News headlines in the US over the past few weeks have focused on political targeting there by the Internal Revenue Service against conservative groups. But Israel is now experiencing a far worse form of political targeting by the state. In Israel the Attorney General is leading an initiative to have a small group of radical juveniles who engage in mischief declared to be a terrorist organization.
The group of politically motivated Jewish vandals operates under the name “Tag Mechir” or “Price Tag.” They were founded as a response in kind to Arab rock-throwing and general acts of vandalism against Jews perpetrated in the West Bank and in some other areas. Much of their “activity” consists of writing graffiti on cars and homes of Arabs or Jewish leftists. Their worst acts of misbehavior have involved vandalizing mosques. The local police have been unsuccessful in tracking down and arresting those involved, but the perps are thought to be young religious juveniles from settlements in the West Bank. The media find them as fascinating as the postman who bites the dog.
Most of the political “Right” in Israel, including most conservative and pro-settler organizations and parties, regard “Price Tag” as an embarrassment. The vandals have been condemned by almost every rabbi in the country, including those identifying with the “Right.” The legitimate Right fears the “Price Tag” mischief and pranks will alienate the general public. Conservative pundits, and I include myself in this group, have suggested that the proper way to deal with the “Price Tag” juveniles is with a hickory switch behind the woodshed.
The Price Taggers have damaged property and needlessly provoke Muslims and others in the most explosive region of the world. But they have killed no one. They do not engage in actual violence against humans, except for some revenge-rock-throwing. The same leftist establishment seeking to define these jackanapes as terrorists bends over backwards to excuse rock throwing by Arabs against Jews as “protest,” even when it maims children. The liberal media refuse to label THAT terrorism, but are cheering on the initiative to battle against the “Jewish terrorists” from “Price Tag.” Their crimes are closer to fraternity pranks than to actual terrorism.
Moreover, this is not the first initiative by the Israeli political establishment to distort the definition of terrorism as a political bully club against rightist activist groups. In the past, Israel (and the United States) defined the radical “Kahanist” organizations as “terrorist organizations.” The Kahanist splinters are tiny militant anti-Arab groups whose positions and opinions are regarded as “racist” and “unacceptable” by the politically correct camp. The Kahanists had run as a political party in Israel in the 1980s and briefly had a small parliamentary representation. They were later banned because their political opinions were considered perverse. But since when does holding bigoted opinions make one a terrorist? The same politicians who banned the Kahanists proclaim the Holocaust Deniers of the “Palestinian Authority” to be “peace partners.”
The Israeli government, urged on by the US, later attempted to criminalize the Kahanists and deny them freedom of speech and expression. It is said that the true test of one’s devotion to freedom of speech is in one’s willingness to defend it for those whose opinions one abhors. The number of professors of law in Israel (who invariably hold leftist opinions) and “civil rights activists” who have spoken out against this arbitrary denial of constitutional rights to the Kahanists is exactly zero. Members of Israel’s chattering classes are always willing to defend freedom of speech for those holding opinions of which they approve.
So now the same underhanded trick of dictionary distortion is being utilized to battle against the “Price Tag” vandals. Instead of engaging them in debate or denouncing their behavior in the media, the government prefers to deal with them by redefining terrorism to include fraternity pranks and spank-worthy petty vandalism.
As it turns out, in many cases leftists and Arabs themselves have vandalized Arab property, including damage to olive trees, as provocations to be blamed upon “settlers” and the “Price Tag” group. Presumably “Tag Mechir” is happy to accept the “credit” for these, even when it is not involved. When a mosque in Israel’s Galilee was vandalized, the press and the chattering classes instantaneously named “Price Tag” as the perps. Later in turned out the vandalism was done by some local Arabs who live in the same town. None of the many cases of synagogues being vandalized by Arabs have been defined by the government as terrorism, even when the vandalism is perpetrated by officials in the PLO.
The initiative to proclaim the “Price Tag” group a terrorist organization has come from Israel’s politicized leftist Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein. It was quickly endorsed by members of the leftist herd. Political hacks from the Likud joined in, including the Minister of Internal Security, as did Netanyahu’s Minister of Justice, Tzipi Livni from the Kadima faction. So did the head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency and the dean of one of the law schools in the country.
