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October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘freedom of speech’

MKs and Ministers Trying to Kill the Free Press in Israel

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Israeli Ministers and Knesset members are coming out against the free market of ideas, and the free market as well, by proposing a bill that would potentially kill the popular and free Israeli daily print paper, Yisrael Hayom.

The paper is given out free in Israel, and has become the primary competitor to Arnon “Nuni” Moses’s Yediot Achronot, which leans more to the political left, though not as far left as Ha’aretz, which only has a minuscule market share in Israel.

Among those MKs proposing the bill that would try to shut down the paper are MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor), Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Elazar Stern (Hatnua), Ariel Attias (Shas) and Yoel Razbozov (Yesh Atid).

Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) said today on a Galei Tzahal interview, that Yisrael Hayom is “Pravda“, and serves the interest of one person [the Prime Minister].

It is not clear to us what is stopping Bennett from convincing one of his own supporters to print a daily paper that would be pro-Bennett, or even improving his relationship with the religious-Zionist paper Arutz-7, so they’d give him better coverage in their free weekend paper.

Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid chairman), whose party supports the bill, used to write a column for Yisrael Hayom’s main competitor, Yediot.

Yisrael Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, and typically takes a position that is pro whatever position PM Netanyahu recently put forward, though not always a right-wing position. It also publishes articles from those on the left side of the political spectrum. There is no denying that it is agenda driven, but name one newspaper that isn’t.

As an aside, Sheldon Adelson, may soon be purchasing the religious-Zionist paper Makor Rishon, after Makor Rishon over-extended itself financially with its purchase of Ma’ariv.

Some in the Likud say that Moses and Yediot are the driving force behind this bill.

The “Yisrael Hayom” law, as it is being called because it specifically only targets Yisrael Hayom, would require that the top four daily print papers charge fees relative to what the other daily print papers are charging – or more accurately no less than 70% of whatever the second lowest priced paper is charging.

To us, it looks like a blatant attempt to suppress the voices of political opponents and suppress freedom of speech and press in Israel.

Yediot has the same opportunity to build a different business model, take a different political line that is more palatable to most Israelis, or even accept that it won’t be number one in the market anymore.

The free Arutz-7 Shabbat print paper and the fee-based Makor Rishon have coexisted quite nicely for over a decade serving the Religious-Zionist market, each one with their own business model and message – proving that it can be done.

It appears that this is really an attempt to block the basic right for anyone to put down their soap box in the city square and freely express their opinion – if certain people are worried that that opinion is becoming too popular.

Eitan Cabel (Labor), one of the proponents of the bill, played a central role in shutting down the very popular right-wing religious Arutz-7 radio station.

Naftalki Bennett and Bayit Yehudi should really consider who its allies are in this fight and what it could mean for them next.

It appears that in Israel, those on the political left can’t stand that those on the political right have a voice that is heard, and those on the right are too short-sighted to see that suppressing both the free market and the free market of ideas is dangerous for all of us, and that is the real problem.

Saudi Court Orders Lashes for Man for Posting Insults on Twitter

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

A court in Saudi Arabia has sentenced a man to three months in jail, 800 lashes and slapped him with a $2,666 fine for using Twitter and Facebook to falsely accuse a Kuwaiti singer from the United Arab Emirates of immoral behavior. He also posted photos of the singer.

Arab News reported, “Many have welcomed the ruling, saying it protects Internet users from online predators,” and it quoted expatriates as saying court decision will make them more cautious when using social networking.

“It is advisable for us not to post any negative comments on issues that are not clear to us. Let us establish the authenticity of the information that has reached us before sharing it,” Rasol Abbas, a community leader from the Philippines, was quoted as saying.

Arab News, which is based in Saudi Arabia, also cited an expert to tell its readers that “new research that reveals how social media sites negatively affect our sense of connection, decrease productivity, breach our privacy and lead to cyber-bullying in some instances.”

It also quoted Twitter account Judicious Arab as stating, “I hope this will put an end to irresponsible tweets and posts accusing women of adultery over differences of opinions.”

