Israel is the Middle East’s only “free” state, the US-based Freedom House wrote
in its annual report last week, a ranking in stark contrast to claims by the
country’s critics – both domestic and international – who argue that the Jewish
state’s democratic values are steadily eroding “Israel remains the region’s only
free country,” read the report, called Freedom in the World 2013, released just
days before Israel goes to the polls.
“In recent years, controversies
have surrounded proposed laws that threatened freedom of expression and the
rights of civil society organizations,” the report read.
“In most cases,
however, these measures have either been quashed by the government or
parliament, or struck down by the Supreme Court. Israeli politics have also been roiled by an escalating controversy over the
role of ultra-Orthodox Jews and their positions on issues such as military
service and gender equality.”