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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

Dorothy Naor responds

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About Maurice Ostroff
 
"if you are inclined to donate, make it conditional to Israel restoring land that it stole from Palestinians in both Israel and the OPT and also planting olive groves that it uprooted in the OPT.  Make certain to get a definite signed commitment, one that can stand up in court, before you give a penny". 
 
 
 

On December 2, 2010  Dorothy wrote

Dear Maurice,

I appreciate your having taken the time to reply to my letter. I particularly appreciate this, because obviously we will continue to see things through very different glasses.

Nonetheless, your efforts deserve a response. 

My former response to you was not, strictly speaking, over whether or not Israel is or is not an apartheid state.  As you yourself saw, I did not maintain that it is.  And the reason that I left that aside is because my focus was on Rabbi Goldstein’s statement, with which you agree, that "In the State of Israel all citizens - Jew and Arab - are equal before the law.”

Your response to me does not, surprisingly, touch this issue at all.  Instead, you bring evidence that Israel is not the sole discriminatory state in the world.    Maurice, I hardly needed you to point that out to me.  And you yourself foresaw my response: just as 2 wrongs do not make a right, so also 20, 30, or 1000 wrongs do not add up to a single right.  Thus Israel being as appalling or less appalling than another country or countries has no bearing on the issue. My yardstick regarding discrimination is not what others do, but ‘not doing unto others what I would not have done unto myself,’ to paraphrase Hillel.

In any event, discrimination was not the main issue at hand.  The issue was Rabbi Goldstein’s statement: "In the State of Israel all citizens - Jew and Arab - are equal before the law.”  My response to your open letter focused on this to show that it is false.  To this end I pointed out 4 areas in which Palestinian citizens of Israel are not equal ­before the law with Jews: the Law of Return, the unrecognized villages, land laws, and the Reunification law.  While these are not the sole areas in which equality before the law does not exist, these alone suffice to show that Rabbi Goldstein is incorrect to maintain that equality before the law does exist.  

As for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in the West Bank apartheid is obvious—separate roads, road signs that contain names solely of the Jewish colonies (road signs that named Palestinian communities were dispensed with during Ariel Sharon’s premiership), a fence/wall that is often referred to as the ‘separation barrier,’ separate laws (Jews obey Israeli law, Palestinians are under the thumb of a military government (COGAT), check points for Palestinians only, a system of passes, Israel dictates who may and may not reside in Palestinian communities, who may live in the West Bank, who in Gaza. the division of Palestinian communities into a/b/c to create Bantustans, and more.  The fact that the means used by Israeli apartheid are not identical to those of  South African apartheid doesn’t indicate that the aims are not alike—Separation.  Apartheid indeed, exists in the West Bank, as it indeed must in any society that wishes to be demographically ‘pure,’ be that ‘pure Aryan,’ or ‘pure Jewish,’ or pure anything else.  Blockaded Gaza is an open-air prison totally separated from the West Bank and all other parts of historic Palestine. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was not the first (nor the last) to insist that Israel is an apartheid state.  Many years before Archbishop Tutu, another South African said as much when in 1963 he “emphatically stated . . . that Israel is an apartheid state.” Note please that this is prior to 1967, so the reference was to the state of Israel.  Ronnie Kasrils continues, “Those were not the words of Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Tutu or Joe Slovo, but were uttered by none other than the architect of apartheid itself, racist Prime Minister, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd” (http://bdsmovement.net/?q=node/347).   

I have not responded to every point that you made--e.g., your opinion of the wall being a security measure—if it had been, then why wasn’t it built on the internationally recognized 1949 Armistice line (often called the ‘green line”)?  Why was it located in areas that stole great chunks of agricultural land from the Palestinian villages and uprooted thousands of trees? 
 
But you also did not respond to my question of why Israel has not grabbed with open arms the Arab League offer.  My concern, mind you, is not only about how we treat Palestinians, it is also what Israel’s policies do to the Jews who live here.  In short, they have made Israel the least safe place in the world (excepting war zones, as Afghanistan) for Jews to live in. But this is a whole different subject. 
 
Wishing you all the best, but believing that neither of us will convince the other.  You are welcome to have the last word, if you wish.  I have decided that this will be my final response. 

Wishing you well,

Dorothy

Maurice Ostroff's reply - December 4, 2010

Dear Dorothy Naor,

In the last paragraph of your letter to me of November 28, you wrote "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". 

