Living under a military junta

This is a guest post by Oliver Worth

It’s official: The rights of private enterprises to decide what to sell is now the antithesis of democracy – that is, of course, if one reads Seth Freedman’s latest CiF piece ‘Suppressing Book Bolsters Settlers’.

Freedman begins by making a peculiar comparison between those trying to boycott Israel from abroad and the choice of the Tzomet Sefarim bookstore to stop selling a left wing political pamphlet.  What he doesn’t mention, or fails to see, is that these two occurrences couldn’t be further apart.  Whilst the decision of the Tzomet Sefarim to stop stocking this particular piece was as a result of unpopularity and customer complaints (a regular occurrence in a democratic society), the tactics used by anti-Israeli boycotters in the UK such as BDS are about preventing people from teaching and speaking – surely the exact opposite of liberal democracy.

What Freedman admits is that there had been a storm of criticism of the pamphlet, though he uses this as his ‘proof’ that the decision was forced because of threats of violence, rather than as obvious reasons why the pamphlet was so unpopular.  He refers to quotes in the book such as settlers being referred to as “messianic madmen” and their children as “brainwashed zombies”, yet sees this as a vindication of his belief that the book must have been withdrawn because of threats, rather than because the pamphlet is crass, poorly written and ultimately detrimental to the firm’s bottom line.

Having run out of ideas to justify how a bookstore deciding to stop stocking a book must be the first sign of a totalitarian regime, Freedman goes on to rant about his own experiences in the Israeli territories, writing in a way that would lead one to believe he’d been participating in a situation at home in an Indiana Jones film, before quietly admitting there was actually “no real impediment to our work or safety”.

Seth concludes that this whole event proves that “Israel’s claim to be a fully functional bastion of democracy” is a “facade”, despite the fact that the state did not ban the book, nor even bat an eyelid at the publication of anti-government propaganda in a nation where such rights are cherished.  That Freedman sees the rights of businesses to stock what they wish to sell as a contradiction of democracy once again reminds us what can happen when rash politics clash with reason.

The good news is Mr Freedman has inspired me to concoct my own system of democracy detection.  Simply  go to a bookstore near you, and if the shelves are not laden with extreme political propaganda, you can be sure you’re living under a military junta.

33 replies »

  1. And don’t forget that Seth wrote an article on CiF last year about WHSmiths policy of selling travel books by only one publisher (in Britain). Seth justified this policy as a legitimate business decision, ignoring the long-term implications of such a policy. He supported their “stack them high and sell them cheap” policy, to use his own words. But a similar decision by Zomet Sfarim (which I disagree with) now has him upset. What a hypocrite !!

  2. MindTheCrap

    What a hypocrite !!

    I think mental instability might be a more fitting explanation.

  3. Yes, he really got us all confused. So a national BDS on Israel is democratic, but a privately held bookstore’s BDS on a pamphlet isn’t.

    The book chain only decided to drop the book after realizing it might hurt their PR and sales. It’s not much different than Freedman’s Guardian choosing which stories to go with and which to keep silent about. (Of course the book chain isn’t putting up FALSE content like the Guardian.)

    Anyone who protests the book chain’s decision to drop the book can make his own BDS on it. I’ve read some of the manifest and it’s written more like post-modern comic fiction than a serious political text. Alongside important and common-sensed observations there are also some distasteful and crass opinions. Personally I’m not happy about the store’s decision to drop it, but it’s their right.

  4. Judge for yourselves. The manifest in hebrew for those who can read it:

    (I understand the NY Times has translated it but I can’t find it)

  5. Both the Guardian and the NYTimes readers in far-off America and England have been told that a book chain in Israel has decided to please their customers and discontinue selling a less than brilliant political pamphlet.

    What other country in the world is so much in the spotlight? Why are such minor events so crucial to those abroad?

    This is not a library, whose task is to store and disseminate information, but a bookstore, whose task is to sell the books its customers wish to purchase.

    I’d call this a very big storm in a very tiny teacup.

  6. When SF writes an article against the BDS,then we might be able to take him seriously.

    Unless of course he agrees with the BDS.

    Writing about some stupid pamphlet and making an issue out of it ,is SF’s style,the style of someone who has run out of palestinian taxi drivers who want to talk to him.

  7. “Freedman goes on to rant about his own experiences in the Israeli territories”

    In the what??

    This is a piece about a pamphlet criticising the settlers – a piece written by a pro-settler person!

    And this website compains about bias on CiF????

  8. I just read his article for the first time,I don’ normally bother with him,he’s a typical whinging and whining pom.

    His friends are calling for boycotting,divesting,and sanctions for Israel.A call to boycott a whole nation,and this jackass is worried about some pissy pamphlet,that some bookstore chain refuses to store.

    This guy is the absolute pits.

  9. I hope he gets a nice warm welcome the next time he tries to step into one of those settlements in the Israeli Territories.

    He should take Shulamit Aloni, and one of his Balad mates with him.The next he tries to interview the settlers in the Israeli Territories.That could be his next article for CiF.

  10. Spoton:
    Thank you for your contribution to bringing this site down to the level of CiF. Who would you take if you were to interview settlers in the “territories” ?

  11. Maybe a lttile OT, but:

    I have never watched “South Park’, but its amazing what you can see while getting dressed for work:

    Unfortunately you have to watch an ad first, but watch this.

    South Park Threat

    A radical Islamic website issues a warning to the creators of “South Park” after the show featured the Prophet Mohammed.

    From the mouth of the website’s creator:

    “The Koran says we must terrorize unbelievers – it’s a command from Allah”

    He’s protected by the First Amendment …!!

  12. spoton – sometime Freedman agrees with the BDS movement, and sometimes he doesn’t.

