Mr. Michael Enright
CBC Sunday Morning Show
10th of January, 2016
Dear Mr. Enright,
Re: Ron Rosenbaum – “Lamentations for the State of Israel”- CBC Sunday Morning Show: January 10, 2016
I was very much looking forward to this interview with the hope that – at long last – the politically-correct media silence would be lifted, and one of our most respected journalists would interview a Jewish author about the very necessary demise of the idea of Israel as a “Jewish State”. Alas, this was not to be the case. Although you made several valiant efforts to raise legitimate questions such as the “problem” of the illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, Mr. Rosenbaum delivered unchecked the same tired propaganda, the same old hasbara. Further, he couched his whole presentation in the equally tired frame of all Jewish people, himself included, as eternal and ongoing victims of anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is indeed, heinous behaviour – usually stemming from ignorance, resentment and fear. We need to watch out for it and speak against it when we see or hear it. To suggest however, that anti-Semitism is on the increase without clarifying that the practices of the State of Israel against the Palestinians are the single greatest factor contributing to that increase (if indeed there is one) is to speak entirely out of context. The fact is that anti-Zionism is on the rise, and many of the most ardent spokespersons against the fundamentally racist nature of Zionism are themselves Jewish.
It is crucially important to distinguish between Zionism and Judaism. Zionists believe that the Jewish people must have a state of their own, a state which privileges Jewish people over others. This idea by definition is racist. Its application on the ground in Israel-Palestine has led to the inevitable result that Palestinian citizens within Israel proper are subject to more than 50 discriminatory laws that make them 2nd class citizens. Palestinians within the occupied territories – the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza – have no democratic rights at all. They have no vote and no right to due process of law. Contrary to Mr. Rosenbaum’s assertion, Israel did not “pull out” of Gaza; it removed approximately 5,000 illegal settlers and then proceeded to place Gaza under siege with total control over its borders –land, air and sea, its water and power sources, its food supply, its population’s right to develop an economy, get medical care, education elsewhere, or even go to Jerusalem to pray. Who would not resist this kind of oppression? And lastly, the 750,000 Palestinians who were forcibly expelled from their homes, lands and businesses in 1948 have neither been compensated one dime for their losses, nor have they or their descendants been allowed to return to their homes/homeland these nearly 70 years.
The fundamental problem facing Zionists is that fully ½ the population living within Israel-Palestine does not accept the premise upon which the Zionist state rests: the need for a state that privileges Jewish people over everyone else. With such massive resistance, the state has no legitimacy.
All of this is necessary context that was missing in your interview. It would be of great benefit to listeners if you provided some balance to Mr. Rosenbaum’s sorrowful and whining lament. You could do that by inviting such guests to your show as Diana Bhuttu or Dr. Gabor Mate, himself a Jew with a very different perspective.
It is incumbent upon us to stop wringing our hands over the ongoing tragedy of Israel-Palestine and start addressing the root causes and how to restore justice and equality for all the people living there, including the indigenous Palestinians. I visited there last year with Interfaith Peace Builders and can tell you, the average visitor and the average Jewish Israeli are completely shielded (by Israel’s system of separation) from the violent and humiliating reality of daily life for Palestinians. The international community of nations needs to pressure Israel to actually become the democracy it claims to be.
Thank you for reading this and for your excellent program.