For an alternative to Antony Loewenstein’s polemic against Israel (“Western politicians prefer to ignore Israel’s inherent racism”, October 28) I refer readers to Freedom in the World: Israel 2010 by Freedom House, a venerable and widely respected non-governmental organisation.
Under the Freedom House criteria, Israel has the highest of seven rankings for political rights and the second highest for civil liberties. It is the only country in the Middle East rated “free”. Its media is described as “vibrant and independent”.
Although Israel describes itself as a “Jewish and democratic state”, freedom of religion is respected, with Christian, Muslim and Bahai communities having jurisdiction over their members in matters of marriage, divorce and burial.
The judiciary is independent and regularly rules against the government. Freedoms of assembly and association are respected. Workers may join independent unions and have the right to strike and bargain collectively. Women have achieved substantial parity at almost all levels of society. Openly gay Israelis are permitted to serve in the armed forces.
Certainly, some serious discrimination exists in Israel, as in other democracies. But overall, not a bad record for a country faced with neighbours such as Iran and Syria, and organisations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Peter Wertheim Executive director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Sydney
By all means, let us go back to basics, starting with the United Nations partition plan for Palestine, as [Zionist lobbyist] Colin Rubenstein suggests (”Oath’s emphasis on a democratic nation state is soundly based”, October 28).
The plan showed clear borders of the two states, with Jerusalem as a UN zone which was barred from being the Israeli capital. The war between the Arab nations and Israel led to the occupation of territory clearly intended as belonging to the Arab state. At no time since it unilaterally declared its statehood has Israel confined itself to the boundaries allocated by the UN. Its illegal expansion into Arab territories continues.
The UN requirement that the rights of resident populations be recognised in the new state has been consistently ignored.
The British foresaw problems with the new state and its expansionist ambitions, and abstained from the UN vote. They have since fallen into line, as have we, with the blinkered Western view of the conflict.
Don Brown Narrabeen