I read with interest the list that Douglas Steeples (Your Say, June 29) compiled of 19 “wars” that were waged against God’s law. Two caught my eye and compelled me to write a rebuttal.
No. 15 claimed that “America gives tacit and explicit acceptance to Israel’s claim that to be Anti-Israel is to be anti-Semitic.” He claims that those who criticize Israel cannot be anti-Semitic since 90 percent of the world’s Semites are Arabs. Anti-Semitism is a term that has historically been used to describe hatred toward Jews (and only Jews). But it is a term that is, literally speaking, misleading. The word Semite is used by philologists to describe a family of languages that derive from the ancient Canaanites. Both Hebrew and Arabic belong to that family. For Mr. Steeples to suggest that language affinity makes all Semites the same is either downright ignorant at best, or disingenuous, at worst. One would not use anti-Semite to describe anti-Arab sentiments. I don’t think that the thousands of Arabs/Muslims who march shouting “Death to Jews” have issues with just the Hebrew language.
No. 16 on the list is truly a statement rooted in ignorance. Mr. Steeples states that, again, the United States gives tacit approval to Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” of Arabs. When Israel’s war of independence ended in 1949, there were many thousands of Arabs living in Israel. Today, the Arab population in Israel is 1.5 million, about 25 percent of Israel’s population. If Mr. Steeples’ statement can be taken at face value, then either Israel doesn’t know the meaning of “ethnic cleansing” or it really is lousy at it. Ethnic cleansing refers to a diminishment of population, not a three-fold increase.
Israeli Arabs are full citizens of Israel, given full rights and benefits as Israeli Jews. Arabs have seats in the Knesset (parliament), sit as judges in Israeli courts. Arab doctors and nurse’s work side by side with Jewish doctors and nurses in Israel’s hospitals. Arabs have access to universal health care, education, voting rights and religious freedom (historically, a privilege not afforded to Jews living in Arab lands).
Is Israel perfect? Absolutely not! But to single out Israel (by implication) that Israel is the sole perpetrator of hostilities between Arabs and Israel is definitely anti-Semitic. I think that Mr. Steeples writes without any true research in the history of the conflict and uses trendy buzz words like ethnic cleansing without any knowledge of what they really mean. He needs to do some serious reading before his next “list” is published.
Deborah Adler is a resident of Macon.