Columns


Israel's reaction has been vicious and misdirected



My colleagues Kim Sengupta, Robert Fisk and other foreign journalists report from the killing fields of the Middle East day in, day out. They keep their heads clear, their eyes and ears open, and still provoke shocking antipathy.

A British Jewish businessman came up to me last week and accused The Independent of being anti-Semitic and Sengupta of being an apologist for terrorism. Condemn Palestinians, said he, "loudly clearly, without excuses". This vignette dramatised the mindset of hardline Zionists. It is a combination of paranoia, indiscriminate loyalty and odium towards any person or group opposed to Israel's violent oppression of Palestinians.

Conscientious Jews do condemn what is done even though dissidence is often avenged. But most either keep quiet or approve of the tactics which has led to the deaths of over 150 people: most of them civilians, many of them children, and some disabled residents of a care home.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for an investigation into the bomb raids. Not a single Israeli has died since this latest battle broke out. Jonathan Cook, who won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, claims in an article in CounterPunch that the economics minister Naftali Bennett has called for the country to "go mad"; that a former legislator wants to turn Ramadan into a month of darkness; and that rabbis are inciting attacks. They do not want peace and care not how many suffer or die. Israelis have inherited existential fear which comes out of an excruciating past. None of that can mitigate the excessive violence now sanctioned by the Israelis in power.

When terrorists commit atrocities, British Muslims are collectively blamed, told to protest, to issue statements from mosques, to say sorry.

Israel builds walls, grabs land, introduces racist rules, imprisons Palestinian children, uses grotesque force and gets undeclared donations from British Zionists, and British Jews are not asked to march, or issue condemnations or promises.

The Holocaust is now used as a guarantee of perpetual indemnity by a state which was to be a sanctuary and an exemplar of survival, dignity and morality. Israel's leadership has discarded moral sense and wants to eliminate Palestinians altogether from the pitifully small bits of land they live in.

They have learnt the wrong lessons from their own history and seem to be modelling themselves on Europeans who took over Australia, North and South America.

There are no peace talks now. All hopes for a two-state solution have gone. Israel is out of control and its powerful allies stand by, watch and silently approve.  

Campaigners for justice for Palestinians should direct their criticisms to the governments of the US, Canada and the UK, various Western political parties and the EU. Just this week, on the 10th anniversary of the apartheid wall that was built by Israel, 86 leading jurists called for global institutions to take some meaningful action. Deadly inaction continued.

EU-funded shelters for homeless Palestinians were taken and demolished by Israel this April. The EU said and did nothing. Instead, from time to time, it threatens to cut off vital aid to the countless Palestinians who have no medicines, no hope, no work, no sustenance and much anger.

In April, 23 MEPs wrote to Cathy Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief. They want the EU to suspend the Association Agreement made with Israel which is violating every human rights law enshrined by the UN and other bodies. Their demands were ignored.

Barack Obama has shown his cowardly side when it comes to Israel. All those grand gestures and stirring speeches and he cannot utter a single line censuring Netanyahu and his gang.

In past conflicts and wars, collaborators were seen for what they were — people who facilitated evil. So it is with our times. Name them. Shame them.

The Independent


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