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Posts Tagged ‘editorial’

What Does It Mean To Be ‘Pro-Israel’?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

One of the standard arguments currently being employed against supporters of Israel is that the true friends of the Jewish state are those who are doing their best to undermine its democratically-elected government and force it to submit to foreign pressure to make concessions to the Palestinians.

It is an old and somewhat disingenuous ploy that is, at best, an effort by supporters of the losing side in Israeli elections to win back what their friends have lost in the ballot box.

There are times when those who like the right-of-center parties in Israel have played this game. However, since the evisceration of the Israeli left by the refusal of the Palestinians to make peace, it is the sole consolation of those who despise Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies. But the anger and frustration of the Jewish left is such these days that some have expanded this tactic and taken to using anti-Semitic tropes about “Israel-firsters” which are straight out of the Walt-Mearsheimer Israel lobby thesis.

To listen to people like the political writer M.J. Rosenberg these days, it is hard to distinguish the bile he spews at AIPAC and liberal supporters of Israel (forget about what he says about conservatives) from that of out-and-out anti-Zionists.

Rosenberg’s old friend J.J. Goldberg wrote in the Forward last week to defend his buddy. It was an unconvincing piece marred not so much by the frame of reference of friendship as it is by a refusal to come to grips with the way Rosenberg’s anger at his former employers at AIPAC and everyone who doesn’t share his opinion has distorted this debate.

According to J.J., M.J. is still pro-Israel at heart but just doesn’t like the policies of its government and those Americans who back it. But Rosenberg’s willingness to adopt the rhetoric of Israel-haters undermines his defenders. That this apologia for Rosenberg ran in the same issue of the paper that also contained a flattering profile of Ali Abunimah, one of the leading advocates of the campaign to boycott Israel in the United States, only reinforces the impression that some on the Jewish left are so deeply invested in the effort to undermine backers of the pro-Israel consensus that they are seeking to erase any boundary between mere criticism of the government in Jerusalem and activity whose aims are clearly more sinister.

Given the viciousness of his rhetoric, it is not surprising that Rosenberg has become a lightning rod. Liberal icon Alan Dershowitz has called on the White House to disassociate itself from his current employer, the liberal group Media Matters, due to Rosenberg’s conduct. That is a matter for the left to hash out. I am more interested in the attempts by people like Goldberg to defend Rosenberg on the grounds he is just a garden-variety critic of Netanyahu.

Indeed, Goldberg claims the whole dustup is the fault of Netanyahu and his anti-peace policies. This is an absurd distortion of Netanyahu’s record, but its main fault is that he ignores the fact that it is the Palestinians who have conclusively rejected peace. Goldberg and Rosenberg’s positions on the peace process have been rendered not so much incorrect but irrelevant by the ruthless dynamics of Palestinian politics that has made peace unlikely for the foreseeable future.

But rather than acknowledge this reality, they prefer to keep up their fight against the Jewish right. In the case of Rosenberg, his position is now so extreme that he is not only unable to put forward his opinions in a reasonable manner unmarred by hate speech, he also seems unwilling to recognize any distinction between attacks on supporters of Israel’s current government and the right of its people to have their democratic verdict respected abroad and the violent rhetoric employed by those who literally wish to see the state destroyed.

Many on the left these days lack the humility that ought to always be part of American Jewish attempts to diagnose Israel’s problems. Even worse, some like Rosenberg are so frustrated by the way their assumptions about how to make peace have been overtaken by events that they have come to see any attack on Israel’s leaders or the vast majority of Americans who have stepped forward to support that government as being fair comment. In doing so, he has resorted to the lowest sort of smear that had heretofore been the province of Israel haters.

Though Goldberg assures us M.J. is the same lover of Israel he was in his youth, that only goes to show how politics can distort a man’s vision and his moral compass so as to allow him to try to destroy that which he once held dear in the name of preserving that same thing.

As the decision by the Forward’s editors to publish a puff piece on Abunimah shows, Rosenberg is not alone in having stepped over the line from honest Zionist criticism to that shadowy no man’s land in which those who are neutral about Israel’s existence live. Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada website is the source of a non-stop flow of hatred at the Jewish state and Zionism. For a Jewish newspaper that considers itself an upholder of the liberal end of the pro-Zionist spectrum to have made such a decision calls into question not only the judgment of the editors but also whether they believe there is any line across which Jews may not stray before their conduct can be properly termed “anti-Israel.”

