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Sorry for the hurtful words

In response to “Debating the flaws of the Left, not just the Right” ‏(Gil Troy, Haaretz.com, January 16‏).

After reading this article, I reviewed my own article from a few days earlier, “In defense of NGOs’ right to meddle,” in which I attacked Prof. Gerald Steinberg’s claims regarding European Union funding of Israeli NGOs. Indeed, as Troy argues, it appears that in composing this article, I fell prey to the temptation of using terminology that, while adding color, fails to promote a civilized and academic debate about important issues. I regret the use of this potentially hurtful terminology, particularly the description of Prof. Steinberg’s work as “McCarthy-like inquiry of NGOs and their funders,” and look forward to continuing the discussion with Prof. Steinberg regarding the important role that NGOs have in facilitating Israel’s future as a democratic, pluralistic society.

Elie Friedman

S. Daniel Abraham Center for Strategic Dialogue

Netanya Academic College

The lesser of two evils is still evil

There are things that make my blood boil at election time. First, Shelly Yacimovich’s claim that Labor isn’t and never was a left-wing party. The fact that Labor has always been a member of the Socialist International until several years ago puts paid to her claim unless she thinks that socialists aren’t leftists. In addition she claims to be a social democrat. Elsewhere in the world social democrats are considered to be leftists and there are a number of social democratic parties that are members of the Socialist International. Second, a few member of the Green Leaf Party claim to be libertarians when in fact they are classic liberals. Libertarians don’t run for public office. Why are these Green Leafers afraid to call themselves classical liberals? In the 19th century France, Frederic Bastiat, who was a classical liberal ‏(philosophic radical‏) sat on the left side of the Assembly with the socialists, communists, and anarchists.

Ken Kalcheim

Dimona

Zionism and human rights are no contradiction

In response to “The anti-democratic shadow over Israel” ‏(Hagai El-Ad, Haaretz.com, January 8‏).

Hagai El-Ad derides the Institute for Zionist Strategies’ newly formed “Zionist human rights organizations.” The IZS mission is to strengthen Israel as a Jewish democratic state. We believe that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People which is characterized by a vibrant and robust commitment to democracy and justice. A strong democratic creed requires protection of the civil rights of minorities, purity of arms in the military, and equal access to healthcare.

Two erroneous axioms have infiltrated the public consciousness: The exclusive correlation between Zionism and the political right; and the exclusive correlation between concern for human rights and the political left. We believe that the values and goals of Zionism belong to and instruct all of us, left and right, just as the conviction that human rights are a democratic and moral imperative is internalized by all sectors of the political spectrum from right to left.

We are proud of our country and of our society. We think it compares favorably with any other progressive society in the world. But there are deficiencies which we want to help overcome with constructive and effective criticism. Mr. El-ad asks, “Since when does defending human rights have anything to do with trying to make government look better?” That El-ad sees these results as mutually exclusive provides an interesting but disturbing insight into his view of our society, his objectives, and his view of the world in which we live.

Joel H. Golovensky

Founding president

Institute for Zionist Strategies