Criticize Israel First

Scott noted earlier today the Obama administration’s instinctive antipathy toward Israel, which generally manifests itself in a wish that Israel would surrender to its enemies rather than defending itself. A related phenomenon emerged today, as it became known that yesterday, in a closed session of the Saban Forum–the same venue where Leon Panetta gave the speech that Scott wrote about–Hillary Clinton decried certain social trends in Israel as insufficiently feminist and enlightened:

Israeli ministers reacted angrily on Sunday after local media quoted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying she feared for the future of Israel’s democracy and the rights of women in the Jewish state.

Clinton’s remarks, reportedly made Saturday behind closed doors at the Saban Forum in Washington, made headlines in most Israeli newspapers, which reported them without explaining how they obtained the comments.

Top-selling Yediot Aharonot said Clinton had expressed concern about a slew of “anti-democratic” bills proposed by right-wing members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

And the newspaper said Clinton had described shock at hearing that some buses in Jerusalem were gender segregated and some religious Israeli soldiers refused to attend events where women would sing.

Israel is, of course, a lively democracy. So what are the “anti-democratic” proposals coming from Israel’s “right wing” government?

Israeli lawmakers have in recent months championed a series of bills criticized by local rights groups as an attempt to rein in left-leaning NGOs and journalists.

Among the most controversial of the proposed laws is one that would limit foreign funding for certain NGOs − legislation that leftist activists say targets groups opposed to Israeli occupation that report on violations of Palestinian human rights.

Is it really essential to Israel’s democracy that foreign elements virulently hostile to that country’s survival be allowed to fund, infinitely, groups that can charitably be described as Israel’s institutional critics, and less charitably as a fifth column? Would limits on such foreign funding really threaten Israel’s status as a full-fledged democracy? Is it really appropriate for America’s Secretary of State to try to micromanage Israeli law relating to foreign contributions to NGOs operating in Israel? Is there some other country where our State Department assumes such authority? Not that I know of.

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