The civil libertarian community in Israel is alarmed by the government’s decision to shutdown a radio station that has been outspoken in its opposition to the growing plans for war with Iran. The Israeli-Palestinian radio station called “All for Peace” was shutdown after demands from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s conservative coalition.
The move is part of a general crackdown on free speech and free press in Israel with hawks moving to block foreign funding for liberal or peace nonprofit groups as well as lowering the standards for libel lawsuits to deter stories in the media. The shutdown of the radio station was celebrated by conservative lawmaker Danny Danon who claimed credit for the shutdown after he complained that the station’s opposition to the government’s military actions and planning constituted “incitement” against the government. He called for shutting down any “leftist” media organizations that allowed themselves to becomes “an instrument of incitement.” Of course, the government would determine what views constitute incitement. It is an open embrace of “content-based” censorship that is anathema in the United States and other nations committed to the rule of law.
The interest in using libel laws fits a broader trend in the West in the use of both defamation and hate speech laws to crackdown on unpopular speech. We have been following this trend with great concern.