Sunday, March 25, 2007

Who is Underming Who?

Civil rights groups have demanded that the attorney general lay down rules to restrict the activities of the Shin Bet security services against the Arab community and its political groups.

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz last Thursday to order the Shin Bet to stop trying to block what the group called legitimate political activity.

Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights, is demanding a criminal probe into the Shin Bet's activity, accusing the security service of exceeding its authority and causing incitement against the Arab public.

ACRI's petition follows a letter the Shin Bet sent the previous week to the predominantly Arab Balad party's journal, Fasal al-Makal, warning that it would foil the activity of anyone seeking to harm Israel's Jewish or democratic character, even if that activity was carried out by legal means.

The issue was raised following the recent drafting of four documents in the Arab community calling for a revision of Israel's character. The documents are: the Musawa organization's Ten Points, the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee's Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel, the Adalah organization's Democratic Constitution and the yet-unpublished Haifa Treaty.

ACRI's letter said that the Shin Bet's assumption that it was authorized to curtail activity not explicitly prohibited by law "undermines the foundations of democracy and reflects a basic lack of understanding of the concept of democracy."

"The attempt by the Shin Bet to redefine the rules of the democratic game is a serious violation of the rule of law," it said.

The letter also stated that the concept of freedom is a preeminent value of democracy, and from it derives the principle that all that is not explicitly prohibited must as such be permitted.

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