Michael Ben Ari - Michal Fattal - 13072011
MK Michael Ben Ari speaking in the Knesset. The 18th Knesset will be remembered mainly as a body that rendered superfluous the necessity of arguing. Photo by Michal Fattal
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The main problem with the Boycott Law is that it renders unnecessary any effort to explain what makes a law unsuitable and repugnant. The law's strength is its outrageousness. Anyone who points out that the law is anti-democratic abases him or herself - by venturing such criticism, a person dons the robe of a pontificator who merely says what is self-evident.

The political agenda of those behind the scenes of the bill's passage is utterly transparent, and analyzing it seriously seems almost to be an insult. The familiar faces who supported the bill - Yariv Levin, Danny Danon and others - take the wind out of the sails of any possible discussion. The immediate use applied by MK Michael Ben-Ari of the sanctions allowed under the law shows that there is no point in climbing aboard the opposition wagon.

Not only anti-democratic, the Boycott Bill is also a degrading: It represents an advanced stage of parliamentary hegemony which does now allow a critic to charge himself with the energy needed to wage an opposition struggle. The Boycott Law sends a clear message: there's no longer any point in arguing.

The 18th Knesset will be remembered mainly as a body that rendered superfluous the necessity of arguing. This is because the act of critical argument is founded upon the assumption that there is a point to argument. This assumption about the utility of argument is a staple of democratic governance; it is rooted in traditional liberal theory which holds that opinions and thoughts are subject to change.

This is an axiom upon which the which the wheels of democracy revolve. The citizen in a democracy is essentially a dialectical creature: he understands that any thesis, no matter how well-rooted it seems to be, will at some stage be challenged by an antithesis, one which is no less logical; and the fusion of the two leads to a synthesis which at some point turns into a thesis, which in the future will also beget an antithesis.

Not internalizing the foundations of such a dialectic leads to the annulment of democracy, and the creation of some other form of governance in its stead.

The 18th Knesset will be remembered as the one which nullified the tradition of parliamentary dialectics. This is the Knesset which, in a deliberate, consistent fashion institutionalized faith in one policy path, one political position, one acceptable public viewpoint. It adopted as an overriding goal the need to penalize and harm anyone who casts doubts on the veracity of the one accepted path, who wonders about the rectitude of the one accepted public viewpoint, and who dares to challenge the country's hegemonic perception.

The widely held view that the slew of anti-democratic laws legislated by the 18th Knesset is a slippery slope to Fascism in the future is disingenuous. The Boycott Law is Fascism: it is a categorically anti-democratic law whose goal is to annul any possibility of legitimate protest.

There's no slope to slide down here; we're not talking about symbols, or process. We are instead witnessing purposeful, palpable manifestations of Fascism. This is the reality itself - not something which will happen in the future; and it leaves no crevice for a voice of opposition to make itself heard in what was once called the only democracy in the Middle East.

That is the cause of the deep feeling holding that "there is no point in arguing." One of the most conspicuous signs of Fascism is an assumption laden within any discussion or argument: it is assumed that all debate is a mere formality. Debaters who take positions are nothing other than puppets, devoid of free will; their discussion is a mere showcase, an appealing picture covering an ugly reality.

This Knesset will be remembered as an apparatus that forcibly repealed any prospect of new ideas and possibilities, of freedom of debate crucial to any society that seeks to last for any prolonged period, and not deteriorate in utter stagnation.