Letters to the Editor: Israel Is an Ethnic, Not Liberal, Democracy

Jewish Mexican immigrants arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport, last year.
Jewish Mexican immigrants arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport, last year.Credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP

It’s the Zionism, stupid

In response to "Why does a U.K. academic spewing antisemitic conspiracies attract eager apologists on the U.S. left?" (Nicole Lampert, March 3)

I know David Miller, I was the vice chair of Labour Against the Witchhunt and I can say, hand on heart, that David doesn’t have a racist or antisemitic bone in his body.

The Union of Jewish Students is a body that I and other socialist students wouldn’t have gone a mile near. It is affiliated to the World Zionist Organization, it has defense and support of Zionism and Israel as a Jewish State in its constitution.

If we want to talk about genuine antisemitism then lets talk about Israel’s relationship with antisemitic regimes in the Videgrad Group, people like Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Or the support of Israel by former President Donald Trump and the American far right like Richard Spencer or Britain’s own Tommy Robinson.

David Miller never attacks Jews but he does attack the Zionist movement and that is why he is hated by them

Tony Greenstein

Via Haaretz.com

Hatchet job

This is a cheap hatchet job by Nicole Lampert. I completely agree with David Miller’s assessment of political Zionism as an ethnic cleansing ideology. It is the ideological basis of the racist apartheid regime by the State of Israel imposed on the Palestinians.

The last refuge of Zionist scoundrels is to call critics of the colonial settler ideology of political Zionism “antisemitic.” But daily reality on the ground in occupied Palestine is a confirmation of what David Miller is saying about Zionism.

The witch hunt against David Miller is rightly being denounced by many academics from all over the world. Zionists cannot tolerate an academic, who has the courage to openly criticize a racist colonial settler ideology.

Ben Alofs

Via Haaretz.com

An ethnic, not liberal, democracy

In response to “Immigrating to Israel made me renounce Judaism” (Jotam Confino, March 1)

Jotam Confino can certainly criticize the Israeli immigration system because of certain understandable bureaucratic frustration he endured in reacquiring Israeli citizenship – probably a rarely submitted request. However he should read (reread?) The Balfour Declaration and the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Israel was founded as an ethnic democracy, not a liberal democracy. Mr. Confino is entitled to his personal opinion about what Israel should be or what Judaism should be, but the abovementioned documents make clear that first and foremost Israel was founded to be a reconstituted homeland for the Jewish people and to end 2000 years of diasporic existence.

Richard Sherman

Margate, Florida

More binary than the Diaspora

Having lived in Israel, I can say it is more of a binary place than the Jewish Diaspora (religious/not religious, right/left), and within its tribes pretty conformist. It is true that the rabbis are sticklers about matrilineal/patrilineal definers of Judaism and unfortunately there is not a smooth, “secular” – I wouldn’t say conversion, but “incorporation” – into the Jewish body politic. We talk about Abraham and Sarah “making souls,” which meant incorporating local pagans in their orbit into monotheism, but unless you convert religiously you are in a no man’s land Jewishly. In the Reform movement, popular in America, patrilineal Jews are accepted and you would be accepted into the Jewish community. Jewishly you have a lot in common with the rest of the Diaspora.


Via Haaretz.com

Israel can’t inoculate all the Palestinians

In response to “Vaccinate Palestinians, too, to end pandemic" (Joseph Bruch and Nadav Davidovitch, March 3)

I agree that vaccinating Palestinians working in Israel is an excellent idea. The Palestinians who work in Israel are the Palestinians who are the most likely to interact with Israelis and are probably the ones who will be most willing to be vaccinated. However, it is unreasonable and unwise to ask Israel to take responsibility for vaccinating the general Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. This is so for several reasons.

First, Israel’s assuming responsibility for getting the Palestinians vaccinated would abet the Palestinian leadership’s longtime shirking of its responsibility to provide health care to the people living under Palestinian administration. Second, an Israeli vaccination program could become part of the Palestinian leadership’s long-standing practice of libeling Israel; if there were adverse reactions to an inoculation, we would be told that Israel used inferior vaccines or that Israeli personnel deliberately administered the injections improperly. Third, Israelis sent to the disputed territories to do the vaccinating might be attacked. Fourth, if Israel supplied vaccine to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and they failed to maintain proper storage, Palestinians receiving spoiled vaccine would be likely to have adverse reactions (or not acquire immunity to COVID-19) and, of course, Israel would be blamed.

Let us recall that, last year, the PA refused to accept anti-COVID-19 supplies from the United Arab Emirates because the shipment had been routed through Israel’s Ben-Gurion International Airport. More recently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas vetoed Israel’s setting up a vaccination site on the Temple Mount (because he didn’t want to give Israel “a foothold” there). Would Palestinian leaders allow Israel to vaccinate Palestinians, or even accept vaccine from Israel?

The call for Israelis to demand that Israel vaccinate the Palestinians (out of concern that infected Palestinians would spread the disease to Israelis) appeared in the same issue as an article stating that “Infection rates are rising – but it may not matter that much” (Ido Efrati, March 3). If enough Israelis are vaccinated to create herd immunity, won’t that lower the risk of transmission of the virus from the disputed territories into Israel?

Toby F. Block

Atlanta, Georgia



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