The Gray Lady Versus Our Security

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The New York Times recently threw a hissy fit over what it felt were overzealous efforts by Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly to defend NYPD anti-terrorist surveillance programs the Times opposes. And just this week the Times, in editorializing on the exclusionary policies of the TAPPS high-school basketball tournament, chose to focus most of its ire not on the attempted exclusion of the Orthodox Beren Academy over its refusal to play on the Jewish Sabbath – which captivated the attention of the media across the country – but on the experience of some Muslim applicants.

The Times’s biased focus is manifest.

In a March 8 editorial the Times rebuked Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly for having “reacted with defensiveness and hostility to the disclosure of constitutionally suspect surveillance of law-abiding Muslims in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and beyond.” The paper chided the mayor for saying the issue was not “a political football to play with” and the commissioner for having accused critics of the NYPD of using “the media to spread this information.”

The editorial concluded by saying, “Mr. Kelly loudly defends the operation and an exemplary record of preventing terrorist attacks. He should not do that so loudly that he drowns out reasonable criticisms.”

The Times’s groveling before Muslim groups is nothing new, of course. Remember its relentless criticism of opponents of the Ground Zero mosque?

In an August 3, 2010 editorial, the Times ripped into Republican opponents of the mosque for having the effrontery to disagree: “It was not surprising that Republican ideologues like Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin came out against the mosque…. They have been shamelessly playing the politics of fear since 9/11.”

The Times also laced into the Anti-Defamation League for coming out against the mosque. Two weeks later the Times delivered a harsh rebuke to critics of President Obama’s comments in support of the mosque and in yet another editorial a month later the paper said that “The furor over the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero keeps giving us new reasons for dismay. As politicians and commentators work themselves and viewers into a rage, others who should be standing up for freedom and tolerance tiptoe away.”

Fast forward to the current controversy over the NYPD’s surveillance program. On March 3 the Times ran an editorial titled, “Surveillance, Security and Civil Liberties.” True to form, it was a one-sided indictment of the NYPD.

On March 7 the Times ran a news story headlined “F.B.I Official Faults Police Tactics on Muslims.” However, while the piece quoted a local FBI official’s criticisms, it also contained the following colloquy between Robert S. Mueller III, the director of the FBI, and Congressman Mike Honda during Director Mueller’s testimony before the House Appropriations Committee. Congressman Honda had asked about the NYPD surveillance tactics. Mr. Mueller’s response:

Let me start by saying, at the outset, that Ray Kelly and the New York Police Department have done a remarkable job in protecting New York. The fact of the matter is New York has been and will continue to be a target. And we have worked closely – very closely – together with them.

So, then, should anyone take seriously The Times’s pontifications about what is acceptable advocacy, especially when the paper skews headlines on news stories to fit its agenda?

New NY Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Tips Her Hand

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Incoming New York Times Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren has been exhibiting not only questionable judgment but also an overt bias against Israel even before she’s landed in the country. Her Twitter praise of extremists like the Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah and her laudatory references to Peter Beinart’s book trashing Israel indicated that she saw no reason why the public should have to wait until she started filing slanted stories to understand where she stood on the issues.

In an attempt to do some quick damage control, Rudoren submitted to an interview with Politico media reporter Dylan Byers to explain herself. But it did little to repair her image or to undermine the notion she has already made up her mind about how to report the conflict.

Rudoren claimed her tweet to Abunimah was meant to be private, not public. But the idea that she considers Electronic Intifada “important” already shows her frame of reference about Israel. It is one thing to say, as she does, a reporter must talk to all sides. It is quite another to make nice in this manner with advocates of economic warfare on Israel.

Even worse is her insistence that her praise of Peter Beinart’s tendentious attack on Israel isn’t an indication she supports his point of view. Indeed, she doubles down on her praise for Beinart:

“…I will absolutely not apologize for thinking that this is a good book…. I don’t agree with everything in the book, I don’t even have an opinion about the arguments in the book, but it’s really well-written, it’s really provocative, there’s tons of reporting in it with things people don’t know….”

