Following my joint op-ed in yesterday’s Age newspaper, the following letters appear in today’s edition:
IT IS refreshing to see the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Opinion, 31/03) discussed in such a dispassionate manner. No emotive rhetoric denouncing the other side’s horrors but conveniently ignoring their side’s horrors, but simply the facts as they really are. Here is some more startling truth: the Israeli Government does not want peace with the Palestinians, at least not yet. By previously playing Hamas against Fatah, and now playing Fatah against Hamas, the Government has been able to proceed with the unfettered building of more settlements in the West Bank.
I dread to wonder when this process of claiming Palestinian land will finally stop. It might seem unpalatable for some people that this could be the case, but you need to separate rhetoric from action. The fact is that Israel has been taking Arab land since the declaration of Israel as a state. It would be naive to imagine that this was never the intended outcome.
Paul Gosling, Langwarrin
Nothing but more prejudice
WHAT we have to strive for amid the plethora of opinions on Israel is tolerance, moderation and open-mindedness. The last things we need in this raging debate are articles that are extreme and inflammatory.
Peter Slezak and Antony Loewenstein have written such an article. They accuse Israel of “ethnic-cleansing” and of killing innocent civilians. They accuse past leaders and heroes of being bigoted and ruthless, and half the population of being inherently racist. These accusations portray Israel as a bloodthirsty, inhumane and racist nation. This is not only unbelievably false, but it is dangerous and irresponsible.
Israel’s problems and mistakes, although undeniable and regrettable, do not define Israel as a whole, just as suicide bombers do not define Palestinians as a whole.
Primarily, Israel is a vibrant democratic state that upholds concepts of pluralism and freedom, and that is what Slezac and Loewenstein omit from their article. Have they helped us take a step towards tolerance, moderation and balanced dialogue, or have they incited more hatred, created more polarised views and instigated more extremism in a context in which extremism is the root of all evil? The irony of their final plea for “balanced dialogue” is almost palpable.
Oscar Schwartz, Toorak
All have things in common
THE articles by Peter Slezak and Antony Loewenstein and that of Dvir Abramovich, although different in content, both indicate a way forward in the Palestinian region: a single, democratic, and secular state that can be a religious homeland for all who want such, without being a religious state for any. Whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, whether indigenous Semite or more recent migrants — all have common interests that far outweigh their differences. All are deserving of equal treatment under the law without ethnic or religious distinction, all are deserving of security of home and all are deserving of a just resolution to past conflicts.
The problems of the Palestinian region will not be solved while there are some who seek dominance for their religion or nationality over the rights of others.
Lev Lafayette, Ripponlea
Prescription for conflict
PETER Slezak and Antony Loewenstein claim that speaking honestly about Israelis and Palestinians is fraught, which is probably why they have chosen not to do so. Israeli Arabs have the same rights as Israel’s other citizens, and far more than Arabs in any other Middle East state, yet Slezak and Loewenstein accuse Israel of discrimination and “ethnic cleansing”. They also blame the conflict and occupation on Israel, rather than the constant Palestinian refusal to accept land in return for acceptance of Israel’s right to exist in peace.
Similarly, despite their token condemnation of Hamas and Hezbollah rocket fire, they are far more critical of Israel’s efforts to defend its citizens. To ignore the facts that every aspect of Israel’s conduct they object to is the direct result of Palestinian or Arab terrorism or intransigence belies their claim to be true friends of Israel. It is a prescription for continued conflict, not for peace.
Justin Lipton, Melbourne