When opposition becomes a crime
Hagai Segal thinks that even though the right will respond angrily to strengthening the legislation against incitement, in fact it will just comprise a formalization of the existing situation. Even now the police and the state prosecution are waging an unrelenting war against the opponents of disengagement.
April 12, 2005
As part of of her fascinating ideological journey from right to left, [Justice] Minister Tzippi Livni is now working to increase the severity of the legislation against incitement. She proposes to repeal the need to prove a direct link between words and actions, and thus to enable the mass imprisonment of opponents of disengagement. Yet, experts and advisors are already scratching their heads in reaction to this proposal. According to them, the proposed amendment will not succeed in clarifying the grey area between legitimate criticism and incitement, and so the level of imprisonment will remain, alas, low.
So what can be done? Enact a new law, with straightforward and focused phrasing, to put an end to the vagueness. For example: "Anyone expressing public criticism of the disengagement plan shall be sentenced to five years imprisonment." Rapid legislation along those lines would greatly improve the efficiency of the judicial system, which now has trouble establishing the precise intentions of the various opponents of withdrawal. The short timetable for withdrawal prevents it from making clear distinctions between dangerous rabbis and less dangerous rabbis, between Uri Elitzur and Uri Ariel. Thus, it is obligated to act forcefully against anyone criticizing disengagement, whoever he may be, to create a sterile protective zone around our fragile democracy and the withdrawal operations.
On the right, there will surely be enraged reactions to such legislation, but in fact it would just comprise the statutory formalization of the current situatoin. Even now, the police and the state prosecution are waging an unrelenting war against citizens whose main sin is piping up against the uprooting of settlements. Not only blockers of roads or certified inciters have lately been at risk of incrimination and even imprisonment, but also peaceful demonstrators and gentle pamphleters.
Even an orange flag is dangerous
"The prime minister is corrupt," was written on the posters put up by a right-wing activist in Jerusalem last week, and he was immediately arrested. No doubt the police acted in this case, and in hundreds of similar others, in accordance with sweeping orders to clamp down on opponents of disengagement everywhere. They first arrest, sometimes also unleash powerful blows, and only afterwards ask questions, so that others will be intimidated.
These days flying an orange flag on a car is enough to get into trouble with the police. Even orange t-shirts are sometimes cause for arrest. Religious schoolgirls on a trip in the south were delayed twice by the police, for half an hour each time, because the level of orange dye in their clothing was too high for those in the blue uniforms.
Two weeks ago, after the Knesset voted against a referendum, MK Aryeh Eldad prophesied bitterly that this summer will see the outbreak of civil war. Tzippi Livni, the commissar of disengagement, was interviewed in response on Galei Tzhal radio, and let listeners understand that Eldad's remark will undergo careful review in her office. Take note: Eldad did not threaten to start a civil war, but only warned of it.
Add to this the four residents of Gush Katif held under house arrest for a month and a half now because of a small demonstration, the pride the new general of Central Command takes at arresting settlers "more than any of the generals who preceded me," and you will understand why even now the very opposition to disengagement is considered a criminal act. Tzippi Livni is working to grant that official status, nothing more.
The author is a resident of Ofra from the start, director of the news division of Arutz-7, former editor of Nekuda magazine, author of Dear Brothers about the Jewish underground and other books on the settlers and their neverending struggles.