Home > Suppression of Dissent > Is Im Tirzu planning to sue author Meir Shalev?

Is Im Tirzu planning to sue author Meir Shalev?

In February, I joined a number of other activists — Roy YellinYuval YellinNoam Wiener, Edan RingAri RemezTal Niv and Noam Livne — in establishing a Facebook group aimed at exposing the personae and motivation behind the  Im Tirzu smear campaign against the New Israel Fund. Entitled Im Tirzu — A Fascist Movement, the group served as an effective bulletin board for information and ideas, and it is still active today with over 3,065 members.

Ronen Shoval, Im Tirzu’s Chairman, was not happy. He personally demanded that we immediately drop the descriptor “fascist” from the group’s name. We refused, of course. To our delight, he proceeded to sue us for NIS 2.5 million, a rather extraordinary sum by Israeli standards. If the court does not reject the suit outright on free speech grounds, we look forward to demonstrating that the shoe fits.

Following Im Tirzu’s ill-advised attack on Ben Gurion University last week, a series of high-profile Israeli public figures have publicly agreed with our description of the movement.

Shalev

It began last Friday, with this blunt statement in author Meir Shalev‘s Yediot column [full translation of section at bottom of post]:

A few months ago the Education Minister appeared at an Im Tirzu conference and voiced his support for their path. Since then, it become clear what kind of movement and values we’re dealing with. Not just Zionist love for the motherland, but run-of-the-mill fascism accompanied by threats against the universities.

On Tuesday, political scientist Yaron Ezrahi asserted in a Yediot op-ed (Hebrew original here) that:

The concerted effort by far-right activists, supported by elements of the government and Knesset, to subject professors students and artists to loyalty tests that they design, is no other than a vain attempt at the fascization of Zionism.

On Wednesday, Prof. Hannan Hever was similarly unambiguous in Haaretz:

These are clear symptoms of fascism: Enforcement of unified opinion and suppression of any criticism regarding the founding myth of the state.

In this morning’s Maariv (Hebrew original here) Prof. Dan Caspi chose an arguably even more loaded term:

The Im Tirzu organization functions as the right’s “Cultural Guard.”

Since all of the above appeared in the mass media and, therefore, undoubtedly damaged Shoval and his colleagues much more than our lowly Facebook group could, Im Tirzu’s lawyers must be working overtime this week.

And for dessert

Excerpt from column, Meir Shalev, Yediot Friday Political Supplement, August 20 2010 [Hebrew original here and at bottom of post]

A few months ago the Education Minister appeared at an Im Tirzu conference and voiced his support for their path. Since then, it become clear what kind of movement and values we’re dealing with. Not just Zionist love for the motherland, but run-of-the-mill fascism accompanied by threats against the universities.

Its too bad that the universities woke up too late and without assertiveness required. In this respect, the Rector of Haifa University, Prof. Yossi Ben Artzi, should be complimented for speaking up clearly and courageously about this phenomenon before all his colleagues. The statement by the Council of University Heads, who do not need to prove their love for the country, is also completely superfluous. Universities do not need be tested for their love of the motherland and do not need to advocate for it. At most they need to teach the study of the land among other subjects, and they must forcibly reject any aggressive political attempt to scrutinize their curriculum.

But the main question is the way the Minister of Education has conducted himself. The Minister began by supporting Im Tirzu and he is now as silent as a fish. His only reaction to Im Tirzu’s threat to approach university funders was to express his opposition to any targeting of funding. Thus Mr. Saar proved that while he may be a worthy Deputy Director General for Finance in the Ministry, he is not a Minister of Education. A very strange smell emanates from the way he has conducted himself.

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