Not all in Israel have equal rights

In his criticism of former Congressman Brian Baird’s commentary, the Feb. 2 letter writer (“Baird off-base on support for Israel”) notes that he is “a proud Jew and a supporter of Israel with whatever flaws it may have.” I am a supporter of both Israel and the Palestinians. I believe that resolution of their conflict must be based on the truth. Unfortunately, the writer’s support for Israel goes too far when he makes statements that are not true.

He may honestly believe, as he states, that the Arab citizens of Israel (approximately 20 percent of Israel’s population) enjoy equal rights. Unfortunately, that is not true! Israel supports a vibrant democracy for its Jewish citizens and does allow Palestinian Israeli citizens the right to vote and hold elective office. But Israel does not provide equal rights to its Muslim and Christian citizens in housing, military service, jobs, community services and in other areas. Israel is a democracy for Jews but by not providing equal rights to all its citizens Israel is not a true democracy.

The writer claims that President Obama is “strongly against settlers building homes in Israel.” Again, this is not true! President Obama has never criticized construction in Israel. However, President Obama and many recent presidents, both Democrats and Republicans, have criticized the construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestine territories. Neither the U.S. nor Israel claim that this land is part of Israel.

The writer’s most egregious statement is his attack on the memory of Rachel Corrie. Miss Corrie died trying to prevent an Israeli Army bulldozer from destroying the home of a Palestinian pharmacist and his family. There is no evidence that anyone in this family was a terrorist. To brand all Palestinians as terrorists is, like anti-Semitism, a form of racism. Sadly, Miss Corrie is no longer alive to defend herself. She was the type of young person who would probably have given her life in the protection all oppressed people, including Jews subject to the terror of the Holocaust.

Henry Landau