Larry Derfner writes: In his 2004 book The Case for Democracy, Natan Sharansky (with co-author Ron Dermer, head of Bibi Netanyahu’s brain trust) popularized his “town square test,” which he called the threshold test of whether a society is free or not. It went like this:
If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society. We cannot rest until every person living in a “fear society” has finally won their freedom.
The town square test was adopted by George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice and the rest of the war-on-terror crowd; it flattered their self-delusion that they invaded Iraq for altruistic purposes. What always got me, though, was that Sharansky, a true-blue Jewish nationalist, didn’t notice that his test was an embarrassment to Israel because it proved that Israel was not a free society, but a fear society. Can an Arab or Jewish citizen enter a public square in this country, especially in Jerusalem, the capital, and denounce the occupation or one of our wars without being physically harmed by people in the crowd? Of course not. If Mohammed Bakri or Uri Avnery, let’s say, were crazy enough to take the town square test, they would be set upon by the rednecks present, mainly young ones, and if they didn’t shut up and get out of there ASAP, they’d be physically attacked. At best, the cops would come break it up and likewise tell Bakri or Avnery to get moving fast, and if they didn’t, they’d be arrested, and if they insisted on going back and taking the town square test again, they’d be imprisoned.
By the renowned standard of the chairman of the Jewish Agency and one of the great heroes of modern Jewish history, Israel is not a free society, but a fear society. [Continue reading…]