Letters to the Editor: U.S. Jews on Israeli Democracy and Madaya, Syria

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Pro-Israel demonstrators chant slogans as pro-Palestinian protesters walk past a peace protest in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York October 18, 2015.
Pro-Israel demonstrators chant slogans as pro-Palestinian protesters walk past a peace protest in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York October 18, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Klein’s turn

In response to “American Jews silent as Israeli democracy withers” (Chemi Shalev, January 6).

Chemi Shalev is alarmist about the proposed new NGO law, claiming it’s an authoritarian method of squelching dissent. He also attacks me and the organization I head, the Zionist Organization of America, for supporting the Israeli government’s “blatant hypocrisy” of exempting from the law foreign donors who support the government or its policies. 

Shalev is wrong on both counts. Dissent and criticism of the government remains alive and well, as evidenced by Shalev’s hyperbolic piece. The proposed legislation does not threaten Shalev or other opponents from expressing themselves inordinately if they wish. 

Rather, what has changed is that fringe Israeli groups are no longer allowed to inflate their influence and reach, courtesy of the largesse of foreign governments interfering in Israeli affairs, without disclosing the sources and extent of their foreign government funding. 

They don’t like this, because such disclosure inevitably shows them to have very little local support for their work. 

Note that this is not a matter of preventing foreign private funding, which goes to left-wing and right-wing causes. Nor is it a matter of preventing foreign government funding; it is solely a matter of public disclosure of sources. 

Nor is any “blatant hypocrisy” involved; a right-wing NGO receiving foreign government funding would be equally obliged by the proposed law to disclose its foreign government sources.

Far from harming free speech and honest opinion, this is democracy in action.

Morton A. Klein
National President
Zionist Organization of America
New York 

Save Madaya 

The world has sat by and watched the self-destruction on the Syrian population and now the starvation of an entire city, Madaya. We saw how the world responded to the plight of the Jews when responsible and able nations knew what was happening yet did not lift a finger to stop it. 

I would sincerely hope the opportunity to divert a few planes to drop food to the people of Madaya will not be lost. Israel, Mr. Netanyahu, this is your opportunity to take the moral high ground. 

Harold B. Schiff M.D.
Dean and Professor, Medicine/Neurology
St. Martinus University
Curacao, Netherlands Antilles

Letters should be exclusive to Haaretz and must include the writer’s name, address and telephone number (an e-mail address is not sufficient). Please note that letters are subject to editing. Please send your letters to letters@haaretz.co.il

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