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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Disparate Voices on Israeli Democracy

August 23, 2004

Re "Withdrawal From Gaza Will Test Israeli Democracy," (Commentary, Aug. 18): Israeli democracy is alive and well! In fact, more so than in any other country.

It is disingenuous of one minority, the left, to complain that another minority, the extreme right, has gotten its way by using the same peaceful tactics that the left uses (such as mass demonstrations and human chains). In addition, the leftists throw in some unproven accusations of planned violence to show that the right is undemocratic.

The Oslo accords were never voted on by the Israeli public. The Jewish majority voted against the Oslo accords and yet they became government policy.

Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan to date has not gone to a national vote. When it was brought to a vote in a democratic fashion by the Likud Party, it lost massively. So the left called it undemocratic. Just like our 2000 elections, when you don't like the results, it's because they are undemocratic.

Recently, a group of Palestinian villagers called on the Israeli High Court of Justice to review the placement of the security barrier. The high court ruled that the barrier must be moved. The Israeli government promptly agreed to abide by the court ruling. Is that not democracy in action?

Are there any democracies in the Arab world? Don't bemoan Israeli democracy; it is alive and thriving.

Betzalel N. Eichenbaum

Encino

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Uri Dromi's article contends that "Gaza is only the beginning," and that withdrawing from the West Bank will confront Israeli democracy with far more "painful decisions." The Sharon government's response to these "painful decisions" may be ascertained from its decision to expand four West Bank settlements by 1,000 units.

By encouraging continued expansion, Sharon dooms any peace prospects, and no democracy can, through armed force, indefinitely occupy the land of a foreign people and remain a democracy.

Arch Miller

Arcadia

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