To the Editor:
Unlike his article in the New York Review of Books several years ago questioning Israel's right to exist, Tony Judt's presentation in "Israel Without Clichés" (June 10) is much shrewder – replete with concessions to give an air of reasonableness. Yet in the end he again comes out unfairly blaming Israel and its supporters for the region's problems.
There's much to set straight in Judt's factually skewed analysis. His description of Gaza as a "democracy" is laughable, considering Hamas' continued iron-fisted rule of the coastal enclave after ousting the moderates in a bloody coup. He describes Israel's turn to violence as habitual, when in fact Israel's military response is very often a last resort, while at the same time giving free license to Palestinian violence as an acceptable form of "resistance." And to blame Israel for America's loss of Turkey as an ally is the height of hyperbole.
To deny that there is a serious effort to delegitimize Israel through boycotts and divestment campaigns and misuse of international law is to bury one's head in the sand. No other nation has to put up with heads of state talking about wiping Israel off the map and excluding the country from respectable circles.
Being a democracy does not justify any behavior, as Judt indicates, but it does bring a process of respect for law and individual rights that in the Middle East exists only in Israel. If other nations had truly democratic institutions they could spend more time serving their people than continuing the war against Israel.
Those of us who worry about today's trends are not engaging in clichés. We too make distinctions. We too want concessions on all sides. We too see Israel's friends as well as enemies. Unlike Judt, we do not downplay the reality that there are nations and groups which would like to see Israel's demise and are working politically and militarily to make that happen.
The Anti-Defamation League