62. The following is a letter submitted to the NZ Listener by a Christchurch couple who visited the West Bank last year.
"Thank you for the interview with Antony Loewenstein (Listener May 15-21 2010) But I must challenge the reporter's insinuation that Israel would be wise not to become a democracy for all its people, because "violence is rampant in South Africa". Excuse me, but violence, State-sanctioned violence, is rampant in Israel. Readers should see the reports from Defence of Children International www.dci-pal.org/ about the shocking way Palestinian children are arrested in the middle of thee night, accused of throwing rocks at the Wall, yes at the Wall, beaten, made to sign confessions in Hebrew, a language they don't understand. I have a friend who has been a Christian Peacemaker in Hebron four times. Part of her duties there was to escort small children to school so they would not be attacked by settlers. Settlers and their children throw rocks at Palestinians, adults and children, while Israeli soldiers look the other way. See www.cpt-org/hebron for more example of disgusting behaviour. My husband an I visited the West Bank last November. While we were at the Bethlehem University, the story broke out about a woman in early twenties, within a few month of graduation, who was hauled off a bus, blindfolded, hog-tied and taken to Gaza. We also heard many stories about the daily harassment and humiliations faced by students as they try to make their way to class. Then there is Gaza, an open air overcrowded prison. Uri Avnery, the founder of Gush Shalom, has described the siege, still on-going, as 'genocide in slow motion'. This was before the December 2009 bombing and invasion, described by the American Chris Hedges as 'not a war, but murder'. There are Israeli Jews who oppose their regime, most notably members of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, http://www.icahd.org/. The West does not help those brave people in ICAHD by pretending the status quo is acceptable. I suspect that the only way for Israel to evolve into a less violent society, would be for it to become a democratic state for all its people, as are the countries with which Israel falsely claims to share values."
L & M. G.
The following letter was submitted to the Christchurch Press by the same contributors.
"Prominent linguist, intellectual, and social critic Noam Chomsky and his daughter have been denied entry into Israel (Press, 18 May). The 81 year-old was kept waiting around at the Allenby Bridge crossing point from Jordan into Israel for 5 hours, which included 2 hours of interrogation, only to have Denied Entry stamped into his passport and thus forced to return to Amman. As the crossing is about 400m below sea level, Chomsky's treatment would have been exhausting even for a much younger man. Chomsky had been invited to deliver a lecture at a Palestinian University near Ramallah. His treatment and subsequent denial of entry is just one small sample of Israel's contempt for Palestinians and for anyone, including diaspora Jews, who is critical of their regime. I wonder, will any American government complain about this "Stalinist" (Chomsky's own description) treatment of one of its most eminent citizens ? Sadly, I doubt it.
Contributed by L.G.