NEWS & ANALYSIS

Israel: An odious comparison

Monessa Shapiro replies to Nathan Geffen on the 'singling out' of that country

I have pondered and pondered how to respond to Nathan Geffen's odious and nefarious likening of Israel to amongst others, Syria, where the regime has in cold-blood murdered 7000 of its citizens in just a year. Possibly the best way is to provide him and your readers with facts, facts easily obtainable by anyone with access to the internet.

On www.freedomhouse.org the countries of the world are independently measured in terms of the liberties, both political and civil, that all their citizens enjoy.

On a scale of 1 ­ 7, where 1 is the most free and 7 comprises no freedom at all, Israel was given 1 for political liberties and 2 for civil liberties, and termed a free society. And because Freedom House does not differentiate between the various religious or racial groups within a country but assesses all the citizens equally, this 1 and 2 applies to all the citizens of Israel: Jew, Christian and Arab alike.

In contrast, the countries mentioned by Geffen were allocated the following points in the 2012 Freedom House census: Syria was given 7 for both political and civil liberties, Egypt 6 and 5, Jordan 6 and 5, Turkey 3 and 3 and it was termed partly free.

What is important to note is that Freedom House does not maintain a culture bound view of freedom. The methodology of the survey is grounded in basic standards of political rights and civil liberties, derived in large measure from relevant portions of the Universal declaration of Human rights.

These standards apply to all countries and territories, irrespective of geographical location, ethnic or religious composition or level of economic development.² Geffen believes that Israel is no more democratic than Algeria that was allocated a whopping 6 for political liberties and 5 for civil liberties and was termed "not free"; or than Morocco that was allocated 5 and 4 and termed "partly free." Geffen would do well to take up the cudgels with the research analysts of Freedom House.

Geffen sites the Family Reunification Law introduced by the State of Israel as an example of a racist law. This law was put into effect in 2002, as a measure of security, when a Palestinian married to an Israeli Arab and living in Israel blew himself up in a Haifa restaurant killing 15 people and injuring 40 others.

Prior to this 140,000 Palestinians were granted residency in Israel as a result of family reunification. Between 2001 and 2010 there were 54 cases of terrorism, carried out by Palestinians who had been granted Israeli citizenship as a result of being married to Israeli Arabs.

On the 30th January this year, a shooting attack was foiled by the Israeli police. The attack was to be carried out by Mohammed Abu Ali, a Palestinian who had been granted citizenship by virtue of family reunification.

So while the law brings hardship to those innocent Palestinians who want nothing more than to be together with their spouses, even Geffen must agree that if the security of the citizens of Israel is at risk then this cannot be allowed.

This law is, Geffen would do well to learn, rooted in international Law - "the right of a state to inhibit the entry of citizens of an enemy state into its borders, both in times of war and in times of non-war." Israel is surrounded by enemies on all sides ­ states that do not recognize its right to exist and that openly call for its destruction and the murder of all Jews (including Geffen) everywhere.

Geffen believes that Israel is singled out by the West for special treatment. How right he is. No state has its legitimacy questioned as does Israel, in spite of the fact that there is probably no other state in the world that came into existence as legitimately.

No country in the world, regardless of the atrocities it has caused, has been the recipient of so many United Nations resolutions against it. According to Wikipedia "the Human Rights Council has passed more resolutions condemning Israel than it has all other states combined." No other country in the world has been threatened with annihilation, whilst the rest of the world remains silent. No other country has its citizens attacked on a daily basis and then when it dares to respond is charged with aggression.

He goes on to blame people like me for his silence on the atrocities in Syria. He explains that he needs to talk out against Israel because there are those of us who argue its case. Rest assured Mr Geffen, the day that you and your ilk desist from fabricating history and obfuscating the truth, will be the day that I and my like-minded compatriots put down our pens and microphones, and begin to enjoy that tiny slither of land called Israel for all that it offers and gives to its citizens and to all the peoples of the world.

Monessa Shapiro is a researcher for Media Team Israel.

Sources:

www.freedomhouse.org <http://www.freedomhouse.org>

Immigration, Family Reunification and Marriage Policy in Israel. A position paper by Rinat Gilboa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_Nations_resolutions_concerning_Israel

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