I decided to post this Open Letter to Rev Edwin Arrison written by Rodney Mazinter for comments and further debate.
Rev Arrison is the General Secretary of Palestine Kairos South Africa.
On my return from abroad in August 2013 I received a copy of your open letter to Rev Meshoe and the ACDP in which you castigated Rev Meshoe for his support of Israel. Please allow me to comment as I had the pleasure of doing in an exchange of views with Ms. Marthie Momberg a short while after.
I pose to you the question I posed to her, and for which I have not received a satisfactory response: who is more deserving of criticism by Kairos South Africa? Israel for defending itself against attack? Or the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots, for habitually terrorizing and murdering Christians, among many other crimes?
Your position is clear. According to the unmistakable actions of Kairos South Africa exemplified by your open letter to Rev Meshoe, it is the millions of supporters of Israel, of all religious persuasions, who deserve castigation.
What about the plight of the Christians, who surely deserve your concern? Here are a few verifiable case studies from this year alone:
The Church of the Virgin Mary in Waraq near Cairo was attacked during a wedding ceremony, leaving four dead and many wounded. According to Dr. Hisham Abdul Hamid, two of those who were murdered were Christian children—two girls; two Marys: 12-year-old Mary Nabil Fahmy, who took five shots in the chest, and 8-year-old Mary Ashraf Masih (meaning “Christ”), who took a bullet in the back which burst out in the front.
It should be noted that this scene—attacked Coptic churches and murdered Christians, especially on holy days and celebrations—has become a normal aspect of Egypt’s landscape
So too are the murders of Christian children increasingly common. Indeed, along with the two murdered Marys, in July, another Christian girl, 10-year old Jessi Boulos, was shot dead while walking home from Bible class.
All of these church attacks and murders, gleaned from reputable media sources in the countries concerned, are a direct by product of the Muslim Brotherhood’s incitements against Christians in retaliation for the June 30 Revolution in Egypt that saw the ousting of the Brotherhood.
Needing someone to scapegoat in order to set Egypt ablaze, Brotherhood leadership—including supreme leader Muhammad Badie, Safwat Hegazi, and Al Jazeera’s Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi—repeatedly demonised that nation’s Christian minority, leading to any number of atrocities committed against the Copts.
A contemporary press report headlined “The Brotherhood’s crime in Waraq [location of the church attack]: Seventeen murdered Copts and 85 torched churches since ousting of Morsi… Copts pay price of June 30 Revolution.”
Now consider the response of Kairos South Africa concerning the conflict between Israel and the surrounding Arab states, including the disputed territory of the West Bank.
For years, human rights activists have been imploring that sector of the church represented by Kairos South Africa for support of appeals aimed at the Palestinians to respect the human rights of all residents including Christian minorities. Such an involvement would dramatically ameliorate the plight of the Christians living there.
Instead, your approach has been 1) to ignore the plight of Middle Eastern Christians and 2) when attacks are especially egregious, when those who are responsible for the destruction of nearly 100 Christian churches (including an unprecedented attack on the holiest Coptic church when Morsi was still president) and the murders of Copts and their children finally are exposed, Kairos South Africa is strangely silent.
Among other things since July, unprecedented numbers of Christian churches were attacked, plundered, desecrated, and torched. According to one Egyptian human rights lawyer, “82 churches, many of which were from the 5th century, were attacked by pro-Morsi supporters in just two days.” Al-Qaeda’s flag was raised above some churches; anti-Christian graffiti littered the sides of other churches and Coptic homes. Owing to extreme anti-Christian sentiment, many churches ceased holding worship services until recently. Dozens of Coptic homes and businesses were also attacked, looted, and torched.
In Egypt, Christian Copts are routinely scapegoated and targeted. All Islamist leaders—from Brotherhood supreme leader Muhammad Badi, to Egyptian-born al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, to top Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—made it a point to single out Egypt’s Copts as being especially instrumental in the ousting of former Islamist president Morsi, ushering in a month of pogroms against the nation’s Christian minority.
In the Sinai, a young Coptic priest was shot dead in front of his church, while the body of Magdy Lam’i Habib, a Copt, was found mutilated and beheaded. Four other Christians were slaughtered by Muslims in Luxor province. Whole towns and villages have been emptied of Copts, including more than 100 Christian families from El Arish in the terror-infested Sinai.
