Editorial

Minister Gilad 'McCarthy'

Apparently Gilad Erdan expects ordinary citizens to report unusual leftist activity by neighbors corresponding with hostile agents across the sea | Editorial

Olivier Fitoussi

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan continues to work at a feverish pace to help Israel catch up with other advanced countries like China, North Korea and Iran. 

After declaring he would take care of Mark Zuckerberg and the social networks because they were responsible for the recent waves of terror – and not Israel’s occupation policy, which has been going on for 50 years – Erdan this week took a new McCarthyite approach. Erdan aims to set up a special committee that will draw up a blacklist of companies, organizations and individuals who call for a boycott of Israel or the West Bank settlements. 

Unlike a solution to the problem of the social networks, which are operated by very influential foreign companies, the drawing up of blacklists can easily be accomplished. An inter-ministerial committee would decide which upstart agencies dare to criticize the Israeli occupation and call for boycotts in an effort to end it. 

How exactly would the relevant materials get to this committee? Apparently Gilad McCarthy expects ordinary citizens to report unusual leftist activity by neighbors corresponding with hostile agents across the sea. These informers will surely receive a symbolic reward from the Blacklist Ministry.

Erdan was presumably happy to hear that on Monday the state was already following his new policy when it refused to let Isabel Phiri, an executive with the World Council of Churches,  enter the country on grounds that she’s a BDS activist. Interior Minister Arye Dery ordered her deported, saying, “Approving the entry of activists like Phiri is essentially backing the unacceptable activity that she and her comrades are promoting.” Blacklister Erdan added: “Boycott activists belong outside the state’s borders.”

Phiri is a veteran African theologian with the World Council of Churches, and the purpose of her visit was to consult with church leaders in Jerusalem regarding the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel, which monitors human rights. Four other members of her delegation were allowed to enter the country.

These facts are of no interest to the dynamic public-diplomacy duo of Erdan and Dery, nor was the criticism by the World Council of Churches’ general secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit. As he put it, “I am very surprised and dismayed that the Israeli Ministry of Interior is apparently basing its decisions on incorrect and unreliable sources.”

The Israeli government has been conducting a disastrous pincer maneuver. It’s drawing up and implementing unconstitutional plans aimed at eventually annexing the occupied territories. At the same time, it’s trying to choke off both domestic and foreign criticism of the occupation and punish efforts to end it by boycotts and similar means. 

As part of this occupation obsession, the premier and his ministers are trying to cut Israel off from the outside world, throw it into a room of fun house mirrors full of blacklists, and lead it to oblivion.