In a separate development…Harriet Sherwood tries to connect the dots

What do the following have in common?

1.  The recent anti-BDS bill which passed in the Knesset.

2.  A proposal to give Israeli MKs some say in Israeli Supreme Court nominations.

3.  Israeli nursery school students singing the national anthem.

Well, it depends on who you ask.

If you’re Harriet Sherwood, and you’re trying desperately to advance the narrative of an Israeli society moving to the extreme right, all three are not separate phenomena but interconnected political components which are part of a larger whole.

Sherwood’s latest dispatch, Israel’s boycott ban draws fire from law professors, which includes a requisite photo of a furious, downright scary, looking Netanyahu, returns to the political terrain she visited only yesterday – which included a quote suggesting that the anti-BDS law was evidence that “Fascism at its worst is raging [in Israel]” – noting that, while the Prime Minister defended the bill, it continues to be condemned by an increasing number of prominent Israelis, before pivoting to the following (related?) legislation.

“Two rightwing members of the Knesset announced on Wednesday they would present a further bill allowing the Knesset to veto supreme court appointments.”

While Sherwood acknowledges that this proposal didn’t have wide support and would likely not be adopted, her attempt to contextualize that legislative proposal as part of a wider right-wing trend is spurious.  

In the U.S., for instance, while the President proposes nominees for the Supreme Court, they must be approved by the Senate (first the Judiciary Committee, then the full Senate) – one of the “checks and balances” which represent an important component of America’s democracy.

In Israel’s current system the President appoints Supreme Court nominees upon the advice of the Judges Nominations Committee – which is composed of three Justices of the Supreme Court, two Ministers (one of them being the Minister of Justice), two Members of the Knesset and two representatives of the Israel Bar Association. 

It’s hard to understand how vesting in elected members of the Knesset the power to veto a Supreme Court nominee could be considered illiberal, or right wing. 

Finally, her concluding paragraph contains information even more tangential to the story she’s ostensibly reporting.

“In a separate development, nursery schools in Israel are to be required to raise the Israeli flag and sing the national anthem at least once a week to strengthen children’s Zionist values.”

Unless Sherwood meant to say, “In a separate AND COMPLETELY UNRELATED development”, I honestly don’t know what ties in the last passage with rest of the report.

But, of course, I’m not being completely sincere, as I fully understand that she’s trying to characterize the new requirement by the education ministry as another sign of Israel’s lurch to the far right.  

I hope I can be forgiven for, again, citing my own background in a quite democratic country to contextualize this completely innocuous “development”, but, in the public school I went to in Philadelphia, we recited the Pledge of Allegiance, while placing our hands on our hearts and facing the American Flag, every day – a national custom deemed helpful in inculcating students with important civic values, such as patriotism, and has been controversial only on the fringes of American society.

Moreover, as I read that last add-on I decided to have some fun and see if I could top Sherwood with an even more egregious effort to tie together a fact completely irrelevant to the anti-BDS legislation.  

How about this as an alternative ending to Sherwood’s story to replace the throw away passage about Israeli children being “required” to sing the national anthem once a week?

In a separate development,  Guardian News and Media (GNM) announced that The Guardian and its sister paper, The Observer, had lost £33m in cash terms last year after failing to staunch losses that ran to £34.4m the year before.

What’s the connection? Exactly. Absolutely nothing.

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