LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
As a Jew, I have reason to be proud of many of the achievements of the Jewish State, and there are also things about which I am frankly ashamed. I abhor the military occupation of the West Bank. I abhor the Israeli government’s support for settlements that do not belong to Israel, and restrictions on ownership and use of land, based on ethnic identity. As a Jew and an American liberal I do not believe there is any place for second-class citizenship in a “Jewish State.” The Torah bids us Jews to “Befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
Even before the establishment of Israel, the Arab nations surrounding her declared war on the nascent state, vowing to “Drive the ‘invading infidel’ into the sea.” War and occupation create dehumanization within one group toward another. There have been abuses by Israel’s forces, some of them glaring. All these things are unacceptable.
Jim Muir (in Sept. issue of the Ojo, pp. 70) begins with a reference to “The Zionists who comprise the vast majority of the Jewish Israeli population today.” I read the news, too, and what I see is a vast spectrum of views among Israelis, a great number of different streams of opinion among people who profess loyalty to Israel as a Jewish State. Mr. Muir attacks the “brutal policies” of the State of Israel, “all (sic) grounded in hatred, racism and the desire to achieve removal of all (again, sic) members of the (targeted ethnic group).” What is this monolithic thing he is calling the State of Israel? I know of some Jews who think this way, of course, but I’ve always been of the opinion that if there are two Jews, there are three opinions, an ethnic trait which often renders the Israeli government less than effective, an imperfect democracy to be sure.
Mr. Muir goes on to attack Elie Wiesel for being, in his view, hypocritically silent about Israel’s “policies of aggression toward an entire ethnic group,” referring to “Wiesel and his brethren” as seeking “an ethnocratic state stripped of foreign elements and encompassing as large a land mass as possible.”
Mr. Muir, who in the region is trying to strip the land of whom? The history of the region since about the 1920’s is of a huge population mass threatening to drive a tiny Jewish minority “into the sea.” While you attack Elie Wiesel for his “silence,” I witness your own glaring silence about a whole host of facts. I experience your silence about a growing “Peace Now” movement in Israel, and many smaller groups seeking to bring Jews and Arabs together through cultural exchanges. What about a great institution like Hadassah Hospital, staffed by both Jewish and Arab professionals to offer quality medical services to Jews and Arabs alike, from Israel and from all surrounding countries? Where is your voice concerning the suicide bombings, and about Hamas missiles targeting innocent civilians living in Israeli cities?
What you are presenting, by the facts about which you are silent, is a totally one-sided view which offers nothing in the interests of peace. You intimate that all Zionists are little different from the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust. You brand Israelis as despicable people worthy only of the readers’ hatred, and you impugn the name of Elie Wiesel, who has earned the world’s respect for his lifetime of work. You are entitled to your warped opinions, Mr. Muir, just as I am entitled to my indignation at reading them.
Riberas del Pilar
(Ed. Note: Having heard from both sides, this must now be the last word on this volatile subject, at least for the time being.)