Political Debate in Israel Turns Ugly

I ran the following in Mashable this morning:

Political Debate in Israel Turns Ugly

Israel has long been known as a loud and boisterous democracy.

It is home to a large number of highly opinionated daily newspapers and satirists who could put Jon Stewart to shame. Opinions regarding the Jewish state judged verboten in the American Jewish community have happily been voiced within Israel itself.

Yet it’s becoming increasingly clear that Israel’s comfort with disagreement — or even political differences — is waning.

In mid-June, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped by Palestinian extremists, and almost immediately, crowds of ultra-nationalists began to march through city streets, shouting “Death to Arabs,” and many included the Jewish left in their threats with such chants as “Leftists to the gas chamber!”

There were also several recorded incidents of Jewish mobs attacking Arab-Israelis. And when the kidnap victims were found to have been murdered, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was brutally slain, apparently by three Israelis in retaliation.

Widely shared public horror in the face of the latter event briefly stemmed the tide of fury but, within days, Israel was at war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli Jewish public opinion rallied around the flag and against any who might disagree.

Protests by the political left — whether in support of the Arab-Israeli population or in opposition to the war — were met with threats and outright violence; in mid-July, the Arab-Israeli deputy mayor of Haifa was among those attacked. For their part, police often failed to intervene to stop the threats, or they disrupted anti-war protests and arrested the protesters themselves.

To read the rest, please click through to Mashable.

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