It is no wonder that a recent Pew poll showed that of all allies to the United States, American have the lest favorable view of Saudi Arabia.

A New ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt Aimed at Wiping out Radical Islam

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

Egypt is implementing an unprecedented campaign to rid Muslim mosques of radical Muslim Brotherhood Islamists by prohibiting 55,000 unlicensed clerics from preaching in mosques, the pan-Arab Asharq Al-Awsa reported.

Religious Endowments Minister Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said, “The ministry is in the process of forming a committee to monitor what is happening in the larger mosques and ensure that da’wa [proselytizing] there does not transgress the boundaries into political or partisan work, with any official found guilty of this being immediately held to account.”

“Mosques are for da’wa, not politics,” he added.

He maintained that the move is not aimed against Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni religious institution in Egypt. “This decision is to stop non-Azhar graduates from preaching in government and civil mosques,” he explained. “The Ministry of Awqaf does not ban anybody based on their political identity . . . but we want mosques, da’wa, and worship to be based on the moderate ideology of Al-Azhar.”

In other words, the new Egyptian military regime is making a bold bid to expel incitement from mosques. Egypt, unlike Israel, has the privilege of protecting the country from those trying to overthrow the government because it does not have to be a slave to “freedom of speech” principles that has become more and more accepted in some Western countries as protecting the right to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre. U.S. Supreme Court Felix Frankfurter used that phrase in an opinion that drew the line between freedom of speech and a danger to the public.

Cairo also was forced to relent a bit, postponing its new policy until October 1 in thousands of small, one-room neighborhood mosques.

Since the military coup that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, the new regime has arrested more than 2,000 Islamist activists and has arrested most of the Muslim Brotherhood‘s senior leaders. Morsi has been jailed on charges of incitement and involvement with violence, and other leaders have been charged with murder and terrorism.

The similarities between events in the rebellion against Hosni Mubarak and the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime are chilling.

In both cases, police and security forces killed approximately 1,000 opponents.

In both cases, the Obama administration turned its back on Mubarak and Morsi, whom it had embraced after backing the ouster of Mubarak, a former ally.

The new regime essentially has done exactly what Mubarak did – outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood. Mubarak did so officially, although the party maintained a tiny faction of two dozen legislators in a 500-plus member parliament. The new regime has simply pulled the carpet under the feet of the leaders, and military authorizes are considering banning the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, the Jordan Times reported.

The Muslim Brotherhood is not giving up so easily. A suicide bomber last Thursday attacked a convoy of the Interior Ministry, killing himself, a bystander and wounding 20 others. However, Egyptians have grown tired of the instability and are suffering from a dismal economy, two factors that have lent more popular support to getting rid of radical Islamists.

The new Egyptian policy could be the beginning of a new Arab Spring movement for real democracy, but Amnesty International already is insisting that Egypt play by Western rules. It has called for an investigation into security forces’ violence and violations of free speech.

That is absolutely true, of course. So far, no Western country, with the questionable exception of the United States, has found a “democratic” way to deal with anti-democratic fundamentalists, as Europeans are discovering, possibly all too late to stem the riding radical Islamic influence in most of its countries.

A small but significant example of Europe’s inability to stop the rising tide of radical Islam is the furious debate over a Parliament member’s private bill to prohibit wearing “a garment or other object” intended primarily to obscure their face in public.

Britain hosts nearly 3 million Muslims, a sizeable and growing minority.

Muslim leaders are outraged at Birmingham Metropolitan College’s announcement last week that it will ban Islamic face-veil, or niqab, inside its campus,

“It upsets me that we are being discriminated against,” a 17-year-old Muslim student at who did not want to be named, told The London Telegraph. “It’s disgusting. It is a personal choice and I find it absolutely shocking that this has been brought in at a college in Birmingham city center when the city is so multicultural and so many of the students are Muslim.

Canada Forces Chabad to Ban Radical-Islam Critic Pamela Geller

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Toronto area police figuratively twisted the arm of a Chabad synagogue rabbi to cancel a scheduled appearance of radical Islam whistleblower Pamela Geller, who last month also was yanked from a speaking appearance  at a New York synagogue.

