The Ministerial Committee for Legislation did the right thing on Sunday when it rejected the “loyalty law” bill proposed by Yisrael Beiteinu. The bill would rescind the voting rights of anyone convicted of terror activity, the murder of innocent people or attempting to harm the democratic foundations of the state. The committee was wise enough to understand that this was an antidemocratic bill that could have opened the door to stripping citizens of the right to vote.
But as the bill of the right-wing, nationalistic Yisrael Beiteinu party was apparently being removed from the agenda, an even more antidemocratic and dangerous bill was introduced in the Knesset. This bill would outlaw any Israeli nonprofit associations or other organizations that give information to foreign authorities and work toward prosecuting Israeli politicians or military officers for war crimes. And who are among the sponsors of this bill, which smells strongly of McCarthyism? MKs Ronit Tirosh and Otniel Schneller of Kadima, who joined forces with two MKs from the extreme right. In doing so, Tirosh and Schneller have painted their party with right-wing, nationalist hues. Above all, their draft law is proof that Kadima has lost its way and is suffering from ideological anarchy.
Kadima was founded as a centrist party. It received most of its public support from former Likud, Labor and Meretz voters. Now Tirosh and Schneller have proved that in every regard it is a right-wing, perhaps even extreme right-wing, party. Its chairwoman, Tzipi Livni, cannot say that her hands are clean; she is responsible for the anarchy that has spread to Kadima’s Knesset members. It is inconceivable that such dangerous and extreme bills could be proposed from within the ranks of the supposedly centrist party that she leads without the party, and its leader, noticing.
The persecution of nonprofit organizations that are fulfilling their roles as social critics − a vital part of the democratic fabric of any government − typifies the extreme right, not Kadima. The outlawing of such organizations poses a greater danger to democracy than to the organizations.
A state that outlaws groups that dare to criticize it cannot be considered a democracy. A party whose elected representatives introduce such proposals is not centrist, and the head of a centrist party who allows them to do so is not a leader.
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