Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Silence is Scary

There's a situation here that is nearly too complicated to explain. It is also too explosive to outline. First the state publishes a gag order forbidding anyone from writing about the case. The press keeps mumm, but the blogosphere is exploding with information. 

Then an actual figure involved in the story, a young journalist under secret house arrest, turns to bloggers and asks them to delete their posts. She is involved with a very serious legal issue and would prefer the flow of information to be minimized or at least controlled. 

The blog posts are deleted one after the other, her Wikipedia page disappears. Those in the know get freaked out. The double mechanism of direct state censorship and censorship powered by intimidation managed to erase the information.

Then it starts leaking out in other ways. The foreign press, not subject to Israeli law, is publishing it freely. Jealous Israeli newspapers find subversive ways to hint at the existence of the story. Legal experts express outrage. One radio personality spills the information out while on the air. He is likely to be tried for contempt of court very soon. 

We will all remain shaken for a while. Normally, it's the issue in question that should shake us the most: a revelation that the IDF has been assassinating Palestinian militants in disregard to supreme court orders. In action, it's this new experience with silence that scares us.

Usually it's the army that maintains gag orders, this time it's the court. Transferring authority from military and police establishments, which are subject to scrutiny, to civil establishments which are more immune, is one technique used by our current proto-fascist regime to grant itself flexibility. One example is the annihilation of the old immigration police, subject to the Department of Domestic Security, and the creation of the virtually omnipotent Oz unit, subject to the Ministry of the Interior. 

So it's a different hand than usual that's shutting our mouths, and it does so for a long time (over three months now) and very effectively. That should be enough to spook us out a bit. What provokes actual horror is the combination of that notion with what we already know about those in charge: their disregard for our democracy (non-violent protesters are arrested, sometimes after returning from the demonstrations), their disregard for the legal system (as in the case in question) their perfect willingness to turn Israel into a highly controlled state, isolated from the rest of the world (You can talk all you want, Mr. Obama, we're not listening), their racist, militaristic views, which leave no room for opposition. Their perfect arrogance.

Netanyahu is known for mocking his opponents as cowards. "They are afraid! They are afraid!" is a typical cheer at his election rallies. Afraid is how he wants us, and That's a good point to consider. Let's stop being afraid, and let's make sure we use this affair as a means of criticizing, discrediting and weakening the criminal, anti-democratic rule to which we're subject.


fernraum said...

Careful not to be arrested yourself...

Daiva said...

If it happened, all the readers of his blog should chain themselves to the court building and sing שלח נא בן-עמי! :) (

Yaelian said...

Such an incredible story that I am at loss of words...

IsraeliMom said...

Those in the know? Everyone knows by now. It's a stupid gag order, and if she chooses to ask bloggers to take down the posts, that's up to her to ask and up to them whether or not to respect her wishes.

Some people make a mountain out of what is really a nasty stinking little molehill.