Friday, 25 November 2011

Israel is NOT an apartheid state

My letter to the South China Morning Post:
I.M. Wright should study his history before making allegations about stolen land and apartheid. (Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies, Letters, 25 Nov).

When Israel was created in 1947 by UN resolution 181, Jews were in the majority in the region.  They had not become so by driving Palestinians from their “traditional homes”, but by combination of long-term residence and 19th century immigration.  The immigrants bought their land from landlords often resident in Syria – to the extent that the area was often referred to as “Southern Syria”.  Moreover, the partition of the British Mandate gave the majority of land to today’s Jordan, which could easily have taken more Palestinians fleeing a war initiated by surrounding Arab states, but did not do so for political reasons (“keep the heat on Israel”).

To label Israel as an “apartheid” state is to confuse intent with outcome. The intent of Israel’s defensive tactics, including the wall, is to reduce attacks on its citizens, not to separate based on race and religion.  That the outcome affects the “race and religion” of Arab Muslims is because that’s who is attacking Israel.

Surrounded by hostile states intent on its destruction, is Israel meant to take no defensive action?  To suggest giving land for peace, without ironclad security guarantees would be national suicide. Israel has repeatedly offered peace in return for security, and repeatedly been rebuffed.  The conclusion is: if Palestinians lay down their arms there will be peace; it Israel lays down its arms it will be annihilated.

Yours, etc,
Peter F.
I.M. Wright's letter

Israel intends to 'segregate' with policies
I refer to the letter by Robert L. Meyer ("Allegations about Israel incorrect", November 16) in reply to my letter ("In backing Israel, US is out of step", November 4).
Your correspondent makes the premise that a connection to antiquity lends legitimacy to land rights. The analogy of the English connection to Stonehenge is untenable as this ancient monument pre-dates the establishment of England by more than 3,000 years.
I doubt that Mr Meyer is suggesting that all the Norsemen, Danes, and Germanic tribesman who invaded and stayed on be disenfranchised and sent back across the North Sea?
However, such a proposition was enacted in Israel in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were driven from their traditional homes, most fleeing across the Jordan River.
Mr Meyer is correct that Israel is not now an apartheid state. However, it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that Israel's settlement and control regimes in the occupied Palestinian lands of the West Bank and Gaza are apartheid policies, as their intention is to segregate by race and religion.
The hackneyed US statement of a "shared goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East" in the context of Israel's actions in the occupied lands is most surely a mirage.
I. M. Wright, Happy Valley