Sent by Dariush Fakheri
by HYPERLINK Ron Dermer,
Dear Mr. Stengel,
I wanted to bring to your attention a recent article in Time entitled
0,8599,2041613,00.html" \t "_blank" "Israel's Rightward Lurch Scares
Some Conservatives." I hope that you will agree that the article's obvious
bias and numerous distortions are not worthy of the standards of your
Israel is depicted in the article as essentially sliding towards fascism. Your
correspondent refers to Israel's Shin Bet (the equivalent of the FBI) as a
"secret police," claims that the Israeli government "increasingly equates
dissent with disloyalty," and accuses the Prime Minister of "taking a page
from neighboring authoritarian states."
The evidence offered for these outrageous allegations includes a
preliminary vote in our parliament that would require naturalized
citizens to make a pledge of allegiance, a proposal to strip citizenship
from Israelis convicted of espionage and terrorism, a motion to
investigate foreign government funding of local NGOs, calls on Jews to
not rent property to Arabs, and demonstrations demanding prohibitions
of Arab boys from dating Jewish girls.
But your correspondent did not find it necessary to inform your readers
of a few facts.
Oaths of allegiance are commonplace in most democratic countries,
including the United States. Naturalized citizens in America swear an
oath to its Constitution and to defend the country against "all enemies,
foreign and domestic." Israel's proposed pledge would require naturalized
citizens to swear an oath to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, words
taken directly from our Declaration of Independence.
Moreover, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy are just some of the
many countries where citizenship can be stripped for various infractions
that are defined as undermining "national interests." Are these European
countries not democratic?
In the United States, Senator Joe Leiberman proposed a bill last year to
"add joining a foreign terrorist organization or engaging in or
supporting hostilities against the United States or its allies to the list of
acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality." Is
American democracy threatened by such a bill?
As for questioning the legitimacy of foreign government funding of Israeli
NGOs, mentioning America's Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA)
may have presented a more balanced picture.
FARA requires that any organization engaged in lobbying in the U.S.
that receives money from foreign individuals, let alone foreign
governments, must among other things register as a foreign agent with
the Department of Justice and permit the Attorney General to inspect all
of its activities.
It is hard to imagine any democratic country accepting foreign
governments intervening in its domestic affairs by funding domestic
groups engaged not merely in criticism of a particular government's
policy but also attacking the very foundations of the State.
What would Britain do if the French government was actively funding a
British NGO that sought to eliminate the monarchy? What would the
United States do if the Iranian government was funding American NGOs
pressing for a withdrawal of US forces from the Middle East?
There is a vigorous public debate in Israel, including within the Likud party, over the best means to address the problem of foreign government funding of local NGOs. Proposals range from launching a parliamentary investigation to laws banning or restricting such funding to measures to ensure full transparency. Far from being a sign of Israel's slide toward fascism, the current debate in Israel is a testament to how vibrant our
democracy truly is.
Finally, contrary to the implication of your correspondent, Prime
Minister Netanyahu has publicly and forcefully condemned the racist
sentiments that were mentioned in the article. For example, this is what
the Prime Minister said at the opening of Israel's annual Bible Quiz to an
audience of mostly observant Jews a few hours after he learned of the
letter calling on Jews not to rent apartments to Arabs:
There are non-Jews among the citizens of this country. How would we feel
if someone said not to sell apartments to Jews? We would have been
outraged, and indeed we are outraged when we hear such things in
neighboring countries or anywhere else. Such statements should not be
made, neither about Jews nor about Arabs. They must not be made in
any democratic country, let alone a Jewish-democratic country that
respects the moral values of the Jewish heritage and the Bible. Therefore,
the State of Israel categorically rejects these things.
Contrast this unequivocal condemnation by the leader of Israel to the
Palestinian Authority law that mandates the death penalty for any one
who sells land to Jews. Such laws are all too common in a Middle East in
which Christians are persecuted, gays are hanged in public squares and
women are stoned for adultery.
In Israel, things are different. Here, we protect the rights of women and
minorities, including the 20% of Israelis who are Arabs, who enjoy
freedom of speech and religion and the protections afforded by
independent courts and the rule of law.
Every decision in Israel is put under the microscope by one of world's
largest foreign press contingents, the hundreds of human rights
organizations and NGOs that operate freely here, a famously adversarial
local press and most critically, by a vociferous parliamentary opposition.
Israel has upheld its democratic values despite being threatened like no
country on earth. In defending itself against wars of aggression,
unparalleled terror campaigns and continuous promises to annihilate it,
Israel has a track record on the protection of rights that would compare
favorably to the record of any democracy, much less democracies under
Even in peacetime, other democracies enact laws that would be
inconceivable in Israel. The Swiss ban on minarets and the French
restrictions on headscarves passed in Europe, not Israel.
One final point regarding media coverage in the Middle East. In 2000,
after an Italian television station (RAI) was threatened by the Palestinian
Authority for broadcasting the film of a Palestinian mob lynching two
Israeli soldiers, RAI issued a shameful apology. Similarly, in 2003, CNN
admitted to burying negative coverage about Sadaam's regime so that its
personnel could continue working safely in Baghdad.
I can assure you that no matter how biased and unbalanced your
correspondents' coverage of Israel, they will always be free here to write
whatever they want. Of course, Time is also free not to print it.
Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister
Senior Advisor to the Prime Minister
The above article was posted on Time's website
The Noachide people were given the world to enjoy whereas the Jews were
given the world to do something with. This task that Jews were assigned
turns out to be the performance of Mitzvot.
wherever God is absent there is a lack of perfection by definition;
The Jewish world cannot be perfect, as perfection comes from God and
living in a perfect world would necessarily force all its inhabitants into
communion with God. God has no interest in a world without Mitzvot
because the perfect joy of communion with God does not exist in such a
The Mishna (Sanhedrin 4,5) states that God created only one man, Adam,
initially to teach you that He considers the entire creation worthwhile as
long as there is a single human being who can enjoy it perfectly.
Are you willing to do something
with the world besides
simply enjoy it?