The Israeli minister of communication, Ayoub Kara, made me feel ashamed. He made me feel ashamed as an Israeli, as a journalist, and as a liberal human being. Ayoub Kara wants to put Israel together with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the Emirates, declaring war on Al Jazeera.
Minister Kara is perceived in Israel as a political joke. He was nominated to his office just when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuhad to give it up for legal reasons. Kara became Netanyahu’s puppet in the communication ministry. All this does not make his decision to declare war on Al Jazeera less important, or less meaningful. On the contrary, Minister Kara tries to follow not only his master’s political attitudes, but also the Israeli national sentiment that any critical voices in Israel and from abroad should be fought.
The declaration of the government’s intent to close down Al Jazeera and blocking its broadcast in Israel, might have very little practical consequences. It is not clear if the Israeli government can close Al Jazeera’s bureau; if Al Jazeera employees can be prevented from working as journalists; if the governmental press office can revoke their accreditations; and if the government can prevent Israelis from watching Al Jazeera. But those are minor questions. The main issue is the Israeli intention and the Israeli policy, which has a much broader context.
It is the democratic face of the state of Israel and the attempt to curb freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Israel – “the only democracy in the Middle East”. This process might start with Al Jazeera but it will never stop there; it will continue with BBC and CNN and it might end with closing down Israeli media outlets the government doesn’t favour. And therefore, the Al Jazeera case should worry many more Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike.
What we see are the growing cracks in the Israeli democracy, nothing less than this. It is an extremely dangerous path, in which other governments in the world have…