Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

16 Iyar 5761 - May 9, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Free Market Place of Ideas Under Siege

by Jonathan Rosenblum

The contempt of Israel's elites for the free market place of ideas is an old story with ever new wrinkles. The latest wrinkle is the revelation of an entire department in the State Prosecutor's office devoted to harassing right-wing extremists via an unending stream of suits for incitement and related "crimes." These prosecutions are clearly not designed to win -- Kach activists Noam Federman and Itamar Ben-Gvir have been acquitted 49 times between them, with only one conviction resulting in a minimal jail sentence.

Rather the goal is to bankrupt the defendants through never- ending legal actions. Thus after the trial court judge denied the prosecution's request that defendants be remanded to custody for three days in a recent proceeding, and the district court upheld that denial, prosecutors sought an even longer remand to the beginning of the trial and again appealed the denial of their motion.

In recent years, the self-styled avatars of civil liberties in Israel, Meretz-leaders Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, have called for the closure of a religious newspaper after a columnist labelled Chief Justice Aharon Barak a "judicial dictator," demanded the prosecution of another religious writer for protesting "Nazi-like" stereotypes of religious Jews, and fought tooth and nail to close the right-wing radio station Arutz-7, which provides the only nation-wide alternative to the news on Israel radio.

The contempt of Israel's Left for other's free speech might be viewed as a carryover from the State's founders who were steeped in Russian revolutionary movements. That explanation, however, may be too simplistic. For the free marketplace of ideas is no less under siege in America, a country which has always been remarkably immune to Marxist ideology.

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