Am I an anti-Semite?


There’s a convenient line of attack, that if you’re anti-Israeli, you’re by definition anti Jewish. I’m neither, but I have a big problem with that line of defence. It is like saying that because you hate crunchy peanut butter, you hate all nuts. What really bothers me though, is how effective that argument is. Such a head on attack dog strategy, deflects the argument onto ground where the accuser has to be defensive. In doing so, the original argument’s credibility is weakened and diluted.

You may wonder what the answer is to the Israel and Palestine issue. It’s become so polarised that anyone speaking out against Israel is immediately pounced on as anti-Jewish or anti-Israel. Side with the Palestinians and you’re accused of undermining international law.

The recent violence in Gaza is a case in point. Any minor event is likely to raise tensions, but the official opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem was anything but minor. The move of the US administration to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and moving their Embassy from Tel Aviv, was bound to inflame deep seated grievances.

The violence followed a well trodden path. Crowds of young Palestinians gather and throw rocks at members of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The IDF respond initially with tear gas, followed by live ammunition. The IDF say they came under gunfire. Whilst this hasn’t been verified, there may well have been Hamas fighters nearby. I’d expect a country to defend itself from external aggression, but in this case it is less clear who’s country needs defending. A bigger question is, was the IDF’s response disproportionate?

This flash point originated because of the US administration’s de facto approval of the whole of Jerusalem being Israel’s capital. Prior to 1967 Jerusalem was divided into East Jerusalem under Palestinian control, and West Jerusalem under Israeli control. It was an uneasy peace, but by invading and annexing the east side of the city in 1967, Israel lit the blue touch paper of the largest firework ever to be seen in the region.

East Jerusalem still isn’t recognised as part of Israel under international law. Throw in the treatment of Palestinians both in East Jerusalem and Gaza, plus the unlawful building of Israeli settlements, and Israel has a lot to answer for. As for Hamas, it is a terrorist organisation in the eyes of many countries. It is also backed by states with good reasons for seeing Israel’s demise.

Perhaps unwisely, I believe that a two state solution is the only way of allowing the Palestinians and Israeli’s to live side by side. In order to achieve this, Israel must accept they’ll have to give back East Jerusalem. As unpalatable as this may be. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon. The settlements built in East Jerusalem for Israelis is a major issue. So is how the border between East and West Jerusalem would be policed. As for whether Hamas and their backers would accept the status quo and cease their claim to all of Palestine, including all of Israel?

I never said solving the Israel versus Palestine issue was easy.

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