In the context of a wave of official and unofficial repression and terror against anyone even expressing basic human sympathy for victims of Israel’s bombing, and in the face of moves by the Israeli government to shut down reporting that simply acknowledges undisputed facts like how many children Israel has killed in Gaza, a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court on November 8 gave a green light to intensifying official repression and terror against even the mildest dissent.
The case in point went to the Israeli Supreme Court one day after a small group of Palestinians who had served in Israel’s parliament were detained by police when they attempted to hold a vigil in the city of Nazareth to protest the death and suffering of innocent civilians in Israeli attacks on people in the Gaza Strip. They had promised authorities no more than 50 people would protest, in part perhaps to address claims police in Israel frequently invoke that they must shut down pro-Palestinian protests because they don’t have enough resources to handle large crowds. Israeli authorities do not invoke that issue when large crowds of racist, Zionist thugs rampage through the streets chanting “Death to the Arabs.” But the anti-war former legislators were nevertheless detained by police, and not allowed to protest.
The next day, a panel of Israel’s Supreme Court heard, and denied, a petition by other activists to stage legal protests against the war in two towns in northern Israel.
Some background on Israel’s Supreme Court is necessary here. Israel’s Supreme Court is celebrated by liberal defenders of Zionism as the epitome of Israel’s supposed status as an enlightened, if challenged, bastion of democracy in the Middle East. In response to moves by Jewish fundamentalists and other fascists like Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to disempower that Supreme Court, hundreds of thousands of Israelis staged defiant protests earlier this year. (See An Existential Crisis Erupts in Zionist, Apartheid Israel at revcom.us. for more background and analysis of the essential role of the Israeli Supreme Court, and how the movement against disempowering the Supreme Court was channeled into terms of what forms Israel’s genocidal ethnic cleansing and apartheid oppression of the Palestinian people would take.)
The pro-Supreme Court protests ended abruptly on October 7 when Hamas attacked Israel. With that, the forces in the Israeli ruling class who backed and organized the protests joined in a “unity government” with Jewish fundamentalist fascists to coordinate Israel’s slaughter in Gaza.
But back in July, while the protests against disempowering the Supreme Court were still taking place, Biden met with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. He told Friedman that the “enduring” protests against restricting Israel’s Supreme Court were demonstrating “the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy, which must remain the core of our bilateral relationship.” And Friedman, whose opinion pieces in the Times carry particular weight, invoked Biden’s support for the protests and for Israel’s Supreme Court in his (and the Times’) increasingly difficult mission to cover up the actual nature and role of Apartheid Israel as an oppressive enforcer for an empire of exploitation and oppression.
The actual nature of “the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy” as concentrated in its Supreme Court came out in its ruling on November 8. A three-judge panel from the court upheld bans on the protests called in northern Israeli towns against Israel’s massacre in Gaza. The court ruled that “[D]espite the lofty status of the right to protest and assemble, the complex reality in which we find ourselves affects how [rights are] balanced in this regard.” In other words, protest might be OK in normal times. But when faced with “complex reality” (i.e. the need to impose national unity and shut down any dissent or protest that might interfere with Israel’s massacre in Gaza), then there is no right to protest.
And with that ruling, the Supreme Court, that pillar of Israeli democracy, sent a message green-lighting more fascist repression and terror against dissent, protest, and targeting Palestinians in Israel.
A lesson to take to heart here: What Biden calls “the vibrancy of Israel’s democracy” is a democracy that serves and protects the genocidal slaughter by Israel of the Palestinians. And the “core of [the U.S.-Israel] relationship” is that Israel is an irreplaceable asset for the U.S. empire. In Biden’s words, “Were there not an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interest in the region.” (For more on the essential nature of the U.S.-Israel “special relationship,” see the Resource Page on the Genocidal Assault on Palestine—And Israel as an Enforcer of Imperialism at revcom.us.)
Speaking of the repression in “western democracies” going on now against any pro-Palestinian protest,1 Bob Avakian, revolutionary leader, and architect of the new communism put it this way: “This is another telling illustration that bourgeois democracy is actual bourgeois dictatorship, which becomes more blatant in circumstances where the ruling class feels that its interests are being sharply challenged in one way or another.” (See PALESTINE, ISRAEL, IMPERIALISM: WAR, THE DANGER OF EVEN GREATER WAR—AND REVOLUTION, BASIC ORIENTATION, COMPELLING AGITATION AND MOVING MASSES.
Watch “State power in the hands of the right people is a great thing,” from Part 3 of Up Close and Personal With Bob Avakian, Heart and Soul & Hard-Core For Revolution on The RNL—Revolution, Nothing Less!—Show.