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Ben-Gurion University
[Ben Gurion U, Hebrew Literature] Tova Rosen and other academics called for ôcivil disobedienceö to thwart pending Knesset legislation

Tova Rosen http://profiler.bgu.ac.il/frontoffice/ShowUser.aspx?id=3261

[Ben Gurion U, Hebrew Literature] On 1/7/2009 Tova Rosen and other academics called for “civil disobedience” to thwart pending Knesset legislation


            Civil disobedience is a time-honored expression of protest in democracies. Thoureau, in his famous essay of that name, describes spending a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax to support the Mexican War, which he believed would extend slavery


            For a large group of Left-leaning Israeli academics affiliated with most of the country’s universities and a number of its colleges, the call for civil disobedience has been triggered by the submission of three proposed bills in the Knesset. One  would deny citizenship to those who refuse to declare fealty to Israel as a Jewish, democratic and Zionist state and do not serve in the IDF or perform national service. The other two would recognize as punishable offenses the commemoration of Independence Day as a day of mourning or Nakba, and, similarly, the rejection of Israel as a democratic Jewish state if such denial can lead to hostile acts against the state or its official bodies.


 (New Profile: 'Petition of refusal to obey anti-democratic laws' http://groups.google.com/group/newprofile/browse_thread/thread/d973a48394a21c2a?pli=1)


            In a public announcement in Haaretz, and in a listing on the Atzuma.co.il website on July 1, 2009, the initial signers urge academic colleagues to add their names to a petition that condemns  the “blatantly anti-democratic” character of the legislative initiatives as a violation of the  “basic democratic right to free speech” and calls upon supporters to  “publicly circumvent” the proposed laws should they be enacted.


            Neither the notice in Haaretz nor on the Atzuma site identifies an organization behind the petition but it was sent out in an email by Prof. Tova Rosen from Ben Gurion University, Department of Hebrew Literature to the 'New Profile' list. There is, however, one organizational affiliation. Although it is not clear what role (if any) that it played, the Israel Communist Party features the petition prominently on its web site and claimed more than 250 academics had already signed on. 


            One has to hope that supporters--and potential supporters--of the petition will give pause to their identification with such stalwart “defenders” of democratic rights to freedom of speech in Israel as the Communist Party.

(Link: http://www.maki.org.il/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3922&Itemid=99999999)





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