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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Letter to the Editor, NY Times.

On February 3rd I sent this letter to the New York Times, in response to an Op-Ed piece, but the paper didn’t print it. Here it is:

Omar Barghouti’s “Why Israel Fears the Boycott” (Op-Ed Feb 2nd) is full with slender and deliberate inaccuracies. Israel is neither more nor less “racist” or democratic than other democracies, but it is a thriving one, with a robust civil society, including Arab advocacy associations, free elections for all, a multiplicity of political parties, including Arab, and the right of all citizens to participate in government.

Mr. Barghouti neglects the fact that Israeli Arab citizens, Palestinians included, are Knesset members, who are allowed like everyone to publicly criticize the government, Supreme Court justices, college professors, lawyers, physicians and more. It is conceded, Israel still needs to achieve real social and economic equality for its Arab citizens, the Bedouins in particular, and it needs to end the construction of Jewish settlements in the land it occupies since the 1967 war. But to compare Israel to Saudi Arabia or the old South Africa is disingenuous.  

Barghouti does not appear to understand the difference between nation and state. That Jews are both adherents of a religion and a nation confuses him. Like other nations they achieved self-determination when they created their own nation-state, which is indeed threatened by the unrealistic Palestinians’ demands for the right of return.

The American Studies Association’s and other academic groups’ boycott of Israel is a shameful act, for it is mostly in Israeli academic institutions that the voices for both the end of the occupation and peace is heard.                                                                                                                     

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