New Zealanders robustly debate Israel/Palestine

Following the recent feature in New Zealand magazine The Listener on my work, this week’s edition publishes the following letters (and note the perfect “balance”, one pro and one anti):

In the unbalanced demonisation of Israel (“Cry the promised land”, May 15), writer Joanne Black, swallowing every generalisation, stereotype and distortion made by Antony Loewenstein, managed to delegitimise the Jewish state and its struggle to survive the unrelenting efforts of terrorists, backed and financed by members of the United Nations, to murder and kidnap its citizens. The media in a democratic society such as New Zealand’s have a responsibility to ensure that free speech and dissent is balanced by truth and facts. This article fell well short.

As a Kiwi living in Israel, I can testify that far from being the warmongering, murderous apartheid-like society portrayed, Israel is a bastion of human rights for all citizens regardless of race, creed or ethnic origin. Readers should also know that after the murder of six million of their brethren and the incessant call by Iran and its paid terrorists to repeat this Holocaust, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Israelis prefer action, rather than meaningless resolutions and declarations, to thwart this evil intent. If this upsets Loewenstein and friends, too bad.

The Listener has an obligation to present the facts and not the half-baked fantasies of someone who sees everything that Israel represents as an unmitigated evil.
Michael Kuttner
(Efrat, Israel)

It is heartening to read Loewenstein’s views. If anyone calls him – or me, for that matter – an anti-Semite, I suspect it shows defensiveness and perhaps a tweak of conscience.

I am Jewish, and to help the development of the State of Israel, my husband and I gave what we could in financial assistance. That was during the 1960s. At that time we were ignorant of the brutal displacement of Palestinians from their land and the appropriation of their homes. Had we known that, I doubt we would have supported Israel.

Fifty-odd years later, I am appalled at the rapacious brutality of the Israeli state. There are, no doubt, many Jews in Israel who are not happy with the actions of the Government, but obviously they are in the minority.
And if being disgusted with those Jews in the US who support Israel makes me an anti-Semite, so be it. Their strong lobby, both political and financial, is crucial to the ability of Israel to function and so they share the moral responsibility for the actions of the Israeli Jews.

When the subject of Israel comes up in any conversation, my being Jewish embarrasses me. I immediately make it clear that I am totally against Israel’s conduct towards the Palestinians and that my sympathy is with the latter.

With every new house built on occupied land, with every Palestinian humiliated, Israel is creating more anti-Semitism in the Muslim world, and elsewhere. A state built on so much injustice and injury to others cannot survive in the long run. By their actions, the Jews in Israel are losing their humanity.
Eva Rawnsley

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