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Posts Tagged ‘Yigal Amir’

Free Speech For Me But Not For Thee

Friday, January 17th, 2003

Consider a country in which the minister of
justice prepares an official ''speech code'' that
delineates the boundaries of permissible
speech, and where violators may be sent to

Consider a country in which people are
arrested for expressing criticism or dissent,
even if it is in a casual conversation in a cafe, a
bank or a barber shop.

Consider a country in which the minister
of education calls upon school pupils and their
parents to report to the police the names of
teachers who make ''incendiary statements'' or
engage in ''incitement.''

Consider a country where people are
afraid to express their political opinions for
fear of being overheard by informants and
where people look over their shoulders before
daring to speak candidly about politics.

Consider a country in which rabbis are
openly vilified by the leaders of the state,
where politicians, journalists and professors
call for the wholesale arrest of rabbis and

dissidents, where scores of rabbis are
interrogated by the police for ''inciting.''

Consider a country where religious Jews
walking down the street are insulted and
called ''murderers'' and other foul names by

Consider a country where a popular radio
host calls for a law that would require that all
dissidents either recant their views and
endorse government policies or go to prison; or
where a newspaper columnist closely identified
with the ruling party declares that Voltaire's
famous statement (where he says that he
would die for the rights to free speech for those
with whom he disagrees) represents the most
absurd and ridiculous idea imaginable.

Imagine a country where teenagers are
imprisoned for making statements and posters
that are in poor taste, or where an old man can
be arrested for losing his temper and shouting
at a policeman, ''What do you think this is
here, a police state?

Imagine a country where people can be
arrested for making jokes that some might
regard as being in poor taste.

Imagine a country in which dissidents
quoting old statements by the prime minister
himself or who quote from the Bible could be
arrested on charges of engaging in incitement
and rebellion.

Now ask yourselves, does all of the above
describe the Habsburg Empire during the
worst Franciscan repressions of the early 19th
century? Or maybe some totalitarian country
before the fall of communism? Or perhaps a
fictitious government in some Orwellian
political novel?

No, I'm afraid the above is an exact
description of Israel as it was in the immediate
aftermath of the assassination of Prime
Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Each example refers
to an actual event that occurred in Israel in the
months after that murder.

Seven years after the event, Israel is still
in a state of shock from the Rabin
assassination. One of the most harmful and
dangerous aftershocks to that murder has been
a long series of assaults upon the fundamental
democratic freedoms and rights of Israeli
citizens, led mainly by the Israeli Left.

Rabin's body was not yet cold when an
anti-democratic theory of the assassination was
invented. In the following days, not only was
this theory repeated endlessly, but it assumed
the status of revealed gospel. The theory holds
that the assassination was caused by
irresponsible speech, by calls of ''Rabin is a
Murderer/Traitor,'' by incitement and agitation
on the part of anti-Oslo dissidents.

In response to this theory-as-gospel, there
were repeated calls in Israel for new legislation
to suppress ''oral violence'' and ''incitement.''
In 1995 the minister of justice even prepared a
new law that would have instituted a sort of a
national ''speech code'' delineating the
boundaries of acceptable speech (it was never
implemented). The governments of both Labor
and Likud approved decisions to make a
growing list of organizations on the Israeli ''far
right'' illegal, simply on the basis of their
positions and opinions. A long list of people
were investigated and/or indicted for

Following the assassination, an assault on
dissent and democracy was launched by
Israel's politicians from the Labor Party and
the leftist Meretz. For example, a call to pupils
and parents to inform to the police on teachers
engaging in ''incitement'' came from the
minister of education under the Labor Party's
administration, Professor Amnon Rubinstein of
Meretz. Rubinstein is a well-known expert on
constitutional law, which he taught for many
years at Tel Aviv University. Prosecutions of
people for having expressed anti-Oslo opinions
continued even under Likud administrations.

All of this is no less frightening and
alarming than the assassination itself. It is
particularly troubling because the new
orthodoxy is itself patently false. It is also
dangerous because the criminalizing and
prosecution of extremists on the far right could
in fact lead to an upsurge in violence.

First, despite the shock that we all felt
and feel, it behooves us to recall that Rabin
was not killed by free speech, but by a
murderer with a gun.

Raviv Trial Tribulations

Friday, December 7th, 2001

For the eighth time since his April, 1999 indictment for failing to notify the authorities of Yigal Amir's intention to assassinate Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the trial of Avishai Raviv has been postponed, this time for six months. According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the trial court ordered the postponement of the scheduled November 11 trial date pending a higher court decision on the defense's request to view highly classified prosecution materials. Raviv was an agent-provocateur employed by the Shin Bet to infiltrate right wing groups and was a mentor to Yigal Amir. Raviv is thus thought by some to have played more than a passive role in the Rabin slaying, and questions have been raised of a possible Shin Bet link to the slaying and an official cover-up.

Significantly, this latest delay has drawn criticism across the Israeli political spectrum. “It's not just the Right that is angered by this delay,” Knesset Law Committee Chairman Ophir Pines (Labor) said in an interview. He termed the latest delay, coming six years after the assassination, “insufferable.” Pines said there was no reason why the delay in the opening of the trial should be as long as half a year, and that if an additional delay were needed, several weeks or a month would suffice.

The Post reports that according to Pines, the case is both “embarrassing” and “problematic.” He said, “it is certain that very embarrassing details will be revealed in the trial” for the state, the Justice Ministry and the Shin Bet. “I would like to believe that this is not the reason [for the delays],” Pines said, “because if it is, then we are in a worrisome situation.”

According to the Post, some MK's from the Right have been saying for months that both the defense and the prosecution have been purposefully delaying the case.

“The defense does not want a conviction, and the prosecution is not interested in seeing the GSS's (Shin Bet) methods revealed in a trial,” said Likud MK Michael Eitan, a long-time critic of the state attorney's handling of the case.

“It is clear there are certain sources that do not want this trial to proceed,” MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) is quoted as saying.

Given his political leanings and religious identification, Yigal Amir's murder of Prime Minister Rabin was seized by Labor and the Left generally as a convenient opportunity to launch a sustained assault on those who vigorously opposed the Oslo Accords, particularly the political Right and the religious community. These were accused of incitement and fomenting a dangerous political climate. We have always rejected the connection that was made and continue to believe that uncovering Raviv's role would shed important light on the tragic event. To our mind, the evidence that is already known points ineluctably to the conclusion that there was a lot more involved than some wild-eyed hothead targeting Mr. Rabin.

Unfortunately, it now appears that the prospect of the trial ever going forward is remote, and the latest postponement seems a prelude to some plea bargain being struck which will avoid the need for a public airing of the Shin Bet's dirty linen. So, because of an old boy's network that transcends political affiliation and office, we will probably never get to know what really happened. And the elitist Israeli Left will have once again prevailed against legitimate public dissent.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/raviv-trial-tribulations/2001/12/07/

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