Israel's freedoms in eye of beholder
For an alternative to Antony Loewenstein's polemic against Israel ("Western politicians prefer to ignore Israel's inherent racism", October 28) I refer readers to Freedom in the World: Israel 2010 by Freedom House, a venerable and widely respected non-governmental organisation.
Under the Freedom House criteria, Israel has the highest of seven rankings for political rights and the second highest for civil liberties. It is the only country in the Middle East rated "free". Its media is described as "vibrant and independent".
Although Israel describes itself as a "Jewish and democratic state", freedom of religion is respected, with Christian, Muslim and Bahai communities having jurisdiction over their members in matters of marriage, divorce and burial.
The judiciary is independent and regularly rules against the government. Freedoms of assembly and association are respected. Workers may join independent unions and have the right to strike and bargain collectively. Women have achieved substantial parity at almost all levels of society. Openly gay Israelis are permitted to serve in the armed forces.
Certainly, some serious discrimination exists in Israel, as in other democracies. But overall, not a bad record for a country faced with neighbours such as Iran and Syria, and organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Peter Wertheim Executive director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney
Saturday, October 30, 2010
LETTER OF THE WEEK
Friday's Sydney Morning Herald - a clear minded response to lunacy.
Posted by Wilbur Post at 5:08 pm