The very fact that she thinks Beinart’s book, filled with left-wing clichés, contains original reporting demonstrates she has a poor grasp of what constitutes good journalism and she has come into this post knowing little about the conflict or the literature about it. Moreover, her claim she doesn’t agree with everything in the book is a weasel-worded excuse that will convince no one. You don’t give a gushing endorsement to a polemic such as Beinart’s if you are neutral about its thesis.

The Times has clearly made a mistake in appointing someone to this post with a clear bias against Israel. But the fact that she has been so indiscreet about her bias ought to alert her editors to not only her lack of political savvy but also her complete unsuitability for such a delicate position.

Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine with responsibility for managing the editorial content of its Contentions website as well as serving as chief politics blogger.

A Landscape Transformed Orthodoxy and America’s Elite Universities

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

“Rabbi, did you ever think you would see this day?”

It was 1971, and the university official who asked this question was inviting the rabbi to the dedication of the kosher dining room in Stevenson Hall on the campus of Princeton University.

In light of the anti-Semitism that had prevailed at elite schools until the 1950s, the official was right. But the rabbi he invited was Rav Mordechai Pinchas Teitz, zt”l, who would indeed have imagined this moment could come.

Rabbi Teitz called America “golus [exile], but the best golus the Jewish nation has experienced.” He thought President Harry Truman, Senator Hubert Humphrey, and Governor Thomas Kean represented the best qualities of America: a commitment to fairness with a generosity of spirit.

True, these qualities had not always been evident in the Ivy League and Seven Sisters colleges.

Barnard College, for example, had been founded and supported by Annie Nathan Meyer, and later received large donations from Jacob Schiff, both of whom were Jewish. But when Virginia Gildersleeve became the head of Barnard in 1911, her spirit of anti-Semitism prevailed.

In 1916 Schiff gave half a million dollars for the construction of the main building, which was called Students’ Hall. In 1926, after Schiff’s death, the building was named Barnard Hall rather than for the donor. Annie Nathan Meyer protested the blatant anti-Semitism and the pain caused to the Schiff family, but Gildersleeve – who had the support of Columbia’s Nicholas Murray Butler in her approach – did not retreat.

The sole memorial of Schiff’s generosity is a marble plaque set in the floor of the Barnard Hall lobby; when I was a student there we referred to meeting in the lobby as meeting “on Jake,” but we did not know the story behind this.

Gildersleeve and Butler were also perturbed by the number of Jews enrolling in their schools, particularly those whose families had come from Eastern Europe and had excelled in high school here.

Before World War I, forty percent of Columbia’s students were Jewish, and Barnard in the 1920s was heading toward the same percentage. They agreed to stop basing admission on academic achievement and to instead consider interviews, letters of recommendation, and “geographic distribution” as criteria. The last phrase is a code name for non-Jews since Montana, Idaho, and similar locales could be counted on for fewer Jews than the East Coast. Hewitt Hall, a dormitory at Barnard, was built to enable students from distant parts of the country to live on campus.

The irony is that a number of the professors who made these schools renowned were Jewish, at least one of them born in Lithuania – the supposedly “uncultured” Eastern Europe – Meyer Schapiro, who made the department of art history a force in American culture.

Other Jewish notables in the ensuing decades included Isidor Rabi, who won the Nobel Prize in physics in 1944, Lionel Trilling in English literature, and Franz Boas at Barnard, who developed the fields of anthropology and linguistics.

Gildersleeve was so intent on favoring admission of women from rich Protestant families that she organized the Seven Sisters with Bryn Mawr, Mt. Holyoke, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar, and Wellesley to promote her policy of excluding Jews. When she left the deanship in 1947, she lobbied against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

* * * * *

But change was coming. After World War II there was an increased sensitivity to the horrific consequences of anti-Semitism. Although other groups had not suddenly become philo-Semites, outright discrimination was becoming unacceptable. And the pioneers in Israel upended all the old stereotypes of Jews.

Day schools opened across the United States and Canada. In the middle of the nineteenth century Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch had initiated the model of a school with both Jewish and secular studies. Before World War II there were day schools in New York, Baltimore, Boston, Elizabeth, and a handful of other cities. In the postwar years tens of new schools were established. The law of unintended consequences operated; many of the teachers in these schools were European refugees who had managed to arrive in America after the war.

