Letter: Columnist ignores reality of the immoral occupation

          The whiny, petulant Editor’s Desk column in the September issue complaining about Israel’s critics fails to mention, let alone confront, valid criticisms of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and its treatment of Arab citizens.

          Israel’s 45-year occupation has subjected Palestinians to arbitrary arrest, detention, home demolition, stolen land, suppression of their economy and even assassination, all without meaningful due process or right to redress. Israel has demonstrated every indication of maintaining the occupation basically forever.

          Israel imposes second class status on Israeli-Arab citizens. They are subjected to discrimination in housing, employment, the provision of municipal services, the ability to purchase land and education.

          There has been a frightening increase in overt racism and Jewish hooliganism and vigilantism against Israeli-Arab citizens. Prominent members of the Israeli government have called for blatantly racist policies.

          The column’s author ignores Rabbi Hillel’s summation of the Torah: “Do not do unto others as you would not want done unto yourself” (Talmud Tractate Shabbat 31a). The Holocaust also imposes an obligation not to dehumanize the other, particularly when those others are subject to Jewish political control.

          The column’s author infantilizes the Jewish people by arguing for an innate, eternal anti-Semitism that denies Jews their agency in determining their relationship with the non-Jewish world.

          The column also runs counter to a basic premise of Zionism: By creating a Jewish state, Jews can determine its relationship with the rest of the world.

          Israel, however, could improve its international relations, not to mention its security and the lives of millions of Palestinians, by at least trying to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

          It could acknowledge that the Palestinian Authority has done a very good job of suppressing violence and terrorism in the West Bank and try to bolster the status of P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas. It could also address the growing racist and anti-democratic forces within its midst.

Michael Cohn