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by Patricia Berlyn


In modern usage "at jeopardy" means to be exposed to or in imminence of death, loss or injury. But the derivation of the word is the French "jeu parti [divided game]" that is on the verge of being decided one way or the other. In this sense, Israel has been put at jeopardy by its own authorities, leaders, and molders of opinion, but the outcome is not yet decided and can go right or wrong.

Those who call evil good
And good evil,
Who present darkness as light
And light as darkness,
Who present bitter as sweet
And sweet as bitter!
Those who are so wise --
In their own opinion,
So clever,
In their own judgment!
    -- Isaiah 5:20-21

For more than 55 years, Israel has successfully defended its existence and preserved its character against every kind of assault from without -- war and terrorism by avowed foes, diplomatic warfare by unavowed foes, assaults from special financial interests, corrupt news media, and faddish academics.

It has not done as well in preserving itself from obstinate intriguers within its own governments, who foisted upon the nation the disaster of the Oslo Accords and the looming disasters of the Roadmap and the Disengagement. [See Issues 28, 29, 45]

This nation and society under constant attack from without is also attacked from within by individuals and groups among its own citizens. Thus far, only a few admit that they want to obliterate the state. More admit that they want to obliterate it as a Jewish state. Some have power of coercion, through control of ministries, courts, and schools. Some depend on the power of persuasion. Either way, wittingly or unwittingly or witlessly they gnaw away at its culture, traditions, values, self-respect, and dignity. [See Issue 38]

It is their right to try to persuade their fellow citizens of the righteousness of their own positions. Their fellow citizens in droves decline to be persuaded. Some roam foreign parts to incite other countries against their own country, prodding foreign powers to force Israel to obey their own failed doctrines. This is an attempt to negate its hard-won independence.

There are several, often overlapping, cliques bent on obliterating the meaning and purpose of Israel. That purpose is not merely to be a refuge for left-over Jews who have no place better to go. It is to restore and revive an ancient heritage, that can flower and flourish only in the Land where it was born. [Despite all false claims to the contrary, no other people ever established a nation or an identity in that Land. See Issues 2 and 6]

Israel is the one tiny place on earth where Jews can chose a life fully or partially or not at all Judaic. All are at liberty to follow their own inclinations or disinclinations.

At the same time, the near twenty percent of the population that comprises Christians, Muslims, Druze, Ba'hai and others practice their own religions, preserve their own traditions and cultures, and maintain their own houses of worship and shrines in freedom and respect.

Most people exercise their own right of choice and accept the right of others to make their own choices. However, cliques of Jews -- small, bitter and raucous -- find such tolerance intolerable. Their own right to disdain Jewish values, traditions, studies and observances does not suffice. Israelis silly enough to treasure them are obstacles to the realization of their own dreary little dream, who must be ridiculed, demonized and thwarted.

Such cliques are avidly Osloid. Unlike some of their naive fellow-travelers who also agitate for a quick desertion of half the Land of Israel, they do not pursue the mirage of a fantasy peace. They mean thereby to do what no enemy was ever able to do: to break the Jewish heart and crush the Jewish spirit. Through 2,000 years of exile and torment, the Jewish people were sustained by the faith in the restoration of their land and revival of their heritage. At last, it became a reality. To throw it away will leave Israel hopeless, demoralized, vulnerable, drained of meaning and purpose. Then the cliques can take over and establish a shopping-mall society liberated from the burden of heritage, history, identity, dignity or pride.

The machinations of these cliques have encouraged the enemy to believe that if Israel is willing to abandon any of its Land, it will under pressure abandon more ... and then more ... until there is too little left to be defended or worth defending.

How these reckless policies breed and perpetuate the Oslo War is reported by Israel National News, 9 September, 2004:

"The Seventh War, written by journalists Avi Yissocharov from state-run Voice of Israel radio and Amos Harel from Ha'aretz, was based on comprehensive investigations and interviews with Hamas leadership in Gaza and Israeli prisons, carried out by the two journalists.

