An open letter to 702’s John Robbie
Fahima expressed her opposition to the visit as she firmly believed that Israel was an apartheid state. This elicited an enthusiastic “Yes” from you and the statement: “There’s many of us who believe that being critical of Israel is not being anti-Semitic at all. In fact, it’s being pro-Israel in the same way as us being anti-apartheid, and I’ll argue that with anyone”.
Here’s my counter argument:
Clearly, you agreeing with Fahima that Israel is an apartheid state reveals how little you appear to know about the country. Otherwise how would you explain how a country with full voting rights for all citizens; with five Arab parties represented in the Knesset; with Arab judges appointed to the judiciary (including the Supreme Court); where two Arab judges adjudicated the trials of a former state president and a former prime minister, resulting in both serving jail sentences; where two Arabs have acted as Israeli ambassadors; where the press is among the freest in the world; where there is complete freedom of association and of speech; and where the rights of gays are fully protected, can possibly be guilty of practising apartheid?
According to Freedom House, the independent monitor of democracy worldwide, Israel is both fully democratic and free. Explain therefore, John, how a fully democratic country can simultaneously practise a policy of apartheid?
As for your patronising claim to be “pro-Israel” by applying “tough love” (which you say should never be construed as anti-Semitic), your hypothesis is shaky for the following reasons:
- Of course being critical of Israel is not necessarily anti-Semitic. None are more self-critical than Israelis themselves. However, when one’s criticism is continually directed at Israel alone, one is forced to ask what lies behind so one-sided a stance.
Sadly, with the worldwide surge of so-called “anti-Zionism” (read “anti-Semitism”) – and an equal hostility towards “Zionists” (read “Jews”), Jews can be forgiven for their sensitivity when the John Robbies of this world claim that their one-sided criticism is inspired by their concern for our welfare.
- I have never heard you express any understanding of Israel’s point of view, but only ever an appreciation of the plight of the Palestinians. In fact, you’ve repeatedly turned the past three wars against Hamas into no more than a numbers game based on comparative casualties figures with no appreciation of the factors that created these casualties in the first place.
- I have yet to hear you apportion any of the blame for the conflict to the Palestinians. Israel comes off as the eternal villain and the Palestinians the eternal victim.
Perhaps, John, the time has come to visit Israel to see things for yourself. A visit to both Israel and the Palestinian territories, free of any restraints, can be arranged.