Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom was forced to issue an official apology to the Indian Embassy, after Knesset security personnel prevented Indian legislators clad in orange from entering the Knesset.
The incident occurred yesterday, when members of India's largest opposition faction, the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), visited the Knesset while wearing orange scarves. Orange is their party's official color - but the Knesset guards were not impressed. Apparently told to prevent the color orange from being brought into the Knesset because of its association with the anti-expulsion protest campaign, the guards immediately informed the visitors that they could enter - but without their scarves. The scarves were returned to the lawmakers at the conclusion of their visit.
'I found it to be ridiculous not to allow a piece of cloth,' one of the Indian delegation members told Army Radio. 'Those are messages of intolerance. Today it's cloth, and soon it could be ideas that are barred.'
I wonder when the government will apologize to Jews who are not allowed to practice free speech and wear orange - Jews who elected this government to begin with?
I try very hard to run this blog with Jewish unity in mind, and I try not to dwell on inter-Israeli politics and disputes. But when a government that prides itself on the freedoms given its citizens, and on being the only democracy in the Middle East, acts in ways that are the antithesis of freedom and democracy, it is proper to mention it.
No matter what your position on disengagement is, what the government is doing now to curb peaceful protests and free speech is completely against what Israel stands for. For more details, go to disengagement.org.