To the editor of Ha’aretz:
We write on behalf of the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC) to express our concern regarding the censorship regime currently in place in Israel. We have in mind the military censorship of all news coverage of the IDF; the Boycott Prohibition Bill of 2011, which has been challenged by legal organizations within Israel and even by the Knesset’s legal advisor; the 2011 laws aimed at suppressing commemoration of the nakba and criminalizing any denial of Israel’s character as a Jewish and democratic state; recent proposals by the Justice Ministry to broadly expand wiretap powers; military monitoring and censorship of the social media of journalists, bloggers and traditional news sites; the Israeli Broadcast Authority’s removal from a popular radio program of short personal-opinion spots; and the particularly obnoxious censorship of school textbooks both in public Palestinian schools in Jerusalem administered by the Jerusalem Educational Administration and in East Jerusalem private schools.
In sum the Israeli government aims to wipe out a once-vibrant culture, ignore its own (Israeli) history, and reduce a portion of its population to silent servants of a colonial settler militarist regime. We have seen this before—you have seen this before, in Europe, when Jews were on the receiving end of such laws—and, along with many others in many countries, both Jewish and non-Jewish, we deplore such legislation.
Attempts to criminalize criticism or Israel or support of Palestinian rights have failed in many places, and SFSC is committed to fight against such attempts, particularly in Canada but elsewhere as well. Among other interventions, we have defended activists who were sued by a major media corporation for publishing a parody of The Vancouver Sun that lampooned its pro-Israel slant. We have helped exhibit a display of Palestinian children’s art that California Zionists attempted to shut down. We have been particularly active in exposing attempts by the Canadian Parliamentary Committee to Combat Antisemitism (CPCCA) to expand the definition of antisemitism and to criminalize or bureaucratically suffocate criticism of Israel.
We look forward to the day when Israel can honestly claim to be a democratic nation for all its citizens.
Brian Campbell and Anne Roberts
Co-Chairs, Seriously Free Speech Committee