In response to my broader moral argument, Mr. Martin vociferously disavows any anti-Israel bias. “I never criticized a ‘Jewish state’ in my report,” he writes. Yet to casually place Israel on the same moral plane as Eritrea and other authoritarian countries is indeed to unfairly target the Jewish state. Nor was Mr. Martin doing Israel any favors by discounting the number of journalists detained by Hamas in Gaza: How could the Israelis be held responsible for writers detained by an Islamist movement on territory they withdrew from some seven years ago? I of course thank Mr. Martin for speaking out against curtailments of free speech everywhere. But in doing so, Mr. Martin makes no philosophical distinction between democracies and unfree states. This episode, I hope, has revealed the perils of such a position.

Sohrab Ahmari , an Iranian-American journalist and a nonresident associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, is co-editor of Arab Spring Dreams, a forthcoming anthology of essays by young Mideast dissidents (Palgrave Macmillan).