Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Israel Matzav: Israel's Orwellian Left

Israel's Orwellian Left

In a column published in the JPost, Leftist Gershon Baskin takes the JPost to task for terminating Naomi Chazan's column in the JPost for threatening to sue the JPost. Along the way, he opens a window to the Orwellian thinking of Israel's Left. Here are some examples.

THE DECISION to cancel the column of Prof. Naomi Chazan, a worldwide respected academic, a former member of Knesset from the Zionist Meretz Party and currently the president of the New Israel Fund is a badge of shame on The Jerusalem Post. The posting of the Im Tirtzu advertisement with its explicit anti-Semitic motif of a caricature of Chazan with horns was dangerously anti-democratic. The witch-hunt against Chazan and the New Israel Fund is reminiscent of the darkest days of McCarthyism in the United States and similar to the atmosphere of states with secret police forces and dark dungeons. The Jerusalem Post should not have agreed to publish the advert of Im Tirtzu both because of its content and because of its format.

The cancellation of Chazan's column was not because the Post published the Im Tirtzu ad and therefore became part of a different camp. Chazan's column was canceled because she threatened to sue the JPost. The Post is not required to give a platform to its detractors - let them go publish in Haaretz. That the Post agreed to publish Baskin's diatribe against it is above and beyond the call of any democratic duty in my book.

Moreover, Baskin has somehow forgotten the first rule of freedom of speech since he moved here from the United States. Here's the seminal test of freedom of speech in the United States from Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes' unanimous opinion in Schenk v. United States:

The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that the United States Congress has a right to prevent. It is a question of proximity and degree. When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.

The classic example given is yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Where does the Im Tirtzu ad deserve to be prevented under that test? Certainly not in this country.

There is no witch hunt against Chazan and no secret police forces and dark dungeons because those things can only be conducted by the government. The Israeli government is not looking for Chazan or the New Israel Fund, although in the future it may insist that the fund make full disclosure to its donors what organizations it is funding (which seems like a reasonable consumer protection measure) and may insist that organizations that receive foreign funding disclose it (which disclosure is something the public ought to have a right to know).

Baskin then attacks NGO Monitor - which is not a party to this dispute. NGO Monitor is not connected to or supporting Im Tirtzu.

NGO Monitor headed by Prof. Gerald Steinberg receives extremely wide exposure in this newspaper. I have tried to ascertain who provides its funding – who supports it and what is the agenda of the donors. The Im Tirtzu advertisements were funded, I have been told, by Evangelical Christians whose position on Jews, Judaism and the future of the Jewish people, according to their own tenets of faith scare the hell out of me.

Steinberg and NGO Monitor have called for full transparency and exposure of funding sources of civil society organizations that receive funds from foreign governments. I support this call. Now they are going after organizations that receive funding from the New Israel Fund – Jewish money from abroad mostly – which has a different agenda from the current right-wing religious government. NIF supports the rights of women, children, the poor, the disabled, the minorities, equality in education and services. NIF provides support for making Israel a healthier and a stronger society and country. I am in favor of full disclosure for all organizations that receive funds from NIF. By the way, my organization does not.

It is no secret who funded the Im Tirtzu ads. That's very different from the efforts to keep it very secret - until disclosed by Steinberg - that European governments fund most of the Leftist NGO's in Israel. The fact that Im Tirtzu's funders 'scare' Baskin doesn't make them ineligible to donate funding. The Muslim-coddling European governments scare me more than the Christian Evangelicals, but you can bet that Baskin will fight any effort to bar them from donating money to Leftist NGO's.

Baskin implies that NGO Monitor is less than transparent about who supplies its funding. That's a lie. NGO Monitor is quite open about who provides its funding.

As to the organizations supported by the New Israel Fund, I would love to know how causing Israel's worldwide condemnation through lies and slander provided to Goldstone is making us a "healthier and stronger society and country." Caroline Glick wrote about this at length last Friday and rehashing it will just make this post so long that no one will read it.

I could go on but you get the idea. Baskin is in favor of full disclosure of sources of funding so long as it's NGO's of the Right that are doing the disclosing. He regards efforts to make New Israel Fund's funding transparent as a witch hunt. He is all in favor of free speech so long as he agrees with what is being said. And he fails to distinguish between allowing free speech (which is a basic requirement of any democratic society) and providing a forum for it (which is up to the speaker to find).

George Orwell would have known how to handle him.

Israel Matzav: Israel's Orwellian Left

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