The latest politically correct censorship keeps Geller out of  the Chabad Thornhill synagogue in suburban Toronto, where she was due to speak next Monday.

Geller has campaigned against the Islamization of America, and she has been behind the anti-jihad signs that were posted in the New York’s subway system.

The salt in the wound inflicted by the Toronto police ban is that it was instituted by none other than the hate crimes unit of the police. Preaching against hate is grounds for a hate crime in the New Age New Speak.

And it just so happens that the Chabad synagogue Rabbi Mendel Kaplan is the same rabbi who serves as police chaplain.

Therefore, according to the York Regional Police Department’s logic, Geller’s appearance at the synagogue where he is rabbi “would place him in conflict with the values of our organization, which support a safe, welcoming and inclusive community for all.”

That is New Age talk for a “safe, welcoming and exclusive community for all” who are not included, such as Geller.

Police deny that they “threatened” to remove Rabbi Kaplan as police chaplain if he were to allow Geller to speak, but a York Regional Police spokesman told the Toronto Sun that if she spoke at the synagogue, “Then we’d have to reassess our relationship with [him].”

That is not a threat in New Speak. It is a “hint.”

The Jewish Defense League has rescheduled Geller to speak somewhere else in the city, but the police have not yet said she cannot appear.

The Canadians United against Terror group is launching an “anti-bullying” campaign and will picket York Regional Police headquarters Wednesday evening.

They have support from the capital’s newspaper, the Ottawa Citizen.

It wrote in an editorial last week, “The York Regional Police department should be ashamed. ….Insp. Ricky Veerappan, who heads up the force’s so-called Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau, … told a reporter, “Some of the stuff that Ms. Geller speaks about runs contrary to the values of York Regional Police and the work we do in engaging our communities…..

“Veerappan’s conduct is appalling. Canadians expect police to respect Charter provisions protecting freedom of speech. They are not supposed to act as censors at the behest of a particular community.”

By the way, Veerappan is a member of  York Region’s Muslim community, which wanted to bar Geller from the country altogether, according to the Citizen.

Geller is familiar with censorship by those who not politically correct.

The Great Neck Synagogue in suburban New York last month canceled her appearance because of “security concerns.”

The synagogue explained to members on its website, “As the notoriety and media exposure of the planned program this Sunday have increased, so has the legal liability and potential security exposure of our institution and its member families.

“In an era of heightened security concerns, it is irresponsible to jeopardize the safety of those who call Great Neck Synagogue home, especially our children, even at the risk of diverting attention from a potentially important voice in the ongoing debate.”

Is there a concern for security stemming from the spreads of radical Islam in America?

Geller said in response to the ban at the Great Neck synagogue, “It is a very sad day for freedom-loving peoples when fascist tactics trump free speech.”

Islamist Assassinations in the West

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Terrorism broadly takes two forms: against random individuals who happen to be at a market place or on a bus at the wrong time; or against specific individuals because of who they are. The latter in turn divides into two: against broad categories of people (the military, Jews, people who wear eyeglasses) and against specific public figures, either individuals or institutions. In effect, these last are assassinations (defined by Merriam-Webster as “to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons”).

Horrific as the first two genres are, assassinations are the most terrifying and effective. Whereas the first two can happen to anyone and have the effect of creating a universal but vague dread, the third focuses on a small pool of targets and sends a specific signal to others not to follow in their footsteps. In general, therefore, assassinations inspire the most consequential fear, intimidate the most, and have the greatest consequences.

