In Israel, raft of new laws shows rise of the right
A spate of right-wing legislation is picking up supporters in the Israeli public, frustrated with uncertainty and their international isolation.
Critics say Israel is forsaking its democratic ideals with a right-wing agenda.
Avishai Amir, a former spokesman in the left-wing Labor government of the 1990s, begs to differ.
Take the recent law, for example, which bans public funding for groups that mark Israel's independence day as Palestinians do: by declaring the creation of the Jewish state to be a Arabic for "catastrophe."
"The law says that the state of Israel won't pay money for demonstrations against it. That's it. It's not a law against democracy," says Mr. Amir, who has shifted from left to center. "I don't want my taxes to finance a demonstration against me.... Should I pay because [the Palestinians] didn't agree to set up a country then? I have to pay because I won and they're sad?"
McCarthyism or a 'necessary bulwark?'
Critics have cast the spate of new legislation as a McCarthyist tactic that threatens the protection of minorities and free speech afforded by Western democracies. But a growing number of Israelis increasingly see such measures as a necessary bulwark against those who would undermine Israel – from without or within.
Israel faces volatile times: It has had four national elections in a decade, and is now surrounded by Arab countries in unprecedented turmoil. It faces an increasingly powerful Iran, and it fears growing isolation as a result of a Palestinian statehood recognition.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party and its allies are spearheading the legislation, excels at projecting the strength and unambiguous leadership some Israelis seek in response to such uncertainty.
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