Home > Suppression of Dissent > Israeli McCarthyism, circa 2010

Israeli McCarthyism, circa 2010

Hagai El-Ad is the Director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). He blogs at the Huffington Post, where he recently posted an incisive article on Sheikh Jarrah.

Other recent posts on the latest wave of suppression of dissent in Israel| Essays Hadas Ziv; Hagai El-Ad; Yariv Mohar; Aeyal GrossDorit Abramovitch | News and analysis IDF joins assault on Israeli human rights community; Israeli media goes after New Israel Fund: “Responsible for Goldstone Report”; Hagee and CUFI fund anti-NIF campaign organizer; Two senior Maariv reporters attack the anti-NIF campaign sponsored by their newspaper; Following the Im Tirzu campaign: First Knesset steps against NIF |

Israeli McCarthyism, circa 2010

Ad from the anti-NIF campaign

Ad on page 3 of the January 31 edition of the Jerusalem Post.

The deliberations in the Knesset yesterday (February 3 2010) breathed new life into Joseph McCarthy’s legacy. After a week of incitement against the New Israel Fund (NIF) and its human rights grantees, the nonsense reached parliament. And as if carefully reading the instructions for would-be new McCarthys (“McCarthysm is the politically motivated practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence”), here’s how Israel’s parliament deliberated with the upmost seriousness the “Data transfer for the Goldstone Report by the NIF and lefty organizations”. The discussion did not only demonstrate utter disregard to facts, it actually defied common sense. Here’s an eclectic tasting-menu from yet another day in the ongoing project of dismantling Israel’s democracy.

MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi – New National Religious Party) begun with a short introduction to the concept of treason: “My friends the members of the Knesset. Treason was defined as a crime so to prevent soldiers and civilians from providing ammunition to the enemy to destroy Israel. That’s treason… The Goldstone Report, I think, is the harshest report issued by the UN against Israel, and Israel, in my opinion, wall to wall, is trying to undermine the report, refute the lies, the libel presented there. And we realize that we are fighting against a report that threatens us as much as war. Is nothing less than war. It gives legitimacy to fuel Israel’s worst enemies to fight us. And if there’s a premium mitzvah, it’s the commandment to undermine and erase the Goldstone Report. But what do we discover? That within us, among citizens of our country, from [Israeli] organizations, they feed, provide, give information, help falsification of facts, a huge amount, an amazing percentage, to support the Goldstone Report. So you ask me – does it constitute treason according to criminal law? Probably not. You ask me if it constitutes moral treason? Yes and yes.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud) presented the concept of truth: “The question is very simple and we will know the answer within a few months. If these organizations did not give false information to the Goldstone Report – then all the fuss is for nothing. I’d be wasting precious time of the Israeli Knesset. But if they indeed passed false information to Israel’s enemies – if they fed them false data – we need to say: enough.”

This suggests the following philosophical question: what is a worse crime – feeding one’s enemies with false data, or with real one? Or, putting the sarcasm aside for a moment: how is MK Danon going to find out if the questions raised with regard to the IDF’s conduct during Cast Lead are true or false, if there won’t be any credible investigation into Cast Lead?

MK Chaim Amsellem (Shas) seemed terrified, while continuing to demonize: “Jewish and Israeli people, with a clear agenda that is very specific, their voice sounds constantly, on all channels… they get a stage everywhere, are professors at universities, serve in public bodies; each report they publish and every fragment of a press release that they issue receives disproportional headlines and becomes the talk of the day – without almost having anything to really discuss.” Terrifying indeed! Perhaps these dangerous individuals should somehow be silenced? But it gets even more terrifying. Something truly sinister is lurking in the dark, but the courageous defenders of Israel will soon expose it. Read on.

Senator Joseph McCarthy

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) seemed reassuring with his kind words, that there’s no suspicion of anti-Semitism involved: “I do not mean, in any case, at least in my eyes, to go to each and every donor to the NIF and say: you are actually a partner to anti-Semitism and to deliberately harming Israel”. Thank you minister! But – then again – one can never be too careful, right? It might be anti-Semitism after all: “We need to make sure that there’s no campaign of concealment, that under the guise of social programming for human rights they are actually acting in an anti-Semitic campaign to deny the right to self-determination of the Jewish people.”

So: is it anti-Semitism or not? Erdan helps us solve the dilemma: “Those organizations, companies and friends, are part of the global campaign of radical, extremist Islam, in its fight against the free West…” One has to wonder – is Erdan the new local prophet of neoconservatism?

MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) demonstrated copywriting skills when renaming NIF the “New Ishmael Fund”. MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) demonstrated talent in his rebuttal of this never ending nonsense: “You can perform a nation-wide rectoscopy to everyone you wish.”

MK Arie Eldad (Ihud Leumi), a physician who opted not to discuss proctology in his remarks, wrapped things up by bringing us back to our key original theme, treason: “I want to explain to you why we need to submit this topic to the Labor, Welfare and Health Committee — since this is a health issue. There’s the issue of noise. The hierarchy of noises I know begins with a birdsong, chamber orchestra, rock band, to the sound of a Merkava tank. The next level of noise is that produced in these Knesset chambers when catching the Arabs and the Israeli left performing treason.”

MK Eldad seemed to be rejoicing in the sound of catching those lefty, Arab traitors. I was hearing noises too – but found no reason for joy. Catching traitors? I don’t think so. The sounds I was hearing were those of Senator Joseph McCarthy grinning at us from the past, rising from his grave. The noises of the undoing of a democracy.

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