The op-ed, “We’re trying to end American structural racism. Why are we supporting Israeli apartheid” (May 18,2021) is a string of basic untruths. The narrative of assuming that the sundry of global conflicts can be navigated and understood via American history and the present tensions in American society concerning race is total nonsense.
The Jewish people have been victims of thousands of years of displacement, expulsion and discrimination, and in the last century, we have faced war and terrorism in backlash to our indigenous right to self-determination in our ancestral homeland.
As someone who grew up in South Africa, I can proudly report that Israel is a vibrant democracy and definitely not an apartheid society – many people have a tendency to bandy the word about without really understanding it. Israeli-Arabs are an enmeshed part of Israeli society, including the myriad who serve in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and work as doctors, lawyers, scholars, ambassadors, politicians, etc.
The Palestinian population in the disputed territories lives under one of three structures: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, or under terror via Hamas in Gaza. In the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip, gender-based violence and discrimination against the LGBTQ community and minorities are prevalent. There is widespread detention without charge or trial by the Palestinian Authority, while in Gaza, military courts rule the day and capital punishment is prevalent.
The 2017 report that Dr. McCabe referred to in her piece was not commissioned by the U.N. nor cleared or backed by U.N. leadership. The report drew sharp internal and international criticism, especially by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who stated that the information was published without any prior consultation with the U.N. Secretariat and did not “reflect the views of the Secretary-General.”
The Embassy in Jerusalem does not violate international law. For decades, U.S. senators and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have pushed for the American Embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, our eternal capital from the 9th century BCE.
Israel is definitely a democratic society and has just celebrated its fourth general election in two years. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is in his 16th year of a four-year term. Hamas have begotten a territory by terror when, in 2007, they violently took over the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority, murdering hundreds of Palestinians in their quest for power.
The State of Israel is the sole democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East. However, we are definitely not the only beneficiaries of U.S. tax dollars in the region. U.S. tax dollars given to Israel must be used to purchase goods from the U.S., keeping many Americans employed. The Palestinian Authority in the disputed territories receives aid from the U.S., as do organizations in Gaza.
The Palestinian Authority used U.S. tax dollars to make payments to the families of persons imprisoned for acts of terrorism against U.S. citizens, including to the families of suicide bombers. Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza strip are also known to be diverting humanitarian funds to finance terrorist activities directed towards Israel.
The clashes which recently took place between Israel and Hamas were directly because of the more than 4,300 rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza towards Israeli civilians. Hamas incited the conflict due to inter-political rivalry between itself and Fatah due to the fact that the Palestinian Authority canceled elections scheduled for this month.
The underreported travesties of the recent conflict are that some 25% of the said missiles fell short, landing in civilian areas of Gaza, killing and maiming many Palestinian civilians for which Israel was unjustly blamed and that a vast majority of those who died in the conflict were militant terrorists. It is a war crime to use civilians as a human shield. It is a war crime to direct military operations at civilians. Hamas is responsible for both.
The Palestinian people are not the enemy of the State of Israel; Hamas is. Israel is not the barrier to peace in the Levant; Hamas’ extremism and terrorism are. The IDF worked relentlessly to protect our Arab and Jewish civilians and prevent Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza.
Recently, the Gaza head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Matthias Schmale, stated about the Israeli airstrikes that “they didn’t hit – with some exceptions – civilian targets. I have the impression that there is a huge sophistication in the way the Israeli military struck over the last 11 days, so that’s not my issue.”
Our situation in our native Middle East is incomparable to the present societal tensions in the United States. It is inappropriate and tone-deaf to use the Black Lives Matter Movement to give credence to anti-Israel rhetoric. Israel is a democratic, multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-cultural society with every right to defend its sovereignty and civilians against Jihadi terrorists.
Ambassador Meron Reuben is the Consul General of Israel to New England.