“The ‘Herem’ of Public Opinion” Edition


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Noah Efron, Don Futterman, and Ha’aretz journalist Allison Kaplan Sommer discuss three topics of incomparable importance and end with an anecdote about something in Israel that made them smile this week.

New Right?
After right-wing voices join (albeit hesitantly) protests against the putative corruptions of the Netanyahu government, we ask whether this marks an important (and perhaps portentous) change. Does it mark an important change in the attitudes of (at least a portion of) the right?

Only Sixteen
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi is only lately the most recognizable face in a venerable activist family. Most recently, she appeared in another video that drew international attention. We try to puzzle out what sense to make of the latest incident. What, if anything, do we learn from it?

The “Herem” of Public Opinion: On Excommunication and Rehabilitation
After writer and pundit Ari Shavit cancels a lecture over past sexual harassment, we ask: Should we be crowdsourcing judgment, or meting out tribal justice, when there seems to be no other way to get justice at all? If so, then how do we know when the punishment ought to end?


Music by Sheila Ferber
, in honor of her performance today at Beit ha-Yotzer, Hangar 22 in Tel Aviv’s port:
Yehiye Beseder
Koresh 11
Ha-Yalkut ha-Adom
Bishvilkha

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One comment on ““The ‘Herem’ of Public Opinion” Edition

  1. Greg Pollock says:

    1) Right wing anti-corruption:

    Recall that, at Olmert’s sentencing, the judge said that Olmert had violated the national common good promise of Zionism. There is no reason why both right and left cannot generally make such claims as well. But in itself an anti-corruption ticket on either side need not thereby be against occupation or its policies. I can see only two routes for ending occupation: a sustained intifada polluting soldiers assigned its eradication; or significant, documented corruption cycling from occupation land to settlers to MK’s and government functionaries, this latter more likely to freeze expansion than contract existing settlements (presently I doubt contraction absent violence and am even then doubtful of that as outcome after Gaza). However, an equal benefits logic, highlighting the summed positive skew bestowed on settlements, might act also as a retardant to further growth; I think a few of the younger Labor MKs speak toward that end.

    2) Ahed Tamimi and nonviolence:

    Tamimi saw her father in Administrative detention for 3 years, then released to provide absolutely no material or direct aid to terrorism or damaging violence to soldiers (to differentiate the kicks and slaps of his daughter), nor was he tried for such as reason for his detention; she has seen and heard of people killed and maimed; she has seen and heard of night arrests and general fear of IDF caprice. I believe just an hour before the slapping and kicking incident a young Palestinian rather near had been placed into a coma through projectile assault. To require all protesting Palestinians to be Gandhian in such circumstances is absurd; a better claim can be made for how those protesting her detention execute their days. Gandhian protest requires organized opposition, and the IDF’s closure policies are actually rather good at preventing such from developing. It is not clear to me that umbrella Gandhian protest would be possible even absent the closure; but what is clear is that civil society must thrive in issues of daily sustenance and emergency (unrelated to direct occupation events of the moment), and closure prevents the necessary networks from flowering. Palestinians are often accused of failing nonviolent principles, but the IDF has been rather successful at preventing the substrata from which those principles emerge. In the US, South Africa, and India separation of the privileged and oppressed was economically impossible. Economic integration via Greater Israel might be the most effective ground for effective nonviolence which deals not just with the immediate physical hand but with economic standing.

    Tamimi is a symbol of the simple fact that Palestinians exposed to the IDF daily have no reason to cooperate save pure fear. I am long amazed that Zionists, who refused so much of what the world told them to be, would now insist on telling others what to be. If Tamimi were Jewish she would be a hero. Nationalism always privileges its own, this both its greatest strength and ultimately its Achilles’ heal.

    3) Herem of sexual assault:

    Metoo, of which the case detailed in this podcast is really another example, is something like a fusion of an Athenian jury and consumer choice. Such juries can not only nullify guilt (as can an Anglo common law derived jury by insisting on a not guilty verdict); they can affirm guilt for reasons exterior to the actual case at hand. Presumptions of guilt seem clear among socially prominent men with multiple accusations, but I wonder about those cases not making the news yet still harming to ending careers. Fear of consumer retaliation (or charity withdrawal or loss of political networks) executes the sentence of the media jury, as some video (“television”) series cancelations show. Analytically, I see no difference between this and now deemed unpleasant instances of the past: Hollywood black listings during the Red Scare, or party purges of suspected communists or fellow travelers. In all these cases no tribunal exterior to the charges decided fates.

    My own view is that the process underway is unstoppable, that at the high visibility end (those making the news) mostly the media verdict will be factually correct (but I have doubts about Franken’s purge, which seems happy coincidence to segregate the vile into Republicans); but that at the lower end of visibility opportunity shall at times supplant veracity. What can be abused shall eventually be abused without external appeal.

    I say “media verdict,” but we should keep in mind that most of us are susceptible to cheering fire once those around us so start. A media verdict can become a group emotional dance. It is hard enough for one dissent to maintain itself in the standard 12 person Anglo common law derived jury. Exactly how do we count opinions in a media jury?

    You have won. Be wary of your victory when you encounter it down the road.

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