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Israel needs an ethos for its contemporary problems. Photo by Emil Salman
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If a Jewish state were run by the secret police, Israelis could disappear without a trace. No contact with lawyers. Court-ordered muzzles on broadcast and print news media.

If a Jewish state were run by the secret police, there were be gag orders forbidding journalists to write even of the existence of the gag orders.

Thank God such a thing couldn't happen here.

If a Jewish state were run by the secret police, its agents would meet Spain's most prominent clown on his arrival at the airport. They would confiscate his passport, interrogate him on and off for six hours, and tell the Interior Ministry to order him expelled without entry.

Thank God such a thing wouldn't happen anywhere.

Because if the secret police ran the Jewish state, it would also run – and run with - the Interior Ministry. Which, in turn, would undermine and overrule the Foreign Ministry and even the Prime Minister's Office, changing the course of Israel's international diplomacy, its global public relations, and its relationship with Washington.

And because if the secret police ran the Jewish state, any and every move could be explained in two words and never more than two. Security reasons.


Moreover, if a Jewish state were run by the secret police, the chief of the secret police would hold an effective veto over the resumption and the substance of peace talks with the Palestinians, or over such issues as easing a crippling embargo on every one of Gaza's million and a half people.

No way we would let that happen here.

Or, if the defense ministry of the Jewish state were run by a furtive autocrat, in close cooperation with the secret police, the army might decide to bypass decisions of the High Court of Justice on such issues as the West Bank barrier or highway use by Palestinian motorists – thus gutting the court, and the separation of powers, of meaning.

And if, by some twist of fate, the Jewish state were run by the secret police, we would, all of us, be in danger of becoming Prisoners of Zion, our movements monitored and curtailed, our freedoms of the press, of free assembly, of due process, of religious expression, all placed in doubt.

We can only thank our lucky stars that none of this can ever befall us.

Enough of this fantasizing for one morning. Time to get back to work.

Time to grab a cup of coffee and leaf through the gag orders.