Columnist Richard Latendresse, in an article in Le Journal de Montreal entitled “Israel: A Racist State?” appears, with this headline, to answer in the affirmative and indeed suggests, among other things, that Israel is “only for Jews”. David Ouellette, of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, sets Latendresse straight with the following excellent letter published today (see translation below):
The article “Israel: a racist state?” by Richard Latendresse, recycles the tired themes of anti-Zionism. The Arab-Israeli conflict is not racial in nature, it is national. It is a conflict between two national movements.
If Israel still occupies the West Bank, it is because the Palestinian Authority has refused all offers of peace since 2000 (Camp David, Taba, Annapolis), multiplies the preconditions for the resumption of negotiations and favours the internationalization of the conflict at the expense of the only process capable of realizing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples: direct negotiations without preconditions. M. Latendresse wrote that Israel is “a country for the Jews.” This is to ignore that Arabic, along with Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. It is to forget that while the Jews were expelled from virtually all Arab and Muslim countries after the founding of Israel, the Arab minority in Israel has continued to flourish economically and demographically.
It is to ignore the words of Palestinian leaders who proclaim that their future state will be closed to Jews, while in Israel, Arabs serve in the Supreme Court and Parliament, are ambassadors and consuls, senior officers in the army and sports and TV stars.
Can one imagine a Jewish judge sentencing an Arab president to prison? Yet, in Israel, disgraced Israeli President Moshe Katsav received his sentence at the hands of an Arab judge.
Israel is not a perfect state. But disparaging a liberal democracy like Israel as a racist state serves only to support the despotic forces that surround Israel and aspire to its disappearance.