My response to Maurice Ostroff
From Dorothy Naor – an Israeli Jew
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Your Open Letter to Professors Allan Boesak and Farid Esack
Dear Maurice Ostroff,
I read with great interest your Open Letter to the two Professors.
The result was that
I learned that while you and I apparently live in the same country—Israel—we do not see things through the same
glasses. I do not refer merely to opinions, but to statistics and other facts. I will treat first the issue of equal rights in Israel proper, and then move on to
the West Bank and Gaza. In the following, I use the term “Palestinian citizens of Israel” advisedly, since this
is the way many Palestinians (including Bedouins and Druze) who are Israeli citizens prefer being referred to.
1. While I probably would not apply the term ‘apartheid’ to what
happens in Israel proper, nevertheless there is a huge difference between the situation here and Rabbi Goldstein’s statement,
with which you agree, that "In the State of Israel all citizens - Jew and Arab - are equal before the law.” Would that this were true. Unfortunately it is not. The fact that Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jewish citizens use the same shopping malls does not mean
that they intermix. Few Jewish Israelis know Palestinian citizens of Israel,
and vice versa. Your citing the instances of hospitals that treat all alike reminds
me of how Americans prior to the civil rights movements would ‘prove’ that Afro Americans (at the time called
Negroes) had advanced greatly used names such as Marian Anderson’s or Paul Robison’s to show that there was no
racism in the United States.
Inequality in Israel begins with the Law of Return, which allows
every Jewish person, no matter from where he/she comes, to automatically become an Israeli citizen. This applies to no other ethnic, religious, or racial group in Israel.
The counterpart of the Law of Return is The ROR, Return of Palestinian Refugees, whose right to return Israel denies,
ignoring UN Resolution 194. Apart from the fact that Palestinian refugees are
not allowed to return, a result of this is that whereas Jewish Israeli families need not be separated, wherever its members
live, and can visit one another, the same is not true of Palestinian families dispersed in various places, but unable to meet
due to Israeli laws prohibiting the refugees from coming to Israel or Palestinian citizens of Israel from going to countries
as Syria, Lebanon, and others where refugees live.
In addition to the refugee issue and the Law of Return, are a number
of areas in which there is neither equality before the law nor equality in any other respect between Jewish Israelis on the
one side and Palestinians citizens of Israel on the other side.
Allow me to mention a few—not all, but a few--examples of
a) Unrecognized villages,
that is to say, villages which, because Israel does not recognize them, are denied infrastructure, inclusive of paved roads,
hook-ups to electricity and water grids, schools, and medical clinics. In some
instances children of these villages must trek 4 or 5 kilometers to reach school and return home. Water must be trucked in, electricity generated by generators.
No Jewish unrecognized villages exist. These are strictly for Palestinian citizens of Israel, mainly for Bedouin, mostly in the Negev but
also in other areas. For information on these see: www.passia.org/diary/Palestinian-Dictionary-Terms.htm”;
Palestinian villages inside Israel - in the Galilee or the Negev - that do not officially
exist. The over 90,000 Arab inhabitants are internal refugees, ie, had left their homes during the 1948 War, yet remained
within the borders of the new Israeli state, and were unable to return to their villages. They do not receive municipal services,
health care, nor are they connected to postal and phone systems. ...”
Not all the inhabitants are “internal refugees.” Some of the villages have existed prior to the formation of the State of Israel. See also
The Association of Forty
Villages of the Naqab [‘Negev’ in Hebrew]
Ha’aretz Tuesday, July 1, 2008
No health care for 80% of Bedouin women in unrecognized towns
2. Racial Profiling
Haaretz August 1, 2010
Last update - 12:35 08/01/2010
“In Israel, racial
profiling doesn't warrant debate, or apologies”
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent
profiling is not indicative of separation then what is?]
3. Reunification (or unification) law which does not permit citizens
of Israel married to West Bank or Gaza residents to live with their
spouses in Israel. This law does not apply to any other group of Israeli citizens.
