New Report on Israel Restricting Free Expression and Assembly - by Stephen Lendman
Israel's democracy is as hollow as America's.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel assesses Israel's human and civil rights record annually. Its newly released 2011 report cites increasing crackdowns on basic freedoms. More on it below.
Losing free expression and assembly rights threatens others. They're basic ones Israel's High Court affirmed.
It said the "true test of freedom of expression lies in allowing the airing of views that are extreme, controversial, or infuriating." It's the state's obligation to protect them, including in public gatherings.
Israel ratified all core international human rights conventions relating to free association rights, including the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It requires signatories to respect the right to life, due process, judicial fairness, free and open elections, and freedoms of expression, assembly and religion.
Free expression and assembly are basic rights in all democracies. Although not enshrined in Israeli Basic Law, they're recognized in case law. Former High Court President Justice Aharon Barak said:
(A) demonstration of a political or social character is a manifestation of the autonomy of individual will, freedom of choice and freedom of negation that are included in the framework of human dignity as a constitutional rights."
The Court also ruled:
"The freedom of expression and demonstration is intended to protect not only those who hold accepted and popular opinions, but also - and herein lies the principal test of freedom of expression - opinions that are liable to incur anger or outrage."
Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) also enshrines freedom to demonstrate, stating:
"The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others."
Israel claims human rights laws don't apply in Palestine. In fact, they're more important there than anywhere because occupied people are vulnerable. International human rights and humanitarian laws protect them, or they should.
It's especially unreasonable for a population occupied and denied basic rights long-term to be quiescent about it. It's their right to demonstrate and speak freely for liberation and justice.
However, Israel's August 1967 Order No. 101: "Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions" says any assembly, vigil, or procession of ten or more persons requires a permit from the commander of the military forces in the area, if the gathering is intended for the purpose of "a political matter or one liable to be interpreted as political."
In fact, all politically-reacted acts, including public speech, require military permission by permit. Violators are subject to arrest, imprisonment and/or fines. The order imposes lawless free expression and assembly restrictions.