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Daniel Gordis

Israel’s Talk on Free Speech Doesn’t Match Its Action

Recent detentions of those who disagree with Netanyahu’s government are unsettling for a democracy.

On guard at the airport.

On guard at the airport.

Photographer: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty Images

Several weeks ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to support a bill that would have given gays and lesbians the right to bear children through surrogates. A day later, without explanation though not uncharacteristically, he reversed positions and blocked the bill. Since then, gay-rights groups have voicing their outrage. On Monday, Netanyahu responded to the criticism by noting that he is “proud to lead one of world’s most open democracies.”

The comment was disingenuous, of course. And ironic given that the security services he controls have spent the last few weeks chipping away at Israel’s freedom of speech — at least for those who do not share this government’s political views.