More discussion, less labels

Steven Slivnick’s letter (‘It’s not Jew, it’s you’ Feb. 9′) intended to point out that while some in the Jewish and Zionist communities may label Ms. Gartel (It’s not Jew, it’s me Feb 8) and others anti-Semitic for not supporting Israel, most people in these communities are open to dialogue and debate.

Before calling the Zionist movement ‘fanatical’, one must ask … What is Zionism? Modern Zionism, which formally arose in the late 19th century (decades before the Holocaust), is the political movement that supports the rights of Jews (who have maintained a constant presence on the land for thousands of years) to reestablish a state in Israel. And while the Hamas run Palestinian Authority is unwilling to recognize Israel, Israel wants to coexist with a peaceful Palestinian Arab state. As with any ideological movement, there are fanatics. However, the movement in and of itself is not fanatical.

While Israel maintains itself as the Jewish state, it also maintains itself as a liberal democracy. More than one million Christian and Muslim Arabs are regarded as full citizens of Israel; Arabic is an official language, and Arab political parties hold seats in the Knesset. Recently, an Arab Muslim was appointed to an Israeli cabinet level position.

And finally, as far as the defensive security measures Israel has taken … Israel must respond, occasionally, with force to incapacitate terrorists and terrorist organizations. To deny Israel this ability is to deny Israel’s right to exist. The security fence, for example, prevented Palestinian terrorists from committing a suicide bombing in Israel for nine months.

Before labeling an entire group, let us have discourse. This is all we ask for.

Norm Phillips

junior in LAS

Israel intern at UIUC for JCRC/Hillels’ Israel Initiative