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OPINION

Israel Is a Democracy, That's a Problem

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Newly sworn-in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toasts with a drink during the first cabinet meeting of his new government in Jerusalem - Dec. 29, 2022. Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister after a stint in opposition. (Ariel Schalit/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Susan Estrich By Thursday, 29 December 2022 03:24 PM EST Current | Bio | Archive

The trouble with Israel is very simple. It's a democracy. They elect their own leaders.

Not ones I'd vote for. They may sometimes feel the same way about us.

So no, I don't support Bibi Netanyahu.

I worry about the right wingers he is making common cause with, because they include those who do not stand for human rights for all. I worry about their attacks on the Israeli Supreme Court, which has stood firm for individual rights and gay rights.

But none of that justifies the mass condemnation of Israel that has become the fashion on college campuses. Does calling it a fashion denigrate the movement?

Maybe, but there is something very troubling about the ease with which the academic left has embraced the anti-Israel trope that then finds its way into newspaper editorials that wrongly convey the sentiment that it is the University — not the collection of juniors and seniors who happen to be on the editorial board —  who are condemning Israel.

And why should they be different?

If the former president of the United States can break bread with a man who finds good things to like about Hitler, who am I to blame the Harvard Crimson or the Wellesley News for editorializing against Israel?

Actually, the Wellesley News did even worse than that.

In an editorial that they had to walk back once they realized what they had done, they endorsed the Boston Mapping Project, an effort to identify all the Jewish institutions in the area as possible targets.

Not OK.

Not even ok by the BDS Boycott standards currently being debated on college campuses.

So Wellesley walked back a quarter-step, which rightly did not stop the college administration from making clear that the students on the newspaper board were speaking for themselves, and not for the college.

At least that.

But it is a critical time.

Never, perhaps, has Israel so needed the support of those of us who do disagree with the direction of their domestic politics, much as we disagreed with our own in the Trump years.

The fact is that Bibi does still support a weakened version of a two-state solution —  not the version many of us support but at least a nod in that direction.

Not to apologize but simply to recognize a democratically elected leader.

I yearn for the world to see and appreciate the Israel that I know and love, a homeland for the Jews, a nation of amazing people who have overcome hardships and built a nation that is committed to human dignity.

How much we want Israel to live and fulfill its promise, to take its rightful place as a democratic and peace-loving nation, as a nation that does not deserve to be boycotted, does not need to be sanctioned.

At Berkeley Law, some 14 student groups have adopted a resolution denying a platform on campus to pro-Israel groups.

So much for free speech.

What are these students afraid of?

Afraid to listen?

How does chilling free speech promote the values we share?

We can support American policies aimed at ensuring dignity for all and preserving peace and security. But we can't simply make Israel do what we want them to do.

Democracy doesn't work that way. And threats that bleed quickly into antisemitism do not move us in the direction of dignity or peace.

Susan Estrich is a politician, professor, lawyer and writer. Whether on the pages of newspapers such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post or as a television commentator on countless news programs on CNN, Fox News, NBC, ABC, CBS and NBC, she has tackled legal matters, women's concerns, national politics and social issues. Read Susan Estrich's Reports — More Here.

© Creators Syndicate Inc.


Estrich
We can support American policies aimed at ensuring dignity for all and preserving peace and security. But we can't simply make Israel do what we want them to do. Democracy doesn't work that way.
bds, netanyahu
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2022-24-29
Thursday, 29 December 2022 03:24 PM
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