Wednesday April 23, 2014
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23.04.2014
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Moria Shlomot

Israel Hasson in sheep's clothing

Several years ago, back when he was still Avigdor Lieberman's number two, I had the opportunity to meet Yisrael Beiteinu MK Israel Hasson on the television program "Hazira" hosted by Dan Margalit.

 

I still remember the joy with which I returned home and reported to the members of my household that there are sane people on the somber, extreme right. With the utmost sincerity, smiling even, I suggested to Hasson that he join Meretz. It seemed to me that one could "build a state with him." His pleasant appearance, quiet voice and moderate positions gave me hope that opposite ends of the political spectrum could converge into a single moral and pragmatic position, in order to reach a solution of two states for two peoples.

 

The nature of populist, argumentative television shows about politics is such that they don't allow for profound discussion. Thus, without worrying too much about the details, I once again fell into a net of naivety and optimism.

 

Hasson's defection from Yisrael Beiteinu to Kadima in 2008 seemed natural: the leopard changed his spots, the moderate came out of the closet and the Shin Bet, security-oriented mask fell away. When Hasson began to propose ridiculous laws limiting the media, such as the one in 2007 that sought to hold media outlets legally responsible for slanderous talkbacks published by readers on their websites, or his proposal last year to require newspaper editors to publish reactions from the subjects of articles or face penalty of legal action, it seemed as if in his quest for media coverage, Hasson was offering the Israeli public the lesson which he learned and applied in his 23 years of service in the Shin Bet: that anyone can be neutralized, it's only a matter of how much force needs to be applied.

 

Yet even these proposals did not upset me. As befits a person raised in the peace movement, which always rushes to embrace anyone willing to utter the word "peace," I once again neglected to scrutinize the details, when right in front of me was someone rooted deep in the Right, yet talking about territorial compromise.

 

After MK Hasson recently called for denying deny human rights organizations the right to absorb national service volunteers, as was reported in Haaretz, I began to reassess my position. This time, I thought, maybe I should scrutinize the details, which turned out to conceal an unpleasant truth. This man, with his pleasant appearance, insists on maintaining anti-democratic positions. Now that he has acquired a place for himself in the political center, next to Tzipi Livni, he's going back to being Lieberman. That imposter.

 

Beyond the fact that human rights organizations such as the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights educate youth to love their fellow man and country while acquiring a sense of social and political responsibility, they are also our last hope for restoring our worn and trampled pride. I hope my children will want to volunteer with these organizations when their time comes. That would certainly make me a happy mother.

 

If I were a lawmaker, I would require every demobilized soldier to dedicate an additional year of service to one of these organizations. Maybe that way it would be possible to save their gentle souls.

 

On the other hand, the young women who spend their national service volunteering in the settlements or in extreme right-wing organizations are squandering their best years by destroying the third Temple with their own hands. MK Hasson is neither a sheep nor a dove, neither moderate nor Kadima. He is a wolf or a hawk, and an extremist who is leading us backwards.

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