At the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the ‘60s a few graduates of yeshiva high schools were admitted into the top colleges. College administrators were nonplussed by the requirements of observant Jewish undergraduates. No exams on the Sabbath? Who ever heard of a holiday in May called “Shavuot”? Kosher food?

I recall that when I asked to defer a final that was scheduled for Shavuot, the registrar at Barnard said, “Miss Teitz, I’ve heard of your New Year; I’ve heard of your Day of Atonement; I think you’re making this holiday up.”

My sisters and I came to Barnard in the first place because of anti-Semitism. In a public high school in New Jersey, a teacher had said to a student, “I graduated from Barnard, but you will never be accepted there. You’re a rabbi’s daughter; your letter of rejection is guaranteed.” It was 1931, in an era when a Jewish student could not protest such a remark and such a policy. The rabbi’s daughter was my mother, who determined that if she had daughters they would attend Barnard.

Bias Exemplified

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

The Monitor often is asked for an example of a news story that exhibits such blatant bias it astounds even a jaded observer of the mainstream media. Such a story appeared in the March 29, 2006 edition of The New York Times, on the occasion of the passing of Lyn Nofziger, longtime aide to Ronald Reagan.

It’s not exactly news that The New York Times editorial page detested Reagan. But who would have thought that 17 years after the end of his presidency and nearly two years after his death the Times would still seek to denigrate Reagan’s legacy, on its news pages, in a manner that can only be described as petty and inappropriate?

No one ever expected the Times’s leftist editorial board to endorse Reagan for president in 1980 and 1984. Nor was anyone surprised at the relentless invective aimed at Reagan by Times editorialists throughout his two terms in Washington. In January 1983, barely two years into his presidency, a Times editorial declared that “The stench of failure hangs over Ronald Reagan’s White House” and warned that unless he came up with “better ideas” the country was doomed “to two more years of destructive confusion.”

(Reagan sagely ignored the advice and was reelected 22 months later, winning 49 of 50 states in a historic landslide.)

Even as Reagan’s stature steadily rose among historians in the years after he returned to private life, the Times continued to view him as a mediocrity whose successes, the paper insisted in a churlish editorial following his death, were due largely to “good timing and good luck.”

A newspaper has every right in its editorial commentary to assess a public figure as harshly as it cares to. But what about when a paper like the Times takes a potshot at a deceased president not in an editorial but in a news story?

In his article on Nofziger’s death back in 2006 (the Monitor keeps a clipping taped to an office wall as a reminder of why the Times has become such an untrustworthy news source), veteran Times reporter John M. Broder, who at the time was the paper’s Los Angeles bureau chief, included the following paragraph:

Mr. Nofziger was at the hospital with Reagan after he was shot in March 1981 and relayed to the press the president’s memorable, if perhaps apocryphal, line to Mrs. Reagan at the hospital: “Honey, I forgot to duck.” [Emphasis added]

“Perhaps apocryphal”? Reagan’s display of calmness and grace on the day he was nearly killed cemented the bond between him and the American people. His quips to his wife and his doctors have been told and retold in hundreds of books and articles on the Reagan presidency, with nary a hint that they were, in Broder’s words, “perhaps apocryphal.”

But leave aside all those books and articles. Look at how the Times itself reported Reagan’s remarks in the days following the assassination attempt. In the Times’s lead article of March 31, 1981, the day after John Hinckley Jr. pulled the trigger, then-reporter Howell Raines wrote: “ ‘Honey, I forgot to duck,’ Mr. Reagan was quoted as telling his wife.”

In the same edition, the Times’s Lynn Rosellini began her article, “Shortly before he was wheeled into the operating room, President Reagan looked up at his wife, Nancy, and told her: ‘Honey, I forgot to duck.’ ” The article was headlined “ ‘Honey, I Forgot to Duck,’ Injured Reagan Tells Wife.”

