Today, HRC and CIJA both responded to a Chronicle Herald letter-writer who had the temerity to claim Israel practises “apartheid” and who on December 10 used the memory of Nelson Mandela to slur the Jewish state. See both letters below published in the Herald appended below:
Mandela backed Israel
Re: the Dec. 10 letter “Mandela on Palestinians,” shame on Violet Rosengarten for invoking the memory of Nelson Mandela to slur the state of Israel. Mandela was a strong supporter of the Jewish state, of Zionism itself, and was a fierce opponent of anti-Semitism. Just read his memoirs where he spoke of the common bond between the African struggle for self-determination and the Jewish one. Mandela’s efforts brought an end to tyranny and fostered true freedom and sovereignty for Africans.
Rosengarten has the temerity to claim that Israel practises apartheid, even though Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East in which its 20 per cent Arab minority enjoys full equal rights before and under the law. Instead, Israeli Arabs consistently affirm they would rather live in Israel as a minority than anywhere else in the Middle East.
This “apartheid” libel does not offend only Israelis, but stands as an affront to all those who would campaign against real apartheid.
Mike Fegelman, Honest Reporting Canada, Toronto
Re: the Dec. 10 letter “Mandela on Palestinians,” Israel is the only modern liberal democracy in the Middle East, and Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy equal rights and freedoms comparable to those we have here in Canada. In the West Bank, 95 per cent of Palestinians enjoy self-governance under the Palestinian Authority. The remaining five per cent live in areas that are under Israeli military oversight for one simple reason: the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict has caused suffering on both sides for generations.
Israel’s presence in those areas has been justified by the UN Security Council until Israel receives peace, recognition, and security guarantees from its neighbours — a condition that no Palestinian leader has ever offered.
We are hopeful that a Palestinian leader will one day emerge to make peace with Israel and in turn establish a Palestinian state. Until then, false comparisons between Israel and South Africa are a disservice to Israelis and Palestinians alike, and only diminish the terrible suffering of those who lived under the former South African regime.
Mark David, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Halifax