Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I don't hate free speech BUT

From Isi Leibler in Jpost:

"Any Jew is entitled to express his beliefs, no matter how nauseating or deviant such views may appear to the majority. That certainly applies to those arguing in favor or in opposition to settlements. Surely the red lines are being crossed when, as distinct from expressing views, American based organizations claiming to "love" Israel aggressively lobby the US government to pressure it to make concessions that could place lives at risk."

To summarize, lobbying is different than expressing a political view in an attempt to influence policy. What?

And I wonder if Leibler would say the same thing about AIPAC which has been aggressively lobbying the US government since the 1950's. Probably not. So really any Jew is entitled to express his beliefs...unless those beliefs clash with Leiblers.

It's a fascinating paradox to me that on the one hand, Israel itself is a model of free speech. Israelis offend each other and make both moderate and radical statements, liberal and conservative, all the time. And it's fine. Yet on the other hand, expressing the same left-wing view from the diaspora is ideological treason.

Snark aside, this not-particularly-enlightening article is an interesting development in intra-Jewish relations. Back in 2006 when I was studying in Israel, I sat in on a Hebrew class on American politics. The professor brought in two benefactors of the university who were from New York to answer the questions (in English) of the Israeli students. I asked the benefactors if they thought the new left-wing Israel lobby would be a significant development. They said no.

The more conservative American pro-Israel groups began by ridiculing more left-wing groups like J Street and Israel Policy Forum. Their tone now is decidedly different, and frustration over the Obama-Netanyahu tension is not helping. It will be interesting to see if the American electorate percieves the more traditional Israel groups as correct in their views or out of touch with the current reality. Or a little of both.


1) Isi Leibler, "Candidly Speaking: Bogus 'Zionist' Israel-Bashers,"
Jerusalem Post, June 9, 2009.

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