Owing to the many death threats to Coptic Pope Tawadros II, he left the papal residence at St. Mark Cathedral—which was earlier savagely attacked when Morsi was still president—and temporarily ceased holding services.
Here is a roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world. It includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not according to severity:
Attacks on Christian Worship: Churches and Monasteries
Guinea: During a mob-led frenzy, Christians and their churches were savagely attacked in the Muslim-majority nation, with some 95 Christians slain and 130 wounded. In Nzérékoré, five churches as well as the homes of pastors were attacked by Muslim mobs. One priest recounted the violence: “The two Catholic and Protestant churches have all been ransacked and burned… Almost all the houses and shops belonging to Christians or people affiliated with Christians, have not escaped the fury of the attackers.” Similarly, the Catholic area, including the quarters of the nuns, was looted before being torched. In Moribadou, the violence lasted three days and saw some 10 churches destroyed.
Indonesia: According to the Annual Report published by IndonesianChristian.org, a Protestant organization monitoring the nation’s Christian community, the pressures against Christian communities in Aceh “have become intolerable. Within a year, with non-existent legal pretexts, 17 house churches have been closed, these also include Catholic chapels. The Islamization of the province continues, just as promised by the governor Abdullah.” The forced closure of places of worship and threats against Protestant congregations, says the text, “increase unabated… The behavior of local authorities is a potential threat to the tolerant atmosphere we see deteriorating over time.” Behind this upsurge is the aforementioned current governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, who earlier spent years in exile in Sweden for his Islamist and separatist activities. During his election campaign, the Islamic politician frequently said “he would not hesitate to apply the Koranic laws in the province.” Months after his victory and his words have become reality.
Nigeria: Members or supporters of the Islamic organization Boko Haram set off four bombs planted near three Protestant churches in Kano city, killing at least 45 people. Local Christians were meeting for Bible study at Christ Salvation Pentecostal Church when one explosion hit, and 39 bodies were recovered in the area; Christians were also meeting at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church when another bomb went off; and an explosion apparently targeting Peniel Baptist Church failed to affect the building.
PA Territories: Nuns of the Greek-Orthodox monastery in Bethany sent a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urging him and other PA leaders to respond to the escalation of attacks on the Christian house, including the throwing of stones, broken glass, theft and looting of the monastery property. “Someone wants to send us away,” wrote Sister Ibraxia to Abbas, “but we will not flee.” Added to complications, and as increasingly happens to other monasteries—such as a 5th Century monastery in Turkey—a local Muslim family has, according to local Christians, “arbitrarily” claimed the monastery’s land.
Attacks on Christian Freedom: Apostasy, Blasphemy, Proselytism
Pakistan: Asia Bibi, a Christian mother languishing on death row since June 2009 for allegedly blaspheming Islam’s prophet Muhammad, may have to wait another two more years before the appeal against her blasphemy conviction is heard. In November 2010 she was sentenced to death. The chairman of the Human Liberation Commission in Pakistan has been lobbying the country’s chief justice for Asia’s appeal to be heard as soon as possible but has received no response. Also, a Christian couple was arrested for allegedly sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim cleric in Gojra, where a week before a young Christian man was sentenced to life in prison on the same charge. Shafqat Masih, 43, and his wife Shagufta, 40, who have four children between the ages of 5 and 11, were taken into custody on a complaint by Muslim cleric Rana Muhammad Ejaz, who alleged that he had received blasphemous text messages from Masih. Gojra City police registered a case under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s widely condemned blasphemy laws for allegedly defaming Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Conviction is punishable by death or life in prison, which is 25 years in Pakistan.
Iran: Mostafa Bordbar, a Muslim convert to Christianity who, along with several other Christians, was arrested in December 2012 while celebrating Christmas, was tried in Tehran’s Revolutionary Court. He is one of several Christian prisoners currently being held in ward 350 of Evin prison for their faith. According to Mohabat News, the court registered the charges against him as “illegal gathering and participating in a house church.” If found guilty, he can be sentenced to anywhere from two to 10 years in prison. Five years earlier, he was arrested for converting to Christianity and participating in a house church. His interrogator at the time charged him with “apostasy,” a charge that still remains on his record.
