By the way, it's long, so I have split it in two: you'll need to read the next post as well.
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Rather than repeat your technique of interpolating one letter with comments within the entire text, I propose to cite relevant passages from your last letter and to comment on them. I will leave your material in black and make my comments in red.
First, many of your critical points (and also those from others) are in the line of "why criticize Israel, when country XXX does far worse things". People who make such comments are usually unfamiliar with political activism and how it works. It's not some sort of (reverse) beauty contest in which you choose the absolutely worst human rights offender in the world at the particular moment in time and concentrate on that. The fact that a particular country is abusing human rights is sufficient to criticize it, and to try to do something about it.
In addition, many of the countries XXX which some critics would prefer to be targets of campaigns are already official enemies, for example Iran.
- Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
- (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
As far as Gaza is concerned, I would add that if you ethnically cleanse many hundreds of thousands of people and drive them into a huge prison camp, on which you then impose a near-seige, for an indefinite time, and regularly terrorize, bomb, and assassinate, one should not expect the development of Scandinavian social democracy in that place.
Malcolm, where do you get all this from? Israel did not ‘ethnically cleanse’ hundreds of thousands of people in 1948-49. Read Efraim Karsh’s Palestine Betrayed, a scholarly, fully sourced and cogently argued study of the period. Most of the Arabs who fled in 1948 did so because the Arab Higher Committee and the Arab Liberation Army told them to get out in order to make room for the armies who invaded Israel. They promised the Arabs they would return to their homes to celebrate a victory that never came. In other places, Arabs fled be cause the Arab armies had started a devastating war. In places like Haifa, the Jewish population pleaded on many occasions with their Arab neighbours to stay, but were ignored. Finally, in a small handful of places, Jewish forces did force Arabs out because they were in the way of fighting. It could all have been avoided if the Arabs had taken up the UN offer of a state for themselves.
The following Ten Facts about Palestinians in Israel in the Appendix to Ben White's recent book 'Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination, and Democracy' help to set the record straight.
1. Since 1948, over 700 Jewish Communities have been established in Israel (not including settlements in the Occupied Territories). The only towns established for Palestinians citizens were seven in the Negev, and only as a way of removing the Bedouin population from other areas.
2. Significant authority over areas like land ownership and rural settlement is invested in bodies that are constitutionally mandated to privilege Jews [like the Jewish National Fund.]
3. The amount of land belonging to Palestinian refugees that was expropriated by Israel's 'Absentee Property Law' amounts to around 20 per cent of the country's total pre-1967 territory.
4. Roughly one in four Palestinian citizens are 'present absentees' (i.e. internally displaced), their land and property confiscated by the state.
5. An estimated 90,000 Palestinians live in dozens of 'unrecognised villages' in Israel. They suffer from home demolitions and a lack of basic infrastructure.
6. Residency in 70 per cent of Israeli towns is controlled by admissions committees that filter out those deemed 'unsuitable' for the 'social fabric' of the community.
7. Despite making up 20 per cent of the population, the state development budget for the Palestinian minority is just 4 per cent.
9. Public Officials, including Members of the Knesset and cabinet members, routinely and publicly express racism towards Palestinians with impunity.
10. Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence agency/secret police, openly fights peaceful and legal efforts by Palestinians citizens to challenge the 'Jewish' nature of the state [i.e. to campaign for equality between Jews and non-Jews within Israel].
Malcolm, this is rather vague, isn’t it? The Shin Bet is Israel’s internal security service, just like the UK’s MI5, America’s FBI, Germany’s Verfassungsschutz, and other agencies round the world who have much the same mandate. Shin Bet/Shabak’s mandate includes state security, revealing terrorist organizations, interrogating terror subjects (within the limits of the law, something insisted on by thre Supreme Court in the 1990s), providing the state with intelligence to back counter-terrorism in the West and Gaza, counter-espionage, and other forms of security for state officials, buildings and airlines. White paints a picture of a demonic Gestapo-like agency that seeks to block peaceful demonstrations and activities by Palestinians. You should know that if Palestinian challenges are peaceful and legal, the most that may be expected is policing, much as would happen here in the UK even for peaceful demos. But Israel is not the UK, and many demonstrations and protests quickly turn violent. In villages like Bil’in and Ni’lin there are weekly protests about the security barrier, but these are never free of violence or the threat of violence. And I don’t see how these protests advance the cause of equality. The security barrier has saved hundreds of lives from attacks by Palestinian terrorists. I have no respect for the peace-loving qualities of individuals or groups (including Western groups) who fight to have it removed. And I can’t see why anyone should protest in favour of equality for Jews and Arabs in a country where such equality is guaranteed in law. Absence of morality is not the result of some oppressive determination of the Israeli state but discrimination on the part of individuals, social sectors like Haredi Jews, and some state or military officials. It’s OK to call for greater observance of the laws on equality, though I suggest the best way to achieve that would be to involve oneself in the many voluntary and state-sponsored bodies that encourage greater integration for Arabs and wider understanding for Jews through working together and engaging in projects like Save a Child’s Heart that stress our common humanity.