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Hagai Segal
Photo: Zoom 77
Civil rights for all
Leftist rights groups only concerned with people who share their worldview
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel is deeply shocked. Its director, Hagai Elad, had been detained for 36 hours recently after taking part in a protest watch (a legal one, he claims) outside the homes of Jews in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. A coalition comprising about a dozen leftist human right groups issued a scathing statement that accuses the police of silencing protestors.

 

This time, they are right. The Israel Police specializes in silencing people and detaining protestors across the political spectrum for no reason. Hence, even those who support Jewish settlement in Sheikh Jarrah are supposed to join the protest against Elad’s arrest.

 

Yehuda Glick, one of the most prominent rightist activists in the struggle for equalizing the rights of Jews and Arabs on Temple Mount, indeed expressed his protest. He distributed a very harsh condemnation of Elad’s arrest among rightist activists. By doing so, Glick adhered to the democratic principle whereby even if one does not agree to anything another person says, one would nonetheless fight for the other person’s right to speak up.

 

Yet does the Association for Civil Rights in Israel also adhere to this principle? Not at all. On most days, it does not offer legal and moral assistance to citizens who do not share its worldview on the matters of peace and territories.

 

Democratic test

Glick, for example, had been forced to engage in the struggle over the Temple Mount issue on his own. He had been arrested several times for no reason, without the above-mentioned association or any other human rights group voicing its protest.

 

These well-known civil rights activists also did not protest when police officers assaulted settlers who photographed them recently as authorities raided the Yitzhar yeshiva. These groups also did not initiate protest watches after rightist girls were held in custody until the end of legal proceedings over trivialities.

 

In fact, these associations barely made a sound when the rule of law abused rightist protestors during the period of the Gush Katif uprooting operation. Shamefully enough, these groups endorsed the uprooting operation, thereby making their current struggle in Sheikh Jarrah seem ridiculous.

 

Yet despite all of the above, as noted, these people must not be detained. A genuine democracy is supposed to be able to contain even outrageous demonstrations.

 

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