Israel and the world

 

Sir, – It was with astonishment that I read the piece by Dr Suzanne Mulligan (“Economics should not trump ethics over Bill”, Opinion & Analysis, March 22nd) which presented a supposedly “moral” argument in favour of the Occupied Territories Bill which is currently before the Oireachtas. There is a certain irony about a lecturer in moral theology writing about a Bill that is totally devoid of morals.

This is a Bill that singles out Israel and seeks to deny the connection between the Jewish people and their birthplace of Judea and Samaria (referred to by some as the West Bank).

It is completely disingenuous of the Bill’s proponents to claim that it does not directly target Israel when Israel is the only subject of criticism and activism by them.

Supporters of the Bill are not interested in either the past, the present nor the future of Israel. The history of the Jewish people and our deep historical and religious connections to Judea and Samaria seem irrelevant to them. They ignore the 70 years of recent history when Palestinians repeatedly rebuffed the offers of a settlement with Israelis.

Advocates for this Bill demand that Israel withdraw from territories in Judea and Samaria, while conveniently ignoring what happened in Gaza.

In 2005, Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza – leaving not a single civilian or soldier there – in the hope that Palestinian leadership would use this opportunity to invest in developing the territory for the benefit of their own people.

Sadly, it was not so. Hamas took over the Gaza strip in 2007 and firmly established Gaza as their base for launching terror attacks at Israeli civilians .

On Monday, we witnessed a rocket, fired from Gaza, landing in the heart of Israel. One can only wonder — is this what Israel is to expect if they try the same course of action in the West Bank?

As for the future, the Bill does absolutely nothing for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. No biased, discriminatory piece of legislation can do anything for the cause of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East or indeed anywhere else.

Israel recognises the rights and national aspirations of the Palestinian people and that is why consecutive Israeli governments have been working for a solution based on mutual recognition and direct negotiations. Ultimately, instead of seeking to imprison Irish tourists who buy something from a Jewish trader in Judea and Samaria, perhaps those who advocate for this Bill could encourage the Palestinian leadership to behave morally and stop inciting terrorism and hate, as well as paying salaries to terrorists?

This would be a real step forward to a more peaceful future for both our peoples. – Yours, etc,

ORLI WEITZMAN,

Deputy Ambassador,

Embassy of Israel,

Ballsbridge,

Dublin 4.

Sir, – Jackie Goodall, in her defence of Israel’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest (Letters, March 28th), gets at least some of her historical facts wrong. The village of Al Shaykh Muwannis was not evacuated by its population (resident in Palestine at least for two centuries, as Ms Goodall acknowledges) because of encouragement by its leaders, or because “six Arab armies attacked the newly established Jewish state in order to destroy it”. The villagers fled their homes, as historians as various as Omar Bartov, Benny Morris, and Walid Khalidi have shown, because the village was blockaded by Zionist forces, cut off from vital supply connections to Jaffa. Village notables sought to negotiate with the forces around the community, but without success. An appeal for support to King Abdullah produced only vague promises. The evacuation of the village then occurred because a group of village leaders was kidnapped by the right-wing Jewish Irgun Zvi Leumi militia.

All of this occurred in March 1948, fully two months before any Arab army approached, and at the moment of the decisive Zionist offensive, which produced other atrocities such as that at Deir Yassin. According to Benny Morris, a report drawn up in June 1948 for the IDF Intelligence Service argued that the operations at Deir Yassin and Shaykh Muwannis had had a “special effect” and were an “accelerating factor” in prompting Palestinian flight in general. – Yours, etc,

CONOR McCARTHY,

Monkstown,

Co Dublin.