Phantom Crises
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Phantom Crises

Israel is a democracy and as such, is imperfect. While the world tries to
hold Israel to an impossible standard (that no other country is held to),
Seymour Reich has opted to join the chorus, creating phantom crises out of
issues that are not the threats he makes them out to be (“Israel’s Assault On Democracy,” Opinion, April 29).

The fact is, there
are real and serious challenges to Israeli democracy, including charedi control of
personal matters, problematic treatment of Arabs — both citizens and in the
territories — and an at-times abusive police force. But Mr. Reich focuses on a
few issues that he exaggerates into major attacks on democracy. Most of his
examples are easily refuted.

First, the NGO bill is not nearly as sinister as it might appear. It is
strange that the left, which protested vigorously about Prime Minister
Netanyahu’s so-called “interference” in U.S. elections, has no problem with
foreign-financed NGOs lobbying the Knesset and not being open about their
funding. But a foreign government-funded NGO is different from one funded by
individuals, and it is not anti-democratic to treat them differently. We do
so in the U.S., too.

Breaking the Silence is a group under attack from both the left and right in
Israel for activities that go far beyond what Mr. Reich describes. Not every
group has a right to go into schools and propagandize to students.

Mr. Reich seems upset that more people read a right-oriented paper than a
leftist one. Of course, no one is stopping him from raising funds (perhaps
from foreign governments) to distribute Haaretz for free. People are free
to choose to read what they wish.

Most of these problems stem from Israel being a parliamentary democracy, with
governments that are dependent on shaky coalitions of self-interested
parties.

But for Mr. Reich to suggest that democracy itself is under “assault” in Israel, at a time when Jews are being murdered in the street as
the world looks on and condemns the victims, strikes me as highly
irresponsible.

 

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