Sudan: Apparently responding to the vitality of the Christian church, Ammar Saleh, the head of the Islamic Centre for Preaching and Comparative Studies, chastised the government for not taking decisive action against Christians operating “boldly” and thus leading to the apostasy of many Muslim converts to Christianity. According to International Christian Concern (ICC), Saleh “argued that anyone who believes there’s growth in Sudan’s Islamic faithful is ‘living on Mars,’ drawing attention to increasing proselytization and an exodus of Muslims to Christianity.… He also stated that the government’s efforts to curb the rise of Christianity were timid as compared to efforts of missionaries to lead people to Christ.” Meanwhile, according to ICC “Churches are being forced to close down, foreign workers are being kicked out of the country and Christians are constantly pressurised by the government and society in all kinds of ways, so much so that the recent increase in Christian persecution in Sudan moved the country from being ranked 16th on the 2012 Open Doors World watch List to 12th in 2013.”
Dhimmitude: A Climate of Hate and Contempt
Iraq: Kidnapped on May 27, the body of Salem Dawood Coca, a Christian, was found inside the truck he was driving when abducted. According to AINA News, “The truck was booby trapped with explosives, and it is believed that he was forced to carry out a suicide bombing, but refused to do so. The kidnappers had contacted Mr. Coca’s family but had not demanded a ransom and described him as a ‘Christian Infidel’. Mr. Coca leaves behind a wife and several children.”
Kurdistan: A Muslim ambulance driver refused to transport the deceased body of a Christian woman from the hospital to the church, citing that it was forbidden in Islam. According to Asia News, “The body of the Assyrian woman, who died last Sunday at Zarkari hospital in Erbil, had to be brought to the town of Ankawa, but the Muslim ambulance driver refused to drive to the church because it is “haram” (forbidden) in Islam.” In traditional Muslim theology, being near the deceased body of an infidel is dangerous, as the torture reserved for them could spread.
Nigeria: Growing numbers of Christian girls in Muslim-majority areas, where the Islamic group, Boko Haram holds sway, are being abducted, kept in the homes of Muslim leaders and forced to renounce their faith. According to Professor Daniel Babayi, secretary of the Northern Christian Association of Nigeria, the issue is getting worse: “Christian girls below the age of 18 are forcefully abducted and made to denounce their faith .… They have been kept in the houses of emirs or imams. When we report to the police, they tell you there is nothing they can do. The police have become very helpless. In some instances, they are part of the conspiracy.” Last year, Boko Haram had declared that it would begin doing precisely this—kidnap Christian women—as a way “to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam.”
Pakistan: Farhad Masih, a 16-year-old Christian boy, was arrested and beaten on the accusation that he was involved with a Muslim girl (which is forbidden in Islam). A Muslim mob also tried to burn and loot his family’s house. Local Muslim leaders have made several draconian stipulations, including that the boy must either convert to Islam or die. The same thing happened earlier in April 2013, when three Christian youth were arrested, tortured, and killed by Pakistani police for allegedly having “love affairs” with Muslim girls.
Syria: According to the Assyrian International News Agency, the “Assyrian village of Tel Hormizd was attacked on Saturday, July 27 at about midnight. Fifty Arab Muslims on motorcycles entered the village and began a shooting rampage. According to residents, the Muslims fired indiscriminately, wounding two Assyrians, one of whom is still in hospital.” Also, al-Qaeda linked rebel fighters abducted Fr. Paolo Dall’Oglio, a prominent Italian Jesuit priest, most likely for ransom or beheading. Ironically, Fr. Paolo had reportedly championed the uprising against Bashar al-Assad.
July saw several atrocities during the jihad on Nigeria’s Christians, including:
- At least 28 were killed in a series of explosions throughout a Christian neighborhood in the Muslim-majority northern city of Kano. The attacks happened in the evening while people were out “to enjoy the area’s nightlife.” The same neighborhood had been targeted in the past by Boko Haram. The group has been responsible for the killing of more than 2,000 people; several nations have designated the group as a terrorist organization.
