Civil Disobedience Versus Sedition

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

MK Arieh Eldad, responding to Prime Minister Olmert’s ban on further construction in Judea and Samaria is calling for “civil disobedience.” I wonder whether he fully understands what he is up against?

Olmert’s decision is perhaps the first tangible consequence of the Annapolis Conference, which sanctions the establishment of a Palestinian state by the end of 2008. Of course, a Palestinian state was tacitly agreed upon when the Rabin government signed the Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of September 1993. It thus appears that Mr. Eldad’s call for “civil disobedience” against Olmert’s ban on construction in Judea and Samaria is actually a protest against Oslo.

This recalls Moshe Feiglin’s “civil disobedience” in 1995, when he organized demonstrations across Israel blocking main intersections in protest against Oslo. The following year, however, Mr. Feiglin was convicted of sedition for what he had naively termed civil disobedience!

Like Feiglin, Eldad fails to understand that what may be termed “civil disobedience” in Israel differs profoundly from civil disobedience in the United States. Why? Because, Israel, unlike the United States, is not, and never has been, a genuine democracy, as the present writer has so often demonstrated, and with citations from no less than David Ben-Gurion. Like Feiglin, Eldad cannot, or dares not, publicly and persistently illustrate this all-important truth, even though it is leading, as I have also shown, to Israel’s demise!

Returning, however, to the subject of this article: non-violent disobedience of the law in protest against Oslo or Annapolis differs radically as well as contextually from the non-violent disobedience of the law undertaken by those who followed Martin Luther King in American civil rights movement.

To be more precise, and as is well known, Martin Luther King engaged in civil disobedience against the segregation laws of various American state legislatures. He justified his acts of civil disobedience by arguing that those state laws violated the American Constitution, the supreme law of the land. Israel has no constitution.

As for Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom, this law did not prevent the Sharon Government from expelling 8,000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif—thanks to Israel’s Supreme Court, which ruled that Gaza was “belligerent occupied territory.” As Eldad surely knows, challenging Olmert’s ban on construction in Judea and Samaria before Israel’s High Court of Justice would be an exercise in futility.

Eldad needs to understand that the same act, which in a democracy is classified as “civil disobedience,” may readily be classified as “sedition” in an oligarchy. In a democracy, an act of civil disobedience is directed, not against the Government, but against a particular law. In an oligarchy, however, that same act will be treated by the Government as an attack against itself, the Regime, hence as sedition!

This is why civil disobedience in a democratic America may constitute sedition in undemocratic Israel.

December 31, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. There is no tradition of mass civil disobedience in Israel, we endured Banking sector collapse, NOTHING!

    Lebnon1 Lebanon 2hundred of political scandals big and small! NOTHING

    inflation of 23% a month at peak! NOTHING

    Crippling Strikes!NOTHING

    The only thing that shook the Israeli electorate enough to put enough pressure on the elites above and force a change was reservist inspired revolt after war in 73 and that took 6 months to get going>

    Like with Clinton/ its the economy stupid ! so it is here as well coupled with quiet on the streets of Tel Aviv , the only constituency that seems to count in Israel , I don’t see where civil disobedience will get its soldiers from? YAWN!!!

  2. Which is true… the branja will stop at nothing to dissolve the country. Unless there is a mass uprising, Israel will be torn apart, little by little until there’s nothing left to give. Your guess of the chance of that happening is as good as mine.

  3. I hate to say this but a mini civil war with casualties may be the only way! Then I can’t speculate about the final outcome!