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Why the Arab-Israeli Conflict?


It’s a cold Monday morning and i’m visiting my parents in Yorkshire. I get up early to buy the newspaper but decide to read the news online as I don’t want to tempt frost bite en route to the newsagents.

I enjoy reading a newspaper as you can read it in many more places that you probably shouldn’t be sitting with a laptop. However, reading the news online offers so much more than the traditional paper. For a start it’s free!

Secondly, the news is interactive. Most online news providers will allow you to comment and debate the article with other readers and even the journalist who has written the piece.

Finally, I tend to read a much larger variety of articles online compared to the paper. I am a Guardian reader out of habit.  I have developed a routine; whenever I buy the newspaper I drop several sections into the recycling bin and keep the Politics, UK news, International news and Sports sections to the side to read on the tube.  However when I read the news online, many more articles catch my eye that I would have previously automatically recycled. I’m talking mainly about lifestyle, travel, culture etc.

A particular article caught my eye on the Guardian online this morning. The article is titled ‘Not Jewish but Jew-ish’ by Jonathan Margolis (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/30/jewish-judaism-jonathan-margolis) The comment section has been disabled for this article, i’m guessing by the author, and I don’t blame him. Most articles that have anything to do with Judaism descend into passionate debates on the origins of Israel and the future of the Middle East. Those debates are only valid in the right context.

On the surface, Jonathan’s article appears to be about the ‘less than kosher’ approach of British Jews towards Judaism. The article description reads ‘Jonathan Margolis explains why you will find him skipping synagogue and munching bacon bagels’.  I assumed that the article would focus on the British Jewish community rather than inevitably including a politically charged rant on the state of Israel. I was wrong.

The article starts with Jonathan exploring what the label of ‘Jew’ means in Britain. His style is charming, his issues are familiar as I am also a member of Britain’s ethnic minority groups. I find comfort in his words when he speaks about his experiences of racial bullying, directly as a youngster and indirectly later on in life through snide comments and racist stereotyping.

He goes on to explore another issue which I know so well. I am a Hindu – kind of, but what does that mean? What do I have to adhere to, to be part of the Hindu club? What are the views of my community on my confused way of life? How do I feel about the faith and culture of my community?  Is it possible to be a passionate home and away Leeds united fan, a lover of real ale, mixed grills, admirer of multi faith multi ethnic women and still be a middle class British-Punjabi Hindu?  Or am I a coconut, brown on the outside and white on this inside. A man with no respect towards our history or cultural values with an inferiority complex towards the old colonialists.

Jonathan argues that he is more Jew-ish than Jewish, ‘We are those cop-out, fair-weather Jews that “real” Jews despise more than they do antisemites: the secular, cultural Jews, the amoral majority, the ones who want to have their bagel and eat it. The ones who, with their marrying out, their going to the pub on Yom Kippur and to the football on Saturdays, and – God forbid – with their ambivalent view of the Middle East, are doing Hitler’s work for him and conspiring in the erosion of the already disappearing UK Jewish community – currently about 250,000 and counting, downwards’.

By this point I am completely captivated by the words on the screen. The author is describing the experiences I have already faced in my short life, and the experiences of many more British ethnic minorities. However, by the end of the article I am thoroughly insulted.

The article looks towards Israel, the tone changes from charming to patronising. He claims that by the time he reached working age, ‘“Jewish” as insult was replaced by the now more fashionable “Zionist”… Even today, when anti-Zionism is so hip, I hear the odd, faint echo of the old-style, non-PC anti-Semitism’.

OK, I accept that Jonathan is not being as Melanie Phillips-esque to directly claim that any criticism of Israel or Zionism is actually a mask for deep hatred of Jews. He goes on to say that ‘we can’t help feeling uncomfortable when people who aren’t Jews criticise the country (Israel); it seems, if only very exceptionally, to be tinged with a little bit of old-fashioned Jew-hating’. In almost a decade of protesting and attending meetings against the occupation of Palestine I am yet to meet a fellow anti Zionist who is anti Semitic thank goodness. Although I dislike the lazy anti Semitic accusations that a proportion of pro Israel supporters make towards those who want to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, I am used to them.

What I find most insulting about the article is the author’s attitude towards student anti-Zionists. I find his comment that ‘anti-Zionism is, at least for the students who aren’t actually Palestinian, a fashion accessory like those chainstore black-and-white keffiyeh scarves’ comment particularly demeaning to a worthy cause.

The authors ignorance stems from an earlier comment where he claims that ‘The reason Israel is singled out for hatred, I like to think, is positive; it’s because the world expects better of Jews’. Maybe he is suggesting that the world expects better of Jews because the Israeli Jews are largely european looking (although I’m sure the BNP would disagree) with American sounding accents and western culture, and therefore should know better. Maybe this is also the reason why the anti apartheid movement was so popular in the UK, as this was another case of a group of people who are culturally similar to people in western Europe persecuting others and after the horrors of the holocaust, we should know better!

I have been doing a lot of thinking recently. Why Israel? What is it about the Arab Israeli conflict that stirs up such powerful emotions within me? There are other conflicts raging around the world. There are conflicts closer to the home of my ancestors in India, people are killing each other, enslaving each other, persecuting each other and stealing from each other worldwide so why focus on Israel?