- At least 30 Christian men, women and children were slain in three villages in southern Plateau state on June 27 by Islamic extremists suspected to be from outside of Nigeria who raided the villages massacring all in sight. Initially a Muslim spokesman for the military’s Special Task Force said the Christian residents of Magama, Bolgong and Karkashi were attacked by Fulani herdsmen “in apparent retaliation for cattle theft.” Later, however, the military said that many of the culprits were not even Nigerian. “The number of Christians killed may be as high as 70, as corpses of Christians killed while fleeing these attacked villages still litter the bushes,” said a witness. “The Muslim attackers chased their Christian victims on motorcycles and were killing them as they tried to escape. So many dead bodies have been recovered from the bush, and we believe that more may still be found…. So far, we have recorded over 100 houses that have been burnt down by the rampaging Muslim Fulani attackers in these villages.”
- According to Christian Today, Boko Haram “has repeatedly attacked Christian communities and churches, most recently killing 40 at a boarding school in Yobe state on 6 July. A dormitory was set aflame while the children were sleeping; those trying to escape were gunned down. A month earlier, 16 other students were shot dead in attacks on a secondary school in Yobe and another school in Borno. True to its name, “Boko Haram,” or “Western Education is a Sin,” the group recently asserted, “Teachers who teach western education? We will kill them. We will kill them in front of their students, and tell the students to henceforth study the Quran.”
- Islamic gunmen raided Dinu village in southern plateau state, a Christian village, on an early Sunday morning, before church services, as increasingly happens, and slaughtered six Christians, a month after Muslim Fulani herdsmen shot another Christian to death in a nearby village and destroyed the churches of four villages.
The persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching pandemic proportions. The above are some—by no means all—of the instances of persecution that surface each month.
It manifests in hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws that criminalise and punish with death those who “offend” Islam; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (financial tribute expected from non-Muslims); overall expectations for Christians to behave like dhimmis, or second-class, “tolerated” citizens; and simple violence and murder. Sometimes it is a combination.
Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the West, to India in the East, and throughout the West wherever there are Muslims. My question to Kairos South Africa is: Why is there no outcry of this persecution of co-religionists?
And now, if you will allow, I turn to your accusations about Israel, your claim that it is an apartheid state, to me a most blatant example of egregious and hurtful propaganda. Here I wish to cover the same ground that I did with Martie.
A good place to start is to begin with your question about Israel’s lack of support and respect for the UN’s Human Rights Council and to start off by naming the countries who make up and control this body: Sudan, Pakistan, Belarus, China, Sri Lanka, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela and Sudan. A more murderous list of criminal countries you will not find in the entire world and they presume to tell democratic Israel how it should govern itself? The African-backed bid by Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court, for a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council and the Council’s support of Syrian candidacy for 2014, a country that has so far killed over 100,000 of its own people, including mass gassing, makes a mockery of this body. Col. Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya — which infamously chaired the HRC in 2003, and was reelected a member in 2010 — is now set to be replaced by a tyrant wanted for genocide by the International Criminal Court. Talk about the inmates running the asylum? The U.N. and the cause of human rights has been severely damaged by this bunch of gangsters. Israel would be crazy to give any respect and attention to this body.
I would have expected Kairos South Africa to show greater familiarity with the facts. You claim that Israel is guilty of “occupation” and vicious domination of Palestinians as a mirror-image of Apartheid South Africa. I will deal with the apartheid accusation lower down but let us stay for the time being with the “occupation.” The decision in some quarters to rewrite history by labeling the Territories ‘Occupied Territories,’ the Settlements as an ‘Obstacle to Peace’ and ‘Not Legitimate,’ thus endowing them with an aura of bogus statehood and a false history; the use of these dishonest loaded terms, empowers terrorism and incites Palestinian Arabs with the right to use all measures to destroy Israel. For the legal facts supporting this contention I respectfully refer you to the following blog: “A Further response to the Methodist Church’s call for comments“.
Let me make the following point: all Israeli prime ministers over the past two decades – from Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres to Ariel Sharon and Binyamin Netanyahu – have unequivocally endorsed the two-state solution, whereas all Palestinian leaders have rejected this solution, refusing to allow a single Jew to live in a proposed Palestinian state. For another, Israel’s “occupation” of the populated areas in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip ended in the mid-1990s.
