Dora McPhee (VIC) responds to letters by Wertheim and Morris denouncing John Lyons’ article in the Australian 7May12 May 7, 2012

The Australian: “Living under a residency cloud in Israel”  by John Lyons  -  5 May 2012  (see letters by Peter Wertheim and Merv Morris below)

I take umbrage at the claims of Peter Wertheim and Merv Morris that there is no apartheid in Israel in their letters (7 May 2012) responding to the revealing article by John Lyons (6 May 2013) that clearly illustrates one of the aspects of Israel’s apartheid policies.

For over six decades Israel has denied Palestinians, who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland – a direct effect of the establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine, their inalienable right of return. This is one level of deliberate apartheid, which is unacknowledged, has seen no apology and goes uncompensated and continues an historic injustice.

The Palestinians that remained in the newly established Israeli state suffered two decades of military rule, with their political freedoms and freedom of movement severely curtailed as they watched newly arriving European Jews taking over their land. And to this day the non-Jewish “citizens” of Israel are discriminated against through policies, practices and enshrined laws that specifically privileges Jewish citizens over non-Jewish citizens of the state. This is another level of apartheid that may not be overt but ensures that these non-Jewish citizens, who let us remember, are the indigenous population, will never be equal citizens of the state, which is only a true democracy for its privileged Jewish citizens.

The third level of apartheid, which is perhaps the most obvious is the denial of human rights that accompanies the occupation and colonisation of Palestinians in the remaining occupied Palestinian territory that renders Palestinians stateless and subject to a separate military legal system where those deemed a threat are held under administrative detention with no charge and for years on end. Daily they are being driven off their land, their water resources pillaged while they watch more and more illegal Jewish settlements sever their ties to the land.

And in between these fragmentations are the Palestinians in Jerusalem, who are increasingly under threat of losing residency status if they travel abroad and cannot show that Jerusalem is the centre of their life while at the other extreme are the Palestinians of Gaza, eighty percent of whom are refugees who were ethnically cleansed from what has now become Israel and who suffer a draconian and punishing collective punishment of siege and blockade – a war crime under international law. This separation of Palestinians from each other, from their homeland and subject to differential legal treatment is all the work of the state of Israel championed as a democracy but daily denying Palestinians their most basic human rights.

The people who know what apartheid feels and looks like because they experienced South African apartheid, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ronnie Kasrils and John Dugard, clearly recognise what Israel is doing is a form of apartheid – a crime against humanity.

 

 

No apartheid in Israel

 MORE disturbing than the context provided in the story by John Lyons on the effect of residency restrictions on Israel’s Arab citizens was the headline (“Living under the cloud of Israel’s cruel apartheid”, 5-6/5). Stigmatising Israel in this manner is an affront to those who endured real apartheid.

Israel’s Arab citizens vote in Israel’s elections. There are Arab members of parliament and Arab judges in Israeli courts. Jews and Arabs use the same public transport, eat in the same restaurants, get treated at the same hospitals, share the same beaches, theatres and cinemas, shop at the same malls, attend the same public schools and universities and work side by side.

The measures Israel has been forced to take to prevent suicide bombers from the West Bank entering Israel and blowing Israelis to bits do indeed restrict contacts between Israel’s Arab citizens and their relatives in the West Bank. But these factors pale in comparison to the way Palestinians are discriminated against in Arab countries.

Peter Wertheim, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney, NSW

 

ANYONE familiar with the nature of apartheid in South Africa and the democratic state of Israel will know it is false to charge Israel with being an apartheid state.  The headline above John Lyons’s article is a libel that gratuitously misinforms and besmirches Israel.

Merv Morris, St Kilda, Vic


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