Actual public Western victims of Islamist violence have included:

1980: Ali Akbar Tabataba’i, Iranian dissident, in the United States* 1980: Faisal Zagallai, Libyan dissident, in the United States 1990: Rashad Khalifa, Egyptian religious innovator, in the United States* 1990: Meir Kahane, Israel politician of American origins, in the United States* 1991: Hitoshi Igarashi, Japanese translator of The Satanic Verses* 1991: Ettore Capriolo, Italian translator of The Satanic Verses 1993: William Nygaard, Norwegian publisher of The Satanic Verses 2004: Theo van Gogh, Dutch artist* 2010: Kurt Westergaard, Danish cartoonist 2010: Lars Vilks, Swedish artist 2010: Jyllands-Posten, Danish newspaper 2012: Charlie Hebdo, French satiric magazine 2013: Lars Hedegaard, Danish historian and political analyst Notes: * indicates a fatality. Mu’ammar al-Qaddafi, head of the Libyan government, was an Islamist in 1980. I do not list here victims of Muslim but non-Islamist assassinations, such as Malcolm X in 1965. For the record, a Palestinian Christian killed Robert Kennedy in 1968.

Statistical comments:

(1) Other than one isolated attack in 2004, this listing of 13 inexplicably divides into two distinct periods, seven in 1980-93 and five in 2010-13.

(2) Listed by their identity, the victims include 8 connected to culture and the arts, 3 political figures, 1 religious one, and 1 analyst. Of the eight cultural attacks, 4 involved cartoons, 3 Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, and one a movie, Submission.

(3) Geographically, 8 took place in Europe, 4 in the United States, and one in Japan. Of the European cases, three took place in tiny Denmark. Britain and Germany are conspicuously missing from this list. Oddly, the 4 American instances took place in either 1980 or 1990.

(4) State involvement can be discerned only in the first 3 cases (Iranian, Libyan, and Saudi, respectively).

(5) In terms of deadliness, 5 attacks led to a fatality, 8 did not.

And a personal note by way of conclusion: the Feb. 5 attack on Hedegaard – a friend and colleague at the Middle East Forum – inspired me to compile this listing in the hopes that aggregating these loathsome crimes will help wake more Westerners to the danger within.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

What Kerry Doesn’t Know About Democracy and Islam

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

In practically his first outing as secretary of state abroad, John Kerry made some remarkable statements in a meeting with young Germans.

The main thing being widely quoted is his statement, “In America, you have a right to be stupid if you want to be… And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for.”

Of course, there’s a right to be stupid in America! Indeed, just this week it’s been expanded into having a right to be simultaneously stupid and secretary of defense!

To be fair, Kerry’s statement was in the context of defending, albeit not very well, freedom of speech in America. (Kerry was obviously referencing President Barack Obama’s U.N. speech in his own talking points.) How Kerry defends it is what’s scary and dysfunctional.

He was basically saying: Yeah, we know that all these dumb people who don’t agree with us are wrong but we let them talk anyway because it works out okay in the end since nobody listens to them anyway. While he used the words “virtue” and “worth fighting for” those sentiments seem to be clumped onto the end for form’s sake. Kerry certainly doesn’t say–or understand–that people have rights and government has limits. Instead, he talks as if the ruling elite tolerates such fools because it’s so nice.

That is remarkably different from a more traditional defense of American liberty like: We have seen how in a free market place of ideas the best standpoints generally triumph, people are happier, and prosperity ensues. Or, we believe that people are endowed with rights by their creator and no one can or should take them away.

Now that standpoint is really “something worth fighting for” and Americans in the institution now run by Chuck Hagel have been doing so for a couple of centuries. No American goes into battle to defend the right to be stupid.

Oh, wait! Kerry apparently does think so since, as he put it, showing his superior grasp of the English language: “You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

So, you have the right to be stupid but watch out because if you are you might end up in the armed forces fighting to defend the right to be stupid!

In contrast to a proper approach, Kerry makes the American system sound like letting the deranged walk the streets as homeless people, babbling incoherently but doing little harm. Sure, let them cling to their guns and religion while we smart people make all the decisions. He’s merely turning around a traditional left-wing critique of democracy that comes from Herbert Marcuse or Noam Chomsky, of “repressive tolerance.”

And that seems to be what Kerry and Obama really believe. Ironically, they are the modern-day equivalent of what used to be called right-wing reactionaries ruling a patriarchal society that consists of aristocrats and peasants.