"Yissocharov told Channel 1's New Evening program this afternoon that Hamas leaders told him over and over again that it was the Israeli left-wing that encouraged them to continue to carry out terror attacks. Yissocharov outlined the general consensus among Hamas leadership he had interviewed for the book: 'The Israeli left-wing and your "peace-camp" are what ultimately encouraged us to continue to carry out suicide bombings. We tried, through our attacks, to create fragmentation and dissension within Israeli society, and the left-wing encouraged us in that regard. When we heard about the "Pilot's Letter," the refuse-niks and the elite soldiers refusing to serve [in Judea, Samaria and Gaza ed.] it strengthened our confidence in the effectiveness of the suicide bomber.

"The disengagement from Gaza is proof of our victory. The fact that Sharon is willing to withdraw unconditionally is basically equivalent to raising a white flag and retreating. Only by force are we able to teach the other side what to do."

Since the publication of this report, Sami Michael, President of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, has made a statement that Hamas fighters "are not terrorists" but merely trying to liberate themselves. However, he does advise them not to murder Israeli civilians who live inside the 1948 ceasefire lines.

The cliques have thus embolden terrorists determined to destroy Israel. They also encourage nations which view Israel as an international inconvenience that it can be made weaker and more properly humble. When Israel tolerates the mass murder of its people with no substantial reaction and is willing to surrender what is rightfully its own, that does not diminish the antagonism of those nations. It only feeds their contempt, and encourages their hopes of pushing Israel into collapse. When Israel stands proud and bold, it is still denounced but it is not despised as an easy mark that invites pressure and threats.

"That which corrodes the souls of the persecuted is the monstrous inner agreement with the prevailing prejudice against them."
    -- Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

1] The residents of Bar-Ilan Street in Jerusalem are very strictly observant. They requested that this street be closed to traffic during Shabbat morning religious services. That would be no inconvenience to motorists, who could easily use parallel streets in the same direction.

The request might be debatable, preferably in civil tones. But Yossi Sarid, then head of the anti-Judaic Meretz Party preferred uncivil ones. He assembled a caravan of automobiles and led them to Bar-Ilan Street on Shabbat morning. The drivers then opened their windows, turned their radios on to blast hard rock music as loudly as possible, and drove back and forth up and down the street. Sarid himself stuck his head out of his car window shrieking the traditional greeting "Shabbat Shalom".

2] Shulamit Aloni, who preceded Sarid as head of Meretz, was for a time Minister of Education. She wanted to ban Israeli students from taking part in the annual international commemorative March of Freedom to Auschwitz, lest the experience taint them with "feelings of Jewish nationalism". (She was simultaneously an ardent champion of Arab-Palestinian nationalism who opined that an Arab who kills a Jew is a freedom fighter, not a murderer.)

She ridiculed sentimental attachment to the Land of Israel for the sake of "the tomb of Rahab the Harlot and other Holy Places".

During a visit to Germany, she invited the news media to come to a certain restaurant at a certain hour to photograph her having pork for lunch on Yom Kippur. This was not a matter of exercising her personal choice of when and what to eat. That would have been of no interest to the news media. This was exploiting her position as a prominent minister in the government of Israel to flaunt her contempt for the traditions of the people she was supposed to serve.

3] Creative and artistic persons, perhaps because of their superior taste, are often prominent in the activities of these cliques.

A government minister of the NRP [National Religious Party] found that a modern dance group invited to perform at the public celebration of Israel's 50th Anniversary had chosen a piece unsuitable vulgar for the occasion. A mob of artistes then pursued and hounded him with cries of "Dirty Jew!"

The sculptor Igal Tumarkin won considerable attention for his figure of a pig wearing t'fillin [phylacteries -- small boxes containing prayers, donned by the Orthodox during recitation of certain prayers]. He explains that "When I see the ultra-Orthodox, I understand what the Nazis did". (A sympathetic commentator on the Israeli art scene notes that Tumarkin is the most influenced by the traditions of Europe and especially of Germany. Indeed.)

