April 19: Democracy in danger

Bashing critics of the Left, David Newman purports to defend free speech. But in his April 14 op-ed "Bashing the academic Left," he simply tries to silence those who disagree with him.

letters 88 (photo credit: )
letters 88
(photo credit: )
Democracy... Sir, - Bashing critics of the Left, David Newman purports to defend free speech. But in his April 14 op-ed "Bashing the academic Left," he simply tries to silence those who disagree with him. He writes: "Campus Watch... uses students and faculty to spy on those teaching courses on Israel and the Middle East. Anyone who so faintly utters a word of criticism is immediately labeled as such (sic)." Is Campus Watch a disgrace for anyone who believes in the concept of freedom of speech? Why does Newman call observation spying? What have his learned colleagues got to be so secretive about? Finally, if someone is "critical," why should he not be labeled as such? STEVE LIEBLICH, Editor Jewish Issues Watchdog Western Australia ...in danger Sir, - The whole university system in Israel is a monopoly controlled by the elite Left that set it up. Yet David Newman expects us to cry for the loss of academic and democratic freedom. The real truth is that the lack of a strong, honest political Left which truly believes in democracy for all (and not just for those who agree with it) is the most serious danger to Israeli democracy. We saw this clearly in the early Oslo years when the Left ruled with a most undemocratic iron hand. Newman is correct, Israeli democracy is seriously endangered. But the corruption of the Left is the cause. LARRY FINSON Jerusalem Sir, - Maybe the reason for all the criticism of the Israeli academic Left is that hardly a day goes by without some anti-Israel professor rushing into print or sitting on a platform to express the most virulent anti-Israel sentiments. I would point out to Prof. Newman that criticizing this behavior is not an issue of freedom of speech, more an expression of outrage at these sometimes almost treasonous views. As for his blanket condemnation of those organizations seeking to monitor attitudes to Israel and highlight unfounded criticism, isn't this a case of the pot calling the kettle black? As someone who is very active in speaking up for Israel, I have never had the view of "Israel, right or wrong." But I do find it indefensible when Israeli professors call for Israel to be tried for war crimes, and criticize Israel with no thought for context or history. JOY WOLFE Manchester UK Freedom of speech Sir, - How sad that while Columbia University can invite the monstrous president of Iran without too much protest, Notre Dame is having problems inviting the US president. I may or may not agree with Barack Obama, or the university, on abortion policy. But if academic freedom and freedom of speech can allow a president who threatens the existence of a UN member state to speak, where is the difficulty in grant-ing those privileges to a president who differs with Notre Dame on abortion? Isn't free speech an issue between government and citizen, rather than between a university, or any private platform, and the citizen? If I do not allow you to speak in my house, is that an issue of free speech? ("Degrees of acceptance at Notre Dame," Richard V. Allen, April 16.) J.M. KING Jerusalem Deviant UN Sir, - Durban II is a sad comment on what could have been a major and important conference. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, whose appearance at the UN produced nothing but hatred, will be attending, and all that will emerge from the conference will be more vitriol. The fact that the UN permits a member state to call for the annihilation of another member state is a reflection of its own immorality. It is time the UN was held responsible under law for its terrible deviation from its own charter. The US should take the initiative in holding the organization responsible for increasing hatred and racism around the world ("Israel: Durban II text is getting worse," April 16). TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem See no evil Sir, - Caroline Glick's "Iran's Western enablers" (April 14) provided an explanation for why Britain's Home Office and Metropolitan Police failed to recognize the terrorist Hizbullah flags openly flown by anti-Israel and anti-Jewish rioters outside the Israeli embassy in Palace Green London during Operation Cast Lead - even though Hizbullah is classified as a terrorist organization according to UK Terrorism legislation. To all intent and purposes, these flags were apparently invisible to the British police, who failed to take appropriate measures; and yet they were openly visible on the many TV news channels around the world, as well as on YouTube! The same could be said to explain why the UK government has failed to condemn the visit to Hamas in Damascus last month by UK legislators. More British hypocrisy! COLIN L LECI Jerusalem A pity, this refusal Sir, - I was disappointed to read that "Israel won't work with UN's Gaza 'war crimes' probe'" (April 16). As a retired South African lawyer, I am well-acquainted with Judge Richard Goldstone and know that he is a jurist of impeccable honesty and trustworthiness. The commission he chairs cannot be expected to come to a fair conclusion if it does not have the relevant facts. Israel should be represented at the commission to give evidence so that the Israeli viewpoint is known. Furthermore, Israel should engage experienced trial lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses who will give anti-Israel evidence. The female member of the commission has apparently signed an anti-Israel letter to the Guardian and she should thus, at the first hearing, be asked to recuse herself because of bias. If the probe is properly conducted, the Israeli viewpoint would get favorable international recognition. M.L. ROSTOWSKY Tel Aviv Jew-free entities Sir, - The threat delivered via Aden ("Two-state solution," Letters, April 16) must not be allowed the last word. The British Palestine Mandate (1920) included the territories on both banks of the River Jordan: and is so defined in Article 2 of the PLO Covenant issued in 1964 - during Jordanian rule in Judea-Samaria (the West Bank). Accordingly Transjordan, through the PLO constitution, constitutes the first of the Jew-free entities of the previous Mandate. Removal of Jews from the former Egyptian-Administered Gaza (a potential city state of the Dubai type) constitutes the second of the Jew-free entities, which for the past four years has been "governed" by Hamas fascists. A third Jew-free entity is in the making in areas and major towns of the West Bank administered by Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority. The fourth entity of the former Mandate is constituted as the Jewish State of Israel, which includes amongst its citizenry 1.3 million non-Jews who enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of Arab kinsmen throughout the region. Summary: The territory of the British Mandate supports four entities for two peoples - three of which maintain a Judenrein status, whilst the fourth - Israel - sustains a very large Arab-Muslim minority harboring irredentist elements. Conclusion: The two-states-for-two-peoples mantra is a chimera. KARL HUTTENBAUER Berlin