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Don't silence criticism of Israel [Letter]

12:30 PM EST, February 15, 2014

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I totally agree with Melani McAlister's point that the "question of how Americans should respond to the deteriorating situation in Israel and Palestine — what our government should do, what we as individuals can or should do — should be openly and freely debated" ("Maryland bills would stifle academic freedom," Feb. 12).

Already, social pressure tends to convince numerous concerned Americans to voluntarily refrain from criticizing Israel. Some stay silent because they do not want to be falsely labeled as anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, many other people, including movie stars who prefer to empower Israel and Israeli propaganda continue to be highly motivated to do so at every opportunity.

More than 60 years ago, Israel's application to membership in the United Nations clearly pointed out that Israel was directly contravening "the previous recommendations of the United Nations in at least three important respects: in its attitude on the problem of Arab refugees, on the delimitation of its territorial boundaries, and on the question of Jerusalem."

Since then, things have only gone from bad to worse. Did you know that the number of Palestinian structures (including many Palestinian homes) demolished by the Israeli authorities in the Jordan Valley more than doubled, from 192 in 2012 to 393 in 2013? Adding in American legislation to penalize the few American scholars and students who are willing to publicly discuss the very real suffering and plight of the Palestinians gives sovereign Israel even more power to oppress, persecute, disenfranchise and displace the native non-Jewish population of historic Palestine.

Islamists thrive on the continuation of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and so do anti-American hate mongers and many misinformation campaigns. It is in our best interests as a nation, and as conscientious compassionate global citizens, to seek the full and total truth about Israel and Palestine and to do all we can to support an actual end to the Israel-Palestine conflict with a just and lasting peace shaped by a fully secular, two state solution that fully respects international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Anne Selden Annab, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

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