In 2004, Tumarkin was awarded the Israel Prize, an honor bestowed on those deemed to have made the most valuable contributions to art, science, and society in Israel.

4] Ron Pundak, an academic who held no national position and had no credentials to act on behalf of the nation, was employed by Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin to contrive the Oslo Accords. He is now Director-General of the Peres Center for Peace, a scandal-ridden institution funded by the European Union.

Among his recent activities in this office was sending a gushing letter of support and admiration to Marwan Bargouti, assuring him that "the Palestinian people need him now as never before. Barghouti received the letter in the Israeli prison where he is serving five life sentences for his terror-murders of Israeli civilians.

Pundak has explained that his Oslo Accords have not worked out because Israel has failed to make enough concessions to and bestowals upon the PLO. His boss Peres still insists that Oslo was the right thing to do, and will yet succeed.

The now shrunken remnant of Meretz has been absorbed into the new Yahad Party, a personal domain of European Union lackey Yossi Beilin. Its place in the anti-Judaic clique has devolved on the Shinui Party, run by Yosef Lapid -- known as "Tommy" from his pre-Israeli name Tomaslav.

Tommy came to public notice as a television personality who could yell louder then his interlocutors, and was thus qualified for a place in the Knesset. His contribution to public discourse includes ridicule of the production of kosher products, exhortations to the public to eat pork on Shabbat, and advice to religious women to curtail their motherhood.

He is Minister of Justice in the present government, where he demands swift execution of Disengagement, and quick progress toward rendering more of the Land of Israel judenrein. [See Issue 45].

Another member of Shinui is Avraham Poraz, Minister of the Interior. He professes himself unable to understand why Israelis should have any sentimental attachment to the ancient biblical city of Hebron, where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah are buried. He observes that there are Jewish graves in Prague too, but Israel does not claim a right to that city.

At a cabinet meeting Minister Without Portfolio Natan Sharansky -- a man who spent nine years in solitary confinement in a prison in Siberia for his loyalty to Jews and Judaism --reported on the Judaism for Everyone Program. This provides locales where people can assemble for services on Yom Kippur and hear talks and explanations about the High Holy Days.

Tommy objects that such a program "smacked of trying to bring people back to religion". When some ministers remarked that Tommy's complaint "would be considered anti-Semitic in some countries", Poraz defended his boss with the assertion that "A Jew has the right to be anti-Semitic".

Shinui Party Member Yosef Paritzky was Minister of National Infrastructure, and during his tenure used his authority to block Judaic projects or practices wherever possible. He was recently dropped from the cabinet because he was officially charged with fraud.

Tommy recently remarked that a photograph of an old Arab woman in Gaza standing near the ruins of a terrorist base "reminds me of my grandmother during the Holocaust". He soon followed up this sentimentality with a ruling that Jewish residents of Gaza who resist forcible eviction from their homes -- however passively -- will be sent to internment camps along with their children.

This is Tommy's righteous view of rabbis who find it unbearable that IDF soldiers should attack their fellow Jews. From The Jerusalem Post, 21 October 2004:

"Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said on Wednesday that calls by rabbis to soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip could lead to civil war and warned that the state would take measures against them.

"... Lapid told members of the Bar Association: 'Many more crimes have been committed in the name of holiness than for the sake of crime itself. The justice system has demonstrated the utmost patience and tolerance toward the rabbis. But I am issuing a warning at this time. There is a limit to patience and tolerance'."

The question of refusal and whether rabbis should urge it is problematic, and legitimately debatable. [See Issue 45]. That does not mitigate the hypocrisy of his statement.

The demands for punishment of the rabbis come most shrilly from the same quarters that in years past urged IDF soldiers to refuse to carry out any orders that do not suit their own political agenda, and support Conscientious Objectors as long as they object for the correct reasons.

