Of late, the left have been in the habit of banning things. From university speakers who deviate from leftist dogma to products from big corporates that offend one or other minority groups, many have fallen foul of the new puritanic banning urges.
The decisions – despite being invariably puerile – have been defended with a chorus of praise by the left. This trend is dangerous. Today’s students grow up without the rounding and resilience of debate. The ‘Twitter mobs’ that demand these actions show little care for those hurt in the wash.
All this emanates from the capacity to ban that which offends us rather than that which harms us. In order, to justify these decisions words are called ‘violence’ and offence becomes ‘aggression’. All of this revisionism is to be resisted. Just as the progressive left defend these bans by reflex, our instinct must always be to resist these bans.
However, if ever there was a ban that reversed these assumptions, it came this week. Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are anti-Semites and openly so. They have both perpetuated slurs and repeatedly called into question Israel’s status. They’re also both – notably – supporters of the BDS movement.
So, this week, when the Israeli Government barred their visit to the Israel and the West Bank all the normal assumptions were reversed. Here, the Netanyahu administration cheered on by President Trump, were the ones doing the banning and the Left were leading the criticism. Democratic contenders for President queued up to denounce the decision as totalitarian.
The reality, however, is that the decision was nothing out of the ordinary either for Israel or the Western world.
The UK has long banned extremists from our shores – in fact the legislation enabling it to do so was passed by the Labour Government. The list of those it has barred includes Islamists, the far-right, and religious zealots. The test the British Government applies is “would their admission be conducive to the public good?”.
Had Representatives Tlaib and Omar incited hatred against the British people, called for a boycott of British products, and called into question the UK’s right to exist, there is little doubt they would have been banned from the UK too. The moral ambivalence towards threatening Israel that extends to no other nation is wholly unjustifiable. The people of Israel are no less entitled to security than any other Western nation,
Borders exist for a reason. One such reason is to protect nations from those who would import the hate of foreign lands to its shores. A government’s solemn duty is to protect its people and it ought to begin by keeping out those who wish it ill. Tlaib and Omar do not just hate Israel, they hate its people, and Israel should not be compelled to suffer their presence.
In fact, Israel’s justification was much more modest. It will not permit those who seek to starve it out through the BDS movement – like some 21st Century castle siege – to enjoy its hospitality. This is no act of flippant unreasonableness. It mattered not one iota that the banned individuals were Congresswomen.
Israel – like other Western countries – has laws to defend itself against those who seek to wither its existence away and it has laws to uphold it. This is what real prohibitions on real danger look like. This is no infantile student union ban. Perhaps though, having seen what a ban looks like on one of their own, some will reflect on their proclivity to ban things so readily.