On February 27, Helsinki Times published a letter by the Ambassador of the State of Israel to Finland, Dan Ashbel. Ambassador Ashbel's remarks were a reply to a piece by this author that appeared a week earlier.
My initial article dealt with the collaboration between Finland's Israeli trading partners in military equipment and the Israeli army. I elaborated on how Finland is "directly profiting the very companies that benefit – from Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories" as Finland has been and remains an ever loyal customer of Israel's "occupation-powered military exports".
Considering it intends to be a rebuttal to what I wrote, Ambassador Ashbel's letter is made up of somewhat exotic assertions. Moreover, his commentary does not even purport to tackle with the topic of my initial piece. Ashbel states, for instance, that computer memory sticks "were also developed in Israel" and that Israel is "a democratic and economically sound society".
Putting the memory sticks aside for the time being, how "democratic" and "economically sound" is Israel, comparatively?
Israel insists on legally defining itself as a state of the Jewish people and refuses to define itself as a state of its citizens, the latter definition being a common criterion for a state to be deemed democratic. A characteristic of Israel of at least equal significance is the fact that Israel also insists on maintaining its military control over the Occupied Palestinian Territories yet simultaneously denies the more than four million Palestinians in those territories their civil and political rights.
A state which adamantly defines itself primarily as a state of only one of its many demographic groupings and denies the civil and political rights of more than four million people under the de facto control of its human rights abusing military regime hardly strikes one as a democratic society par excellence.
As for "economically sound", Israel's poverty rate of approximately 21 per cent is the highest among all OECD countries. Israel is ranked fifth in regards to income gaps between the rich and the poor. One out of three Israeli children live in poverty, according to an OECD report.
Mr. Ashbel also writes that "since its establishment in 1948, Israel's existence has been threatened". Let us juxtapose this rather hazy statement with the more rigorous assessment of Ze'ev Maoz, the former academic director of the M.A. Program in the Israeli Defence Forces' National Defence College and a Professor of Political Science at the University of California:
"None [of Israel's wars], with the possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence, were what Israelis call "wars of necessity"." Maoz also notes that "most of the wars in which Israel was involved were the result of deliberate Israeli aggressive design, flawed decision making, or flawed conflict management strategies or were avoidable. Israel's war experience is a story of folly, recklessness and self-made traps."
Ergo, if and when Mr. Ashbel enjoyed my piece to the extent that he feels the need to "congratulate" me as well as bid me his "thanks", perhaps he can also go on to inform his superiors in Israel to end the military occupation of the Palestinian territories, enforce the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and solve the Palestinian refugee plight based on the right of return.
Investigative journalist specialising in Middle Eastern political processes
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