I am a ferverent supporter of freedom of speech; it is a right that is almost sacred in my book. After all, it is only in societies where one is allowed to criticize and critique, particularly those in power, where minority rights may be upheld. Yet, it is well known that in the United States, at least, that there are limits to this freedom. You may not shout “fire” in a crowded place without there being a fire. In addition, hate speech, in which one incites others to violence, is not covered by the First Amendment. However, I must wonder, where the rights and limits end; when the discussion is no longer about freedom of speech, but rather about treason and sedition.
Azmi Bishara, former head of Balad (one of the three Arab parties in Israel), is known to have been involved inÂ “assisting the enemy in a time of war, [having]contacts with a foreign agent, and passing information to an enemy” (i.e. Hezbollah). Clearly his “speech” (i.e. conversations, messages, and such) with Hezbollah and Syria are not covered by his right to freedom of speech. But how about something slightly less severe? For example, what if you call for the destruction of your State, and publicly declare disloyalty to it? Is this freedom of speech or sedition? This is exactly what a new Knesset Member* from the Balad party has done.
Newly elected MK Haneen ZubaiÂ is in favor of Iran’s nuclear proliferation as a nuclear Iran would be able to effectively challenge the State of Israel (which would, also, help in the establishment of a Palestinian State, as she believes that a MAD-like confrontation in the Middle East would be beneficial to both the Palestinian causeÂ and regional security at large). She has stated, “It would be more supporting me to have a counter-power to Israel.” Moreover, in the past she has given statements rejecting the concept of a Jewish State and expressed a disloyalty to it. “There is no logic in demanding that I be loyal to an idea to which I do not agree to begin with,” she says.
Zuabi has every right to call for the destruction of her country (as though in any other country in the region she would have that right), and even say that Iran’s nuclear proliferation aspirations are a good thing. But what is the next step? Bishara, as an MK, spoke at P.A., Syria, and Hezbullah rallies, where he would call for the destruction of the State of Israel; free speech, yet treason. It would appear that Zuabi is headed in the same direction. Furthermore, these people are not just citizens, the proverbial “man in the street.” Rather, these are Knesset Ministers, leaders of the nation, members of the government. So when does it end? At what point is it no longer freedom of speech, but rather sedition?
* kudos to Warren for pointing out my translation mistake! 🙂