The plight of Israeli Arabs
Jacob Amir’s response to Sue Gray unfortunately carries a number of inaccuracies (“Israel’s right to defend,” Jan. 29, letters to the editor, The Aspen Times). Let me draw attention to two of these.
1. Mr. Amir’s claim that Israel’s Arab citizens have equal rights with Jewish citizens is, sadly, incorrect, and this on a number of counts. For instance, Jews coming from abroad may become citizens of Israel by virtue of the mere fact that they are Jews. Israeli Arabs do not have that privilege, not even for a spouse from the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Such spouses are denied the right to Israeli citizenship. Again, Jews do not live in “unrecognized villages;” that is a privilege reserved for Bedouins, who live on land that Israel wants for Jews. Such villages are denied the right to schools, kindergartens, medical clinics, and infrastructure, including hook ups to the electric grid and water lines. Also, Israel’s Arab citizens have great difficulty receiving building permits, and when they do build without these (even to add a porch or room), have their homes demolished. An occurrence seldom used for Jews. Moreover, amongst other things, whereas Jews are allowed to live wherever they wish (even in the West Bank) Arabs are restricted to where they may live in Israel. For example, they may not live on land owned by the Jewish Fund.
2. As for Gaza, while I oppose violence, and while I regret that Israelis and Palestinians suffer from its use, I do have to remind Mr. Amir that from the time that Hamas began to govern Gaza, after being democratically elected, Israel imposed a siege on Gaza. A siege is no less the use of force than missiles.
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Furthermore, Hamas a number of times had offered to stop shooting missiles if Israel would lift the siege. Israel refused, just as it has refused to respond to the Saudi Arabian peace proposal, which would have given Israel full recognition by all the Arab states in the region and would have brought peace with the Palestinians.
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