Letters: Zoabi should thank her lucky stars

True roots of the conflict: not racism; the unwillingness to criticize Islam comes from fear.

November 3, 2010 22:44
Letters: Zoabi should thank her lucky stars

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True roots of the conflict: not racism

Sir, – However much I like Seth Frantzman’s texts, this time (“Racism: The reality whose name we do not speak,” November 3) I must very strongly disagree with him.

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Racism is in brief defined as an a priori negative attitude towards someone of another race. As such it can be found in Israel as anywhere else in the world, but I am quite sure that it can be found much more in, say, Ashkenazi- Falasha interaction than in the Jewish- Arab one.

I would not like to generalize too much, but most Israeli Arabs see Jews as those that made them into a minority in what they still view as their own land. They see them as invaders who set the playground so that they would be much more successful in economic competition, and so forth.

Add to this growing Islamic radicalism and you have enough reasons for fully conscious hate and everything that stems from it.

At the same time Jews – often quite rightly – see Arabs as a fifth column of those that keep pushing for destruction of the Jewish national home. Again more than enough reasons for full-fledged hate.

Looking for racist roots in the Jew-Arab conflict in Israel is not only a mistake but it above all prevents us from seeing and treating the true roots of the conflict.


She should thank her lucky stars

Sir, – When Ray Hanina speaks about MK Haneen Zoabi and her claim that Israel only claims to be a democratic state (“Unfazed and unafraid,” Yalla peace, November 3), he misses a major point.

If Zoabi was a citizen of any other country in the region, whether Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq or Iran, and then boarded a boat to break a blockade that the country maintained against an enemy entity, she would probably disappear one day and never be heard from again.

Even American citizens, living in that great democracy of the West, would have been arrested 10 years ago if they attempted to travel to Cuba.

Our legislators have to understand that being a Knesset member carries with it certain obligations to uphold the laws of the country they serve. Attempting to run a government blockade is nothing less than the willful breaking of the law.

Zoabi should be arrested and tried for treason – that’s what real democracies would do. So I guess she is right, this is not a real democracy and she should thank her lucky stars for that.


Sir, – If MK Haneen Zoabi acted out in Saudi Arabia or Iran, for example, she might get stoned to death or be given a prison term.

A member of the Israeli Knesset should be expected to uphold Israeli law. The Mavi Marmara was not a peaceful ship bearing only goodwill for Gazans. It was manned by anti-Israeli troublemakers and thugs who could easily have had their humanitarian goods brought into Gaza by other means.

No democracy should or would willingly expose its citizens to the risks of weapons being smuggled to its borders.


Address the root cause

Sir, – Dennis Ross’s speech (“Intensifying the pressure on Iran,” October 29) includes many points that seem to be trying to impress his audience as to how effective the Obama administration has been in handling Iran and in dealing with the Middle East peace process.

Frankly, I’m not impressed with either.

At the end of the day, Iran just keeps marching steadily towards their goal of obtaining a nuclear arsenal. I am not convinced that the US administration will take all steps necessary to prevent this. All indications are that they have come to accept the possibility of a nuclear Iran.

Regarding peace, Ross says that “no one is more familiar with the challenges of reaching an agreement than I am.”

Oh really? In that case, why hasn’t he advised the president to finally address the root cause of the entire Arab-Israeli conflict – namely, the continued refusal by the Palestinians and the Arab states to acknowledge that the Jewish people have a deep historical connection to this land going back several thousand years, and that therefore they do indeed have a natural right to at least parts of this land (and not due merely to sympathy for the Holocaust, as President Obama stated in Cairo)? This refusal to acknowledge Jewish history is the reason the Arabs rejected the Partition Plan in 1947 and attacked the newly born Jewish state in 1948.

This is the reason they rejected prime minister Barak’s generous offer for a state in 2000 and similarly prime minister Olmert’s offer in 2008.

This is the reason Mahmoud Abbas claims there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and incited his people to violence in 2009 when the Hurva synagogue was rebuilt.

This is the reason they continue to look for all excuses not to negotiate peace with the Netanyahu government and can’t even say the words “Jewish state.”

President Obama gave them extra incentive not to negotiate when he created the settlement “boogeyman” and put the Palestinians up a high tree from which they cannot now get down. After all, they can’t be seen to be any less “Palestinian” than Obama, can they? The moment the Palestinians acknowledge our Jewish history here in this land, the entire dynamic will change. The moment we hear Abbas say something like “You know what, the Jewish people do have a history here and do have some rights here; let’s share the land,” you will see Israel bend over backwards to make a Palestinian state thrive and succeed.

No, it will not be on 1967 borders.

The Palestinians had 19 years to build a state on those borders and chose not to. They therefore don’t have rights to those borders now.

Nonetheless, I believe the majority of Israelis will support the creation of a peaceful Palestinian state with security guarantees as described by Netanyahu in his Bar- Ilan address.

If Ross really wants to help solve the conflict, then let him address its root cause, and tell his president to stop creating stumbling blocks that didn’t exist before.

Zichron Ya’acov

Collaborators with oppression

Sir, – Caroline Glick (“The Age of Dissimulation,” November 2) voices her well-founded frustrations with the widespread unwillingness to criticize Islam. One reason for that is fear.

Islam protects itself from internal criticism by making apostasy a capital offense. Even when highly respected scholars dare to call for reform, they take their lives into their hands.

For example, Prof. Abu Zayd, a leading Egyptian Koranic thinker, was accused of apostasy and forced to flee the country after he openly opposed the jizya, or poll tax on unbelievers, as discriminatory.

Dr. Ahmed Mansour of the prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo was imprisoned for six months when he dared to challenge the authenticity of some of the hadiths. The Sudanese reformer Mahmoud Taha was assassinated. Author Salman Rushdie is still in hiding since the Ayatollah Khomeini declared him an apostate for The Satanic Verses.

Islam also protects itself from external criticism by making blasphemy, even by non-Muslims, a capital crime. The fatwas and murder attempts against several Western artists and cartoonists attest to the dangers of violating Shari’a, or Islamic law.

Criticism is thereby muted, but badly needed reforms are retarded because of the inability to point out errors.

The resulting stagnation of Islamic society may be regrettable, but the ignorance and cowardice of people in the non-Muslim world is inexcusable. While some people may congratulate themselves as tolerant, they are really just unwitting collaborators with oppression.

Jericho, Vermont

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