Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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'This is real democracy'

Rae in hospitalBy Teymoor Nabili

I was presenting the news on Al Jazeera English on Tuesday, as Binyamin Netanyahu was speaking to the US congress in Washington, DC.

We carried the whole speech live, and did a good job, I thought, of presenting a rounded analysis of the content and the implications of Netanyahu's hard-line approach. (And I am still always amazed at how the Israeli press is so much better at critiquing Netanyahu  than are the US media.)

Anyway, within the overwhelmingly partisan chamber there was, rather unexpectedly, a heckler. We didn't get to see her, barely even heard her yell "stop the occupation" before she was dragged away.

The cameras remained fixed on Netanyahu and the proud legions of American legislators stood to applaud his stoicism and, it seemed, the men who forcibly removed her.

Netanyahu seamlessly incorporated the moment into his overall narrative:

I take it as a badge of honour [...] that in our free societies you can have protests... you can't have protests in the farcical parliaments in Tehran or Tripoli. This is real democracy!

Out of curiosity I thought I would try to find out what happened to that woman. Not many in the mainstream media bothered to pursue the issue, but it turned out that her name is Rae Abileah, she is a Jewish Israeli activist, and she ended up in hospital and under arrest.

I wonder if this is what Netanyahu meant when he was waxing lyrical about freedom.

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