Well, here’s news that’ll clear your sinuses:
It was reported this week that at a hearing to discuss the African immigrant crisis, MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich (of Kadima, the “centrist” party that just joined Netanyahu’s ruling coalition and which for a time was the most powerful party in the country) had this to say about the human rights organizations that have come to the immigrants’ aid:
There are human rights organizations which, if you'd allow them today to take planes or buses and carry out a 'transfer' on Haredim and settlers, they would—all of them—be the first to load them onto the buses.
They'd be the first to give them a sandwich with bread and chocolate and transfer the Haredim and settlers out of the state of Israel.
…These phonies—first of all I would jail them all for incitement of Jews against Jews. This is Solution Number One: to jail all human rights [activists].
…We can transport them afterwards to those same places that we're building, the camps. Let them work there.
When I lived in Israel (1984-1998), I faced my share of abuse for supporting Palestinian rights. When protesting with Women in Black or Peace Now, I might hear the words “Whore!” or “Arab f-cker!” shouted in my general direction, and of course there were also reasonable, if heated, discussions among friends and loved ones, and across the op/ed pages of Israel’s daily papers.
But those who heaped abuse were the rarities, the people my friends and I laughed at. Only the occasional extremist might suggest that there was something essentially disloyal, anti-Israeli, about being on the country’s political left. Meir Kahane, for instance.
Of course, those who watch the news out of Israel know there’s been a change afoot for some time. There’s been a mad rush to condemn and cripple human rights organizations like B’tselem, and a wave of anti-democratic legislation, such as last year’s law that made it illegal to call for a settlement boycott, and the one that allows the Finance Ministry to cut funding for communities and institutions “due to activities against the state’s principles.” Violent rhetoric and physical attacks have also increased, with hearty chants of “death to the leftists” often accompanying similar chants of “death to the Arabs,” and police standing by as left-wing activists find themselves beaten bloody.
Given all that, I suppose, it’s not an enormous leap to the notion that a coalition member would project her own animus onto those who dissent from government positions (“They'd be the first to… transfer the Haredim and settlers out of the state of Israel”), and then suggest that dissenters be thrown in the clink for their opinions.
But here in the American Jewish community, we’re often given to saying that that while American Jews may accuse each other of all manner of awful things for daring to question Israeli government policy, at least the Israelis themselves can handle pluralism.
Perhaps it’s time we acknowledge that a corner has been turned, and Jewish pluralism is under genuine threat wherever we might be.