The declaration of principles signed on the White House lawn in 1993 by the PLO and the Israeli government provided for Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a transitional period, during which Israel and the Palestinians would negotiate a permanent peace settlement. By May 1994, Israel had completed its withdrawal from Gaza (apart from a small stretch of territory containing settlements in the south of the Strip, which was vacated in 2005) and the Jericho area of the West Bank. On September 28, 1995, despite Arafat’s abysmal failure to clamp down on terrorist activities in the territories now under his control, the two parties signed an interim agreement, and by the end of the year Israeli forces had been withdrawn from the West Bank’s populated areas, with the exception of Hebron (where redeployment was completed in early 1997).
In short, since the beginning of 1996, and certainly following the completion of the Hebron redeployment in January 1997, 99% of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have not lived under Israeli occupation; rather, they have been under the jurisdiction of the PA.
There is in South Africa and elsewhere a growing antipathy towards Israel, and lately wherever Jews turn they are met by people distorting the narrative and, in doing so in many cases consciously or unconsciously reinforcing hatred. The apex of this anti-Israeli pathology is the BDS campaign. I trust that, in the interest of balance, you will grant me a moment to rebut some of the BDS statements, especially those equating Israel with apartheid South Africa, which you endorse in your open letter.
I am somewhat astounded by your assertions of Israel being an “apartheid” state. As one who was born and lived in South Africa all my life, and who has written and sat face to face and argued with our Apartheid rulers; who as chairman of the South African Open Schools Association led delegations to the education minister and spoken on public platforms about the iniquities of apartheid in education; who, has had recognition conferred on me by both department officials and teachers’ associations for playing a pivotal role in the breaking of the apartheid logjam in SA education, I can claim to know a little about apartheid.
I have also got to know Israel over many years, and cannot claim to recognise it from your description. Perhaps those of your compatriots who have not visited Israel, would like a little virtual tour of the country. Let me first briefly set the scene with a smidgen of geography. Israel occupies 0.1% of the landmass of the Middle East and it is the only Jewish state, not only in this region surrounded as it is by 22 Arab states, but in the world. Its entire population is that of a largish city in Europe, Asia or North America, and is a fraction of that of its neighbours.
Let us consider for a moment this apartheid state called Israel. A visitor from our country, the home of apartheid in the bad old days, flies directly to Israel from South Africa and has already been through immigration at Tel Aviv Airport. He and his female companion will have filled out a visitor’s form. This form will not ask him, as it will in many of the countries that surround Israel, what his religion is, and it will certainly not ask him, as they do in Saudi Arabia, for a “certificate of religion”.
It is Sunday and the two of them may want to attend a church service. No problem in the Apartheid State of Israel. Freedom of worship is available for all religions. This is more than can be said for nearly all the surrounding 22 Arab nations. In fact most of them would not even have a single church, let alone a synagogue.
Heading out for lunch at one of the tempting beachfront restaurants in Tel Aviv they would most likely put on very casual outfits, as befitting the very hot Israeli summers. For our visitor’s companion this could be a pair of shorts and a tight-fitting skimpy T-shirt. No problem in the Apartheid State of Israel. Israel allows freedom of dress, especially for women, who are not forced to wear bulky long robes, a veil to cover both their face and new hairdo, as would be required in most of the surrounding 22 Arab states.
During lunch he would be free to lean across and kiss the lady’s lips. People would probably think he was in love, especially as he has proudly displayed a good wine on the table. Public displays of affection and consuming alcohol in the Apartheid state of Israel is nothing unusual and it’s not even scorned at. That’s more than can be said for most of the surrounding 22 Arab states, where make-up would be considered whorish and alcohol is forbidden.
Being of a flirtatious nature our traveler makes a pass at one of the young waitresses while his companion goes to re-apply her lipstick. It was harmless and, luckily for the young girl in the Apartheid State of Israel, her father and 6 brothers will not take her to the family pool in the evening and drown her, as they would in some of the surrounding 22 Arab states.
