The Israeli Left has lauded a recent ruling by the Jerusalem District Court to partially deny a lawsuit filed by the right-wing Im Tirtzu movement against left-wing activists who had labeled it a fascist movement.
Im Tirtzu was the group that exposed the New Israel Fund as the organization that funded the radical leftist nongovernmental organizations whose reports on Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 led to the infamous Goldstone Report. Im Tirtzu has made it its mission to expose the New Israel Fund for what it is -- a leftist organization that seeks to change the identity of the State of Israel.
When Ehud Barak won the 1999 general election over Benjamin Netanyahu, then-New Israel Fund President Eliezer Yaari said in an email sent to his organization's staff member, "You can't look at what happened and not see the clear and brave fingerprints of the New Israel Fund ... This is a great day for Israel -- we have proved that social change can topple the government."
I was not enthused by Im Tirtzu's lawsuit against the group that called it a "fascist movement." Freedom of speech is a broad concept and it includes extreme and bristling comments. Verbal violence can sometimes prevent physical violence, as it allows for the release of pent-up steam via screaming. Someone who feels that he was silenced may opt for more violent expressions with his fists. Im Tirtzu should its important work, and dismiss its critics and those who condemn it.
Contrary to what seems to be the conventional opinion (agreed upon by whom, exactly?), the Left specializes in silencing its opponents. Just take a look at the Israeli media -- with the exception of Israel Hayom and Makor Rishon -- and see who graces its stage. It is not too complicated. In academia as well, especially in the humanities and social science faculties, it is mostly leftists who are promoted. This has become tiresome.
In a recent opinion piece in Haaretz, Rachel Liel, the current executive director of the New Israel Fund, practically gloated over the ruling. Liel referred to Im Tirtzu as a "radical political group." Zionist students and reservists who have grown tired of being repeatedly smeared by left-wing groups, who take initiative and volunteer for causes in Israel and abroad, are, according to Liel, "a radical group that is trying to distance Israel from the community of democratic states."
Liel had thus created a false dichotomy between Israel's two characteristics -- "Jewish" and "democratic" -- as the New Israel Fund caters to its democratic nature, while the "Right" caters to its Jewish character. What would Liel think if the New Israel Fund was be defined as a "radical political group trying to distance Israel from its Jewish character"?
"Your camp believes its strength lies with our fears, and that uniting in the face of any criticism and having many enemies can allow us to continue to exist as one people. Our camp believes in the ... democratic values that appear in the Declaration of Independence: freedom, acceptance and seeking peace," Liel said, summing up the differences within Israeli society.
This overly simplistic division is at the heart of the Left's empty patronizing -- the "fear" camp versus the "hope and peace" camp. That is how the Left sees Israeli society: as a racist, violent, militaristic and fascist society, which must be "educated" by "social" organizations like the media and academia.
The word "democratic," by the way, is not mentioned in Israel's Declaration of Independence even once. There was no need for it, since no one ever doubted it. The word "Jewish" and its various conjugations on the other hand, appears 20 times. Even then there was concern that various people, and organizations, among us would seek to change the character of the new nation.
Based on the court's ruling, Liel pointed to the "dangerous juxtapositions" between Im Tirtzu and "fascist movements throughout history." And right there she let the cat out of the bag: the director of the New Israel Fund, in her own cumbersome way, has labeled Im Tirtzu -- and with it all right-wing movements -- as akin to fascism.
But that was not what the lawsuit was about. By calling Im Tirtzu a "fascist movement" the Left meant more than "simple similarities," as the judge peculiarly chose to phrase it, on matters of nationalism. The point this leftist group was seeking was to find fault in these Zionist students, not to indicate that there was a faint philosophical resemblance, but to link them to the dark nature of fascist regimes.
Some comic relief was noted when Liel accused the camp opposed to what she defined as the "democratic camp" of "historical blindness." This is a topsy-turvy world indeed: After the Oslo Accords, the disengagement from Gaza and the Arab Spring, and after the Left's prophecies of doom have been refuted by blood, fire and clouds of gas, and after U.S. President Barack Obama's Syrian fiasco, the representative of the blind has come to teach those who are sober how to look at reality.