Steinberg’s friends, ctd.
Gerald Steinberg’s NGO suppression conference at the Knesset on December 1 2009 was quite a sight.
Originally touted as a dignified bi-partisan event, it turned out more like a Teabagger convention. Bi-partisan MK attendance spanned the entire settler spectrum from Uri Ariel of Kfar Edumim to Othniel Schneller of Maale Michmas.
Seated at Steinberg’s side was coalition whip Zeev Elkin, who promised that his new legislative initiative would put all those EU-funded fifth columnists in jail for a year and “then we’ll see what’s next.” Coincidentally, on the same day the whip was busy obstructing his own party leader’s “settlement freeze.” MK Michael Eitan, who has worked hard to position himself as a serious champion of civil rights, looked like he couldn’t wait for the farce to end and used much of his allotted speaking time to read a letter from a coalition of human rights groups blasting the dishonesty behind the conference.
Sound like an exaggeration? I’ll let readers judge. We had a cameraman there throughout the entire three-hour spectacle and I’ll be posting segments over the next few days. No “Macaca” moment, but of plenty other extraordinary scenes, which masochists may find entertaining.
Ironically, while the panelists were preaching about the threat Israeli sovereignty posed by a handful of rights groups operating within the law, West Bank settlers groups, many of them funded by Israeli taxpayer money and US tax exemptions, were escalating their rebellion against the rule of law (this morning the IDF was expressing concern that the next step would be attacks on Palestinian civilians.)
Circuses of this type are probably not very good for Professor Steinberg’s academic credentials, especially when he partners with fundamentalists like Israel Harel. The only Israeli academics in attendance were Berachyahu Lifshitz, whose specialty is Jewish law, and
Moshe Koppel, a mathematician. Despite his senior position at Bar Ilan University’s Political Science Department, Steinberg had to import someone with the relevant academic background. This heavyweight was Marc Cogen of Ghent University in Belgium. Prof. Cogen’s credentials include mounting an emphatic defense of Guantanamo and charging at a 2008 neoconservative gabfest, alongside such luminaries as Daniel Pipes, that the Soviet-like management of his university was persecuting him.
Israel has long been a captive market of the worst in American culture, while some of the best is unavailable locally. Thus we are saddled with the neocon Steinberg and his theocon allies but do not have the local equivalent of Jon Stewart to help us put up with them. Therefore, in order to provide some much needed comic relief before Shabbat, I am forced to point to the original: Jon Stewart does Glenn Beck.