KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
Posted: October 27, 2006 -
יום שישי, ה'
October 22, 2006
An open letter to former President
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
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
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.
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.
more articles by Maurice Ostroff
Mr. Ostroff's Website: http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com
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