03 September 2010

Articles: Israel: Fascism is already here

The left-wing political commentator and columnist Yossi Sarid, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) for 32 years and former Minister of Education, Minister of the Environment, and opposition leader, is the author of an article titled "Fascism is already here" that appeared today on the English-language website of the influential Israeli newspaper "Haaretz".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Israeli democracy is mainly for decoration, like a tree grown for its beauty, not to bear fruit. Few people actually use it or the rights it affords. Many are merely happy that they can vote in the Knesset elections, and even this number is getting smaller. [...] But here we find a paradox: Those who fight against democracy in order to destroy it, to set up an alternative state in its place, are the very people who know how to exploit it to the full. The settlers know, as do the rabbis, who teach their students how their 'Jewish state' will look. During the past few months it appears as if fascism has already arrived here and is waiting just behind the wall. [...] They use democracy in order to toss it out."

Yossi Sarid, who is the author of six books, currently lectures at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Already on 23 July 2010, the British newspaper "The Guardian" published in its print edition (p. 28) and on its website an article by contributor Rachel Shabi titled "Israel turns upon its own".

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "Israel's liberal left has been warning about this for decades – and now those cautionary words seem like prophesies. Lines of Israeli authors, academics and campaigners have long said that the ugly occupation of the Palestinian people would corrode Israel and derail its democracy. Human rights advocates repeatedly warned that a nation capable of meting out such punishing discrimination to another people would eventually turn on itself. And so it has. The country is in thrall to such anti-democratic sentiment and mob rule racism, manifesting at such breakneck speed that it is hard to keep up. [...] The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) lists 14 antidemocratic laws currently working their way through parliament, from the demand that Arab citizens pledge allegiance to a 'Jewish democracy' to attempts to gag Israeli rights groups. [...] All this has widespread support".

Rachel Shabi is a freelance journalist born in Israel to Iraqi-Jewish parents, but grown up in the UK. For the past few years, she has been based in Israel.

On the other hand, on 6 August 2010, "Haaretz" published an article online on "The real danger to Israel's civic society", written by Gerald Steinberg and Asher Friedman.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "In Russia, Venezuela, Egypt and other repressive societies, the activities of foreign-funded, non-governmental organizations promoting democracy are subject to police harassment and legal restraints. The Israeli environment for NGOs is the polar opposite, with thousands of these organizations, from across the political spectrum, operating freely. Taking advantage of this situation, a number of political-advocacy NGOs are leading campaigns that use the rhetoric of human rights, international law and humanitarian aid to delegitimize Israel and label its leaders as 'war criminals.' This has led to growing criticism of these organizations [...]. In response, these groups have launched a campaign, claiming that the criticism constitutes an assault on democracy. [...] Another element of the 'democracy under attack' argument focuses on Knesset draft bills that would allegedly 'damage in an extremely severe manner the basic principles' of democracy and human rights [...]. This multi-front counter-attack reflects anti-democratic tendencies among these NGOs. [...] Democratic values are threatened most when they are invoked to stifle the very debate that embodies the essence of these values. And this is the real danger to Israeli civic society."

Gerald Steinberg is Professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University and President of NGO Monitor. Asher Friedman is a Research Fellow at NGO Monitor.

I can't figure out whether the two "Haaretz" articles appeared in print too, either in the English or Hebrew edition of the paper.

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