Zvi Bar’el writes: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got it badly wrong: Israel isn’t Iran, and comparing it to Iran – as she did during her remarks at a closed session of the Saban Forum where she expressed shock over the treatment of women in Israel – demonstrates either ignorance or malice.
First, Iran isn’t considered a democracy: It openly and proudly adopted a system of government in which a religious scholar is the supreme leader. Israel, in contrast, wears a facade of democracy even as a select group of religious scholars who are only ostensibly committed to the law dictate the state’s way of life.
Israel isn’t Iran. Iran officially and openly separates unmarried men and women in public venues. In Israel, such segregation is against the law, but in practice, it is alive and well and sneering at the law. In the army, on buses that serve the ultra-Orthodox community and in state religious schools financed by the government, segregation flourishes.
Israel isn’t Iran. In Iran, human rights organizations can receive assistance from a defined list of international organizations and institutions, “with the approval of the relevant government ministers,” as Iranian law puts it. In Israel, proposed legislation would bar some organizations from receiving any money at all from foreign governments, while others would have to run the gauntlet of a Knesset hearing to get an exemption from, or at least a reduction on, the 45 percent tax.
Israel isn’t Iran. In Iran, the supreme leader appoints the head of the judicial system. In Israel, the supreme leader uses every trick in the book to try to shape the Supreme Court’s composition to his liking without soiling the facade of democracy.
This is a difference of vast proportions. Iran doesn’t put on sanctimonious airs, doesn’t cluck its tongue at others, doesn’t disguise what it is and doesn’t try to sell its system of government to the world as “an island of democracy.”