Israeli peace wall ‘saved thousands of lives’

Ruairi McKiernan (Letters, Dec 13) uses the death of Nelson Mandela to attack Israel, saying the Palestinians experience a new ‘Berlin Wall.’

During the Second Intifada over 1,100 Israeli civilians were murdered by terrorists who easily crossed over into Israel from Judea and Samaria, blowing up buses, cafés and restaurants. Israel built a peace wall to separate its people from more potential murderers. This barrier saved the lives of thousands of Israeli citizens, Jews and Arab alike.

Nelson Mandela did say harsh things about Israel earlier in his life and career, but he became more reflective as he got older. He came to support Israel and to appreciate its security concerns. In 1999, shortly after stepping down as president, he visited the Middle East including Israel as a goodwill gesture. Ironically, and indeed all the more powerfully, it was in Gaza that he called on the Arab world to cease its hatred of the Jewish nation: “The Arab leaders must make an unequivocal statement that they recognise the existence of Israel with secure borders.” Mandela noted that it was a Jew who gave him his first job as a law clerk when it was extremely rare for whites to hire blacks as professionals, and in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom he wrote “I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice.”

Derek O’Flynn

Press officer

Embassy of Israel

Ballsbridge

Dublin 4

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