The title of this article may seem harsh and overly dramatic, but it does not make it any less true.
Unbeknownst to many, today we live in a country where Ahmad Tibi, former adviser to Yasser Arafat, who has been accused of supporting terror and for seeking the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State, decides what we can and cannot read.
The Central Elections Committee, led by Supreme Court Judge, Salim Joubran, has upheld a petition by Tibi and the United Arab List against the distribution of the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine in Israel.
Tibi and some of his fellow radical Islamists argued that the distribution of the issue, which features cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed on the cover, would spark outrage. Another Member of Knesset Masud Gnaim, had warned previously that the distribution of the magazine could spark violence and reportedly threatened that it could have “consequences”.
As a result of these threats, when Steimatzky, a national chain of bookstores, decided not to sell the magazine in its stores, the Yisrael Beytenu political party made a point of buying copies to distribute in the streets to stand firmly by the side of the principle of freedom of expression.
The magazine cover itself which is the focus of all the unwarranted attention simply depicts the Muslim Prophet Mohammed holding a sign which reads “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie), in reference to the demonstrations of support after Islamist terrorists massacred 12 Charlie Hebdo employees in Paris last month.
It is important to note that we stand firmly against the gratuitous defaming of slandering of any religion or its symbols. However, there is nothing obscene or offensive in this depiction of Mohammed, it is a mere illustration.
Nevertheless, therein lies the problem.
According to a strict interpretation of Islam, no Muslim prophet may be depicted at all at any time. As an important tenet of Islam for many, this should be respected. However, to seek the enforcement of Shariah (Islamic) Law on all citizens of the State of Israel is and indeed should be unacceptable and offensive.
It is even more troubling if people readily accept the tenets of Shariah Law because of the threat of violence or terror.
Terrorism has been defined as the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. The threats of violence over the distribution of Charlie Hebdo definitely suit this definition and should not be allowed to continue.
Salman Rushdie, an Indian British novelist and essayist, who has been under an Iranian fatwa of execution since writing a book which was deemed critical of Islam, was once asked how to defeat terrorism, he simply answered: “Don’t be terrorized.”
Today, the legitimization of the use of violent threats and an interpretation of Shariah Law has become officially institutionalized in Israel. This should send shock waves through every decent and law-abiding Israeli who live proudly in an open, free and tolerant democracy.
However, many are too readily accepting of this new reality and even press for it.
This morning I was on Israel’s Channel 10 to argue the case for the distribution of Charlie Hebdo which I and other Yisrael Beytenu activists had intended to do today. I was attacked by one of the presenters who compared our standing up for freedom of expression to our attempt to ban Hanin Zoabi from the elections for, among other reasons, joining the IHH terrorist flotilla which violently attacked and seriously wounded our soldiers in 2010.
I felt as if I was being interviewed by Al-Manar, the Hezbollah-affiliated television station, or Al Jazeera.
I am also further shocked that Yisrael Beytenu stands alone on the barricades of liberty. Where are the Left-wing parties which are easily driven to distraction by any perceived slight infringement on any basic erosion of liberty and freedom?
Where are the Right-wing parties who claim to fight for Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People?
Where are those who claim we must never apologize for living proudly in the Jewish State?
Did many of us flee the dhimmi status and second-class citizenship to be “free in our land” so others could once again decide for and rule over us?
This slow acceptance of Shariah, due to threats of violence, is merely emboldening and incentivizing the ongoing and heightening attempts to attack Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
We need to fight back. Not through the use of violence or threats, but simply by not succumbing or allowing ourselves to become terrorized or paralyzed with fear.
For most, the thought of Shariah Law in Israel is a very far away concept. However, today it took a massive leap towards reality, and this should worry us all.