Palestinians are humans too, Mr. John Manley


Dear Mr. Manley:

Your response and the statements you made, about the reasons for failing to attend The World Conference Against Racism, appear to contradict all our country’s values and claims of opposing racism regardless of the perpetrator. Your statements, together with those of Ms. Hedy Fry condemning the Palestinian statement as to the racist practices of Israel , evidently condone these racist practices and provide a license for the continuation of these practices, in defiance of international law. Furthermore, these statements display inadequate familiarity with the facts or submission to US and Zionist lobby pressure.

Let us look at the facts. Israeli practices and laws demonstrate blatant racism  and discrimination against its own citizens, who are not of the Jewish faith. The list of laws and practices is lengthy but I will allow Israeli human rights activists and thinkers , amongst others, to describe these practices:    

The late Professor Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and Chairperson of The Israeli League for Civil and Human Rights, stated: ” It is my considered opinion that the state of Israel is a racist state in the full meaning of this term. In this state people are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin. This racist discrimination began in Zionism and is carried today mainly in cooperation with the institutions of the Zionist movement.”  

The Israeli thinker Derek Tozer stated: ” The official policy of the government [of Israel] is unequivocal. Arabs like the Jews in Nazi Germany are officially ‘Class B’ citizens, a fact which is recorded on their identity cards.”  

Denis Goldberg, a Jewish South African sentenced to life imprisonment for ” conspiring to overthrow the Apartheid regime”, was released through the intercession of Israeli officials, came to Israel and stated in 1985 that he sees ” many similarities in the oppression of blacks in South Africa and of Palestinians”, and pledged never to stay in Israel and moved to England.  

Nelson Mandela, not unfamiliar with racist practices, in one of his first speeches after release from prison, compared blacks in South Africa to Palestinians who are fighting ” against a unique form of colonialism”.  

South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu observed, during a Christmas visit to Jerusalem in 1989: ” I am a black South African, and if I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, could describe events in South Africa.”  

Attorney Malea Kiblan, a member of the American National Lawyers Guild Group who visited Israel and the Occupied Territories, stated at the Guild’s Press Conference on Aug. 1, 1977: ” Before I came, I had never fully understood the UN Resolution that equated Zionism with racism, and I came here with an open mind to have personal access to the facts of the situation. When I saw things first hand, I was totally overwhelmed by the way the Arabs are treated as inferior people. I didn’t really understand institutional racism until I made this trip, although we have racism in the United States. Israel is built on an exclusive system, and the Arabs racially cannot qualify as equal citizens in the West Bank or in Israel in any area, including health , education, personal treatment and every other area.”  

To quote one of the many laws in Israel that discriminate against non- Jewish citizens of the state, there is the Development Authority Law of 1950, which remains effective. This law grants the Jewish National Fund authority over 92% of the land in Israel. By means of a “land Covenant”, all this property, most of it expropriated from Palestinians, becomes the  “inalienable property” of the Jewish people worldwide. This means non-Jews, citizens of the state, can never buy any of it, rent it or till it. If such a law stipulating only Christians or any specific religious entity can own or lease or till 92% of the land of Canada, would there not be an outcry of discrimination and racism?  

Clearly, Mr. Manley, there is a need for an open mind and examination of the facts so as not to give a free license to those who practice racism to continue to do that unchallenged. No country, including Israel, must be allowed to remain above international law, and Palestinians as well as Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel are humans too.

Mr. Ismail Zayid is President of Canada Palestine Association in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.