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Letters: Tolerance in Israel debated

A Palestinian man pauses near the Qalandia checkpoint

A Palestinian man pauses near the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on Mar. 30, 2013. Credit: AP

Cathy Young's column on diversity and tolerance in Israel ignores the harsh reality that the indigenous Palestinian population endures in the Holy Land ["Stirring diversity, hostile environment," Opinion, May 21]. They represented about 65 percent of the population in 1947 when Palestine was transformed against the will of this majority.

The Palestinian citizens of Israel do not have access to 90 percent of the land which is held "in trust" for Jews only. The racist Jewish National Fund prohibits leasing to non-Jews. Unlike Jews, their relatives have no right to become residents of Israel, and they are discriminated against in all public services, such as schools and infrastructure allowances.

The Palestinians in Gaza live in what amounts to an open-air concentration camp, where fishing boats are harassed and shot at. No Palestinian can enter or leave Gaza freely.

The Palestinians in the West Bank live under military occupation. No other government recognizes the legality of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and every U.S. president in the last 20 years has opposed them.

Any "hostility" toward Israel today would evaporate if Israel would end the occupation and withdraw to its 1967 borders. International law no longer recognizes the acquisition of territory by war.

Gennaro Pasquale, Oyster Bay

Thank you for Cathy Young's excellent op-ed, noting the striking paradox between Israel's remarkably diverse environment and the intolerance directed at it from beyond its borders.

It is mystifying that so much of the world obsessively demonizes Israel, when it's a free, democratic and diverse society that has repeatedly offered its neighbors peace.

What about the contrast with Israel, which is the only country that can boast that its African population arrived not in chains as slaves, but as people happily returning home to be free, when Jordan and Saudi Arabia do not even allow Jews to become citizens, and the "moderate" Palestinian Authority now refuses even to meet Israel at the peace table.

Finally, contrast the cacophony of voices that savage Israel for being in possession of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, on the one hand, with the deafening silence of those who ignore China's oppressive rule over Tibet, or Turkey's occupation of Cypress, or Russia's brutal rule over Chechnya.

There are differences, of course: East Jerusalem and the West Bank are lands at the very core of Jewish history, which Israel captured not in a war of conquest, but while fighting for its very survival after being besieged and attacked in 1967. And yet Israel has repeatedly offered to share with its Palestinian neighbors nonetheless.

Stephen A. Silver, San Francisco