Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Israel’s Bill of Rights

Ari Bussel

“Who is happy and blessed? He who is content with what he has!”

Israelis have so many rights that I almost envy this tiny democracy along the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean. She is only 63 year old and yet her people have amassed so many rights in such a short period of time. Israelis should celebrate, for riches beyond their wildest imagination. No, it is not the rich gas reserves recently discovered or the strength of the Israeli Exchange. It is not even the real estate market that continues to rise beyond expectations, or the ever-increasing number of tourists visiting Israel or Israelis vacationing abroad.

There is a very special treasure chest here in Israel and we are about to have a look inside. It is not necessary to obtain permission. There are no guards or supervisors and no cost to enter.

A new breed has developed here in Israel, a very special type of plant and a condition unlike any other. We are about to explore what it is.

Despite the claims of brutal Zionist occupation and the occupied territories not yet liberated, the siege and blockade that continue to surround Gaza and the ghettos that spring up all over, there exists a very special treasure—

rights and more rights.

Here in Israel I discovered freedoms the likes of which can be found nowhere else, not even in the United States of America.

Israeli Bedouin have the right to build illegally and, if police tear down the illegal construction, they re-erect, four times already.

Why bother with the rule of law? Simply claim the land is yours and build. Later ignore the court orders. Amos Oz, a leading Israeli literary figure, demonstrates against the rule of law.

Israeli artists have the right to protest against appearing in a new auditorium in the city of Ariel, alleging it is in “Occupied Territories.”

Gila Almagor, a leading figure in the stage and art world, defends the rights of artists to express their opinion.

Young Israeli artists recently held a group exhibition in a gallery in Tel Aviv depicting Minister Liberman, who won the third-most votes in the recent elections, in an extremely negative and unflattering manner.

In Israel, it is the young artists’ right to create art that depicts the minister as a pig and worse.

Israeli filmmakers supported by the State have the right to protest Israel, not only in the content of their work, but in statements and deeds when they are nominated for an Oscar. Suddenly, they no longer represent Israel (although they technically do, otherwise their participation becomes null and void).

The Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles held a special reception for them, expecting a win, promising all will be forgotten with time, all except the sought-after gold statue.

Israeli members of academia have the right to say whatever they want and to force their own political ideologies on their students.

Thus, a professor can call to BOYCOTT ISRAEL, her government, companies and institutions, and members of the academia at large go out in droves to protect “Academic Freedom.”

The same professor determined that Israel is Apartheid and the world follows suit, eager to punish and abolish, sanction and divest. The professor is Israel’s enemies’ new ally in the war against the Jewish State.

Israeli legal elite have the right to determine their successors, thus ensuring the anti-Israel, liberal stand remains in very capable hands.

They also have the freedom to overtake the executive and legislative functions of the government—and no one utters a word.

Israeli youth can decide if they want to serve in the military or not, since there are more pressing issues to pursue. They opt to go abroad or to school, or do something more constructive with their lives in lieu of working-essentially-for-free and be told what to do for two or three years. Quite an inconvenience that must be skipped, this military service is for them.

Those who have served and are now in reserve duty, and even those in active service, have the right to decide when and where they serve. Judea and Samaria and Gaza are absolutely excluded on conscientious grounds. Flying over certain territories is also prohibited and following orders, well, that depends.

Higher ups in the Military have the right, and some believe the obligation, to get involved in choosing the next Chief of Staff. What better way than involving the country as a whole? For that, public relations experts will be needed. How about some public input, like a good reality show on TV!

Members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee must inform their electorate of all discussions behind closed doors (it is the right to appear first in the news), so they rush to divulge and disclose things that are often classified and should remain secret.

Israeli Arabs have all the rights of citizens, but no obligations. They do not pay taxes yet receive all services. They are entitled to running water and sewage, build at will and generally ignore laws that are not designed for them to follow or respect. They constantly demand more and more.

Israeli Arabs do not serve in the military or even in national service, yet they demand equal rights and enjoy representation in the Knesset, at the Supreme Court and elsewhere throughout Israeli society. They want to be recognized as a minority with national aspirations to bring down the Jewish State, nothing less. It is, before all, their right!

Israeli Haredim (ultra-religious) have the right to sit and study all day, on the taxpayer’s account, but do not serve either in the military or in national service. The law supports them and secular Israelis must be sensitive and understanding to their needs. Miraculously, no reciprocation exists.

They also have the right to demonstrate, sometimes violently, against operating a parking lot, factory or manufacturing facility on the Sabbath.

But most of all, it is the Israeli Arabs who enjoy limitless rights, including the right to throw stones, aid terrorists and do whatever it takes to murder and maim the Jews. All is permissible – they lead by example.

Arab members of the Knesset have the right to participate in terrorist flotillas against the very country they represent. They knowingly break the law, fight Israeli soldiers attempting to execute their orders and call for the destruction of the Jewish State.

These same Arab members of the Knesset seem to think they are immune, as they truly believe the idea of a Jewish State, of which they are an integral part, is a racist idea. What can really happen to them? Whatever they do, they are still entitled to a pension and other benefits for life, whether they remain in Israel or flee.

Democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech and a plethora of other rights all intermingle, creating an amazing mix the likes of which can be found nowhere other than in Israel. Apparently, there are enough rights to be spread around, no shortage of “obligations” of the state to the individual. The crazier the individual and the more outrageous the demands result in a greater public outcry of support. At times, I think I am dreaming, rubbing my eyes to wake up and prove this is not so.

Everything is permitted, and the more it rails against the Jewish State, the more acceptable it becomes. There is a right for every action, particularly those that would be abhorred by any rational thinking human beings.

Only in Israel have things become so convoluted that no one stops to think and evaluate: WHO WILL PROTECT ISRAEL’S VERY RIGHT TO EXIST AS A JEWISH STATE, a simple, humble, bashful right. Is it too much to ask?

If it is acceptable and permissible to do all the above, and if leading figures in Israel go out of their way to protect these freedoms, is there anyone protecting the rights of the minority? The less vocal – although larger in numbers – populace who know they have a right to live in a modern, Jewish state that belongs to no one else but them. They expect their elected officials to honor pre-election promises, but experience teaches them differently.

No one is responsible, no one is held accountable, everyone has rights and everything is permissible. This is a very sad state of affairs that cannot last long. The body cannot both thrive and continue to fight its very existence.

Funny, I thought that Israel’s Bill of Rights would actually focus on her right to exist in peace.

I must have received a bad education at home – I was always taught that with rights come responsibilities. Apparently, that is not so in Israel.

Is anyone surprised that Israel is losing ground in the raging battle to delegitimize her very being? There is one very basic right Israelis seem to neglect – everything is derived from Israel’s right to actually exist.

Israel as a modern country may soon disappear, gone to the dustbin of history. Like a person who enjoyed too much from a barrel of an exceptional vintage wine all at once rather than trying to make it last as long as possible. A pity.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from Israel—Postcards from America,” August, 2010


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