    Sometimes he thinks it should be very “targeted”. For example, he feels it should not include books written by selected Brits living in Israel publishing books in Britain.

  13. Well, can anybody guess what Sethele would have written if the booklet in question talked about Hamas supporters as “messianic madmen” and about their children as “brainwashed zombies”? Of course, then it would have been an appalling racist rant that had to be pulled from the bookstore in order to prove that Israel was a democracy…

  14. Oliver

    ” Freedman goes on to rant about his own experiences in the Israeli territories ”

    Seth rants in rather carefully constructed prose . I have many times disagreed with him.. but have always had to admit he can paint pictures with his words…which is why he is so popular and attacked on these pages so regularly. If he wasn’t so effective you could safely ignore him.

  15. haverim, ani mevakesh slicha. eyin makom acher.


    21 Apr 2010, 2:04PM


    Someone who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk.

    Reminds me of the beefy trigger-happy Animal character in Full Metal Jacket.

    Contrary to popular beliefs, North Korea doesn’t have fully-functioning nuclear weapons. Their last test was a dud.

    Inside information, eh?
    Are you familiar with the Gareth character in the TV series The Office?
    Just wondering …

    Listen up, you little putz, and listen good,

    you’re way out of line. I’m gonna come down on you like a ton of bricks.
    Enough is enough. Kapish?

  16. The piece by sethele is actually very appropriate and is an example of how he is able to mangle a concept when he has to produce an article.

    Does he have the right to an unpopular opinion?
    Of course he does.

    Is their a guarantee that it will be published, stocked and sold?
    Of course not.

    Is he allowed to write with monotonous regularity and present his demonization of the Israeli men and women living in the cities, towns and kibbutzim in Judea and Samaria?
    Of course he is.

    Is he allowed to promote his political agenda?
    Of course he is.

    Are people allowed to promote a different agenda?
    Are people allowed to present the glorious dedication of the men and women who have breathed life into Judea and Samaria?
    Are people allowed to exercise their democratic right and call for a boycott of a commercial chain when it promotes their demonization?

    Why is it that when the “Right” practices the methods of the “Left”, it is referred to as being totalitarian and an affront to democracy?

    Oylem Goylem

  17. THH

    “@Sergio Bramsole
    calmati , Non devi preocupare e’ solo un sito”

    Lo so certamente. Pero mi sono stufato di leggere insulti ogni giorno Pretz e’ un vero cretino. Adesso basta.

    Un saluto da me e mille grazie a te. Ciao.

  18. sometime Freedman agrees with the BDS movement

    BDS movement – Bondage, Discipline and Sadism? Something about Sethele we never knew?

  19. @ Sergio Bramsole

    “Every day”? I think not!!

    All I’ve done is once (OK, maybe twice) mock you because of your slightly laughable I’m-tough CiF avatar and more recently had a joke at your expense – again on the military front.

    As THH implores: take it easy.

    You say you’re sick of me insulting you on a daily basis? And then you call me a cretin?!

    “Listen up, you little putz, and listen good”

    Oh yeah? What you gonna do otherwise, big boy?

    “you’re way out of line. I’m gonna come down on you like a ton of bricks.
    Enough is enough. Kapish?”

    Hilarious! You ARE Gareth!

    But why not save your extremely limited ammo for the people you really need to be fighting over at CiF?

    I am not your enemy.

  20. Toko LeMoko

    “BDS movement – Bondage, Discipline and Sadism?”

    Nah – more like Bollocks/Balderdash, Diversion and Sanctimoniousness?

    (OK, it needs working on – just an idea)

  21. if anyone has insults to hurl at people, best to do it in a way we can all understand(whats all the Italian stuff about?) and there is no need for any of it anyway

  22. @ smtx01

    I sense that wannabe Renaissance man Sergio was just dying to show off his Italian skills. Obviously they’re a bit elementary, because even I understood what he was saying!

    A bit sensitive on the trigger, that lad.

  23. pretzelberg

    @ Sergio Bramsole

    ” I am not your enemy.”

    I heard a lovely story of a Tory MPs first day in the Commons.He was being shown round by an old hand.The new boy saw a few Labour Party MPs and said..”Well there is the enemy.”

    The mature MP said “They are the opposition…the enemy are in own own party.”

    BTW I met Scotland’s only Tory MP yesterday…he came to my was a shock. I could have said anything… however my fabled wit and rapier like sense of humour abandoned me and I wished him well.

    I guess I thought he was brave ….however a funny thing then happened…I went in to tell my lady and …there the MP was on TV….with no sign that this was a recorded programme.

    Dont believe all you see.

  24. spoton

    You mean that there Are great Scots?

    Scotland in the late 18th C ..when we were the very best at about everything…poetry of course, but also literature in general with the invention of the historical novel…philosophy naturally… as the British enlightenment was really the Scottish enlightenment .

    Moving on swiftly through the great inventors like Bell and mathematicians like Napier ( logs… too young ) ? the scientists we have …the engineers.

    Blindingly brilliant at everything we were also sought out as overseers for the slave trade such was our reputation for violence. Take care that you dont confuse brilliance with heart.

  25. Marvellous to hear praises of the forgotten country of Scotland. Blindingly brilliant at wearing kilts they are.

    How amazing that the troll doesn’t speak of his great Prime Minister who was too busy campaigning to arrange for flights home for his scattered people when there was an emergency.

    There are the midges though! No other country has such obnoxious and plenteous midges.

  26. Come on everyone, abandon hope is not a representative of the people of Scotland. Scotland is a great country with many good people .

  27. pretzelberg

    “It’s the English that the Scots really hate.”

    Whilst this is mainly a thing of the past …when I am on one of my ” Jews are safe in Scotland ” benders.. I sometimes wish to clarify that I mean Scottish Jews..