8:28 am - January 7th 2009
I would like to march against Israel, really. I don’t think that bombing campaigns like the one we currently see are the answer at all. I am appalled by its dead, especially the innocent victims within it.
I am a member of the Left Jewish bundle, and was a long standing supporter of parties such as left wing Israeli Peace party Meretz and organisations like the shared Arab / Jewish village Wahat al Salam ~ Neve Shalom. I have Palestinian and Israeli friends and they expect me to march.
However I will not march in London against the war. The reason is that inspite of my opposition, I feel highly uncomfortable amongst the demonstrating crowd, for it appears somewhat suspect to me. The burning of the Israeli flag as quoted here at end of a London demonstration and the atmosphere of unidirectional violence are just confirming this.
Were I in Tel Aviv, I would instantly join in, but here in Europe other factors are preventing me to go. The problem is that I don’t understand what mobilizes people to march especially and every time it involves the Israeli / Palestinian problem and how the damage and terror imposed onto my Jewish friends in Israel is belittled and marginalised.
There is of course a difference if somebody is terrorised and another is killed, if one side has a hand full of dead and the other 100s, but there seems to be something in the opinion out there that suggests that Hamas somehow was right sending rockets on an almost constant basis (except the fragile ceasefire of a few months before the recent war eruption) onto Israeli towns across the border. Supposedly it is OK because Israel was and still is an occupying or controlling force.
I agree that the coup against Hamas, who were and factually still are the democratic elected representatives of the Palestinian people, is wrong. But two wrongs don’t make a right – an anti war demonstration necessitates speaking out against both parties at war, even be it more firmly against Israel as its armed forces power is more devastating.
Only yesterday I listened to the speech by a senior Hamas leader broadcasting from Gaza (I saw it on Yoman News Magazine 2nd. Jan 08 which showed it in its original Arabic recording). According to this senior figure, the current war supposedly is and I quote “against the sons of apes and pigs” a much misused extract from the Quoran from an episode when Jewish people at the time of Muhammad refused to convert to Islam and ridiculed the prophet – angering him. What about the other sura that states that if one party offers peace you should not refuse, and in that way the prime minister of Israel did state he wanted to offer peace if the rocket shooting stopped? And the ones that speak at length about the Jews as people of the book?
So if we demonstrate for peace, we must address the Hamas militant ideology and their deadly rockets, home made or not as well. Not just little home made rockets as Alexei Sayle remarked on BBC News 24 ( who described himself as a Jew who would not sanction the war). Home made they may be, but they can be deadly and their new generation are filled with grade rated explosives and spiked up with nails etc just to make sure they will injure or kill.
Further not choosing between Palestinians, regarding Hamas supporters alike all other Palestinians is a terrible insult to many Palestinians. It disregards efforts of 1000s of courageous violence rejecting Palestinians (MEND, Political arm of Fatah, Palestinian members of Combatants for Peace and Women in Black to name a few). Hamas as an Islamist movement by definition also is not the representative of the many Christian Palestinians, a point often forgotten, as many assume that Arab equals Muslim.
So here I pledge (once again) my stances:
- I am opposing this war and believe the entire area must begin to reconcile (including Fatah and Hamas, Egypt and Syria). I believe that the U.S. is just as guilty as Iran in propping up conflict in the region.
- I believe the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza ought to end, all Jewish settlement in these areas should either be dismantled, or “traded” to be kept in exchange for concessions to Palestinians (elements of Right of Palestinian Return for example). The time for this is yesterday!
- I believe that neither a Jew-free-Palestine nor Arab-free-Israel is right, but that both should be diverse. A peace settlement must include consideration also of Arab peace with Jews in general, which must take account of the voids of former Jewish populated Arab speaking lands.
- I believe that Islamism can inform politics but at the same time must come to terms with others in the region, be they Jews, Christians or people of other faiths. I believe the same is true for Jewish or Christian fundamentalism. That coming to terms with, means but one thing, accepting the others, and ceasing to fight them but using their supposedly God given brain and intellect to find compromises that achieve world peace.
- I believe that it is right and proper for the Israeli state to exist, based on ethnic, religious, historical and cultural rights, and that likewise Palestinians have a legal claim to the same land, which means that it is important to promote compromise.
- I believe that it is overdue time for the state of Palestine to come into existence – alongside Israel.
- Because many demonstrators will not accept Israel’s right to be (but perhaps just as much as Israel seems to not allow Palestine to be), I feel that I can today not join the demonstration in London today, even though I would attend one in Israel. As one of my Israeli friends put it who read an earlier drafty of this article put it, “I also wanted to go to the demo, but I sort of knew it would be a march for Israel bashing Hamas rather than for peace.”
- I am likewise appalled by the self centred view of Israelis that see the Qassam rockets only and not what they did to Palestinians over many years and also now. This is symbolized by the hysterical obsession with Gilad Shalit, that fails to compare with the 100s and 1000s of arrests, torture and illegal incarcerations that Israel committed. It saddens me that only about 20 percent in Israel were calling for an immediate ceasefire a couple of days ago (Haaretz Poll).
- In this sense I would like to hear from other Jewish people who feel affiliated and loyal to the left and peace, but who likewise felt that they could not join the British general anti-war demo bandwagon, unwilling to be company to “We are all Hezbollah” Galloway and Ken Livingstone amongst others. Perhaps we should organise our own demonstration. We’d first go to the Israeli Embassy and then to the Iranian.
This is a guest post. Daniel blogs at Daniel's counter about Middle Eastern issues.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Foreign affairs ,Middle East ,Realpolitik
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