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Posted: October 27, 2006 -
יום שישי, ה' בחשון, תשס"ז


October 22, 2006

An open letter to former President Jimmy Carter
From Maurice Ostroff
About the Author  

“…how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? “ Luke 6:42 “

Dear President Carter,
It has been reported that you are still considering revisions to your book “Palestine Peace, Not Apartheid” before the due release date. If that is the case, may I suggest with great respect, that you seriously consider changing the title because it harms your prestige. It creates the impression you have joined the chorus of Israel bashers who use the “apartheid” epithet to demonize Israel without bothering about facts.
Associating the name Jimmy Carter with the voluble chanters of unjustified but strongly emotional epithets like “apartheid” demeans your stature. It also detracts from your noble efforts towards “Creating a world in which every man, woman, and child has the opportunity to enjoy good health and live in peace” and your declared commitment to “advancing human rights and alleviating unnecessary human suffering.”
Notions of a similarity between South Africa’s apartheid regime and the Israeli system are as irrational as the belief that the earth is flat. In South Africa, apartheid was entrenched in the law and strictly enforced. The law not only denied the vote to Black citizens, it legislated to force discrimination in almost every aspect of daily life.  Any person interested in making a serious comparison can readily ascertain that in stark contrast to South Africa’s apartheid laws, Israel’s Declaration of Independence specifically ensures complete equality of social and political rights to all inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or gender. Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druse and other minority groups enjoy exactly the same civil and political rights as Jews. They serve in the Knesset and speak freely against the government.
Significantly, nobody applies the “apartheid” label to blatant legislation by Israel’s Arab neighbors enforcing discrimination. In Lebanon for example, Amnesty international reports that Palestinian refugees are barred from worthwhile jobs, a Palestinian cook, accountant, medical doctor, hairdresser, pharmacist, engineer, lawyer or even concierge is unable to practice legally and the law bars Palestinians from owning real estate, from inheriting property or even registering property that they had already bought.
While I would be the last to compare the USA with the old South African regime, facts taken out of context show a much more convincing resemblance of America, the land of Liberty, rather than Israel, to apartheid. Some examples:
The Criminal Justice System
In January 2003
Senator Russ Feingold said “We simply cannot say we live in a country that offers equal justice to all Americans when racial disparities plague the system by which our society imposes the ultimate punishment.”
Israel does not impose the death penalty; not even on known terrorists who have caused multiple civilian deaths. By contrast, in 1990 a U.S. General Accounting Office study concluded that a defendant was several times more likely to be sentenced to death if the murder victim was white. A 1998 study of the city of Philadelphia found that, even after making allowances for case differences, the odds of receiving a death sentence in Philadelphia are nearly four times higher if the defendant is African-American                    
According to Human Rights Watch World Report 2001  “…as the Clinton Administration's second term ended in 2000, evidence of its domestic human rights legacy was scant.…As in previous years, serious human rights violations were most apparent in the criminal justice system-including police brutality, discriminatory racial disparities in incarceration, abusive conditions of confinement, and state-sponsored executions, even of juvenile offenders and the mentally handicapped.
In September 2003, the U.S. report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination acknowledged the persistence of racism, racial discrimination and de facto segregation in the United States.

