The Demagogic Anti-terrorism Bill Is Riddled With Injustice

Instead of dealing with the profound problems generated by terror, it wishes to give people a false sense of security by weakening democracy and abusing Israel’s Arab citizens.

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The remnants of the Jerusalem home of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, after Israeli forces razed it on Wednesday. Shaludi killed two in a terror attack last month.Credit: Emil Salman

MK Yariv Levin’s anti-terrorism bill is a dangerous proposal.

The bill - tabled by the Likud MP at Benjamin Netanyahu's instigation - follows a series of attacks that have left 11 people dead in the past five weeks and would also make it a crime to display the Palestinian flag and other “enemy” emblems at demonstrations.

Arabs in Israel are to be stripped of their Israeli citizenship and deported if convicted of committing or aiding “terrorism,” under a tough new eight-point plan drawn up by Netanyahu’s goverment.

It embodies in a tragic manner the way the current government operates – instead of dealing with the profound problems generated by terror acts, it wishes to give people a false sense of security by weakening democracy and abusing Israel’s Arab citizens.

Levin’s proposal is riddled with injustice. Levin suggests that instead of enabling the court to deny the citizenship of a person convicted of committing or aiding a terror act, as the current law does – the interior minister would be authorized to wield this draconian penal measure.

By so doing, Levin wants to turn the political arena into a kangaroo court and enable bloodthirsty politicians to satisfy their voters’ will at the expense of basic human rights.

The demand to deport to Gaza anyone who completes his prison sentence, as well as anyone who throws a fire bomb or firecracker, shows the twisted way in which Levin – and perhaps the entire government – sees Gaza. As far as Levin is concerned, Gaza is a junk yard into which anyone the Israeli sovereign doesn’t like is tossed. If this is so, why does Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declare that Hamas leaders are exclusively responsible for what happens there?

Another target marked by Levin is demolishing the homes of people who perpetrated terror acts. This is immoral punishment from any point of view, as it is administered without trial and its repercussions are destructive not only to the perpetrator, but to his family. Indeed, Levin does not balk at collective punishment without trial and suggests turning this improper practice into a compulsory procedure.

Suffice it for someone to “be identified” as a perpetrator of a terror act to have the whole book thrown at him and his family. Levin also wants to distort the criminal law procedure. He deems it compulsory to arrest until the end of the legal process anyone charged with offenses such as waving a Palestinian flag during a procession, demonstration or forbidden gathering.

Beyond the fact that waving a Palestinian flag should not be seen as an offense, imprisoning someone until the end of the legal process is treating an innocent man like one who has already been convicted.

Levin’s proposal is demagogic and dangerous. Netanyahu, despite the nationalist spin he is spearheading, must reject it. With all due respect to the primaries, Israel’s future as a democratic state is at stake.