Does Free Speech Protect Hate Mongers?


Here (by here I mean after the fold) is an email I got today from Jewish Voice For Peace which is as moderate of a voice as you’ll find when discussing issues on said matter.

It just got me thinking, should anti-hate groups and free-speech activists be fighting to defend hate-mongers? At what point do you draw the line to say enough is enough or do you not draw the line because after all, it’s only speech? I was watching West Wing yesterday and it reminds me of a line from a Season 2 episode titled “Midterm” in which Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) says referring to regulations against free speech, “laws like that were passed in the South during the Civil Rights Movement to root out members of such terrorist organizations as the NAACP.”

I have always been a big time believer in giving every single minority group a voice to be heard regardless of how outrageous, unrealistic and downright hateful they maybe. I don’t think we should have the right to judge what is free speech and what is not because there is no concrete definition for it. The definition is always changing and we can never be sure that what is unacceptable one day would be mainstream the next. For that if you allow one group to say something, you have to allow all of them.

Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League is defending one of Israel’s most powerful far-right extremists and his plan to strip “unfaithful” citizens, mostly Arab Israelis, of their citizenship. The Anti-Defamation League is supposed to “secure justice and fair treatment to all.”Instead, they are supporting a dangerous ideology that calls for taking citizenship away from Israelis for exercising their right to free speech. 

How can we expect the ADL to effectively defend the rights of Jews when they so easily step on the rights of Arabs?

Avigdor Lieberman now heads Yisrael Beytenu, the third largest party in Israel, and is likely to be a minister in a new Israeli government.

On February 10, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Abe Foxman defended Lieberman’s plan, despite the fact that “Some liberal Israeli and Jewish groups have condemned Lieberman as a fascist – the left-wing Meretz Party even compared him to the late far-right Austrian politician Joerg Haider – for his proposal to require Israeli Arab citizens to sign an oath of allegiance to the Jewish state.”

Instead of defending Lieberman, the ADL should be condemning him.

Why should the Anti-Defamation League condemn Lieberman?

  • Avigdor Lieberman led the drive in Israel’s Central Election Committee to have Arab political parties banned from running in the most recent election, which passed successfully and was overturned only by the Israeli Supreme Court.
  • He has called for the expulsion of Arab Members of the Knesset, threatening them that “a new administration will be established and then we will take care of you.”
  • He has called for Arab citizens of Israel to sign an “oath of loyalty” to the state or be stripped of their citizenship.
  • His party has been very clear about what being “loyal” means: If you are an Arab student and dare come to school wearing a kefiyah, you are “disloyal.”
  • Lieberman’s party said that if you are a Muslim Israeli and collect money and medicines for Gaza relief, you are “disloyal.”

If Lieberman’s plan is put into place, if you do not meet his standards of loyalty, you lose all the rights of a citizen; you lose the right to vote; and you lose the right to have a political party or to run for office – that is, the right to participate in Israel’s political process.

It is ironic that the ADL understands as anti-Semitic the accusations of dual loyalty hurled against Jews in the US and elsewhere, but remains unconcerned about similar accusations against Arab Israelis.

Remind Abe Foxman that his organization was founded “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all” – and that all means all, including Arab Israelis.

Click here to sign the letter to Abe Foxman.

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