February 10, 2010

Independent letters

There are five letters on Palestine in The Independent today, three of which challenge Israel's "right" to exist as a Jewish state. They were responding to a letter from a chap called Dr (!) Jacob Amir in yesterday's Indie:
Criticism of Israel's policies, even very harsh criticism, is totally legitimate and has nothing to do with antisemitism (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, 8 February) . It is being done in Israel itself daily. But critics, Jewish or not, who deny the right of Israel to exist, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, while not opposing any other nation-state, exhibit a clear racist attitude and can be rightfully called antisemites.

Dr Jacob Amir


And here are the responses:

Israelis, Jews and antisemitism

Why is it antisemitic to deny the right of Israel to exist (letter, 9 February)? If I call for a united Ireland, thereby denying the right of majority Protestant Northern Ireland to exist, I am not opposing Protestants, only arguing that they would be better off in a different political environment, like the Protestants of Donegal. I am not insulting or racially abusing them, or defacing the graves of their departed.

To call for a united state of Palestinians and Israelis where neither is privileged is to oppose discrimination, not to uphold it. We should look at the example of Daniel Barenboim; his orchestra, the West-East Divan, is composed of Jewish and Arab musicians, where excellence alone is privileged. To many people Barenboim is showing the way forward; his orchestra is a template for the future of Israel-Palestine. Surely no one could call him antisemitic.

Christopher Walker

London W14

Dr Jacob Amir is wrong (letter, 9 February). There is nothing wrong and certainly nothing racist about being opposed to the existence of the State of Israel while not opposing the existence of the other nation states.

Nation states are states that represent all of the people of the countries they rule over. Israel is the state of the world's Jews and it exists at the expense of the native non-Jewish Palestinian people. There is no other state that exists more for people that do not come from there than for people that do come from there.

Mark Elf

Dagenham, Essex

Dr Jacob Amir claims Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Britain is the nation-state of British citizens, regardless of their ethnic or religious background; can he not tell the difference?

Janet Green

London NW5

Quite a result, that.

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