The Israeli TV Reporter Descending Into Anarchy

A tweet by an Israeli political correspondent about the selling of leavened products during Passover told us more about his personal politics than he perhaps intended.

Tomer Appelbaum

Channel 2 political correspondent Amit Segal’s family connections are relevant. His father is Haggai Segal, a member of the Jewish Underground who placed bombs in the cars of the mayors of Nablus, Ramallah and El Bireh in 1980. Segal Sr. was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and membership in a terrorist organization.

It’s obvious that at the legal level there is no connection between Amit Segal and the actions of his father. But on the public, symbolic level, there certainly is. The media is largely a matter of image. It may be assumed that for the same reason Channel 2 News would not hire the sons of Yigal Amir or Mordechai Vanunu as political correspondents. The assassin of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and a nuclear spy are beyond the consensus; that is not the case for Amit Segal, and this is important to understand.

Amit Segal is also employed by Channel 2 as the host of a weekly program on the Knesset TV channel (in the past, Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon hosted this program, OK?). Segal wrote a column in the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth. He also is an editor at Makor Rishon, which is associated with a religious-Zionist readership. This is a man who sits deep within the consensus, despite but also perhaps because of the association with his father. Seventy-three percent of the Israeli public supported the early release of Jewish Underground members at a time when the Israeli public was less right wing.

Amit Segal’s sensitive position at Channel 2 as a political correspondent shows that his father is also mainstream. That is, Jewish terror is mainstream and not a crime. The symbolic significance is huge.

During the interim days of Passover, Amit Segal tweeted, “All of Ibn Gabirol Street in Tel Aviv is full of restaurants that break the law and sell chametz [leavened products] publicly. People who don’t respect the law on Passover cannot carry the banner of rule of law the rest of the year. ‘The law is not relevant to our lives?’ Interesting, that’s just what the ultra-Orthodox say about compulsory draft, the settlers about disengagement and the average tax evader about paying high taxes.”

The leftists could not contain themselves. Some were furious over the main issue dealing with chametz. But it’s actually Segal’s Freudian slip that is fascinating.

The members of Jewish Underground also said the law was irrelevant. This was the ideological basis for their actions.

Segal specifically draws a parallel between thumbing one’s nose at the law for the right to sell chametz on Passover to thumbing one’s nose at the law for the sake of heaven, settlements and money. He doesn’t call on the sellers of chametz in Tel Aviv to obey the law, but rather, he protests the discrimination.

The principle of the general application of the law is what guides him. Either everyone obeys the law or everyone breaks it. You want chametz on Passover? Go right ahead, but don’t try to enforce the rule of law on the ultra-Orthodox and settlers. You want to enforce the rule of law on the ultra-Orthodox and settlers? Fine, but keep away from leavening on Passover.

This, of course, also works the other way. Do you want to refuse to enlist in the army and refuse to evacuate settlements? Why not? Even chametz on Passover is allowed.

And since Tel Aviv insists on chametz, Segal is in fact proposing anarchy. Everyone doing what is right in his own eyes. Some people will eat chametz on Passover; others will refuse to enlist in the army; some people will blow up Palestinian mayors; others will evade taxes.

From Segal’s argument, it emerges that when people who sell leavened products on Passover break the law, they also legitimize draft evaders and those who refuse to evacuate settlements.

Excuse me, I wrote “Blow up Palestinian mayors”? I meant some will refuse to evacuate settlements. Although it doesn’t matter, it’s all the same. Segal says this as well: Selling chametz, draft evasion, refusal to evacuate settlements, tax evasion – it’s all the same.