Got that? You better. ‘Cause if you don’t or if you have any other opinion on the matter Ronen Shoval, founder of the Israeli hasbara outfit will set you straight; or else sue your ass off. I don’t know if Ronen has considered how he can do that to those outside Israel, but considering how many Israelis he’s threatened with lawsuits if they bad-mouth the group, he’ll undoubtedly find a way to sic someone on me as well. But like Didi Remez, one of those he’s threatened, I have no fear of his thuggery.
There’s a lot of interesting matters to report about the thugs who parodied New Israel Fund chair, Naomi Chazan by displaying a rhino horn on her head in ads which accused her and NIF of being traitors to the State of Israel for cooperating with the Goldstone Report (NIF didn’t, though some of its grantees did).
Those of you who know and use Wikipedia may think of it as a repository of online information, a sort of freewheeling encyclopedia of knowledge. Everywhere but Israel that is. Partly because of excessive editorial caution, partly because of a societal fear of violating political consensus, and partly because of legal blackmail, Hebrew Wikipedia shies away from a number of controversial subjects. I wrote here that it removed an article about Anat Kamm and refused to publish anything until well after the gag order about her arrest was lifted (a number of us interested in the subject made sure there was an English Wikipedia entry).
Now, Wikipedia has also removed an article about Im Tirtzu under threat of lawsuit if it calls the group “right-wing.” The editors refuse this concession and their only recourse seems to be to remain silent on the entire issue. You can’t find any article about the group in Hebrew Wikipedia. I’m not enough of a Wikipedian to know how the various editions are run and how each edition relates to the broader Wikipedia movement, but it seems to me that Hebrew Wikipedia falls far short of the free-wheeling, authority-defying standards that I’ve always thought the broader project represented.
I cannot exert any pressure on the contents or editors of Hebrew Wikipedia. I doubt they know or care what I have to say. But I will certainly report its deficiencies to my readers and hope that they will make my views known within an Israeli context.
Let’s tell it like it is. Ronen Shoval is a thug. Maybe he’s not a thug in the sense of beating Naomi Hazan up in a dark alley in Tel Aviv and sending her to the hospital. But he’s a garden-variety political thug. Thugs threaten. They bully. They use the system to get what they want. They confront. They get in your face. So what do you do if you’re a target of these biryonim? Do you remain silent? Do you worry about lawyer’s fees? Do you back down? Hell no. Not unless you want them to redouble their attacks on you.
You stand toe to toe and face to face. You let them know you will defend your position b’chol m’odecha (“everything in your power”). You let them know if they want to draw metaphoric blood their’s will be mixed with yours. I tell them if they want to threaten to sue, bring it on (just as Didi has done, kol hakavod lo ["more power to him”]).
Shoval, or whoever directs or advises him, might want to consider that vacant threats of legal action tend to provoke precisely the types of hostile responses to Im Tirtzu which bring on the threats to begin with.
So here’s something else to stew over Ronen. This blog has reported that It Tirtzu received $200,000 over two years from John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Hagee, the apocalyptic “not-one-inch” Christian Zionist boasts about contributing millions to Israel. I’ve listed a good deal of his settler and right-wing grantees.
Yossi Gurvitz reveals in his Israeli blog that Im Tirtzu is using the American Jewish settler group, the Central Fund of Israel, as its pass-through 501c3 which enables U.S. donors to receive a tax-deduction in return for their support for right wing Israeli political thuggery. Since Im Tirtzu is a fairly new organization, there will not yet be an IRS 990 record of how much the group will receive from CFI. But considering the latter raised $47-million in 2008, the amount could be sizable. Undoubtedly, a chunk of it will go to pay Im Tirtzu’s lawyer’s fees for all the Israelis and American Jews they plan to sue for slander.
In case you hadn’t heard of CFI or don’t believe my claims about them. Here are some of the wonderful enterprises they’ve funded: Honenu, which provides legal representation for Jewish terrorists like Yigal Amir and Jack Teitel and lobbies for their release from prison. Women in Green, whose leader, Nadia Matar, supported the assassination of Mahmoud Abbas during a speech she gave at a Manhattan shul a few years ago. Over a half-million dollars of these funds went to support “security” for Israeli settlements which can include anything from K-9 attack dogs to communication gear to Uzis.
As Yossi Gurvitz says, if something looks like a right-wing duck and walks and talks like one then it is one:
Im Tirzu’s masquerading as a centrist movement, while it feeds at the trough of an extreme right wing fundraising society, should cast a shadow on each and every one of its claims.
Im Tirtzu is a danger to Israeli democracy. Indeed its flourishing indicates something deeply rotten with the Israeli body politic.
For those who need a good, healthy dose of satire and who know some Hebrew, take yourself immediately to this parody site, Im Tirtzu Im Lo Tirzu (“Whether You Want It or Not,” a parody of the original Herzl-inspired name, “If You Will It”). The parody site’s sub-title is: “The quiet fascist revolution.” Shoval’s lawyers should be filing suit shortly…
Which brings me to the observation that the closer Israel gets to flat-out authoritarianism the stronger, sharper and more telling becomes the political satire. This is how Vaclav Havel got his start before the Velvet Revolution took hold. It must’ve been what it was like in the days of Sovet samizdat. It’s probably like this in Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Is this what Israel has come to? Instead of the Prelude to a Kiss, it’s the prelude to full-blown rightist supremacy. The Shin Bet will “advise” the prime minister, who will dutifully do as he is told. Or better yet as in Russia, the prime minister might just as well BE a former officer in the intelligence services (that would be Tzipi Livni if she ever gets anywhere near the prime ministership, which is highly doubtful).