Monday, February 28, 2005

Israeli cabinet approves "Big Brother" unit - against Jews

The cabinet has approved the establishment of a special unit to combat incitement and public disruptions in protest of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan.

The unit is the idea of Justice Minister Tzippy Livni, who wants to ensure that the process of prosecuting protesters is streamlined ahead of the mass opposition to the implementation of the withdrawal from Gaza and the northern Shomron and the forced removal of the Jewish residents living there.

The government decision stipulates that the unit will be responsible for, “legal proceedings against incidents of incitement to violence, rebellion and protest activities, including blocking roads, holding unauthorized demonstrations and threats against public servants in the context of the struggle against the disengagement.”

Shabak (General Security Services) chief Avi Dichter told the cabinet that he does not believe the time for using administrative detention (jailing without trial for up to six months) against anti-withdrawal activists has arrived yet.

The Land of Israel Action Committee responded to Dichters statements saying, “The Shabak head’s examples of right-wing incitement all originate from provocations created by the Shabak and police.” The movement’s head, Aviad Vissouly, called upon the attorney general to put all the heads of right-wing groups on trial for incitement. Vissouly argued that the courts must set, once and for all, explicit guidelines as to where the borders of freedom of expression lie.

The Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council criticized the establishment of the new unit, which it termed, "the thought police.” “The new unit's purpose is to shut the mouths of those who are opposed to the expulsion plan and to brand them inciters," the council said. "[Its purpose is to] forbid us to think differently than the government. The democratic right to protest is slowly disappearing in face of the ‘sanctified’ disengagement plan."

The new unit will combat anti-disengagement protests and demonstrations, and will work in coordination with the Shabak to deter activists from engaging mass civil disobedience.

Activist Barch Marzel, who heads the newly-founded Jewish National Front suggested sarcastically that Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan – appointed head of the legal team for the new unit – ask for the death penalty when punishing anti-government activists. "When in a dictatorship, act like you are in a dictatorship," Marzel said. “If someone can have a police investigation opened against him for calling Sharon a dictator, then it is possible for punishments like that to eventually be meted out in the same manner.”