Jewish Israeli citizens, no matter which country the spouses come from, may live with them in Israel. For more information see
Adalah Special Report on Family Unification
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003, which bans family reunification for Israeli married with Palestinian
The Nationality and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order) 5763-2003,
based on the Government Decision no. 1803 of 2002, was introduced in 2003 as a temporary measure, but has been renewed since.
While Israeli citizens are granted the right to family reunification with their foreign spouse, this law denies this same
right to Israeli citizens married to Israeli citizens married to Palestinian residents in the OPT.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
The Repressive Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law
On July 18, the Knesset again extended the "Temporary Order" as
it's done annually since 2003, affecting thousands of couples, one member an Israeli citizen, the other a Palestinian resident
or refugee in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran or elsewhere, denied their right to reunite legally with spouses in Israel.
A new Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-IL) position paper
titled, "No civil status, no hope: A close look at the 'Humanitarian' Committee of the Citizenship Law (CL)" explains its
harm, using several case study examples.
Since enacted in 2003, it's prevented thousands of couples from
living normally, most unable to reunite, others residing in Israel without health insurance, work permits, or other social
4. Land laws and discrimination against where Palestinian citizens of Israel may live are rife. This is an enormous subject. For Land laws and distribution
of land see http://www.geog.bgu.ac.il/members/yiftachel/new_papers
_eng/Kedar%20and%20Yiftachel.pdf pp 137 ff.
As for discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel, it
widely exists. See, for instance,
Even former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2008 that not only
did discrimination exist in the public service sector, but also that it was deliberate.
“Olmert: Discrimination against Arabs deliberate”
Minister Ehud Olmert painted a grim picture Wednesday in respect to discrimination against Arabs seeking public service jobs.”
special parliamentary session on the matter, Olmert said: "It is terrible that there is not even one Arab employee at the
Bank of Israel (out of 900 employees) and that in the Israel Electric Company Arabs constitute fewer than 1% of all workers."
These above are but a few of the many areas in which inequality
exists. But even they suffice to contradict Rabbi Goldstein’s opinion that
“In the state of Israel all citizens . . . are equal before the law.
I, a Jew who grew up in the United States during years that racism
against Jews existed, am sensitive to racism in Israel, just as I am sensitive to what Israel is doing also in the Occupied
Palestinian Territory. It distresses me that Jews can do to others that which they would not have done unto them.
The problem is the criterion of demography. No state that wishes to be ‘pure’—be it a pure Aryan state, or any pure religious, or
ethnic, or racial state—cannot avoid not allowing equal rights to those who are not of the ‘pure’ primary
social group. You, Maurice Ostroff, need but to open your eyes to realize how
inaccurate you and Rabbi Goldstein are to claim that equal rights do exist here.
As for the Occupied Palestinian Territory (hereafter OPT), the means
used in South African apartheid may be different from those used in the OPT, but that hardly signifies that separation and
segregation do not exist.
You say that prior “to the outbreak of the second ‘Intifada’
. . . there was no need for checkpoints and the security barrier. Without delving
into the historical aspects, let me stress that neither checkpoints nor the wall offer security.
Not only would a potential suicide bomber be an idiot to go through
a checkpoint, where he/she is certain to be caught, but also thousands of Palestinians without permits enter Israel to work
annually and those who are caught, are almost invariably caught in Israel. The
Israeli media reports these events on occasion (e.g., Monday, January 04, 2010
Illegal Aliens: 46 illegal Palestinian aliens found
Border Guard forces discover Palestinians packed inside shipping
container in terrible cold. Each had paid NIS 250 for 'transport service'
Breaking News Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Ten Palestinians illegally in Israel caught near Netanya.
Police arrested ten Palestinians aged 15-17 who were illegally in
Israel. They were caught in a private vehicle on Highway 57, near Netanya, after the driver stopped because of a roadblock
and fled. (Raanan Ben-Zur) And so on.).
The Israeli excuse for checkpoints is violence. But the reason for checkpoints is separation—not only separation of Palestinian villages from Israel,
but even more from one another. They are a means of breaking up the West Bank into pieces so that the contiguity necessary
for a Palestinian state would not exist. They are therefore a means of insuring
that a Palestinian state would not exist.
