretz party chairwoman, Sahava Gal-On, calling it "a political inquisition," adding:


"The Boycott Law has whetted the appetite of the settler Coalition. This is an attempt at perpetuating the persecution of left-wing and civil organizations. What will be the next step? Sham trials? Throwing people into gulags?"


Weighing in, Labor party MK Eitan Cabel said:


"The prime minister has lost control over his partners, who are running wild in the Knesset and taking advantage of the (tyranny) of the majority in order to trample the minority. We are in the midst of legislative anarchy."


United Arab List-Ta'al party MK Ahmad Tibi wondered which ruling coalition partner was most racist, Yisrael Beiteinu or Likud, saying:


"In the beginning they were against Arabs. Now they're against leftists, and maybe tomorrow they will go up against the feinschmeckers of the Likud" or anyone challenging them.


According to Kadima party MK Ruhama Avraham:


"This government does not pursue peace or social justice, but rather its own citizens."


Another measure proposes giving Knesset members veto power over High Court nominations. Likud's Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar called it "dangerous, problematic, and creates a clear hazard of politicizing" justice nominations.


YNet News writer Azulay said the draft measure proposes subjecting candidates to a public hearing to inquire "about (their) legal and constitutional views, (their) personal contribution to legal thought, (their) views about law, justice and the necessary balance between various values and the separation of authorities."


The Knesset Justice Committee would first rule on each candidate's eligibility, then let the Judicial Selection Committee consider approved ones. 


Responding to this and other measures, Hadash party MK Dov Hanin said:


"A wave of anti-democratic legislation is threatening to drown us. This proposal was intended to send the Supreme Court a threatening and powerful message ahead of the hearing on the legality of the Boycott Law. I call on the democratic camp to stage a massive protest. If we don't all come together to defend democracy, there will be (nothing) left to defend."


Kadima's Avraham called the proposal another public humiliation, saying:


"Netanyahu has succeeded in leading Israel to a new and unprecedented democratic, moral, and ethical low."


Labor's Eitan Cabel said:


"The Knesset, fortress of Israeli democracy, is turning into democratic Israel's graveyard with the help of Netanyahu's coalition of horrors," adding:


Governing as "democracy's undertaker," he'll be called "the leader in whose time Israel retreated to its lowest point in" history.


On July 14, B'Tselem said Netanyahu's Civil Administration (CA) retroactively approved stealing privately owned Palestinian land. On June 26, it expropriated 189 Qaryut village dunams for Yovel outpost.


Established in 1998, 12 permanent dwellings were built there with no permission on partly private Palestinian land. Declaring it state property now means retroactively approving unauthorized construction. In 2005 and 2009, Peace Now and Yesh Din respectively petitioned Israel's High Court to rule it illegal. It declined, despite authorities admitting its illegality. 


On May 1, 2011, the Court told authorities to present a "practical time schedule" for resolving construction illegalities. In response, CA said it planned to declare disputed outpost areas state land. In other words, steal it, including privately owned Palestinian property.


B'Tselem called doing so "a flagrant violation of international commitments made by Israel's government," including prior settlement construction freezes and promises not to illegally expropriate Palestinian land. Moreover, in June 2009, Netanyahu committed not to expand settlements, a pledge immediately violated.


Thereafter, thousands of Palestinian dunams were stolen. However, declaring expropriated Yovel outpost state land "is the first time that Israel" did it retroactively, exceeding the worst of Ariel Sharon, a man called "the Bulldozer" when he served as Construction and Housing minister.


More Israeli Lawlessness


On January 15, Haaretz said Israeli air strikes wounded at least five Gazans, including two children. Two others remain missing. Medical teams are searching for them. 


In April, an unofficial ceasefire was declared. Numerous Israeli violations followed. International Middle East Media writer Saed Bannoura called the latest incident "part of an ongoing, escalating offensive against (Gaza) in the last ten days." In fact, Israeli provocations repeat regularly, even with ceasefires in place.


On July 15, Ma'an News said Israeli naval forces attacked an international boat in Gazan waters - the Oliva belonging to Civil Peace Service Gaza (CPSGaza).


On July 14, Hama Waqum, a CPS member, said the Oliva and Gaza fishermen were attacked, explaining:


At midday July 13, "(w)e approached a cluster of hasaka fishing boats that were being attacked with water cannons....As we got closer, all I could focus on was the officer manning the machine gun," dressed in black.


The vessels were two miles offshore in Gazan waters. Israeli marines fired water cannons at close range (10 meters away) "with stinging force....(T)hey repeatedly aimed at my face and each time my nose, eyes and mouth filled with seawater."


"Imagine someone boxing your face. Imagine that their fist is larger than a bowling ball. Now imagine that punch lasting for ten minutes. That is what it felt like."


As Oliva and fishing boats headed home, the warship followed "with relentless attack after attack." Eventually it stopped. "We were completely drenched through. Our captain (positioned) us to corners of the boat, worried" it was so full of water it might sink.


Although CPS boats aren't often attacked, "this is an everyday occurrence for Gazan fishermen." Israelis used live fire against another vessel the same day. "There were too many bullet holes in the bow....for me to count."


Moreover, international Gaza observers are being attacked more often to assure collective punishment continues out of sight and mind, and that humanitarian aid and activists don't arrive. Waqum preserved video footage of the entire incident so many others will see how lawlessly Israel operates.


A Final Comment


On July 8, Palestine Telegraph writer Ronan MacField headlined, "Exclusive: A flotilla of Palestinian Refugees to return to Palestine, 'Israel,' " saying:


Nine European groups, two American and one Canadian plan "to send Passenger boats (with) huge number(s) of Palestinian Refugees to their" homes in Israel. A fund was set up to do it. Names and details so far aren't released.


Activists call their Flotilla: "Ship your luggage, Return to Palestine." A private jet may also be used. Refugees with dual citizenships will participate, as well as "European activists, MPs, journalists and (other) activists."


Instead of Gaza, Haifa and Ashkelon destinations are planned. Maybe others. Participants will exercise their legal Right to Return. Up to 20,000 may come. Sailing will be from two unnamed countries agreeing not to block it.


More details to follow.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 


Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.





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