Some letters to the Editor (SMH)

Israel, stop stealing land that’s not yours (May 9)

I suppose Shmuel Ben-Shmuel (“Bringing down Israel is not helping Palestinians“, Times2, May 4, p5) is just doing his job as Israel’s ambassador to Australia in writing as an apologist for land-stealing and the deaths of Palestinians.

Firstly, my dad was a 1938 Jewish refugee from Austria, so perhaps I can be spared his suggestion that I am in the realm of hate-driven bigotry.

Perhaps the reason that Israel gets the attention it does is because the US pays for the atrocities it commits. The US foots the bill.

And, in a way, we all foot the bill because Palestine has become the cause celebre of the Middle East; the epitome of Western interference, colonisation and blood-letting.

Shmuel’s article makes out that Israel is some sort of paragon of virtue, which is laughable. Israel never misses an opportunity to steal more land. One piece of advice I would give Israel and its wretched “settlers” is “STOP STEALING LAND”.

We enter the realm, not of hate-driven bigotry, but of Alice in Wonderland satire for much of the article. One example: Shmuel states that no other comparable country has taken more risks for peace. I repeat, “STOP STEALING LAND”.

This is happening not only in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, being smothered in Jews-only colonies and their infrastructure, but in what is called Israel, with the regular demolition of Palestinian houses.

To think, Israel could actually be a country for all the people who live there, not a White Australia-style “Jewish State”; not an ethnocracy. Perhaps one day it will be. But not while people like Shmuel Ben-Shmuel are in charge.

Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW

Delusional fantasies (May 11)

Stephen Langford (Letters, May 9) would have us believe that Israel is uniquely perverted in ascribing to itself an ethnic identity, namely as a Jewish state. There are dozens of countries we recognise and accept with a publicly declared identity –Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist.

So why should Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, be uniquely denied this choice? It’s not like this identity has prevented non-Jews living there from advancing themselves and availing themselves of the same democratic rights that we enjoy here.

Israel is not perfect, but the 20per cent of its 8.5 million citizens who are non-Jews can and do serve as judges, doctors, generals in the military, and are democratically elected to parliament and serve as cabinet ministers.

Equally deluded are Langford’s accusations about Israel’s West Bank settlements supposedly gobbling up land.

In 2011, Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat admitted that settlements cover only 1.1 per cent of the West Bank.

Considering the 350,000-plus dead caused by Muslim infighting across the Middle East and the accompanying flight of hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities, Langford can keep his delusional fantasies about the Jewish state.

I prefer to marvel at its social cohesion and ongoing commitment to a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bill Arnold, Chifley

Despite his Jewish father, Stephen Langford has not learned the lessons of the deeply entrenched state-sponsored, anti-Semitism (racism) that his family and mine experienced in Europe and is now most evident in the Middle East. Israel has survived three attempted invasions over 68 years which threatened its very existence, countless terrorist attacks and over 12,000 rockets from Gaza.

Israel still has close neighbours (Hamas and Hezbollah) who have no intention of accepting the Jewish state, and are sworn to its destruction.

Israel has proposed on at least three occasions a viable two-state solution in Israel/Palestine, where all inhabitants could have lived in peace and prosperity. There would be no settler problem that Langford describes.

Langford also ignores Israel’s achievement in providing a home for approximately 586,000 out of a total of 820,000 Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa who had to flee from their homes after 1947, where they had lived for up to 2600 years. This phenomenon bears no resemblance to a “White Australia” policy that Langford seeks to link to Israel.

Israel has the right to defend itself and live within secure and recognised boundaries.

Robert Cussel, Yarralumla