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Admit it: Egypt has us stumped

It would be helpful if we could all admit to honest ambivalences about Egypt. On one side is the “new beginning,” renewing the 2011 youthful revolution and human rights cause. Notably most women have been in the anti-Morsi crowds; almost everyone visible for the Brotherhood appear to be men. And Morsi as an Islamist was possibly trying to theocratize rather than democratize Egypt.

Rarely noted is the unacceptability of Islamists describing democracy as a concession and compromise rather than one of their core beliefs. This violates the UN Charter, UN Declaration of Human Rights, and every modern political value.
Also, before Islamism, the other major ideologies that failed to incorporate democracy as core beliefs were Communism, Fascism, Nazism, KKK-like Southern Jim Crow segregation and South African Apartheid. Another is Kahanism. So while we must be concerned about how the change will affect Islamists ‏(everywhere‏), we must also be concerned that this very concern is itself, by default, a kind of submission to extremist blackmail.

On the other side are worries about the arguable basic unfairness of the revocation of a free election − that while Morsi was possibly trying to theocratize Egypt or make Brotherhood rule permanent, this was never unequivocally clear enough to overturn a free election, and moreover he had done nothing evil or criminal; about the practical effect everywhere on Islamist acceptance of democracy − even if worrying about this is, again, a form of submission to extremist blackmail; about further violence and polarization; and about the fate of democracy in the Islamic world.

If only, even at the cost of personal discomfort, we could live with ambiguity, and admit to uncertainty.

James Adler, Cambridge, Massachusetts

From ‘the Zionist dream’ to the oligarchs

In response to “Russia’s blue-and-white oligarchs” ‏(Asher Schechter, July 5‏).

Oligarchy − government by a small group of people. That’s in the dictionary. When I read this article, I was not only repelled but distressed; could these guys eventually “govern” us?

I was a fighter in the U.K. for the freedom of Jews in the former U.S.S.R. from 1968-78. I continued my activities in Israel until the first group of refuseniks came out in 1987. Consequently I feel a sense of pride that I have contributed to this significant aliyah, notwithstanding that its full effect has yet to be felt.

Since we have a high-profile group of our own “oligarchs” encouraged by our government, its time to seriously think about where they and the wannabees are aiming to take us. After all, money is power.

I wonder what Herzl, Jabotinsky, Ben-Gurion and Eshkol, not to mention the other Zionist, pioneering leaders who were here when I first arrived in Israel in 1949, would think about it all.

Can anyone remember what “the Zionist dream” was?

Zelda Harris - Womens Campaign for Soviet Jewry
Chairperson, International ‏(and Israel‏)
Committee for Vladimir Prestin and
Pavel Abramovitch