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Letters: Israel excels in tolerance

Israeli children wave flags during a rehearsal, a

Israeli children wave flags during a rehearsal, a day a head of the arrival of US President Barack Obama at the president's residence in Jerusalem, Israel. (Mar. 19, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

The first letter of "Tolerance in Israel debated" [June 2] is a masterpiece of inaccuracy, misrepresentation and revisionist history. The only indigenous people to the area are Jewish. They lived there since antiquity. The Palestinian Arab people are a creation of later 20th-century nationalism.

Eighty percent of the land in Israel is state-owned. Half is leased to Muslims and Christians, and half to Jews. Twenty percent of land is owned privately or by the Jewish National Fund. Only the JNF land, privately purchased, has restrictions on who may buy. To say that Palestinian citizens are discriminated against when it comes to infrastructure allowances is incorrect. Israel's national land-agency records indicate that Arabs are sometimes offered better terms than Jews when it comes to land issues.

Describing Gaza as an "open-air concentration camp" is abhorrent and inaccurate. A visit to those European camps and the current Middle East belies that statement.

Peace by a return to indefensible 1967 borders ignores history. Hamas, controlling Gaza, has stated that it will never recognize Israel. The Palestine Liberation Organization, whose charter calls for the elimination of Israel, was founded before 1967, when Israel seized the area after an attack by the British-led Jordanian Arab Legion.

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa

The letter concerning diversity in Israel begs for rebuttal. The writer calls Palestinians indigenous, but the Jewish presence in Israel predates the Palestinians by thousands of years. In fact, until Jews were ethnically cleansed from Jerusalem in the early 20th century, there were more Jews in Jerusalem than Muslims and Christians combined.

His claim that Palestinian citizens have no access to 90 percent of the land is patently false: The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that Arab Israelis are citizens of Israel with equal rights.

He claims that the Jewish National Fund prohibits leasing to non-Jews, when it owns only 13 percent of Israel's land, and in any case is required by law to lease to Jews and non-Jews alike. Arabs are represented in the Israeli Parliament, and Arabic is one of Israel's official languages.

The writer claims that Gazan fishing boats are harassed and shot at, but doesn't mention that these boats are frequently used to smuggle illegal arms or to lay mines.

Contrast this with the Palestinian Authority, to which selling land to Jews isn't just prohibited; it's a capital offense. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declared that Palestine will be completely free of Jews.

Allan Mosak, Cedarhurst


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