Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Suppression of All ... Assent?

The Israeli Knesset is moving forward with a bill that would ban the free distribution of the daily Israel Hayom newspaper (the paper wouldn't be outlawed, it would just have to charge money).

Oh, I'm sure the folks talking about Israeli society suppressing all dissent will have a field day about this. Except ... they seem oddly quiet. Why is that?

Ah yes: Because the paper is owned by prominent right-wing mega-billionaire Sheldon Adelson and is seen as basically a mouthpiece for Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. That doesn't really fit the narrative, now does it? The narrative it does fit is a broader fracturing of Bibi's coalition -- from both right-ward and left-ward challengers.

Now, a few caveats. Needless to say, I'm no Bibi fan, and as for Sheldon Adelson, well, I basically saw him as a toxin in the Jewish community even before his outrageous dismissal of Israel's democratic character. And there is something weird about talking about "censorship" when the putative target is a prominent supporter of the incumbent administration. I also don't know how this law fits into broader free speech norms in Israel or other important elements of legal or cultural context that factor into the law.

Even still, I do admit some sense of discomfort at the prospect of limiting media distribution -- even when it's from a repulsive figure like Adelson. And more to the point -- since when has "not knowing important elements of legal or cultural context" ever stopped anyone from hopping aboard the "Israel is fascism defined" train? I think it's fair to say that's not what's causing this yawning silence.

No comments: