The 17-year-old who spit in the face of MK Elazar Stern as the latter was exiting a synagogue last Saturday did a foul thing. It is difficult to imagine anything more disgusting or jarring. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni's detractors were also extremely unpleasant, choosing to make remarks that weren't exactly easy to hear [her life was threatened on her Facebook page]. The opponents of this week's release of Palestinian prisoners were not polite. But being impolite is still far off from posing a threat to democracy.
This year, the memorial service marking the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's murder was titled "Remembering the Murder, Fighting for Democracy." What democracy exactly are we supposed to fight for? The one with all facilities for the disabled? The one in which a doctoral student from Tel Aviv University can be among the initiators of an international boycott against his own institution, which, in turn, grants pensions to families of terrorists with Israeli citizenship? Why should we fight for democracy all of a sudden? Is there some kind of tyrant ruling over us? Is someone blocking our access to the internet? Our democracy is fine, it is just that according to the Israeli Left, every time public criticism surfaces from the Right, the next political murderer begins enacting his evil plans and the writing is on the wall. This week, radio personality Razi Barkai interviewed right-wing journalist Uri Elitzur, and as usual, demanded that a line be drawn. "For twenty years you have been telling us to draw a line. I am not willing to remain silent anymore," Elitzur said.
But it was to no avail, because Barkai can draw an even bigger line. Elitzur's message was not heard, but what he was trying to say was that ever since Rabin's murder, the Left has been trampling on the Right's vocal chords, using the used up pretense that the Right is inciting to murder. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: Do democracy and freedom of expression include impolite and extreme criticism, tempestuous demonstrations and explicit slogans? Or are these things considered "incitement to murder"?
Yes, we opposed the Oslo process. We prayed that the plot to tear up the land would fail. You know what? We hated Rabin. But the murderer is the only criminal, not his neighbors, even if they are loud and use unpleasant slogans. I know people who seek the total destruction of the settlement enterprise solely because of the criminal acts of individuals: If an individual settler uproots an olive tree owned by Palestinians, it is not for the police to arrest him or the prosecution to indict him, it warrants a withdrawal to 1967 borders and debate over the Jerusalem question.
The greatest incitement has been underway for twenty years, and its target is the most loyal sector of the population. The famous poster featuring Rabin in an S.S. uniform -- for the thousandth time -- was printed in a government printing office and was distributed by Shin Bet security service man Avishai Raviv.
The offensive bumper sticker handed out before the 2005 evacuation of Gaza settlements (which, for some reason, I have never actually seen on any cars, only on television) saying "Sharon, Lily is waiting for you" (a reference to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's late wife), was actually printed by a government office by a police force provocateur. That is a verified fact.
The infuriating thing is not the fact that everyone is bad-mouthing us incessantly, but that this witch hunt is preventing us from speaking. Tragically, we have been right on every major point in the Israeli debate so far: Yamit, Oslo, the withdrawal from Lebanon, the Disengagement, the infiltrator threat, the Bedouin takeover of the south, etc. But no matter how right you are, you can scream your lungs out and still, no one will hear you.
Why? Because it is incitement to murder, and reminiscent of dark days and all the rest of that bullshit.
Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi was murdered by an assassin, who, unfortunately, was not a religious Jew. If he had been, Ze'evi's memorial last month would not have gone as relatively unnoticed as it did. Ze'evi's killers fed off the blood curdling incitement that is still happening this very second, but they were not right-wing Jews, so leave them alone.
In the two greatest upheavals that the Israeli nation has faced -- Rabin's murder and the evacuation of Gush Katif -- the Israeli religious sector, which found itself on trial in the first instance and the victim in the second, did some serious soul searching. Unity. Tolerance. Connecting with the people. Democracy. Entering power centers. Drawing conclusion. From here to Timbuktu.
In both instances, the Left (both as victim and defendant) was exempt from soul searching. Only the "others" were asked to take a long hard look at themselves. Now it is your turn.