For good measure, reporter B. Drummond Ayres Jr. repeated the “I forgot to duck” quip in a sidebar piece that ran in the Times two days after the shooting. Titled “Amid the Darkest Moments, a Leaven of Presidential Wit,” the article described Reagan’s jocular statements as “good medicine, leavening the crisis, buoying an anxious nation and showing the wounded leader to be a man of genuine good humor and sunny disposition, even in deep adversity.”

Where, then, did John M. Broder get the idea, nearly two decades after the fact, that the “Honey, I forgot to duck” quip was “perhaps apocryphal”? Not, apparently, from his own newspaper. But doesn’t he, as every good Timesman should, consider the Times the nation’s “paper of record”?

Whither Israeli Democracy?

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

In recent months a new theme has replaced the media’s past obsession with Israel’s alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians. While abuse of Israel on this count is by no means over, with no humanitarian crisis in Hamas-ruled Gaza to trumpet and the Palestinians’ obvious disinterest in peace, the Israel-bashers have turned to a different theme: the imminent end of Israeli democracy.

Stories about proposed laws seeking to regulate non-governmental organizations, press disputes, clashes with the ultra-Orthodox and the treatment of women have often been combined to put forward the idea that the Jewish state is in the grips of a neo-fascist right-wing that is fast on its way to ending democracy and installing a theocracy that would no longer be seen as sharing values with the United States.

But though Israel is beset, as is any democracy, with serious social problems and partisan clashes over a host of issues, the idea that democracy there is in any danger is a figment of the imagination of the country’s left-wing critics. Rather than being in decline, it is, if anything, more vibrant than ever.

Briefly, and in order:

First, proposed laws that would either place curbs on foreign funding for non-governmental organizations or allow Israelis to sue those groups that support boycotts of the country may be badly conceived. But they are in no way a threat to democratic rule. For many years, leftists have poured money into Israeli groups that seek to slander the country as an apartheid state or to fund those who seek to undermine its status as a Jewish state. It is understandable that most Israelis would resent this activity, even if placing burdens on the funders seems unreasonable to Americans who have a very different conception of free speech rights from that of inhabitants of other democracies (including those in Europe).

Second, the idea that the current Israeli government is trying to muscle the press was mooted in a recent New York Times article that purported to show that Prime Minister Netanyahu was retaliating against an independent television station that gave him critical coverage. But the story glossed over two things. First is the fact that the Natanyahu government actually supports expanding the number of broadcast options Israelis currently have. Second is the fact that, like the United States, in Israel the vast majority of the mainstream media is in the grips of the left. Only someone with no conception of how Israeli society and politics actually works would possibly imagine there was any scarcity of anti-Netanyahu voices in the media there. Israel has a free press, and there is no danger it will cease to exist even if most of it is run by incorrigible left-wingers.

Third, and in many ways most troubling, is the reporting about clashes between the majority of Israelis and a small minority of ultra-Orthodox hoodlums who have been accused of abusing women in public places. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was wrong to compare the situation with what is going on in Iran because these hooligans are conducting themselves in a manner that contradicts Jewish religious law as well as the will of the secular majority and the government.

Clashes between the ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews make most Israelis especially angry because the haredim often wield political power out of proportion to their numbers due to the quirks of the Israel’s proportional electoral system. Efforts by some haredi outliers to defend what they wrongly see as their turf have resulted in egregious incidents such as the insults aimed at a young Modern Orthodox girl in the town of Beit Shemesh. Other efforts to enforce an appalling “back of the bus” policy for women or segregated sidewalks in religious neighborhoods are pressure points for a culture war in which the Orthodox are seen as trying to impose their will on the majority.

Peaceful coexistence between the haredi community and the rest of the country is an ongoing challenge, especially because of the issues of avoidance of military service and abuse of the welfare state. Incidents such as the treatment of the Beit Shemesh girl are symbols of the rest of the country’s resentment against the haredim, even if the offenders there are operating outside the consensus of even their own community.

But as contemptible as such episodes may be, they are not a sign of the end of democracy but proof that democracy is alive and well in Israel. Each episode has gotten a robust response from both the people and the government. Some Americans may not like the politics of the current Israeli government or the fact that it seems likely to be re-elected when it next faces the electorate there. But nothing that is happening in Israel or is likely to happen should persuade anyone that it is not the same lively and combative democratic culture it always has been.

