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Letter: Rep. Roers Jones was duped by Israeli officials

Arland Jacobson of Moorhead responds to the letter "North Dakota and Israel have more in common that you might think" by Rep. Shannon Roers Jones.

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After five days in Israel, Rep. Shannon Roers Jones recently wrote an op-ed to assure us that everything is hunky-dory in Israel . She learned from the trip, curated by an organization that supports Israel’s far-right government, that no, there’s no apartheid in Israel. The 2+ million Palestinians in the West Bank and Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem (not to mention the 2 million in Gaza) would beg to differ.

In Israel proper there is a vibrant democracy. In the Palestinian Territories, controlled by Israel, there is no democracy at all. That is the textbook definition of apartheid.

The toothless Palestinian leaders whom Roers Jones probably met, who have to get Israel’s permission to travel and have little respect from most Palestinians because of their ineffectiveness and corruption. If you want to know what life is like for Palestinians, you have to actually visit ordinary Palestinians. It’s also unlikely that Roers Jones heard the shouts of “Death to Arabs” by the growing number of far-right Israeli Jews.

It is true that there are nearly 2 million Palestinians who live in Israel proper and are citizens of Israel. They do have rights and can vote. But there are large disparities between public funding for Palestinian schools and urban infrastructure and similar funding for Jewish towns. You can easily see the result if you visit Palestinian towns and villages within Israel. There are only eight Israeli cities that have significant populations of Palestinian Israelis. Since the creation of the state of Israel, 900 new Israeli villages have been created, but none for Palestinians. Existing Palestinian towns in Israel are not allowed to expand. In many Israeli towns, Palestinians are not allowed to dwell. No, even in Israel proper, equality is mostly on paper.

Israel is a remarkable country, diverse, innovative, and a great place to visit. But Roers Jones saw only part of its reality. Israeli agencies don’t want you to see the other part. You’ll be told—don’t go there, it’s too dangerous! Go there anyway. You’ll be fine. Palestinians have a great tradition of hospitality. I know. I’ve been there many times.

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Arland Jacobson lives in Moorhead.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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