Fear them not: '1984' shall pass

Op-ed: Sami Michael, one of Israel's most esteemed authors and a target of Im Tirtzu's 'implants' campaign, warns of culture of censorship and vows to struggle against 'destructive forces' of the government.

Members of the coalition arrived hungry at the Knesset and government. The first thing they made sure to do, with great enthusiasm, was raising their salary (except for four righteous ones) before any other sector in the kingdom. Now they are plenty busy gobbling up authors, poets, actors and every artist who dares express an independent thought. Before the elections their leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, occupied himself by crippling the free press and crushing the Broadcasting Authority as we have known it for decades.



It's scary, even chilling: malicious individuals covering mouths with one hand and smashing faces with the other. Israel, despite all the shortcomings and flaws, is still, from any angle you look at it, a precious asset. Freedom to create and freedom of expression are the jewel in the crown. The legal system is another treasure. Why did they take terrifying Shakespearean characters and give them custody of the rich cultures of two ancient peoples and the relatively uncorrupted legal system?


Author Sami Michael (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)
Author Sami Michael (Photo: Elad Gershgoren)

Why, indeed? The culture minister did not hide her intention to ensure that Israel's writers and artists eventually have to think, write and create in the exact same way and with the same obedience as soldiers in military uniform. There were also unforgettable rehearsals, such as when the actress Orna Banai was fired because she questioned the justness of Operation Protective Edge. The outcry over the al-Midan theater and the new Civics textbook were additional rehearsals.


Im Tirtzu's 'partial list' of 'cultural implants'
Im Tirtzu's 'partial list' of 'cultural implants'


Orwell, Big Brother, "1984" – the novel depicting a regime that cannot exist without real or simulated war. In wartime, the downtrodden will not demand wage increases. In wartime, you don't dismantle a government. In wartime, it is inconceivable to evacuate occupied territory. In wartime, it will be understandable to shorten the sentencing process to firing a bullet accurately. In wartime, golden boys will be forgiven for spitting on our soldiers or burning children alive in their sleep. In wartime, complete ethical permission will be provided to cold the UN secretary general as though he were an employee of the Prime Minister's Office because he dared to utter the impure word "occupation".


They accuse us of serving as agents for enemies of the state. They accuse us of requesting donations for continuing our humane and patriotic activity. They stole the country's treasures and built an impossible empire on the neighbor's soil. The companies that service the rulers and that rule us in turn are emptying citizens' pockets. There are so many poor in this wealthy country – just for this we should have forced them to live on a diet of dry straw. Go see them live in grand buildings in high-toned quarters. Gold drips from their walls. Go and see them.


We, the members of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and other volunteer organizations, will continue to request help and support in our struggle to halt those destructive forces.


Authors, poets, actors and artists, the helpless poor, don't be afraid of them. Their moment has passed, like the moment of the world's conquerors, like the moment of those who dump their people's treasures. Authors, poets, actors and artists, the helpless poor – fear them not.



פרסום ראשון: 01.29.16, 13:14
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