Sunday, June 06, 2021

Are any liberals defending the Jerusalem flag march?

From Times of Israel:

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Saturday said he will demand a right-wing nationalist parade through Jerusalem’s Old City be called off if it “requires extraordinary security measures and endangers public order and diplomatic processes.”

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Hebrew media earlier on Saturday that police would make the final call on whether the march would be held. “Israel has returned to routine, there are no current restrictions and Jews are visiting the Temple Mount,” the official said.

Leaders of the left-wing Labor, Meretz and Joint List parties warned earlier Saturday of the potential negative consequences of the march and indicated they believed it could be a deliberate attempt to thwart the formation of the so-called “change government.”

Police chiefs were set to hold a meeting Sunday to decide whether to approve the march. According to Channel 12, the parade was likely to be approved, though possibly with changes to its route, including a refusal to allow participants to pass through the volatile Damascus Gate area that was at the center of unrest in the capital last month.
Haaretz has a headline: Biden Administration Fears Jerusalem Flag March May Reignite Tensions in Gaza

It hardly needs to be said that in a democracy, protests and rallies should be allowed unless they endanger innocent people. But that danger must come from the demonstration itself, not from people reacting to the demonstration who disagree - if any demonstration could cause others to react violently, then it is the responsibility of the police to protect the protesters.

Otherwise, people who oppose the demonstration have full veto power on freedom of speech by threatening violence.

Yet when it comes to Israel, those rules don't apply to right-wing demonstrations. If Palestinians say that Jews walking peacefully around their capital waving flags will "provoke" them, somehow their feelings are now considered more important than the basic democratic principle of freedom of assembly.

Where are the liberals who are defending freedom of speech and freedom of assembly?

On Friday, thousands of people marched through Jerusalem for the annual Pride Parade, which many conservative and religious Jerusalemites oppose. If the opponents had threatened violence, can anyone imagine that liberal politicians would call to cancel the parade?

It appears that the Israeli police are being the sanest people in this case - leaning towards allowing the march but changing the route, which would be in line with other democracies in allowing demonstrations but with restrictions. 

Obviously, if the marchers become violent or incite violence, it should be shut down as well. The police have the responsibility to maintain order. 

One does not have to agree with the marchers to support basic democratic principles. If freedom of assembly is subject to a veto by Hamas, then that freedom has disappeared, and that is something every liberal person should strenuously oppose.

Yet so far, the Israeli and Western  liberals are on the side allowing Hamas and Fatah threats of violence to curtail basic freedoms. 

Where are the true liberal voices defending freedom of assembly for a cause they disagree with?