OP-EDS

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May 23, 2003

Not all Jews are "white"

In M. Yasser Ghanchi's May 16 article, "Israeli government mistreats," he quotes Rachel Corrie's letters to her mother. Her words expose her ignorance even more than her tragic actions. I won't go deeply into published reports of how she scrambled to the top of a mound of dirt that was already in motion over the blade of a bulldozer before she lost her balance, falling underneath. Instead, I'll take issue with her words, "...if the Israeli military should break with their racist tendency not to injure white people." Casting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in terms of race and color has gained much popularity in academia. But does it reflect any truth?

Palestinian terrorists injure and kill brown people all the time, but I guess it's okay as long as they are Jews. There are many Ashkenazi Jews whose skin is brown and were never considered "white" in the European countries from which they emigrated. Most obvious, however, are the descendants of the 500,000 plus Jews forcibly expelled from North African and Middle Eastern countries where they had lived for centuries, or in the case of Iraq, for millennia. Jews forced from Muslim countries make up over half of Israel's Jewish population. Are natives of North Africa and the Middle East brown? Some look brown and some look white. But Corrie's vivid image of a white, colonial military oppressing brown natives is one of collective European guilt; it has nothing to do with Israel.

But what does skin color have to do with the fact that Jews living in Hebron, one of the only places on earth where there has been an unbroken Jewish presence for thousands of years, are now unfairly called "settlers"? And what gave this grossly misinformed girl, Rachel Corrie, the right to base her moral paradigm on skin color alone (regardless of the fact that she couldn't stay true to her own standards) and then imply that to disagree is racist?

Akiva Gavriel

Hyde Park citizen