Eroding Free Expression in Israel
It's on the chopping block for elimination.
by Stephen Lendman
Israel targets anti-war dissent. Demonstrators are beaten and arrested. So are journalists and activists. Arabs are vulnerable. So are Jews.
Military solutions are prioritized. Opposition is called endangering national security. Saying so bears no relation to reality. Israel claims might justifies right. Police states operate that way.
Courts also silence criticism. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) said so. Its new report is titled "The Silencer: Libel Litigation as a Threat to Free Speech."
Israel targets social, political, and environmental activists. Bloggers and social network users are endangered. Politicians, businessmen, and other influential figures don't hesitate to sue.
Whether defamation occurred isn't important, said ACRI. Nor is compensation sought. At issue is silencing criticism. ACRI's report explains. Its effect on free expression is chilling.
In the 1970s and 80s, these type suits emerged in America. They followed years of social activism. They're called SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation).
Plaintiffs use them to silence, intimidate or punish. They're used against outspoken individuals or groups. They target public activism.
Nine US states ban them. How effectively is at issue. Clever lawyers circumvent legal provisions. They find ways to do so.
In the past decade, SLAPPs became more common in Israel. ACRI received numerous complaints. Legal defenses are costly and time consuming.
SLAPPs are a strategic tool. They're used against employees "struggling against exploitation and deprivation, demanding their rights, or attempting to organize a union."
Enormous disparities exist between employers and employees. It's no fair fight. Plaintiffs can bankrupt defendants in the process.
Activists, likeminded organizations and academics, alternative media, and independent local politicians are vulnerable. So are consumers criticizing faulty products. Quashing their efforts is prioritized.
Although many SLAPPs end inconclusively, they chill free expression. Defendants need costly legal representation. Requiring it gets some to withdraw.