March 8: Color-blindness in Israel

I'm proud of the great humanitarian ongoing project of Save a Child’s Heart at the Wolfson Medical Center.

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March 9, 2010 10:55
Letters

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Color-blindness in Israel

Sir, – Liat Collins’s “Not black and white” (March 7) is, simply stated, brilliant.

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As an Israeli, I am proud of the great humanitarian ongoing project of Save a Child’s Heart at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, in saving the lives of thousands of indigent children through cardiac surgery.

As a Jewish hasbara campaigner, Ms. Collins’s article gave me the ammunition to pass along to my non-Jewish friends in the USA that Israel is not an apartheid state. The Jerusalem Post is most fortunate to have her competent and knowledgeable editorial talent.

LEONARD C. KAHN
Zichron Ya’acov

Sir, – As a first-time visitor to your country, I have been fascinated, delighted and profoundly moved by the spirit and kindness of so many Israelis I have encountered. However, I sit here in the glorious sunshine of a Jerusalem spring morning astonished at the myopic propagandizing of Liat Collins’s commentary “Not black and white.”

She rails against the thorny comparison of Israel’s domestic policy toward Palestinians and the South African treatment of non-whites under apartheid. “Israel does not, of course, have a perfect record on human rights. No country does,” she says, using the same defense of Israel’s human rights record that the the People’s Republic of China uses when its appalling record of abuse in Tibet is brought to light. Before this, she describes a moving story about a two-year-old girl given cardiac surgery by the Israeli “Save a Child’s Heart” organization.

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This is a laudable program, typical of the heartfelt efforts of so many Israelis I have encountered. I wonder how the surgical and nursing teams who are striving to heal this little girl feel about their work being used as a decoy for injustice and human rights abuses?

“Israel is not a segregated society,” she writes. I am not against Israel; I believe passionately in Israel – but from what I have seen with my own eyes, what the majority of Israelis and every single Palestinian in the world know, this is a profoundly segregated society.

She mentions the terrible pass system under apartheid which cruelly restricted the movement of non-whites. She announces, “It’s nothing like that here. Israel is a democracy allowing all its citizens freedom of movement.” Did the hundreds of kilometers of cement wall separating a multitude of Palestinians from their livelihoods escape her notice? Ask the 45,000 people of Kalkilya if they have freedom of movement.

I do agree that the racism and segregation here is not codified into law – and that, along with the free press in Israel, is one of the critical differences between South Africa’s apartheid and the government’s treatment of Palestinians. The genius of Mr Mandela was to create two foundation stones for his country to build on: truth and reconciliation. There is no reconciliation without truth, and every time the truth is distorted or ignored, it is an act against peace, an act against humanity.

ROWAN SOMERVILLE
Ireland

The same page...

Sir, – According to Caroline Glick’s column “Biden’s lost cause” (March 5) Sen. John Kerry’s self-proclaimed purpose for his recent visit to Israel was “to make sure that we [Israel and US] are all on the same page and that we are all clear about Iran.”

How could we be on the same page when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s bestseller How to Convert the World to Islam or Destroy It has Israel in the first chapter and the United Sates in the last chapter? In Iran’s book, at least, Israel and the US are certainly not on the same page!

AVIGDOR BONCHEK
Jerusalem

... of the same story

Sir, – Once again, Caroline Glick, in her defense of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, blames the Left and leftist press for his downfall during his first term as prime minister – not to mention international pressure from president Bill Clinton and others. However, while there is no question about the anti-Netanyahu atmosphere fostered then by the left wing, the fall of the government and Netanyahu was ultimately due more to infighting within the Likud and the prime minister’s rightist and religious party coalition partners, who, then as now, decided that he and his party were apparently not right-wing enough. Ergo, their active participation in forcing new elections. This was well-documented at the time, and I remember almost every political analyst and radio/TV interview discussing this phenomenon.

Many signs point to a possible repetition of this today, because even though the current coalition may be much more stable and the public much less left-leaning, the constant rumblings from within certain Likud factions as the National Union and others certainly have the potential to bring down the present government, with little help from either the opposition or the Left.

GERSHON HARRIS
Hatzor Haglilit


Heavy hearts

Sir, – Friday’s paper devoted half a page to the “heavy heart” our own tennis team takes with them as they play the Chilean team this Saturday following the devastating earthquake in their country (“Ran: We will play with a heavy heart,” March 5). It was a terrible tragedy, and I pray daily for their country.

I, however, have a heavy heart over our team once again playing on Shabbat. If the Chilean team wanted to postpone this week’s events for another week, everyone would have understood; but our own people do not understand how sad it is that the Jewish people do not care to postpone our own needs and wants for a single day, for God.

YECHIEL AARON
Hashmona’im

Credit where credit is due

Sir, – In his article “An ethnocracy or multiethnic democracy?” (March 2), Seth Frantzman writes of a new code word for slandering Israel: “ethnocracy.” However, his claim that it appears to have its origins in 2002 with research grants to one Alexander (Sandy) Kedar is chronologically in error.

Sammy Smooha offered the “ethnic democracy” model in the mid-1990s, and in an article in Israel Studies, Vol. 3, in 1998, As’ad Ghanem, Nadim Rouhana and Oren Yiftachel critically engaged the theory. In the June 1998 issue of the Tel Aviv University Law Review, Yiftachel published another article entitled “Nation-Building and the Division of Space in the Israeli Ethnocracy.”

I believe credit for denigrating the State of Israel and perverting its political, social and cultural reality should be granted to those who truly deserve it.

YISRAEL MEDAD
Shiloh

Seth Frantzman writes: Mr. Medad is correct. The origin of the term being applied to Israel apparently does have an earlier pedigree than I gave it, and credit should indeed go, at least partly, to Smooha, Ghanem and Rouhana.

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