Medical care
According to an analysis
in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health more than 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same care as whites. The Washington Post of December 21, 2004 reported the director of research at Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Family Medicine as saying "five times as many lives can be saved by correcting the disparities [in care between whites and blacks] than in developing new treatments." 
By contrast all citizens of Israel, Arabs and Jews alike are entitled to equal medical treatment under the universal health insurance law. An unblinkered visit to an Israeli hospital will convince the most biased individual about the complete absence of any form of racial discrimination. Arab and Jewish doctors collaborate easily and in some hospitals Arabs outnumber Jewish patients.
Especially noticeable after bombing incidents, which have become too common, is the equal treatment given to victims and perpetrators. An Israeli nurse has been quoted saying, “All patients are human beings, but sometimes when we experience these terrible deeds and see the mangled bodies of victims, we have to suppress our emotions when treating the perpetrators. It is so difficult to understand how they can do the inhuman things they do ”
The Hadassah Medical Organization treats thousands of patients of diverse ethnic backgrounds annually, without any trace of discrimination. Its international reputation for promoting peace in the Middle East region by providing equal treatment to Palestinians and Israelis, was recognized by nomination for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
Stephanie Whitson, assistant director at Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Brown Mills, NJ participated with a group of 60 nurses of diverse religious, cultural and racial backgrounds in a mission to Israel called ”Israel – through the eyes of a nurse”.  In an article contributed to Greater Philadelphia – ADVANCE for nurses she wrote “..we all took away the understanding of the great professionalism required to work in an environment where terrorist and victim may lie side by side in an intensive care ward. It is also where our colleagues, whether Jew, Muslim or Christian must leave their politics at the door and care for each person on the precious value of life, regardless of how that patient came to be there.”
A study, published in Pediatrics, reported that from 1990-2000, Arab Israeli children received 66 kidneys from cadavers and Jewish children received 64. The waiting times for a kidney and the long-term outcome of surgery were identical for both   By comparison, studies carried out in the United States and other countries showed that minority groups in those places had significantly lower rates of kidney transplantation compared to the population's majority; apparently due to reduced access to medical care for minorities. However, in Israel, transplant surgery is covered by health funds and computers select patients on the basis of objective data.
In cases where specialist treatment is not available in Israel, Civil Administration officials in the West Bank have assisted Palestinian children to fly abroad for medical treatment. Some months ago seven Palestinian children, from Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, and Hebron  were flown to Italy for lifesaving medical treatment accompanied by twenty-three family members, some of whom will donate bone marrow to the children. The Jerusalem Post quoted Civil Administration official and coordinator of the trip Dalia Bassa as saying that several additional Palestinian children suffering from heart defects would be sent to Italy later to receive treatment. "If we don't help them, their chances of living are slim," she said.
Since its establishment in 1991, the Schneider Childrens’ Hospital  like other Israeli hospitals, provides equal specialized treatment to children from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and neighboring countries. Some 30% of patients come from the Arab sectors of Israel or from neighboring countries in the Middle East. Even in times of terror, the hospital welcomes Palestinian Arab children in the spirit of realizing peace, co-existence and mutual respect.
A typical example; with the cooperation of the Israeli security forces, even during a wave of Arab violence, a three-week-old Palestinian baby, Mustapha Zaid was brought from the Palestinian town of Kalkiliya, suffering from severe respiratory distress. A CT scan showed the infant had a double oesophagus, a rare congenital defect. Senior surgeons operated immediately to alleviate the pressure, after which the baby was able to breathe for the first time without the assistance of a mechanical ventilator.
The Schneider Children's Hospital’s ongoing unpublicized program to conduct cardiac catheterizations on critically ill Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank, has enabled many Arab youngsters to undergo life-saving treatment in spite of political divides.
Does this remotely resemble “apartheid”?
Parallels drawn between Israel and apartheid are as unjustified as they are offensive. Such comparisons, repeated by persons who should know better are not only intellectually dishonest, they are often lazy repetitions of catch phrases propagated by cynical propagandists. President Carter, you do not belong in their company.
Unfortunately, as in the USA and elsewhere, injustices do occur. But the fact that B’Tselem and other human rights organizations operate freely in Israel is a powerful argument against any accusation of apartheid. Israelis are proud of the fact that by contrast with neighboring states, B’tselem frequently wins arguments even against the state. The litmus test is that in complete contrast to the despised South African laws, which enforced apartheid, the Israel high court upholds the civil rights of all citizens without distinction
As a committed Christian I trust you will not object to my quoting John 8:7 “…He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Read more articles by Maurice Ostroff

Mr. Ostroff's Website: http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com


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