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par Marianne AZIZI
Freedom of speech is the new war in Israel. Lory Shem Tov, a prolific journalist and blogger, has written tirelessly about the human rights abuses of corrupt judges in the corrupt judicial system of Israel.
Shaming judges is not illegal in the UK or the USA. Not so in Israel. Ms Shem Tov has faced indictment after indictment, harassment, fines, community service orders, and was even sent to prison this month (1). Her “crime” is exposing the corruption of the Israeli judiciary, which she does to assist parents and children. In January 2016 the Israeli Ministry of Public Security, Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy began targeting a number of WordPress sites, believing most to be Ms Shem Tov’s work. In April it extended the monitoring order, which gave it the right to take down websites and collect IP addresses. Not content with throwing Ms Shem Tov into prison under the pretext that she might commit a crime, a secret Israeli state body, the Judicial Reputation Committee, has co-opted the United States Department of Justice into its efforts to quell freedom of speech. This is unheard of in any democratic state.
The secret committee is comprised of senior members of the police, the prosecution authority, judges, including Supreme Court judges, and the attorney-general. Its purpose is to look for ways to silence criticism of the corrupt judicial system in Israel, especially judges of the family and children’s court, and employees of social services.
Today Ms Shem Tov has written a comprehensive critique. What is at stake could be life and death. In view of the closed courts, the increasing number of people committing suicide, the number of children being seized by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services –seizures that are rubber stamped by the judges– it is critical that reporters are able to inform the public. Given the current gag orders, many Israelis are unaware of the true face of the welfare authorities, the courts and the police. Only when they fall victims to the system do they realise there is in fact smoke without fire.
Israel is enlisting US federal agents and organisations in the attempt to make Lory Shem Tov and others felons. The activities which they are accused are completely legal in the US ; therefore Israel’s enlisting of US federal agents against Ms Shem Tov is an abuse of the trust and of the special friendship between Israel and the United States.
Israel’s actions in this regard are known to only a few people in the country, mainly insiders. It is time to reveal that the Israeli authorities are doing all they can to subvert democracy and keep the image of Israel as a haven for free speech, and to continue the propaganda to the world that Israel is a country full of contentment. The Israeli people who know the truth are fighting hard to change and reform the system to safeguard human rights. They are still waiting for the world to believe them.
Never has the divide between the Israeli people and Jews in the diaspora been so wide.