GOOD MORNING, Joe. At home In the US, your name is mud. But here you can really feel at home.
In your time, you succeeded in infecting all of the US with hysteria. You detected a Soviet agent under every bed. You waved a list of Soviet spies in the State Department (a list which nobody was ever shown). In a hundred languages around the world -- including Hebrew -- the name McCarthy, McCarthyism, has become a household word. Yes, you made your mark alright.
But you were, after all, only a plagiarist. Before you, the House Anti-American Activities Committee terrorized the country, destroyed careers, hounded people into suicide and tarnished the reputation of the US throughout the democratic world. It "investigated" intellectuals and artists and branded many of them as "anti-American."
I DOUBT that Faina Kirschenbaum ever heard about this committee. She was not born in the United States but in the Stalinist Soviet Union, and that's her spiritual homeland. Her attitude towards democracy reflects this background.
The meaning of her Germanic name is "cherry tree." But the fruits of this tree are poisonous.
This week, the Knesset adopted a bill presented by Kirschenbaum, a settler who is also the Director General of Avigdor Lieberman's party. The bill calls for the appointment of a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry to investigate whether international funds or foreign countries are financing organizations that "take part in the campaign to de-legitimize IDF soldiers." A parallel bill presented by Likud member Danny Danon demands that the Inquiry Commission investigate whether foreign governments finance Israeli "activities against the State of Israel."
It is easy to guess what such an investigation by a committee composed of politicians, appointed by the rightist-racist majority of the Knesset, will look like. The infamous Anti-American Activities Committee will look distinctly liberal in comparison.
It is very interesting to see who voted for and who against. Among the 41 who voted for, there were not only the usual fascists of the extreme right, headed by the declared Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari, but also the chief Orthodox representative, Jacob Litzman, the former army spokeswoman, Miri Regev, and the former army Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya'alon. Special mention must go to Matan Vilnai, who once almost became Chief of Staff, a leading member of the Labor Party, at present the Deputy Minister of Defense in charge of settlements.
Among the 17 who voted against were, of course, the Arab MKs who were present and all the Meretz members. A pleasant surprise was provided by Yitzhak Herzog, a candidate for the Labor Party chairmanship; the former Likud and present Kadima member Meir Sheetrit; and the Likud member Michael Eitan. Eitan is the last remnant of the Revisionist movement of Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, which combined an extreme nationalist agenda in foreign affairs with a very liberal attitude in local matters.
All in all, 58 of the 120 members of the Knesset took part in the vote. Where were the other 62? They were in hiding. Binyamin Netanyahu disappeared. Ehud Barak disappeared. Tzipi Livni disappeared. Even Eli Yishai disappeared. Presumably they all have a doctor's certificate to cover their absence.
There are votes whose significance is greater even than the matter itself -- votes that characterize an era and are looked upon, in retrospect, as decisive. This may well have been such a vote.
THE FIRST thing about this law that stands out is that it does not apply to all political associations in Israel.
If such an even-handed law had been enacted, I would have welcomed it. I am very curious about the origin of the money that supports the settlers and the other extreme-rightist organizations.
Huge sums, tens and hundreds of millions, are flowing to these bodies -- many times more than the comparatively pitiful amounts received by the human rights and peace associations. Some of the recipients are devoted to the expulsion of Arabs from East Jerusalem. They offer Palestinian home-owners astronomical prices for their property and promise them new identities in the US so they can live there happily ever after. They use hired straw men, mostly Arab. The weak succumb to the temptation. That costs a lot of money, and one of the well-known donors is a famous billionaire who made his money as an owner of casinos. In Israel, incidentally, owning a casino is a felony.
It is known that the financiers of the extreme right include some of the heads of evangelical sects, born anti-Semites, who believe that Jesus will return to Earth when all the Jews are concentrated in this country. Then -- either the Jews get baptized or they will be annihilated to the last man and woman. These adherents of the really-final solution are the main source of the money that finances many rightist associations.
This money nurtures openly fascist associations as well as more discreet ones, those who advocate the dismissal of "leftist" professors from the universities, and organize networks of student-spies who inform on their lecturers (another way of earning money for their studies). Some organizations monitor the media in order to cleanse them of people suspected of such misdemeanors as striving for peace. There is also a huge apparatus that combs all TV, radio and print media throughout the Arab world and provides our "correspondents for Arab affairs" (almost all of them army intelligence and Shin-Bet alumni) choice pieces, like something about a crazy Muslim preacher in Yemen or a particularly nasty statement in a Cairo salon. They are very successful in poisoning the wells of peace.