"July 13th 2010, the day in which the Knesset revoked the parliamentary privileges of an elected member of parliament through a public humiliation spectacle, represents a black day for Israeli democracy. The stars of this anti-democracy fest, MKs Yariv Levin, Michael Ben Ari, and Anastasia Michaeli, believed that they were shaming MK Hanin Zoabi, that they might realize their wish of expelling her from the Knesset to Gaza or, even better, to Iran. But the actual victims of this public humiliation were the diminishing trappings of democracy in Israel. It was the Knesset itself, not Zoabi, which was shamed. It is not MK Zoabi who is being expelled, but rather the hope for full civil equality of all Israeli citizens under the accepted ground rules of democracy."
"For starters, one has no choice but to restate what should have been self evident: In a democracy, MKs must not be punished for fulfilling their roles as representatives of the public -- even when their positions clash with the majority view. In a democracy we are supposed to argue -- especially in the Knesset. We are meant to argue and not to silence opposing voices."
"In the current atmosphere where freedom of expression is gradually being restricted -- in academia, on the street, and in the Knesset -- this week's anti-democratic display was perceived as a routine performance. The Knesset is no longer an arena in which the struggle for human rights can be advanced; rather, it is a place where democracy itself has become a punching bag, where the defenders of human rights are fighting to hold the defensive line."Mr. El-Ad spends most of his article generally complaining about the state of Israeli democracy, statements full of the kind of dramatics that you see above. He concludes with this:
"If enough Israelis refuse to remain silent, if enough Israelis insist today upon freedom of speech for those with whom they disagree so that tomorrow their own freedom of speech will be protected, if enough Israelis want to build together a future of equality, democracy and human rights -- then it will become a reality. The realization of this vision lies solely in our hands."Oh! Poor MK Zoabi! What a terrible thing to happen, for her to be shamed and humiliated like that! How can the Israeli government be so cruel to an innocent politician who is only expressing her rights under Israeli law? What happened to freedom of speech?
Hold on. If you go back and review the article you might notice that there is something missing. It's very simple: Mr. El-Ad never told us what Zoabi did. He certainly gives the impression from his article that she said something or expressed a view that the rest of the Knesset didn't like and that is why they are shaming her, with Israel's democracy suffering for it. But is that really all she did? No:
"After weeks of delay, the Knesset plenum voted 34 to 16 late on Tuesday night to strip MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) of some of her parliamentary privileges, following her participation in the Gaza flotilla aboard the MV Mavi Marmara."Ms. Zoabi sailed alongside people who violently attacked IDF soldiers for the purposes of bringing aid to a terrorist group dedicated to Israel's total destruction. Do not get me wrong: There is still a debate here about the nature of Israel's democracy and freedom of expression. What I just want to know is: Why did Mr. El-Ad leave this information out of his article? It is only the most important part of the story. If he is so sure that he is correct, why did he try to cover it up, even in a hamhanded way?