Every nation in the 20th century that found itself living under a totalitarian regime had an opportunity to head off the horror of authoritarian controlled life, but failed to act in time. Unfortunately, during the 1930s, Jews became the victims of people turning aside or disregarding warnings about the end of democracy. I do not believe democracy will disappear tomorrow in Israel, but for those of us who lived through the McCarthy era of the 1950s it was frightening how the semblance of democracy remained intact even as thousands of people were being hounded and humiliated by bullies of hate. Those same bullies now exist in Israel, and the silence among decent Israelis is deafening. MK hanin Zuabi is denied her rights because she supported the flotilla. Imagine if Jews were being denied their rights in some far off country, wouldn’t Israelis expect Jews to come to their aid? Of course, in modern Israel, if an opposing voice is to be silenced the easiest way is to shout, “national security.” Or, if anyone makes critical statements concerning behavior of the Israel Defense Force they are traitors who dare insult “our gallant boys.” Sorry, I live in an America in which decent, wonderful American soldiers were placed in situations in which they acted contrary to the laws and traditions of their nation because an officer insisted on “protecting our national security.”
The right to speak openly is under assault in Israel. The right of NGOs to support dissident groups in under attack by those who believe they alone know, “the truth.” Even the halls of academia are under assault. It is ironic that even as Israelis condemn the Ahmadinejad government for attacking freedom of speech and thinking in Iran a similar assault is occurring within their own nation. I realize anyone who dares suggest Israel is on the path to totalitarian rule an opposing voice will shout I am comparing Israel to the Holocaust. The killing of six million Jews is known and documented. However, McCarthyism existed without death camps. The “Red Scare” of 1919 in America witnessed persecution of thousands, and
Americans remained silent because they were not the object.
As a the child of east European Jewish immigrants I was raised to fight against ALL forms of hatred, including hatred by Jews to non-Jews.