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Anthony Spencer (Letters, Aug 15) asserts in an indignant letter that there is ‘no discrimination of Israeli Arabs’.
This claim is an astonishing one, doubly so given its timing, only a few days after Member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Haneen Zoabi’s poignant speech at the Cork Metropole Hotel about the routine discrimination and hostility she faces as a Palestinian citizen of Israel.
In her speech, Zoabi pointed to the more than 30 laws which discriminate against Palestinian citizens in all areas: from land use to housing and education.
She noted that the average income of a Jewish family is three times more than that of a Palestinian family in Israel, and that Palestinians make up only 7.9% of university students.
Perhaps most disturbingly, she observed that she is not even treated as a ‘second class citizen’ of Israel, but as ‘an enemy, a strategic threat’.
In sum, she refuted conclusively the myth that Israel is a democratic state that shares ‘Western values’.
Of course, one need not simply accept Zoabi’s word about the fundamentally racist nature of a state which legally privileges its Jewish citizens. The claims are well-documented on the websites of such Israeli human rights organisations as The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Unfortunately, Israel’s apartheid-like treatment of both Palestinians living in Israel and those living under its occupation in Gaza and the West Bank is unlikely to change in the absence of massive international pressure, as happened in the case of apartheid South Africa.
As Irish citizens we can contribute to such efforts by heeding the Palestinian call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel until such time as it complies with international law and respects Palestinian rights; holding our politicians to account when they support (and indeed expand!) special trading privileges for Israel; and educating ourselves about the issue so that we can speak out when governments and international bodies remain silent in the face of manifest and continuing injustice.
Dr Laurence Davis
Department of Government
University College Cork
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