July 23, 2008

Lying abroad for Israel?

Who is sent to lie abroad for Israel, Israeli diplomats or the UK Prime Minister? Well I really didn't follow what I have heard was a sycophantic speech by Gordon Brown to the Israeli parliament but I did read the ludicrous letter of Israeli diplomat, Lior Ben-Dor in yesterday's Independent.

Israel's defences are not apartheid

I was profoundly dismayed to read Donald Macintyre's story ("This is like apartheid", 11 July), regarding the recent visit by a South African delegation to Israel and the West Bank. While the report detailed the impressions of delegates concerning the conditions of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, it failed to deliver a balanced account of this extremely complex situation, and lacked historical context and background.

The article neglected to explain that the security measures applied by Israel in the West Bank, including the separation barrier, are a necessary response to constant threats posed by terrorist organisations to the lives and safety of Israeli citizens. Between the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000 and the completion of the first part of the barrier in August 2003, Israel was the victim of 73 terrorist attacks which killed 293 Israelis and wounded 1,950.

During 2003, West Bank-based Hamas operatives conducted several suicide bombings, killing 79 Israelis. But, since August 2003, when the first part of the barrier was completed, Israel has had a dramatic reduction in attacks. Between August 2003 and the end of 2006, terrorist organisations based in the West Bank committed 12 attacks, killing 64 Israelis and wounding 445.

Your comparison of the situation in the West Bank to apartheid in South Africa demonstrates the lack of historical context in the article. Israel's security measures are a necessary response to the unique terror threats it faces, and do not arise from any theory of racial segregation.

By comparing the establishment of Israel to a colonial enterprise, the historic Jewish connection to the land of Israel is eradicated, and the legitimacy of Israel's existence is negated.

Lior Ben-Dor

Embassy of Israel, London w8

Thankfully there's a response in today's Indie:
Israel adopted 'security' spin about the West Bank barrier

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Lior Ben-Dor (letters, 22 July) tries to rebuff comparisons between his country's policies with apartheid by repeating "security" spin about the West Bank barrier.

This illegal structure was rebranded as a security measure only when the Israeli government announced its construction to the world; prior to that it was always referred to in Israeli political circles as the "separation barrier".

It was designed by a demographer named Arnon Sofer who persuaded Ariel Sharon et al that the Palestinians posed a "demographic threat" and the Jewish state needed to "disengage" from them in case one day they call for a single democratic state: nothing to do with "security". Shimon Peres then said: "The line is following a certain vision of the future. When that happens, it stops being a security fence and becomes a political fence. Nobody will admit that it is being built for these [political] reasons; nobody will admit that it is a political line."

Ben-Dor makes no attempt to explain Israel's ever-expanding, illegal, Jewish-only settlements and roads that have cut the occupied territories into ethno/religious specific enclaves, or why Israel subcontracts sovereignty over land under its control to the key Zionist institutions of the Jewish Agency and Jewish National Fund whose constitutions explicitly discriminate against non-Jewish use of the land. The consequence of this is Israeli Arabs being forced to reside on less than 8 per cent of the country of which they are supposed to be citizens.

Until the Israeli government can explain these policies, then comparisons between "the Jewish state" in Palestine and apartheid remain well-founded. But since Israel has refused to join the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid of 1973, I will not hold my breath.

Alex Hogg

London W10

See that about the Israeli Arab "citizens" being confined to 8% of the surface area of Israel because of Israel's land laws? Apparently it's about 3% because they are barred from about 92% and about 5% is uninhabitable but wait for tomorrow's zionist nitpick about how Jews can petition the Supreme Court if they want to live in Golders Green. What? Did I just say that Jews can apply to the Supreme Court if they want to live in Golders Green? What a silly thing to say. That would be an outrage if Jews had to apply to a Supreme Court in order to be able to live in a part of the the UK where anyone else can live regardless of ethno-religious or racial background. I meant, wait for the zionist nitpicking letter in tomorrow's Independent, where some bright spark points out Arabs can apply to Israel's Supreme Court if they want to live in an otherwise Arabrein area. Sorry about that little slip.

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