In the Feb. 27 column “End Israeli apartheid,” the author systematically defames Israel by invoking tendentious rhetoric and ignoring realities on the ground.

Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005—often forcibly uprooting its own citizens in the process. In 2006, Gazans democratically elected the Hamas party, a fundamentalist Islamic organization deemed a terrorist group by the United States, Canada, the European Union and Japan. Since its withdrawal from Gaza, Israel has been the victim of over thousands of indiscriminately fired rockets. Anyone who has visited the Israeli border town of Sderot has seen the effects: roadside shelters, blaring alarms and more than 40 percent of children showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Haaretz. More dangerously, as we saw in the most recent Israeli/Hamas skirmish this past November, Palestinian rocket fire can now reach highly populous Tel Aviv.

Fatah, the more moderate Palestinian party that rules the West Bank, is hardly more receptive to Israeli peace overtures. In 2008, then-Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert offered Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas a land swap between Israel and Palestine, as well as a divided Jerusalem, a particularly painful concession. Abbas rejected the offer. In 2010, Israel temporarily froze its settlements in the West Bank—often cited by observers as a necessary condition for the resumption of peace talks. Abbas did not come to the negotiating table. Instead, he has continued to avoid direct negotiation by unilaterally applying for statehood at the U.N.

Furthermore, Israel is quite simply not an “apartheid” state. Arab Israelis have all the same major rights as Jewish Israelis; they can serve in the Knesset and are not even conscripted to the military like non-Haredi Jews are. As a Western-style democracy, Israel also espouses full religious freedom. Muslims, Christians and Druze are all free to practice their faiths.

Jitan’s plea to accept moral equivalence between the two sides is an oft-repeated trope. Such moral equivalence is specious. Hamas targets Israeli civilians and uses its own civilians as human shields to curry public favor. Fatah is uninterested in directly negotiating peace. To the extent that America has a role to play in resuming the stalled peace process, it is essential she continue to stand firmly with our longtime ally in the campaign to promote common values and defeat Islamic terrorism. Military and financial assistance are natural byproducts of this moral and national security commitment.

Josh Hammer

Trinity ’11