After lunch our traveler slips and twists his ankle. He and his young companion can repair to any hospital in the country where they would be amazed to find fellow patients from all walks of life, from all religious persuasions, and of all shades of skin colour, being given equal and caring treatment by dedicated medical staff. A situation in the region found only in the Apartheid State of Israel.
After the medical care he allows his companion to take the wheel – it is not forbidden in Israel for women to drive. They stumble across a kindergarten. The children are running around and enjoying themselves. They are not made to sit for hours reciting by rote pages from religious books. Their games are in the sand pit or on the swings. They are not infested with hate or told the only honour to their lives will be death. In the Apartheid State of Israel they rejoice in life and living.
They do not promise murder and violence by brainwashing their children with hatred, as they do in many of the surrounding 22 Arab states. A ninth-grade textbook published by the Palestinian Ministry of Education among others, states: “The Jews and the Christians are enemies of the believers, and they cannot approve of Muslims.” An eighth-grade textbook says, “The Apes are the people of the Sabbath, the Jews; and the Swine are the infidels of the communion of Jesus, the Christians.” These are just two examples of a long list of hate-filled passages.
By the end of the day our visitors come across a political rally. Many thousands have turned up. In the Apartheid State of Israel all the citizens, men, women, Jew, Arab and Christian are free to vote. They are allowed to openly criticise the government.
The Israeli media, including the T.V. and newspapers, offer, without prejudice, a choice of opinions. Every person has the right to openly agree with or condemn the government. This can certainly not be said for most of the surrounding 22 Arab states ruled as they are by oppressive dictators and theocracies where any dissent is met with dire consequences.
After the rally it’s off to the theatre where a choice of plays, musicals, ballets and orchestral concerts awaits their pleasure. Without giving it a thought they could find themselves sitting next to anyone of any colour or religion who shares their taste in entertainment, but only in the Apartheid State of Israel. None of this decadent stuff is available in most of the 22 surrounding countries.
Because there is still time before curtain up they pop into one of the many bookshops where they can buy anything from Chomsky to Fallaci, from Said to Dershowitz, and newspapers featuring every shade of political opinion between. They had better do it here because such a selection will not be available in the 22 surrounding countries.
Of course, most of the 22 surrounding Arab countries can’t offer you a good old-fashioned suicide bombing as a tourist attraction. This can only happen in the Apartheid State of Israel, surrounded as they are, by so many hostile countries determined to wipe Israel off the face of the map.
While Israelis are scraping their dead children off the streets after another bombing, the Palestinians will be lighting fireworks and dancing in the street to honour the mass murderer as a hero. including their children who are being systematically nurtured to be the next generation of mass murderers.
Children who are indoctrinated with such hatred are susceptible to engage in bigotry and violence. Hate speech is the precursor to genocide. First you get to hate and then you kill. This makes peaceful coexistence difficult, if not impossible.
The Apartheid State of Israel? Forgive me Rev Arrison but you seem somewhat confused as to the meaning of the word. It usually refers to segregation. It’s funny isn’t it that a large section of the Jews who live in this Apartheid State had to flee for their lives from nearly all of the surrounding 22 Arab states simply because they were Jews. These countries not only have no tolerance for Jews, they refer to anyone who is not a Muslim as an infidel and an enemy, a paranoia not dissimilar to that of the Apartheid State of South Africa in the 70s and 80s.
I find it somewhat curious that you find nothing “Apartheid” about these countries. Maybe you should do some research on how many churches there are in Saudi Arabia. Let me help you – there are none. It would not be tolerated. Or how freely non-Muslims compete in a job market where “job reservation” is the order of the day and segregation along racial, colour and religious lines is the rule.
I am proud of this Apartheid State of Israel. In 65 years Israel from nothing has become one of the most technologically advanced nations on this planet with many innovations that have made it a true leader in many fields. It has produced people who have made a disproportionate contribution to human science, culture, health and general well being, and it shows a readiness to share all this with its Arab neighbours and to help out any country in need following natural disasters.
Every day you, and millions others no doubt, use some technology (cell phones, IT, medical technology, food technology, etc.) that has its origins in the research and development world of the Apartheid State of Israel. What is tragic is that Israelis have to live in a world that feels threatened by their achievements.