Another feature of Kerry’s performance was displaying the Obama Administration propensity for apologizing. The question Kerry was answering came from a young German Muslim who merely asked him about his views on Islam. There was no criticism of the United States. It was an invitation to go into a riff about America as a great, tolerant place not to cringe and insist that outside of stupid people the United States America isn’t horribly “Islamophobic.”

Implied in Kerry’s response was the video that supposedly inspired the Benghazi attack. As you know, this claim is either discredited or, in the words of Kerry’s predecessor, supposedly doesn’t matter. On the verge of his visit to the Middle East, repeating the false notes of the new Obama era national anthem—America the Guilty—is not a good idea.

Kerry added that he’s reading a book entitled No God but God by Reza Aslan, which he gushingly praises and accepts as his source on Islam. There are, of course, many books on Islam and Kerry is free to read whatever he wants. Yet the choice of this particular one is also revealing.

Did Brooklyn College’s Political Science Department Violate the First Amendment?

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

The co-sponsorship by the Brooklyn College political science department of an anti-Israel hate fest, from which pro-Israel students were excluded, may have violated the First Amendment.

Had the event been sponsored only by student and outside private groups, their decision to exclude pro-Israel students and to prevent the distribution of anti-BDS leaflets would have been a private matter, that at worst may have violated the rules of the college. But the official co-sponsorship of the event by an academic department may have turned their exclusionary decisions into illegal “state action.”

For purposes of the First Amendment, the political science department is Brooklyn College, which is the City University of New York, which is the State of New York. It was the State of New York, therefore, that expelled pro-Israel students who wanted to distribute constitutionally protected leaflets and wanted to pose constitutionally protected political questions. Such state action violates the First Amendment and New York law.

Accordingly, the benighted action of the political science department in taking sides in the debate over boycotting Israeli academics and institutions, may now come back to haunt the City University of New York, which is taking this situation seriously. The Chancellor issued the following statement:

At last week’s event at Brooklyn College, sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine and the College’s Department of Political Science, allegations were made by members of the college community who attended that they were impeded from expressing views either orally or in writing. There were reports that some said they were asked without cause to leave the event. If this were true, it was wrong and we need to understand exactly what the circumstances were. At the request of President Karen L. Gould, I have asked General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs Frederick P. Schaffer to quickly investigate these allegations. This investigation will be coordinated by CUNY’s Office of Legal Affairs, working with an independent consultant, and charged with reporting directly back to me.

There is, apparently, strong evidence to corroborate the accounts that pro-Israel students, especially those wearing yarmulkes or “looking” Jewish, were deliberately excluded, even though they secured written permission to attend. There is also corroboration of the accusation that pro-Israel students who managed to get into the event were thrown out when they refused to turn over to the organizers anti-BDS leaflets they wished to distribute. When these students complained to an official of the college, he reportedly replied that the anti-Israel students who were running the event were “calling the shots” and he could therefore do nothing. But once the political science department became involved as a co-sponsor, the students alone could not call the shots, when it comes to the First Amendment. The university assumed responsibility for assuring that the free speech of all students was equally protected. The First Amendment forbids the State of New York from discriminating against pro-Israel or anti-BDS speech, as it apparently did here.

What happened at Brooklyn College demonstrates the wisdom of keeping academic departments from sponsoring non-academic hate fests, such as the BDS event. When academic departments become selective sponsors, the constitutional rules change, because the imprimatur of the university—and thus the state—is placed on the event.

The radical anti-Israel students who arranged the BDS conference thought they had obtained a benefit from the political science department’s co-sponsorship—and perhaps they did in the short term. But in the long term, they may rue the day they persuaded the department to become involved in what should have been a student event. Now there may be legal consequences. The sword of co-sponsorship may have become a shield to protect the First Amendment rights of the students who were prevented from handing out anti-BDS leaflets and asking anti-BDS questions. I wonder if we will hear from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Times editorial board about these violations of freedom of speech!

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/did-brooklyn-colleges-political-science-department-violate-the-first-amendment/2013/02/17/

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