Attorney General Weinstein has a long track record of “differential prosecution.” This is manifested in his refusal to prosecute leftists and Arabs, while running a special surveillance agency to spy on right-wing Jews. When an Arab fascist Knesset Member participated in the “Hamas flotilla” seeking to end Israel’s naval control of the waters around the Gaza strip and when she violently attacked Israeli soldiers, Weinstein refused to prosecute her or even ban her from running in the elections. Weinstein has studiously defended freedom of speech, but only for radical leftists and Arabs, while just as studiously seeking its suppression for everyone else. He has repeatedly indicted rabbis and others for “incitement” and “racism” when they dare to express political opinions with which the Left disagrees, even prosecuting people for catcalls at a soccer game, but has never indicted any leftists for calling for murder, for mutiny by soldiers, or for other acts of violence. On the other hand, Weinstein pursued a frivolous and openly partisan prosecution against rightist leader Avigdor Lieberman for trumped up evidence-free allegations of “corruption.”
So what exactly are we to make of this initiative to declare a group of juvenile vandals and punks a “terrorist organization.” The most obvious problem with it is that it cheapens and empties the entire notion of terrorism of any substantive meaning. If some teenagers engaging in fraternity-like pranks and malicious graffiti are in the same category with the genocidal suicide bombers of Hamas and al-Qaeda, then how bad can the Islamofascist terrorists really be?
But what is at least as outrageous is that the initiative is really nothing more than an assault against freedom of speech inside Israel. It is an arbitrary attempt to criminalize the political behavior of a fringe group, while ignoring the violence being perpetrated all the time by groups from the other end of the political spectrum.
“Price Tag’s” worst acts of misbehavior have involved petty vandalism and graffiti, including a few cases of vandalism against mosques. But the “Anarchists Against the Wall” organization that operates in Israel engages in actual violence against actual Israeli soldiers and police every single week. For years they have been joined by fellow anarcho-fascists from overseas, and hold violent confrontations and assaults against Israeli security personnel, supposedly all as part of their “protests” against Israel constructing its security fence against Palestinian terrorists. They oppose that fence because it makes it more difficult for Palestinians to send suicide bombers and other terrorists into Israel to murder Jews.
None of the people promoting and cheering on the initiative to proclaim “Price Tag” a terrorist organization have endorsed the idea of defining the “Anarchists Against the Wall” as a terrorist group. Why not?
The answer of course is that the “anarchists” are promoting the agenda of the Far Left and are seeking Israel’s extermination. The “Price Tag” people may be misguided delinquents in need of a time-out in their rooms but they are strongly pro-Israel and patriotic.
The “anarchists” are not the only violent group from the Far Left that has never been proclaimed a terrorist organization by Israel. Members of the openly pro-terror “International Solidarity Movement” or ISM (which should actually stand for “I Support Murder”) wander the country at will, engage in violence, sometimes get deported, but are never defined as members of a terrorist organization. Neither are any of the anti-Israel Islamic and Arab fascist organizations that operate in Israel. The “Islamic Movement” operates legally in Israel; it is openly pro-terror and is a barely disguised surrogate for Hamas. Its leader called for suicide bombings against Jews. It has never been proclaimed a terrorist organization. Neither have the openly jihadist political parties and movements popular among Israeli Arabs, including the Stalinist communist party HADASH. Arab student organizations have endorsed Hezb’Allah and al-Qaeda but have never been proclaimed terrorist organizations.
Similarly, Jewish radical leftist organizations have never been proclaimed terrorist organizations, although in the 1970s one small group of communists was convicted of espionage. Many of the small leftist Jewish groups endorse lawbreaking and treason and mutiny by soldiers and world boycotts against Israel. Why are they not being criminalized, prosecuted, and defined as terrorist groups?
So like with the political targeting of conservatives in the US, Israel’s political establishment prefers to deal with dissidents disliked by the Left by legislating and regulating them out of existence. All at the price of democracy.
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