The function of the wall is to steal land and to help Israel urbanize
the West Bank. Had the wall been intended for security, then it would have been
built on the so-called green line, the 1949 Armistice line, internationally recognized.
By urbanizing the West Bank, Israel creates a potentially dependent cheap labor force.
Men who were farmers but have lost their land will need to find other ways to feed their families.
As justification for the checkpoints and wall, you state that “thousands
of Israelis died in terror attacks.” In fact from September 29, 2000 (the
outbreak of the 2nd Intifada) till today 1,084 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian violence, whereas at least 6,430 Palestinians
have lost their lives to Israeli violence http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html.
The only way of attaining security for all who live here in Israel
and in the OPT and Gaza is not by force, not by separation, but by seeing that justice and right rule. So long as there is no justice for Palestinians, so long as Israel continues to colonize the West Bank,
to steal land, and to blockade Gaza from the air, sea, and land there can be no security for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
The fact that Palestinians have in recent years turned primarily
to non-violent means of resisting the colonization and occupation indicates that they have themselves realized that their
use of violence was a tactical error. Still, there will always be those who will
stray from the majority and turn to violence. But at present they are a minority. Israel by continuing the occupation is encouraging the growth of fundamentalism in
the area, hardly desirable for Israelis and others.
You state statistics to show that prior to the Intifada the Palestinians
were financially better off than they are now. However, Israel did not allow
them to work in Israel for their benefit. Rather, Israel used them as cheap labor,
and when that became inconvenient, it replaced them with cheap foreign labor. The
industrial zones then and the ones planned now are not for the benefit of the Palestinians, but for the benefit of the Israeli
owners who will again use Palestinians as cheap labor (see Sam Bahour “Economic Prison Zones” http://www.merip.org/mero/mero111910.html,
and Who Profits http://www.whoprofits.org/Involvements.php?id=grp_inv_exploit)
You state that “Israel’s willingness and anxiety to
make peace with its neighbors has been unequivocally been proved . . .” Without entering into an argument about what
Barak offered or didn’t offer (e.g., the crux of the conflict, the ROR, was not even discussed at Camp David), and without
noting that the colonies that Sharon vacated on the Gaza strip were built on Palestinian land to the disadvantage of the Palestinians,
it surprises me that you neglect to mention the plan offered Israel by the Arab League (known also as the Arab Peace Initiative
or the Saudi Arabian plan). In 2002 it offered Israel full recognition and normalization
of relations with all the countries in the region in exchange for a return of Israel to the 1967 line and a just solution
for the Palestinian Refugees (the offer did not demand that they return to their homes in Israel). Israel, instead of running
with open arms to accept the plan, ignored it in 2002 and also ignored it when it was proffered again in 2007. Had Israel’s leaders been interested in peace they surely
would have accepted this offer, But Israel’s leaders, rather than peace
and security, prefer to have land and more land.
As for Hamas, it has made several overtures for peace (e.g., a long-term
truce offer first made by Ahmed Yassin, who suggested a 20-year-long ceasefire, without recognizing Israel's right to exist,
in return for an Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six-Day war), but these were also ignored by Israel.
Gaza and the West Bank are both parts of historic Palestine. Israel
has separated the two, and has turned Gaza into an open-air prison. Had there
been no Hamas, Israel would have had to invent it. Hamas serves Israel’s
purposes wonderfully, as does the contention between Hamas and Fatah (divide and conquer).
Finally, with respect to Israel’s security, I repeat, security
will come only after Israel agrees to justice for the Palestinians. So long as
they have no justice or security, then no walls, no checkpoints, no ethnic cleansing will bring Israelis security. Since I want security for my children, grandchildren, and all future generations here, as well as
security for Palestinians and their future generations, I can only hope that justice will soon reign.
Dear Mr. Ostroff, this letter is being widely distributed. I hope that you, too, will publish it. My
readers will be very anxious to know your response.