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Racism Debate on Proposed 'Jewish Only' Israeli Towns

July 12, 2002

I am outraged at the subhead of "Racism Debate Flares in Israel" (July 9): "Plan to ban sale of land to Arab citizens hits at heart of the controversy over Zionism versus democracy." The implication is that Israeli democrats are not Zionists, and that Zionists are not democrats.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and his Labor Party are against passing this law. Peres and Labor are unquestionably democrats, and most unquestionably are Zionists--those who favor Israel as a Jewish state. To equate Zionists with those opposed to democracy is to accept the slander of those who claim Zionism is racist and anti-democratic by nature.

Unfortunately, some Zionists are racists, and some are anti-democratic. Many more are neither, however, and will continue to oppose racist laws, such as the one described in your article, while recognizing that the principles of freedom and self-determination that are the true foundation of Zionism require fairness and justice to all Israelis, whether or not they are Jewish.

Mark Didak

West Los Angeles

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The situation isn't as one-sided as the article makes it out to be. The Israeli government has Arab-only communities on its land, and there's land owned by Arab municipalities where Jews aren't let in. The Jewish Agency [which distributes most land in Israel] is actually a private organization, but one that has had involvement with the government. Also, it purchased this land with money donated by Jews to hold in trust for Jews.

I would also feel a little better about this uproar if it were applied fairly throughout the world. Throughout the Arab world, Islam receives preferential or exclusive funding. In fact, most governments are not neutral with respect to ethnicity and/or religion, but I never see this level of outrage.

Richard Sol

Los Angeles

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Can somebody tell me why Jewish-only towns are considered a "security measure" while whites-only towns in South Africa were considered racism? To me they both seem like racist, apartheid policies.

Why is the U.S. government supporting a foreign government morally and financially, to the extent of almost $3 billion a year, that endorses such policies?

Renee Gross

Los Angeles

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