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The Nastiness Quotient
Tue, 02/02/2010

A democratic society not only tolerates but encourages debate and dissent. But when attacks turn ugly, demonizing and personal, they demean society and undercut the argument of those making the accusations.

In this week’s paper, we report on two such unfortunate episodes, one here and one in Israel — two open societies where left-right political anger is spilling over into hate.

One story deals with harsh attacks on Anti-Defamation League National director Abraham Foxman from conservative Jews, and others, for his criticism of popular conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh. The other story describes how an Israeli group critical of the New Israel Fund took out ads this week depicting Naomi Chazan, the president of NIF, with a horn on her head.

Demonizing those with whom we disagree doesn’t win friends; it generates sympathy for one’s opponent. It’s a shame that in today’s world we still have to encourage advocates on either side of a given issue to fight fair.

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