Michael Boyden

An Open Letter to the Archbishop of the Church of Sweden

Dear Archbishop,

I understand that the Church of Sweden is to discuss whether Israel is an apartheid state.

In order to address this topic in an honest manner, it is important to distinguish between the State of Israel per se and those territories over the armistice so-called “Green Line” (East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip).

Israel can clearly not be described as an apartheid state when we have Arab members of parliament, Arab government ministers, Arab doctors and judges and a large number of Arab lecturers and students in our institutions of higher learning. This is not South Africa.

The problem lies in connection with our relationship to those Arabs living in territories occupied since Israel won a defensive war (the 6 Day War) in 1967. Those Arabs have consistently refused all attempts to reach a peace agreement with us and call for the destruction of the Jewish State. Even the Palestinian Authority refuses to recognize our historical connection with Jerusalem even though it is repeatedly referred to in our Bible, as you of course know. For them, the Temple Mount on which the El Aqsa mosque stands today is exclusively Muslim. Those Arabs are understandably not Israeli citizens.

Most Israelis would be delighted to reach a peace agreement with them and establish two nations for two peoples. Sadly, all attempts to bring this about have been rejected by the Palestinians and many lives have been sacrificed on both sides. They continue to call for a Palestinian state “from the River (Jordan) to the Sea (Mediterranean)” and the destruction of Israel.

Ask the Palestinian political leadership, whether it be the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, whether Israel has the right to exist as a sovereign Jewish State in the Middle East. Their rejection of that right unfortunately makes them our enemies and Israel cannot be expected to grant them full and equal status. They are not Israeli citizens and don’t want to be!

To attempt to assert that Israel is an apartheid state is to ignore or seek to manipulate the political and religious realities that lie behind this on-going conflict.

With best wishes for a Happy Christmas,

Rabbi Michael Boyden
Hod Hasharon

About the Author
Made aliyah from the UK in 1985, am a former president of the Israel Council of Reform Rabbis and am currently rabbi of Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, Israel.
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