MK Arieh Eldad
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

Words can kill

Ariana Melamed slams MK Eldad’s call to investigate PM Olmert on treason charges

Words can kill, Knesset Member Eldad: In the Hebrew language, the word “traitor” murdered Yitzhak Rabin. It was a long time ago, so you may have forgotten it. Just to refresh your memory, the organized incitement by rightist thugs against a serving prime minister, which started with “traitor” charges by irresponsible rightist politicians, with the backing of rabbis, led Yigal Amir to shoot the prime minister in the back.


And there, years have passed, and you Mr. Eldad, being a master juggler of words, declare that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is a traitor because he is doing something aimed at handing over Israeli territory to an enemy state, which is considered treason in criminal law.


Your legal logic, MK Eldad, could have been very funny had it not been so dangerous. Let’s examine your claim: As the Golan was declared by law as part of the State of Israel, and as there are talks at this time with respect to handing it over to Syria, the person who stands behind this, Mr. Ehud Olmert, is in fact engaged in deeds that may transfer parts of the Land of Israel to a foreign nation. The law has a clause that forbids the handing over of territories, and therefore Ehud Olmert is a traitor.


Yet you know, as a veteran legislator, that the Knesset has the power to legislate any silly law it wishes, including the Golan Law. In the same way, the Knesset could have decided by law that the moon is part of the State of Israel. Yet the Golan is occupied Syrian land. A peace deal with Syria has been strategic desire of all Israeli governments over the years. These governments knew, and still know, that an agreement is impossible unless the entire Golan is returned to Syria.


When the time comes, once there is a democratic Knesset majority, the legislature will amend the megalomaniac folly of the 1981 Likud government, which declared the entire Golan as “Israel.”


This is what will happen, when we shall ultimately secure a peace deal with Syria and lift the strategic threat posed by its missiles: This will happen amidst a hugely intense public debate, immense and justified fury by the Golan’s residents, the burning of tires and spitting in the faces of soldiers, and all the sights we already saw several times in the history of the struggles for all sorts of territories.


And therefore, you, a veteran, wise, and sly Knesset member, a skilled reader and quite a manipulator, choose to cling to the explicit words of the law while failing to understand its spirit, or the spirit of the democratic process through which we shall be forced to give up the Golan in exchange for better life in the areas that would remain under Israeli sovereignty. Yet you don’t like it.


Just like you, I know that Knesset laws are temporary and are meant to be changed when the circumstances that prompted their legislation change. Just like you, I do not believe that Ehud Olmert should continue serving as prime minister, ever since that day he sent soldiers and civilians to die in a needless war through blatant irresponsibility.


Verbal thuggery

Yet now I fear for his life. Because of you, and because of the power of your words, and because of their ability to influence a large public that may be less intelligence than you but more determined to put the words into practice: A public that does not even believe that we need democracy in our life, a public that views “traitor” and “deserves to die” as synonymous, a public that already gave rise to the murderer of one prime minister - and your words may serve to bring out the next murderer from amidst it.


Yet I’m not only scared for Olmert’s life. I also fear for our ability to live in a country where initial diplomatic contacts, which are part of the proper role of any Israeli government, are condemned with such verbal thuggery as your own. If you still believe in democracy, enlist your people, build an army of believers such as yourself, hit the streets, and protest against these peace contacts in an orderly manner and with police approval. As you may remember, mass protests have already created and stopped diplomatic processes in Israel.


Yet you know that you don’t have enough troops for managing a legitimate public campaign, and therefore you chose to accuse the prime minister of treason, using the words of the law, yet you know how much negative power may be in those words. You also know how unfounded your demand is to investigate the prime minister on suspicion of treason. As a proper response, perhaps you should be told that the criminal law has several other clauses that have to do with your words and with the issue of “handing over territory.”


It must be quoted for you to understand, so there you go, clause 94:


“An act shall not be seen as an offense based on this chapter if it implies good faith, or was done in good faith with the aim of bringing about, in ways that are not unlawful, a change in the national order of things…”


As far as the public knows, the negotiations with the Syrians thus far show an intention to reach a peace agreement in good faith. Yet your own words are absent of any good faith. Words can kill, Knesset Member Eldad. If your words end up killing, you will be accountable for the death of the prime minister. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.30.08, 00:34
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