The Minister of Justice does not now turn his exasperation on Yesh Gavul [There Is A Limit], a organization with foreign funding that tries to induce and/or bribe soldiers to refuse to perform their duties or even to desert. Nor does he threaten the similar Courage to Refuse movement. Nor is he noticeably out of patience with MachshomWatch, a coven of women who gather at security checkpoints to accost soldiers guarding the country, distract, harass, abuse, and threaten them.

1] Shimon Peres, the arch-perpetrator of the lethal Oslo Accords, yearns to meld Israel into his private mirage of a New Middle East. In the election of 1996, he was replaced as prime minister by Binyamin Netanyahu. Peres explained his defeat as: "The Jews won and the Israelis lost".

2] Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak follows a juridical doctrine of imposing on society the norms of "the enlightened". Among his recent norms:

-- giving credence to an anti-Israel ruling of the International Court of Justice that, at the behest of Israel's enemies, presumed to dictate on a matter over which it has no jurisdiction.

-- adopting the spurious terminology of "occupied territories" when under international law the territories in question are not "occupied" [see Issue 6, 36 et al].

-- that observant Jews and non-observant Jews should not live near one another as neighbors.

-- that construction of a Jewish educational facility is banned in a town where the Town Council and the majority have approved it.

3] Amnon Rubenstein of Meretz was Minister of Education when he announced his aspiration "to replace archaic Jewish values with contemporary universal values" -- as though the values of the prophets of Israel have passed an expiration date.

4] A journalist at The Jerusalem Post, in a review of a recent report on IDF [Israel Defense Forces] personnel found it troubling that an increasing number of junior- and middle-rank officers are "religious".

For the sake of Zion I will not be silent.
    -- Isaiah 58:1
I will not speak with restraint.
I will give voice to the anguish of my soul.
    -- Job 7:11

A clear and present jeopardy is the assault on democracy and the right of free speech. Those who schemed to foist the Oslo Accords on the people of Israel resorted to measures far beyond the bounds of democracy or decency to silence criticism or opposition. Those now scheming to foist the Disengagement on the people of Israel are resorting to measures even more undemocratic and indecent.

Their key cant-word is "incitement". If opposition expressed by perfectly lawful and peaceable means is defined as "incitement", then it becomes criminal and can be suppressed by incarceration, or indefinite administrative detention without charge, legal counsel, or trial. The Minister of Internal Security recently huffed that a woman who wrote a politically incorrect letter "should not be allowed to walk the streets".

Since the Osloid days a new element has been added to the technique of intimidation There are ominous reminders that "incitement" preceded the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. In fact, the "incitement" cited was the work of the Rabin government itself. It was its own agent provocateur Avishai Raviv who perpetrated the most egregious acts of "incitement" in order to cast false blame and discredit on those who legitimately and lawfully stood against the Osloids.

The current tactics of suppression now brand verbal criticism and admonition as "incitement". To be banned. President of Israel Moshe Katzav, whose position is supposed to be non-political and non-partisan, takes part in this tongue-control.

As reported by IMRA [Independent Media Review and Analysis], 11 October 2004:

"President Katzav said in an interview on Arutz 7 internet-audio today that it is 'incitement' to say that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan endangers the survival of the State of Israel and thus such language is prohibited. He agreed that it is permissible for citizens to argue that the plan damages Israel's security."

A pattern of intimidation is traced out in "Silencing Public Debate Over The Withdrawal Plan", Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center October 28, 2004

"Israelis who never grow tired of boasting they live in the Middle East's only democractic state are facing an increasingly dangerous threat to their own freedom of expression. Since the Prime Minister's sudden unveiling, this past Spring, of his controversial plan to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza, there has been an aggressive effort by the Attorney General's office and law enforcement agencies to interfere with the basic right of Israeli citizens to express their opposition to the risky retreat.

"The political proponents of the withdrawal are employing devious scare tactics to delegitimize lawful debate of this dangerous program. The methods being utilized are eerily similar to the repressive campaigns used to curtail speech and dissenting opinions in Israel in the wake of the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. During those dark days, then Attorney General Michael Ben-Yair repeatedly issued public warnings that Oslo opponents would be prosecuted for 'incitement' and 'rebellion' solely on the basis of their speech. The clear government objective was to use the police and security services to obstruct the open debate of its dangerous policies and intimidate protestors from exercising their right to question the government's agreements with the PLO.

