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Monday, March 24, 2008

'Freedom of speech,' Israeli style

A 'Jewish activist' faces up to five years in jail for 'racist incitement' for running an online referendum in 2005 that showed the extent of opposition to the expulsion of Gaza's Jews from their homes.
Jewish activist Yekutiel Ben-Yakov of Kfar Tapuach faces sentencing on Tuesday morning for creating a referendum prior to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza in 2005. Ben-Yakov was convicted of inciting to racism, and now faces a sentence of up to five years in prison. He believes he was charged with incitement because his referendum upset the government by showing to what extent the “Disengagement” plan went against the will of the majority.

Ben-Yakov’s referendum asked whether those questioned supported then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to expel Jews from Gaza and Samaria more than an alternative plan to expel hostile Arabs from the same areas. More than 100,000 participated in the referendum, which can be seen at www.mishal.org/eng/, and over 90 percent said they would rather expel hostile Arabs than Jews. “It’s outrageous that a country that calls itself a democracy can put someone on trial for making a referendum... a referendum is the purest form of democracy,” Ben-Yakov said Monday.

Given that Ariel Sharon promised to be bound by the terms of a referendum of Likud members - and then broke his promise when the referendum overwhelmingly opposed the expulsion - this isn't really surprising.

It's bitterly ironic that Ben Yakov could end up going to jail for much longer than the sole member of the Sharon family to face any jail time for the many financial crimes they committed. But we're a 'democracy,' aren't we?


At 12:34 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Only in Israel, can a Jew face prison for advocating a democratic principle. No wonder many religious Jews are refusing to accept the legitimacy of the state secular court system.

At 3:23 AM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

There shouldn't be a crime of "inciting to racism." What kind of stupid pseudo-crime is that? Racism isn't a crime. What are they going to do, read everyone's minds and arrest all the people who have so-called "racist" thoughts? So how can inciting to racism be a crime? Inciting to a crime--inciting to murder, for example--sure. But inciting to racism is a joke crime. Get it off the books.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Yaakov said...

As would be said in the USA, anyone contemplating saying anything against the Government of Israel would have to factor in this "law". How can there be a democratic state of Israel, where there is no free (political) speech? Needless to say that this has a "chilling effect" on any future political speech. Why is nothing said by right wing politicians? This "law" 's purpose is to stop speech from the Right!


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