Of course, Israel is not an Apartheid state and it is appalling and hurtful to me that an intelligent and thinking person like you can go around finding feeble excuses for mass murderers and blaming the only true, liberal, non-racial democracy in the region.
There is another great truth that you may have completely overlooked. In all of the pages that the UN has written about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, in all of its reports and fact-finding commissions, and in all of the hours dedicated to debate about the Middle East, there is one great, untold story. Or – to be more specific – there are more than 850,000 untold stories.
More than 850,000 Jews have been uprooted from their homes in Arab countries during the past 66 years. These were vibrant communities dating back 2,500 years. On the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers Babylonian Jewry produced many of Judaism’s holiest books – and thrived for two millennia. In the great synagogues and libraries of Cairo, Jews preserved the intellectual and scientific treasures of antiquity into the Renaissance. From Aleppo to Aden to Alexandria, Jews stood out as some of the greatest artists, musicians, businessmen, and writers.
In 1947 all of these communities were wiped out. Age-old family businesses and properties were confiscated. Jewish quarters were destroyed. Pogroms left synagogues looted, graveyards desecrated and thousands dead. These refugees wound up mainly in Israel—just ten years previously they would have found themselves in some or other extermination camp in Europe. The pages that the UN has written about the Palestinian refugees could cover the entire surface of the Newlands rugby stadium, but not a drop of ink has been spilled about the Jewish refugees.
Out of over 1,088 UN resolutions on the Middle East, you will find not a single syllable regarding the displacement of Jewish refugees. There have been more than 172 resolutions exclusively devoted to Palestinian refugees, but not one dedicated to Jewish refugees. The Palestinian refugees have their own UN agency, their own information programme, and their own department within the United Nations. None exist for the Jewish refugees. The word “double-standard” does not even begin to describe this gap.
This discrepancy is very convenient for some, but it’s not right. The time has come for the UN to end its complicity in trying to erase the stories of 850,000 people from history. The time has also come to speak openly about the Arab World’s role in maintaining the Palestinians as refugees for six-and-a-half decades.
Jews from Arab countries came to refugee camps in Israel, which eventually gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees. Israel welcomed its Jewish refugees with citizenship and unlocked their vast potential. As they rose to the highest levels of society, its refugees lifted the State of Israel to new heights. Imagine if Arab countries had done the same with their Palestinian refugees. Instead, they have cynically perpetuated their status as refugees, for generation after generation. Across the Arab world Palestinians have been denied citizenship, rights and opportunities.
I do not mean to belittle the miserable plight of the Palestinians but how can anyone doubt that the Palestinian’s plight is self-inflicted. All of these are facts that must be neither forgotten nor overlooked.
Rev Arrison, I’ve saved the most obvious myth for last: The myth that peace can somehow be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians by bypassing direct negotiations. History has shown that peace and negotiations are inseparable.
Direct negotiations are the only tool, the only way and the only path to create two-states for two peoples. Just over a year ago Israel offered a clear proposal in Amman for restarting direct negotiations. It presented the Palestinian delegation with negotiating positions on every major issue separating the parties.
That proposal – filled with Israel’s vision for peace – continues to gather dust, as Palestinian leaders continue to pile up new pre-conditions for sitting with Israel. These leaders are everywhere except the negotiating table. It is time for them to give up unilateral efforts to internationalise the conflict and take up the real path to peace. And it is time for well-meaning Westerners to insist that they do so.
When you have some time, and you wish to understand Israel and the Israelis, take a look at the link below
Truly admirable – compare this with the surrounding countries and the UN donations they get for being poor !
The other side of world news. The invisible Israel we don’t see or hear about
Martin Luther King Jnr said:
“Israel’s right to exist as a state in security is incontestable.”
“Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity.
I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how
desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that
security must be a reality.”
“I solemnly pledge to do my utmost to uphold the fair name of the Jews — because bigotry in any form is an affront to us all.”
“When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.”
If you have read thus far, I thank you for your patience and forbearance. The matters you raise in your open letter are important for the future of the world, and go to the heart of the morality that sustains the Judeo/Christian ethic. Please consider this to be an open letter and share it with anyone who cares about honesty and peace.