While it may be true for the Jewish community within Israel that "Israel excels as a tolerant nation" [Letters, June 7], it is not true for Palestinian Christians or Muslims who live under Israel's jurisdiction.

It is an inconvenient truth for Israel that there was a sizable non-Jewish population within Israel at the time of its re-creation in 1946, which has only grown following Israel's conquest of non-Jewish communities within Palestine.

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These people, through no fault of their own, certainly do not have equal rights with Jews in Israel, living as many do in walled ghettos without freedom of movement or opportunity. They have no citizenship under any flag, and are denied both statehood and equality by their conquerors.

Israel's perceived security needs, predicated on the segregation and oppression of a large element of its population, make it impossible for it to be a true democracy. Israel can only think of itself as a true democracy without factoring in the Palestinian population it conquered -- the unpleasant truth of its existence.

Harry Katz, Southold