Views of democracy
Sir, – It is seldom that I write to the Post in praise of an
article. However, Martin Sherman (“Dismantling democracy,” Into the Fray,
November 25) is to be commended for pointing out the hypocrisy of those who
claim that changing the Supreme Court’s method for selecting new members is
The present situation, in which the most intrusively active
judiciary in the world in effect controls its own composition, is as
undemocratic as you can get. It is important to recognize that those defending
the status quo do not occupy the high moral ground.
Dan Meridor’s threat
(“Meridor threatens to quit if legislation harms High Court,” November 27)
merely emphasizes the necessity for radical change before the right-wing
majority in this country reaches such a level of frustration that the entire
structure of our society is thrown into danger.STEPHEN COHEN
Sir, – Hooray for Dan Meridor! The Meridor name still stands for justice
and something good. Let’s hope things remain that way.
particularly wary about certain bills coming from his own party that threaten to
do exactly that – threaten the judicial system. With his opposition, the
nation’s High Court can be saved.LEONARD ZURAKOV
Sir, – Like
Caroline B. Glick (“Defending Israeli democracy,” Our World, November 15), I
find it disappointing that senior Likud politicians like Bennie Begin, Michael
Eitan and Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin have seen fit to oppose the judicial
selection reform bills.
Since the Supreme Court is widely thought of as
having a left-wing bias, one might have expected the Likud, our main right-wing
party, to show a united front in supporting bills aimed at making the Supreme
Court a totally impartial body.
In the same way that anti-Israel
propaganda around the world carries greater weight when it can be attributed to
Israelis, so does opposition to justice reform bills when it emanates from Likud
Unfortunately, the lack of support for the bills shown by
Likud politicians gave rise to newspaper reports that bore such misleading
headlines as “Coalition, opposition slam judicial selection reform” (November
13) and statements about across-the-board opposition.
impression was that the Left and Right equally oppose the bills, even though the
vast majority of negative comments have come from leftwing opposition parties,
with only a sparse handful of Likud politicians being opposed.
shame that the Likud politicians who attacked the bills failed to foresee the
ramifications of their apparent move leftward. It’s also to their discredit that
they failed to bear in mind that the proposed bills are surely finding favor in
the eyes of the vast majority of the Likud’s electorate.RHONA YEMINI
Sir, – Lawrence Solomon (“The push to regulate NGOs is consistent with
democracy,” Comment & Features, November 22) is to be commended for trying
to bring some clarity and sanity to the debate regarding the foreign funding of
Democracy is defined as government by the people, by each
people in its own land. Thus, Israeli policy is to be democratically determined
by its own people (we, the Jews) and our own elected government, and not by
Europeans or other foreign nationals.
Foreign interference is not
democracy but subversion.NETTA KOHN
Sir, – Further to the
objections raised over recent legislation, I draw your attention to two
significant statements dealing with this matter, more especially applicable to a
democracy under threat of destruction by undemocratic forces.
In 1949, in
a US Supreme Court case, Justice Robert Jackson warned against interpreting the
First Amendment as to fortify “right and left totalitarian groups who want
nothing as much as to paralyze and discredit democratic authority.” A commitment
to liberal democracy is not an obligation to open the democratic process to
parties that reject liberal democracy itself.
Jackson cautioned the court
to “temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom” lest it
“convert the constitutional bill of rights into a suicide pact.”BERNHARD
Sir, – Regarding the new anti-libel legislation, if an article
appearing in a newspaper or magazine turns out to be erroneous, an apology
However, even though the original article might have
been printed in a prominent spot with a large headline, the apology is usually
buried in a less conspicuous position on an inside page and therefore is barely
noticed. This does almost nothing to repair the damage.
I would like to
see a law passed that makes it mandatory for the apology to be printed in
exactly the same position, on the same page and with the same size headline as
the original article.I. ZUNDER
Ramat Hasharon All in the family
While your article on the sale by the Oppenheimer family of its stake in De
Beers to Anglo American (“South Africa’s Oppenheimer dynasty consigns diamonds
to the past,” Business & Finance, November 27) seems to have deep knowledge
of the current situation inside the clan, it is lacking a historical perspective
both of the relationship between the family and Anglo American, and of the role
of Oppenheimer generations in creating the value of diamonds per se.
own interest comes from the fact that I once worked for De Beers in its diamond
research laboratories, and after that I occupied the wonderful office that once
housed Sir Thomas Cullinan and was home to the vault that stored the famous
Cullinan Diamond that now adorns the British crown jewels.
Bottom line is
that Anglo American and De Beers were for most of their existence a single
global entity, both under control of the Oppenheimer family through a complex
web of cross-holdings. In fact, Anglo American itself was founded in 1917 by Sir
Ernest Oppenheimer and was used by him to build a large stake in De Beers,
sufficient for him to become chairman 20 years later. His son Harry was also
head of both Anglo and De Beers.
It seems to me that the sale now is much
less an abandonment by the Oppenheimers of their stake in De Beers than the
cashing in of an asset by moving it into another area of their
Ashkelon Simplistic view
Sir, – Nathan Lopes Cardozo’s
article (“Judaism: The art of bold ideas,” November 24) brings to mind the story
about the chronic cynic who attends a very elegant wedding. Upon hearing the
guests’ comments about how much planning went into producing such a lovely
ambiance, he commented: “There is one serious flaw with this affair – the bride
is too beautiful!” In this case the bride is the Jewish education
Cardozo now comes along and cavalierly informs us that all
yeshiva students and some of their teachers are spinning their wheels because
they allegedly don’t read the philosophical works of Jewish thinkers. How
simplistic can you get? And quoting Kierkegaard’s “warning” to Christianity and
making it analogous to present Jewish educational efforts is an unforgivable
Jerusalem The writer is a former director of
the Department of Yeshivot and Day Schools of the Board of Jewish Education of
Greater New York.