‘Degradation of Palestinians’
Sir, – I was one of the largely Irish group Mike Murphy travelled with to the West Bank (“Degradation of Palestinians shocking to witness”, Opinion & Analysis, September 23rd).
Like the others, I went because I wanted to explore the situation for myself. I would rather make my judgment meeting people on the ground – Palestinian and Israeli – and see and experience the conditions in which they live than rely solely on the views of others.
That experience, as the article conveys, was deeply traumatic. Not just the brutality of the apartheid system we witnessed but the open contempt for those they clearly regard as a lesser form of human life by both the settlers who benefit from this system and the army who impose it.
In the old city of Jerusalem, the rest of East Jerusalem and in towns throughout the West Bank we saw the impact of the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, deprived of their land and living by the apartheid wall that deliberately separates them from both, and a Kafkaesque system of permits and temporary licences that deprive them of identity, security and protection.
We did not meet a single Palestinian who didn’t want peace. It is not in their gift. Only when you see for yourself do you fully realise why. The Israeli settlers we met are representative of over 700,000 such people, many from America and granted citizenship and property rights denied to Palestinians. To house them and those who will follow in adequate spaces beyond even the towering cities and towns that seemed to inhabit every hilltop in the occupied territory, Palestinians must continue to be removed, perhaps sent packing to Jordan, as Israel’s justice minister has promised.
Deeply proud of my Jewish heritage, I found solace in the inspirational young Israelis we met dedicating their lives at great personal cost to helping the rights of Palestinians. I fully understand why the Israeli government might want to prevent groups like us witnessing the truth. Without truth there can be no understanding, and without that, what chance of peace? – Yours, etc,