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Israeli extremism a concern

Letter writer Jay Bernstein, in criticizing Richard Gross' recent commentary on U.S.-Israeli relations, claimed that Israel "remains a strong vibrant democracy," despite numerous examples in Mr. Gross's op-ed of growing right-wing extremism in Israeli society ("U.S.-Israeli relations are strained as never before," May 17).

Perhaps Mr. Bernstein did not take note of former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon's assertion that "manifestations of extremism, violence and racism are threatening Israel's sturdiness and trickling into the armed forces...."

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This remark by Mr. Yaalon, who is himself a conservative member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, hardly reflects a "strong vibrant democracy."

Further, Mr. Bernstein's characterizing as "pure hyperbole" Mr. Gross's concern that Israeli extremism is dividing American Jews, fails to acknowledge that many American Jews are torn — if not actively opposed — to the growing extremism that is eating at Israeli democracy. And many Israelis feel the same way.

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Howard Bluth, Baltimore

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