Fuller Jackson in his letter of May 24  wants us to look at Israel's democracy "from the perspective of the entire gulf region." But this is not Shamir's perspective when he says on American TV that Israel is a democracy. Not a single American will believe an Arab leader if he says that his country is a democracy but most will if Shamir says so about Israel. That is why it is the Western yardstick that should be used to gauge Israel's democracy. In Western democracies, all citizens are equal by law. In the Israeli version of democracy, to use Orwell's famous phrase, the Jewish citizens are "more equal than others."
The Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights of 1989 stated that "Israeli's Arab citizens have ... not shared fully in the rights granted to ... Jewish citizens." Chief among these rights is the ownership or use of the land. 92 percent of Israel's land, much of which has been expropriated from Arabs, is "national" (i.e., Jewish) land, administered by a "national" institution, the Jewish National Fund, for Israel's "national" constituency, the Jewish people. Jews have full rights with regard to land; by law, Christians and Muslims cannot even lease that land, let alone own it.
It is the official policy of the Israeli government to buy land from non-Jews for the purpose of Judaizing it, a racist process called the redemption of the land aimed at adding land to the lands on which non-Jews are prohibited to live. Moreover, Jews have the freedom to purchase property rights in Christian and Muslim quarter of old Jerusalem and live there if they choose to do so; the Jewish Quarter, however, is by law an area where only Jews can live. This is "democracy" apartheid-style.
June 5, 1991
For a reply see