The Jewish diaspora and redefining Israel

Sir, – I read with interest Louis Marcus's letter (July 21st). It is brave and thought-provoking.

I have always supported Israel and felt comforted by the knowledge that there is a homeland for the Jewish people. I love the country, have family there and admire the principles of its founding fathers, born out of persecution and displacement throughout history. That does not mean I am not free to criticise or speak out.

Israel struggles with many problems, some of which it handles well, some mistakenly and others, to my mind, unfairly and downright wrongly.

I understand that one has to live in the country to fully grasp its dilemmas both within and without; however, these latest political trends feel most uncomfortable and symbolically very wrong-headed for its citizens, Jewish or not, and (if it even cares) for its image abroad.


To sideline the Arabic language from official parity with Hebrew to one merely of special status is to make the country a less warm and inclusive one. Arabs have always lived there, their language is part of the culture and it is good to see notices and road signs in Hebrew and Arabic. The population and its diaspora are made up of many nationalities, languages and cultures, but I feel that most of the fair-minded among us would acknowledge that Israel’s Arab population, language and culture are and must continue to be a much more integral part of its society than the current government wishes to acknowledge.

I cannot support this shift. It is not good for equality within the country or for peace on its borders. Nor – and I think its leaders should know this – is it good for us Jews around the world, who endeavour to speak up for Israel when they can, but must also articulate when they cannot. Such is democracy. – Yours, etc,