Letters to the Editors: On Israeli Democracy and 67 War

Re: Liberal Democracy

To the Editor:

Hasan Afif El-Hasan’s article on Israel’s "liberal democracy" is an excellent dismantling of the widely and persistently propagated Zionist myth that Israel is a "liberal democracy," given all the laws (and their practical enforcement), indeed the entire legal foundation of the state that characterizes it as racist, undemocratic and contemptuous of the human rights of the native –non-Jewish–population.

I suppose his use of the term "liberal democracy" reflects a scholar’s need for precision: not any generic democracy but a liberal democracy is what Israel claims to be and it is the farthest from. Otherwise, perhaps the author reasoned, someone could make the claim that Israel is some kind of democracy, perhaps the mirror (inverted) image of say, the Athenian model of democracy in which the natives were Athenian citizens with full rights and the ‘barbarians’ from without were slaves.

The only omission for which I fault this article is that it talks a lot about "the Arab minority" and its oppression but it fails to educate (or at least remind) the readers as to how the Palestinians became a minority in their own country. In the teeth of powerful and relentless Zionist propaganda that attempts to rewrite history, the readers’ familiarity with the roots of the Palestinian tragedy must not be taken for granted, especially in the West.  Nakbah and the continuum of ethnic cleansing being carried out by Israel ever since must be told, taught, made known, and repeated again and again.

Ariadna Theokopoulos

Re: Liberal Democracy

To the Editor:

Congratulations on your excellent editorial. There are Americans, including several Jewish American peace groups, including Rabbi Lerner who publishes Tikkun, who agree with you, but the American press self-censors them along with the powerful elites. But also others who fear the reaction if they don’t support the violent Zionists or even those who truly believe that supporting Israel is the right thing in their twisted minds, will try to block even such resolutions as supporting to the extent of helping prolong the Israeli attack on Lebanon to see if cluster bombs would change the outcome, even though this was a violation of American law (which bars the use of such weapons for military aid to Israel), Israeli law and international law.
As nearly a just peace as can be achieved in an imperfect world is essential. That means not only ending the occupation, but also avoiding any kind of interference with a truly independent Palestine based on the borders of 1967. Moreover, it means finding a solution to the refugee problem on a basis acceptable to the refugees.
Edward R. Brandt

40 Years of Havoc

To the Editor:

On the news we see, listen and hear stories about our world that is overflowing with conflicts among people of different racial, national, religious and cultural groups. Some are not new while other conflicts have deeper roots that reach back for decades or centuries.  The June 6, 1967, six day war is one such conflict that has caused forty smeared years of havoc, hostilities, and disruptive peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

In the last 40 years since the Six Day War, the Israeli military government’s occupation of Palestinian land has flared into violent confrontations, death and an open killing field of innocent children, men and women.  And Palestinians living under an illegal and regrettably an unjust and immoral occupation are still waiting for the consciousness of the world to rally in their defense. One might ask, as they witness Palestinians struggling intensely on a daily basis to survive, what obstacles are preventing an honorable peaceful solution to their separate but unequal dilemma?  For Palestinians, after 40 years of havoc they too continue to make their appeal for freedom and democracy to many people around the world. 

As a consequence of the Six Day War, what remains today is an Israeli military occupation of the old city of Jerusalem, the Golan Heights in Syria and more confiscated Palestinian land and its territories.  One of the conquests of the six day war was also the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.  However, in 1977, the Egyptian President, Anwar Sadat stunned the Arab world and proposed offered land for peace with Israel.   In a dramatic gesture, Sadat flew to Jerusalem and addressed the members of the Knesset, Israeli parliament by saying, “We use to reject you…Yet, today we agree to live with you in permanent peace and justice.”   He also emphasized, “That in exchange for peace, Israel must recognize the rights of the Palestinian people and withdraw from territory it seized in 1967 from Egypt, Jordan and Syria.” Unfortunately, his unilateral Middle East quest for peace was never taken seriously by the Israeli government.

Nevertheless, after 40 years of being denied their universal rights, it will inevitably be up to the consciousness of the nations of the world to unite in their peaceful efforts to end one of the most horrific human tragedies in the 21st century… a tragedy that has embellished havoc upon the lives of Palestinians living under an Israeli military occupation. On the 40th anniversary of the six day war, Palestinians hope that they can celebrate with a purpose, the anniversary of ‘a six day war of peace and build a Statue of Liberty of their land….a symbol of democracy.’

Leila Diab, US

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