The Dish

Don’t Talk Back To Bibi

by Dish Staff

Sarah Lazare explores Israel’s frightening crackdown on dissent during the Gaza war:

Journalists deemed critical of the war have faced job termination and censure. Prominent Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, who has criticized the “dehumanization and demonization of the Palestinians,” hired a personal bodyguard after being attacked while broadcasting live from Ashkelon. Israeli Knesset member Yariv Levin, chair of the Likud-Beytenu coalition, recently called for Levy to stand trial for treason—a charge that, during war, carries a death sentence.

Knesset member Haneen Zoabi—a Palestinian citizen of Israel—has been suspended from most parliamentary activities for six months due to a statement she made about the still-unidentified kidnappers of three Israeli teen residents of West Bank settlements who were found dead in June. She said of the kidnappers, “they are people who see no other way to change their reality, so they are forced to use these means…at least until Israel wises up, and until Israeli society opens up and feels the pain of the other.” Meanwhile, numerous Knesset members calling for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza and murder of Palestinian civilians have faced no formal censure from within Israeli government or the U.S.

In a sign of the times, young Israelis who elect to do national service – a civilian alternative to conscription in the IDF – will no longer be allowed to work at the human rights organization B’Tselem, which the national service chief has decreed “acts against the state”:

In a letter to B’Tselem director Hagai Elad, Sar-Shalom Jerbi said his decision came in the wake of the fighting in Gaza. B’Tselem, whose full name is B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, sought to broadcast the names of dead Palestinian children during the 29 days of fighting. “I feel obligated to exercise my authority and discontinue state assistance to an organization that acts against the state and its soldiers, who are literally sacrificing their lives in supreme heroism to ensure the welfare and security of all citizens from all sectors suffering for years from firing on their homes,” Jerbi wrote.

National civilian service has slots for volunteers at organizations on both sides of the political spectrum, such as anti-abortion group Efrat on the right and Hotline for Migrant Workers on the left. B’Tselem has one slot for a national-service volunteer, which it received in 2012. During discussions on a bill in January, Jerbi said national civilian service would be available “only to bodies that do not subvert the existence of the state as a Jewish and democratic state.”