Perhaps one of the reasons why Ha’aretz is increasingly irrelevant to the Israeli public (Its market share recently shrunk to a minuscule 5.8%) is related to the reason why its taken so seriously by editors and columnists at the Guardian – as its shrill and increasingly hysterical accusations against Israel (or, at least, against Israelis who don’t share their elitist, millenarianistic fantasies), and belief in the imminent demise of Israel’s democracy, is beginning to mirror the most fanatically anti-Israel extremists.
The Guardian’s Roy Greenslade begins his latest blog post (Israeli law constrains free speech, says New York Times) by citing a predictable editorial from the Gray Lady – no Guardian, but certainly, moving in its ideological direction – stating that Israel’s recent controversial anti-BDS legislation “tarnishes Israel’s reputation and argues that it is a fundamental issue of free speech.”
As I’ve noted previously, while the law is certainly debatable, unlike the Israeli bill, which allows for civil penalties (monetary damages) to those found guilty, some European countries have laws which criminalize hate speech and allows for imprisonment of those found guilty.
But it’s when Greenslade cites a recent Ha’aretz editorial condemning the law where we reach the nadir of unserious political hysterics.
The sub-headline, in the Ha’aretz editorial critical of the anti-BDS legislation, which Greenslade approvingly references, accuses the bill’s supporters of attempting to “liquidate democracy” and, later in the essay, warns that “very soon, all political debate [in Israel] will be silenced.”
This last passage is indicative of why the radical Israeli left is so marginal: They have all lost grip on reality, as have their ideological fellow travelers in the U.S. and Europe who all too readily parrot the most hateful and bizarre accusations against the democratic West. It’s never enough to simply criticize or refute, they must impute the most sinister values and malicious intentions to their more conservative political opponents.
Such ideological extremists (whether in the U.S., Europe, or Israel) typically defend their positions by arguing that they are the true patriots – that criticism is the sincerest form of patriotism.
However, true patriots, it seems, would try arduously to restrain themselves from engaging in utterly gratuitous criticism of their country which often has no relationship with their state’s political reality.
Such far-leftists in Israel often level the most unserious invectives against their country to advertise to Europe – whose affirmation they evidently seek -how much more enlightened they are than their fellow citizens – the great unwashed masses.
While political dissent is clearly consistent with patriotism, it is, to be sure, decidedly unpatriotic to engage in gratuitous criticism completely divorced from any reasonable sense of balance or proportion.
I’m sorry, but it’s simply not enough to love a mere “ideal” of Israel, or some lofty abstraction disconnected from the actual place we call home. True Israeli patriots understand intuitively that the perfect is the eternal enemy of the good. They love the land, the mistakes, the rises and falls, the real history of an entirely human people – the particular, imperfect citizens of the modern Jewish state.
As a realist I don’t expect the Guardian to give a damn about the survival of my country, but I do expect my fellow citizens, even those who disagree profoundly with my politics, to restrain their worse rhetorical impulses and guard their tongue from lashon ha-ra – evil speech which, though satisfying to engage in, can do often irreparable harm to the object of such criticism.
It is simply undebatable that Israel remains an oasis of democracy, freedom, tolerance and opportunity in a region besieged by tyranny and intolerance.
No amount of hysterical, incendiary, and morally irresponsible rhetoric by the Guardian, New York Times, or Ha’aretz can change that stubborn reality.