Letters: Israel a beacon of democracy?

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (July 28, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Columnist Cathy Young refers to the "displacement of . . . Arabs" and "violence by Arabs" during Israel's "founding," when she more accurately and fairly should have referred to the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous majority Palestinian population during the transformation of Palestine ["In Israel, a dreamer longs for peace," Opinion, June 10].

She might also have mentioned that the non-Jewish towns in Israel today receive less funding for government and education than Jewish towns, that access to 13 percent of the land in Israel is restricted just to Jews under the ownership of the Jewish National Fund and that non-Jewish citizens do not have the right to bring relatives to live in Israel while any Jew in the world can "return" at will to the country.

The "ethnic and religious tensions" arise from the fact that non-Jews are second-class citizens in Israel and that their inferior status is a form of apartheid.

Gennaro Pasquale, Oyster Bay
 

Tali Zaid's grassroots peace activism, which embodies the original Zionist ideal, is as inclusive as it is humanistic. For all of Israel's many miscues and flaws, the Jewish state remains the shining star of the Middle East.

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In addition to forging a prosperous technological giant out of a dusty strip of arid land in the eastern Mediterranean, the Israelis have promoted democratic values, civil liberties and economic growth among Muslims, Arab Christians and Bedouins.

Yet Tel Aviv remains a flinty occupying power, oppressing a beleaguered Palestinian populace that has watched historic Palestine nearly disappear from the pages of history. In many respects, the Nakba of 1948 continues, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu punishes the Palestinians -- with electricity blackouts, increased checkpoint humiliations and de facto economic sanctions -- for the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Fatah.

In fact, Netanyahu scuttled the ill-fated John Kerry peace talks when he had Housing Minister Uri Ariel make way for 3,300 new housing units in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. If "Reason and judgment are the qualities of a leader," as Tacitus averred long ago, then Zaid is the true stateswoman.

Rosario A. Iaconis, Mineola

Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct professor of political science at Briarcliffe College.

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