"Enlisted in the current campaign to deter free speech are the General Security Services (GSS), the Attorney General's office, the Justice Minister, the Ministry of Internal Security and President Moshe Katsav: ...

"On July 4, 2004 GSS Director Avi Dichter publicly announced that he had identified between 150 and 200 right-wing extremist who were plotting the Prime Minister's murder. Despite this alleged threat, the security services, to date have not made a single arrest.

"On July 6, 2004 then Minister of Internal Security Tzachi Hanegbi warned of an imminent plot by disengagement opponents to attack the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and assassinate the Prime Minister. Later he conceded that the police had no specific details or suspects in any plot.

"In recent weeks, Justice Minister Tommy Lapid has issued numerous public warnings about alleged right-wing conspiracies and claimed he was 'reserving the right' to place settlers and religious leaders in administrative detention over fears of incitement. Even more disturbing, Lapid stated that he was empowering the police to investigate speech crimes without the Attorney General's supervision.

"On September 28, 2004 an official of the Attorney General's office sent a warning letter to Uri Elitzur, a past bureau chief of former Prime Minister Netanyahu, concerning remarks he made criticizing the disengagement plan. The prosecutor noted that he would not actually order a criminal prosecution over the statements but added: 'We do however find it right to warn you that any similar extreme remark made in the future may lead to an investigation'.

"On October 10, 2004 President Katsav opinioned that anyone who called the disengagement plan 'a danger to security, should be placed behind bars'.

"Police spokesman Gil Kleinman told journalist Aaron Lerner that a protestor holding a placard claiming that the disengagement plan 'will lead to fatal damage to the State of Israel' could be arrested for incitement.

"Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has issued new speech guidelines regarding incitement, which grant the police the ability to take quick action against disengagement opponents whose speech, in their opinion, crossed an undefined legal red-line.

"This undemocratic campaign is being carried out by the plan's supporters to strike fear into the hearts of would be opponents. Tragically, the stream of threats, warnings, directives and gratuitous accusations by government officials is having its calculated chilling effect and is resulting in the thwarting of the freedom of expression at a time when robust public debate must be encouraged. Gaza residents and other citizens who strongly oppose the withdrawal plan are continuously being sent a very strong message that they may be investigated, arrested, prosecuted and even held without trial if they voice their objections to the dismantling of settlements.

"Few in Israel today understand what criticism of the withdrawal plan is legally protected and what, in the Attorney General's opinion, can land you in jail.

"Which, of course, is the very idea.

"If the Attorney General or police have any real evidence of an individual's illegal incitement then they should prosecute him. If they don't, and they haven't to date commenced a single case, then they should keep their own, unlawful opinions, to themselves.

"Shurat HaDin has sent the Attorney General a warning letter concerning this dangerous threat to the freedom of expression and has asked him to denounce the police's claim that individuals will be investigated and prosecuted for merely holding placards at demonstrations. If the Attorney General does not respond, we are preparing to challenge the policy in the High Court of Justice."

Attempts to suppress free speech and/or punish those who exercise it is a thread running through Israeli public life. It runs only one way: It is the leftist-Osloid parties and politicians who demand suppression and punishment for dissent from their own views. They place no inhibitions or restrictions on their own invective, abuse, and slander.

Patricia Berlyn is a writer and editor who is a native of New York, N.Y. and now resides in Israel. This article is from "A Time To Speak -- Messages About Israel", Vol. IV:10 (No. 46), October 2004 - Heshvan/Kislev 5765.

"A Time To Speak" appears once a month, and each issue is on a theme that relates to Israel and the Middle East past and present, including history, background, current events, analysis and comment. All issues appear on its website: A complimentary subscription to the e-mail edition is available by request to:


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