Once in a while a real “human rights” issue comes along that demands concerned protest from friends of Israel. In this case, however, the usual critics are silent, because the target whose rights are being threatened is a right-wing conservative, not a Palestinian terrorist hiding behind women and children.
This week, the Israeli Knesset will consider a proposed ban on the selling of free–as in, no cover price–newspapers to the general public.
Theoretically, the ban would apply to all newspapers, and is a form of protectionism for the Israeli print media. In practice, however, the bill would apply only to one newspaper–namely, Israel Hayom, which is backed by American casino magnate (and Republican Party megadonor) Shelon Adelson. Israel Hayom is unapologetic in its support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and also delivers a fairly good news read in the process.
The result is that other Israel newspapers were being outcompeted–and other Israeli politicians are not being heard, or so they claim. Thus it is that Israel’s left-liberals–who ought to be the steadfast sentinels of freedom of the press–are cheering the “Israel Hayom bill” enthusiastically. Tzipi Livni, the justice minister–and J Street favorite in the U.S.–is fully behind the bill, arguing that Israel Hayom is not journalism but propaganda.
J Street has nothing to say about the bill, nor does B’Tselem, the left-wing Israeli human rights organization so frequently cited in the western media. Both lead today (Monday, Nov. 3) with protests for the human rights of Palestinians.
In fact the Israeli left and its overseas supporters seem positively delighted that Adelson, described by Livni as “a very problematic person,” might be shut up–and with it, those who share his conservative views.
To its credit, the Jersualem Post–a conservative outlet, but also a competitor–has come to Israel Hayom‘s defense. In an editorial, the Post argues: “Too many who should know better are quick to curtail freedom of the press out of narrow political considerations. This reveals a lack of appreciation for democratic principles, and a lack of faith in the public’s ability to think for itself.” The “best remedy,” the Post adds, is more competition.
It is unclear how the bill will fare when it comes up for a vote on Wednesday: even some members of Bibi’s own party seem to support it.
Regardless, nothing better illustrates the unique wisdom of America’s Founding Fathers in drafting the First Amendment. And nothing better illustrates the hypocrisy of the Israeli left when it comes to questions of rights, whose answers evidently depend on which rights, and whose rights, are at stake.
Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @joelpollak