Shiffman ignores facts

In his Aug. 31 letter, David Shiffman presents one-sided opinions with little factual justification. Shiffman points out that Jews purchased the land in Israel from Palestinians, who were “thrilled to get such a good price.” Palestinians did sell land to Jews in the early part of the century. However, Shiffman ignores the fact that once Israel became sovereign, it used much less noble practices to obtain land. Ask any Palestinian, and they’ll convey to you a story about their grandparents being threatened with death by Israeli soldiers if they did not vacate their homes. There are thousands of refugees who wish to return to Palestine but cannot.

Shiffman’s claim that Israel is a secular democracy is far from the truth. Israel is perhaps a democracy if one is Jewish, but Palestinians have far fewer rights than Jewish citizens. I was in Jordan recently and had a conversation with one of the many Palestinian taxi drivers. He told me that he lost his Palestinian citizenship for spending three years out of Israel without returning. Imagine losing your citizenship simply for living in another country. This policy does not hold for Jewish citizens. Additionally, Palestinians in Israel lack a number of the basic human rights that we all take for granted. For example, Palestinians are required to carry identification cards and drive cars marked by unique license plates, enabling the Israeli government to restrict Palestinian travel. Palestinians face more rigorous criteria for admission into institutes of higher education. Palestinian regions of the country are left undeveloped industrially. Ownership of land in many areas is restricted to Israelis with at least four generations of Jewish lineage. This all is in addition to the recent construction of Israel’s apartheid wall, which would simply be unacceptable anywhere else.

Even these few examples demonstrate attempts by the Israeli government to deny Palestinians a viable future. To Palestinians, basic rights exist only in their dreams. Israel may have legitimate complaints towards the Palestinians as well. However, I cannot sit idly by and read a letter like that by David Shiffman which concludes that one side is completely right while placing whole blame on the other. Surely, peace will require quite an effort from both sides.


Hany Elmariah

Trinity ’04


Share and discuss “Shiffman ignores facts” on social media.