Bibi’s Right to Speak

After a bloody European history of religious warfare, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, was one of the most courageous concepts of its time: To peaceably assemble, to redress government grievances, to have freedom to express one’s religion and politics without fear of persecution– to be free to speak –was, and still is– a unique right which helped shape America into a beacon of freedom and light throughout the world.

The first wave of attack by radical Islamist extremists is on the Freedom of Speech: cartoons, videos, dress, speech– any expression of any thought found offensive– is fair game for violent retribution. But squelching speech pushes humans to animalistic behaviors, which hampers human potential for actualization, creativity, progress and growth. Clearly, Islam is going through now, what Christianity and Judaism have already grappled with over the millennium: How to reconcile religious faith with the modern world?

For the President of the United States to make a political tiff with Bibi Netanyahu, an ally, over his right to redress Congress in peaceful assembly regarding a grievance– that he doesn’t want Iran to have power to nuke Israel, is disturbing on so many levels. If the Obama administration feels strongly that they are on the right side of history by negotiating with a totalitarian regime regarding their nuclear capabilities, let them defend their position by espousing its merits, rather than suppressing opposing views. While adherents to Islam work out how to deal with factions of extremism and destruction in their religion, all must express the importance of free speech: Totalitarian governments suppress speech, not free ones.

Good luck, Bibi. The fate of the free world may hinge on your words: And perhaps more important– on your right to speak.

About the Author
Yael Levy holds a J.M. in Law & Religion from Emory University School of Law. She is the author of Brooklyn Love.
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