Persecution in Place of Policy

It is ironic that Lieberman, responsible for some of Israel's delegitimization, is the person leading this crusade to silence and persecute human rights groups in Israel.

The more Israel's isolation in the world increases as a result of the government shunning the peace process, the more energy the right-wing parties, led by Yisrael Beiteinu, are investing in silencing internal criticism.

It may seem ironic that Avigdor Lieberman, the same foreign minister responsible for some of the crises that have led to Israel's delegitimization, is the person leading this crusade to silence and persecute leftist and human rights groups in Israel, a crusade that culminated yesterday in the initiative to establish a parliamentary panel of inquiry to "investigate" such organizations as Breaking the Silence, Yesh Gvul B'Tselem on the grounds that they are "damaging Israel's legitimacy."

But it shouldn't seem ironic, since these things all go together, as history shows: Confrontational leadership that attempts - out of ideology or cynicism - to establish its rule by disseminating fear, paranoia and hatred toward the entire world, will not stop at destroying foreign relations. It will blame the results of its mistakes on internal enemies, on a fifth column.

The extent of the political right's cynicism is evident in the fact that its demand to "investigate" "the intervention of foreigners in Israel's affairs" is directed only at left-wing groups, while "foreign" interference in the country's affairs by the supporters and financiers of the settlement movement is ignored and silenced with a wink.

There is nothing new in criticism being leveled at those who spread information or opinions that are not always convenient for the reigning national-security narrative.

What is new is the intensity of the "persecution of the left," which has become not only a craze but a replacement for any sort of policy.

The blame for this wave of attacks lies with the "sit and do nothing" policy of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who despite lip service to the contrary here and there, is celebrating the victory of this fatalistic and pessimistic narrative - the narrative that claims that the conflict with the Arabs is insolvable and all that that can be done is to manage it. And the more detached and fragile this "management policy" becomes, the greater the incentive to uproot any information that threatens to pull the ground from under it.

Persecuting internal political rivals will do nothing to convince anyone of the just path of the right-wing government headed by Netanyahu and Lieberman. It will only undermine Israeli democracy even further.