Thomas Friedman and the New Anti-Semitism

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

Though The New York Times’s Thomas Friedman invariably characterizes himself as a friend of Israel, his Dec. 14 column illustrates the slippery slope along which critics of the Jewish state invariably slide as they attempt to shout down those with whom they disagree.

In an effort to simultaneously bash Republican supporters of Israel as well as the Israeli government, his frustration with Israel’s enduring popularity led Friedman to engage in smears more typically associated with fringe intellectuals such as Israel Lobby authors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. It’s not just that Friedman disdains Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney’s belief in the U.S.-Israel alliance, but that in order to justify his contempt he finds himself having to paint Israel as being intrinsically unworthy of any support.

First, Friedman is wrong that Newt Gingrich’s line about the Palestinians being an “invented people” means Israel wants to rule the West Bank indefinitely. Rather, the injection of some truth about the history of the conflict ought to highlight a fact that journalists like Friedman have done so much to ignore: the inextricable link between Palestinian nationalism and a belief in the destruction of Israel. The point that Gingrich and many others have tried to make is that unless and until the Palestinians reinvent their identity and political culture in such a fashion as to drop their desire to extinguish the Jewish state, peace is not possible.

Second, let’s address one of the primary slanders at the heart of his piece: that the standing ovations Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received last spring in Washington were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.” Rather, they were the result of the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans – Jew and non-Jew alike – think of Israel as a friend and ally. They, and their representatives in Congress, believe the Jewish state’s security is, contrary to Friedman’s formulation, a vital U.S. interest in the Middle East. It is true, as Friedman says, that the applause may not have been a personal endorsement for Netanyahu, but that’s because it was also a stiff rebuke to President Obama’s attempt to ambush the Israeli prior to his visit with his speech about the 1967 lines, whose purpose was to tilt the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians.

The notion that the only reason politicians support Israel is because of Jewish money is a central myth of a new form of anti-Semitism that masquerades as a defense of American foreign policy against the depredations of a venal Israel lobby. This canard not only feeds off of the traditional themes of Jew-hatred, it also requires Friedman to ignore the deep roots of American backing for Zionism in our history and culture.

Friedman goes on to embarrass himself by contrasting the reception Netanyahu received on Capitol Hill to the one he might get at a center of leftist academia such as the University of Wisconsin. There’s little doubt he would not be cheered there. But the same would be true of most American politicians or thinkers who deviated from leftist orthodoxy. The notion that liberal campuses are more representative of public opinion about Israel than Congress is laughable.

But Friedman doesn’t stop there. He goes on to enumerate various Israeli sins that should, he thinks, cause American Jews and our leaders to distance themselves from the Jewish state.

Some of the items he lists are troubling. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s closeness with the Putin regime in Russia is a mistake. But can a small nation under siege be blamed if one of its leaders sees the value in maintaining relations with a powerful nation? And many Americans, Friedman included, have at times criticized opinions or decisions made by our own secretaries of state. Disagreeing with Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice or Hillary Clinton isn’t considered a good reason to abandon support for America’s continued existence and security, so why should it be so for Israel?

The violent actions of a tiny band of extremist settlers are also unsettling. But it’s a stretch to say such activities are representative of the Jewish communities in the territories, let alone that of the entire country. Even less credible are Friedman’s citing of ultra-Orthodox attempts to segregate buses in their neighborhoods by gender and the Knesset’s consideration of bills that make it harder for foreign-funded non-governmental organizations to pursue propaganda campaigns that support Israel’s enemies.

The fight over the buses is ongoing, but it is a struggle conducted by competing groups in a democratic society. Any effort to portray an overwhelmingly secular Israeli culture as one that is dominated by haredim bears little resemblance to reality.

The attempt to skew the debate over the legislation about the NGOs or even efforts to reform a court system (whose power far exceeds that of the United States) as anti-democratic is equally off the mark. The lively debates on these issues that represent efforts to impose some accountability on foreign bodies as well as on an out-of-control judiciary is a sign of a healthy democracy. Those Israelis and Americans who have attempted to argue the contrary are merely engaging in partisan bickering that has little to do with the truth about the Jewish state.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/thomas-friedman-and-the-new-anti-semitism/2011/12/21/

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