I did what you asked. As your letter was distributed on the ZNN list and your New Profile list I duly sent my response to both, but the New Profile list rejected it.

Though you published your 2,419 word letter to me on the New Profile list I read with astonishment your request in your email of December 1,  "leave New profile out of it".  Your refusal to allow my reply to be published where you published it, leaves no choice but to conclude that  you wish to protect members of the New Profile group from exposure to facts I quoted that contradict your extreme convictions.

More egregiously, you compound your attitude of one-way indoctrination in publishing your latest response to me on the blatantly anti-Israel web site, "Shoah - the Palestinian holocaust", while depriving those readers of an opportunity to learn the indisputable facts contained in my letter to which you are replying. The very name of this site is a distortion of historical facts and demonstrates a refusal to treat events in their context.

The last sentence in your email of December 2, "I have decided that this will be my final response" confirms that having made up your mind you do not wish to be confused by facts.

dorothyonshoasite.jpg

In the first paragraph of your letter of December 2, you state that you did not maintain in your previous letter that Israel is an apartheid state. But in a later paragraph you refer to a a web site advocating boycotts and sanctions against Israel on which the well-known Israel critic Ronnie Kasrils quotes Hendrik Verwoerd describing pre-1967 Israel as an apartheid state. I offer no comment.

My biggest disappointment is your heartless use of the devastating Haifa fire to strike a blow at Israel. On the same Shoah site you wrote ".. if you are inclined to donate, make it conditional to Israel restoring land that it stole from Palestinians in both Israel and the OPT and also planting olive groves that it uprooted in the OPT.  Make certain to get a definite signed commitment, one that can stand up in court, before you give a penny". 

Dorothy, are you really unconcerned about the human tragedy of the 42 persons burned to death and the thousands of Jewish and Arab families forced to leave their homes in this national disaster? Yes I know you are justifiably concerned about Palestinian suffering, but are you unable to find a small space to include some compassion for genuine Jewish tragedy as well?

In your letter, you completely ignored my request to you and other single-minded unrelenting critics  of Israel to  examine Israel's faults in context and to avoid the double standard of singling out every Israeli wart or perceived wart for public opprobrium while turning a blind eye to horrible violations of human rights around the world.

You inappropriately quote the over-used aphorism two wrongs don't make a right as a red herring to avoid addressing the importance of comparisons in understanding any sociological subject in the context of the real world. Disinformation occurs not only in what is written but also when important relevant facts are deliberately omitted. When you tell your readers categorically that neither checkpoints nor the wall offer security and you hide the FACT, to which I drew your attention, that the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ramadan Abdallah Shalah has unequivocally stated publicly that these measures do protect Israel from attacks, that is unforgivable disinformation (Al-Sharq, March 23, 2008 ).

You again quote Israel's Law of return as an exceptional diabolical Israeli invention, while ignoring the examples I quoted of similar laws in very many other democratic countries whom you would not accuse of apartheid because of these laws.

You also ignored the fact that I did not claim that Israel is fault-free and that I stated categorically that Israel has many faults including social discrimination which must be addressed and which are similar to those in other democratic countries. Yes! we must deal with eliminating racial discrimination in Israel more effectively than it is being handled in Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Luton, and other cities. With your talented eloquence you would be doing more good advocating the necessary changes to members of knesset than by joining the vocal crowd advocating boycotts of Israel abroad as is done by the Shoah web site on which you have a "Dorothy online newsletter".

Similarly your readers are entitled to know that your stated views about UN Resolution 194 on the return of Palestinian Refugees are mistaken and it is wrong to hide from your readers the words of the general manager of Al -Arabiya television, Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed who I quoted as saying "Our insistence to lock the Palestinians in camps and treat them like animals in the name of preserving the issue is far worse a crime than Israel stealing land and causing the displacement of people. The 60 year-old camps only signify our inhumanity and double standards. Israel can claim that it treats the Palestinians better than their Arab brothers do".

Most importantly, I regret that you didn't respond to my request that you suggest a constructive proposal for a peaceful settlement while taking Israel's security concerns seriously, especially in view of the intense rocket attacks experienced from Gaza and the possibility of rocket firing groups being stationed in the West Bank opposite Ben Gurion airport.

Sincerely,
Maurice Ostroff


 

  

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