Ronen Shoval, the rightist leader of the uber-Zionist Im Tirtzu (“If You Want It”), has had enough of leftists making fun of him. A Facebook group called Im Tirtzu–Fascist Movement arose to skewer I.T. Then, horrors, a full-blown spoof website was created to lampoon the entire Im Tirtzu enterprise. It was too much for poor Ronen. He threatened to sue unless Didi Remez, one of the administrators of the Facebook site, apologized for his bad manners.
Didi told Ronen to take a hike in a meticulously argued legal brief submitted by his attorney, Michael Sfard. The lawsuit is the result. The claim is that by calling I.T. “fascist” they’re wrecking poor Ronen’s good name and reputation. Keep in mind this is the group that put a rhino horn on Noami Chazan’s head in ads in every major Israeli newspaper that called New Israel Fund an enemy of Israel and the Jewish people. Shoval is the same fellow who ran for the Knesset on a Kahanist-friendly party list. The same guy who supported the diehard Gush Katif settlers who battled with the police against leaving Gaza in 2005. This guy is no fascist, no. He’s Theodor Herzl walking among us once more. Im Tirtzu’s slogan is “the second Zionist revolution,” which knowing Shoval’s thuggery brings to mind Mao’s Red Guards and rivers of blood more than it brings to mind the Prague Spring.
According to Israel’s Walla news portal, one of Shoval’s claims is that the purpose of the Facebook group is to damage Im Tirtzu’s reputation (such as it is). Duh! Imagine that. What’s this world coming to when you can’t call a flaming right wing racist what he really is. And to think Didi Remez had the chutzpah to believe it was OK to besmirch Shoval in that way!
The suit also claims that the Facebook group uses “cheap demagoguery to create an ineradicable stain on the complainant’s reputation, which in the end will bring about its liquidation and the end of its impact on the public.” Heaven forbid. I know Didi Remez like I know my own brother and he would NEVER do such a thing. Didi is a kind man, a good man, a lover of animals and even rightists.
Apparently, Ronen’s boys haven’t done their homework because their suit falsely claims that the Facebook group’s founders also created the spoof site, Whether You Want It or Not–the Quiet Fascist Revolution.
Walla also notes Shoval’s bullying of Hebrew Wikipedia for publishing an article calling I.T. a “right wing movement.” Threat of a lawsuit was enough to persuade the crusading editors of Wikipedia to hide their heads in the sand and take down the article. This would be like English Wikipedia taking down its article on the Tea Partyers because the group threatened a lawsuit for calling it right-wing. The very notion seems preposterous. But in Israel, where free speech and other democratic values are not rooted as deeply as here, intimidation by the well-heeled often works. And Im Tirtzu is quite well-heeled thanks to a $200,000 gift from John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Didi even reveals that I.T. had to plunk down a $10,000 deposit just to file its suit. Apparently, Ronen thinks there’s going to be a satisfying legal payday in his future.
Roy Yellin, the founder of the Facebook group spoke sense in his Walla interview, welcoming the opportunity offered by Im Tirtzu to justify his claims about the group in court:
“The very nature of this lawsuit proclaims this group to be right-wing extremist, opposed to the value of free speech, and in favor of smearing left-wing organizations with the epithet ‘traitor,’ and in favor of the notion that these activists should ‘shut up and sit down.’”
Yellin claims that I.T. adopted tactics common in the U.S. of legal intimidation against individuals who express criticism of powerful figures or interests. Such tactics are not customary in Israel.
…Didi Remez’s attorney, in a letter to Shoval’s attorney welcomed an opportunity to allow an Israeli court to decide the case and to hear from Israeli and international experts on the question fascism and whether the word applies to Im Tirtzu.
I have to say it’s become a very intense time for lovers of peace and justice in Israel and the Diaspora. It seems all the good values we ever associated with Israel are under assault and perhaps even dying before our eyes. Im Tirtzu has its jack-booted heel on the throat of Israeli free speech and we can’t let them win. That’s why we’ll be following this lawsuit closely and the escapades of those jolly fellows in Im Tirtzu as well.
I may not be a dragon-slayer. But my goal is to even the playing field just a bit, so the bastards don’t get too smug and think they can trample on those of us who think differently than they do.