First of all my own identity dictates my views on the situation. I am British –Indian. To me that means that historically I am Indian, I identify strongly with the struggle against colonialism. The massacre at Jalianwalla bagh and other atrocities committed by the British in India are still emotive issues for me as is the Koh-i-noor diamond, India’s most beautiful diamond that is still sitting in the tower of London after it was stolen and given to Queen Victoria.

However I am British, the new British, the Lewis Hamilton British, the Amir Khan British, the Christine Ohouruogu British, the post Windrush British, the post NHS British, cool Britannia not rule Britannia, mini coopers with union jack roof, The Who, Danny Boyle, Guy Ritchie, Frankie Boyle, Peep show, The Inbetweeners, Christmas Crackers, Britain’s got talent, Chicken tikka masala, two pints of lager and a packet of crisps, that’s the kind of Brit I am. Sure our country still commits terrible crimes against others, notably cases such as Diego Garcia in the 1970’s (Wiki it) and illegal invasions of former colonies such as Iraq but away from Westminster, there is vibrant diverse tolerant exciting country with interesting and eccentric beautiful people.

First of all, the Israeli conflict is directly tied to the kind of British I am most at odds with, the colonial British. From the Balfour declaration until now Britain has always had a considerable input at varying levels to the lives and fate of those who live in Palestine and now Israel/ occupied territories. As a new Brit I find it hard to swallow that our foreign policy will still allow Israel to openly break international laws on a frequent basis, particularly with the land it occupied after the 1967 war. In Britain and the EU as a whole, we are a key trading partner to Israel.  It is one thing for our government to claim to be disturbed by operation Cast Lead, evictions in Palestinian neighbourhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, further growth of illegal settlements, construction of wall around the West Bank and Gaza (also judged as illegal) and another to back this up with sanctions such as the ones that helped to defeat the apartheid government.

We exert more influence in Israel than in other countries where atrocities are happening, yet we sit quietly observing the situation that we created. Our government should take more authority in ensuring that Israel behaves responsibly by any means possible. It is the moral obligation of the British people and one that we are failing at. That is why I believe that anti Israel protest groups in the UK should target our government to take action rather than protest at the Israeli embassy.

Secondly, I belong to the 3 M generation, a generation inspired by human rights struggles, a generation that looks to the 3 M’s, Mahatma, Martin Luther King and perhaps most significantly Mandela for guidance. I was entering teenage hood around about the same time that South Africa was holding its first democratic elections. We were learning about the holocaust at school which had struck a chord within me. I was highly sensitive towards the conditions that the Jews had endured in Europe prior to the end of WW2 and right before my eyes on the TV was the unfolding of a fairy tale human rights victory against the apartheid regime, led by the charismatic Mandela. I was inspired by reconciliation and my political views began to take shape at this young age.

It is easy to draw comparisons between the struggle for independence in Palestine and apartheid. ANC members who battled apartheid do it constantly although the apartheid government never went as far to build an illegal wall to imprison the undesirables. Maybe I am waiting for another fairy tale in Israel. The dream is a one state solution where both Jews and Arabs live prosperously together sharing power and celebrating their theological similarities. More realistically I would happily settle for a two state solution with fair borders (not the current green line) and significant compensation for Palestine from Israel for the forced evictions from 1948 to current day, and crimes committed against Palestinians by settlers and the IDF in the occupied territories.

Finally maybe the author does have a valid point when he claims that “the world expects better from Jews”. Israel was arguably founded on the pretext of racism after a declaration by the anti Semite Arthur Balfour, who wanted to create a Jewish homeland to remove the Jews from England. East Africa, possibly Kenya or Uganda was earmarked as a potential place until Britain acquired Palestine after defeating the Ottoman Empire in World War 1. Balfour warned the cabinet that the Jewish people who had settled in England were not ‘to the advantage of the civilization of this country’. He went on to say that although the Jews in England behave like their compatriots and had assimilated they can never be considered English as ‘they are a people apart and not only hold a religion differing from the vast majority of their fellow countrymen but only intermarry amongst themselves’.

Jews also were the subject of tremendous hostility in France and Eastern Europe before Hitler murdered millions of them. So maybe Jews and non Jews alike can be forgiven for our concern that some of those who were treated so badly in our continent have become oppressors in another.

After all, do you have to be Jewish or Arabic to be able to take an interest in the situation? I would be very surprised if Jonathan Margolis hadn’t been against apartheid in South Africa purely on the basis that he isn’t black, Indian or mixed race.

About Sunny Sharma

Sunny Sharma
Sunny Sharma has a masters degree in International Health Management from Imperial College London. He works in business development and regulatory affairs at B-Lands Consulting.

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  1. There is no democracy in Israel as a state is illegitimate and illegal and not recognized
    Evidence of this if anyone wanted to write a comment in the Israeli websites
    Does not allow him or be there are many obstacles to prevent him from writing a comment The reasons for Arab-Israeli conflict is the occupation of Palestine in 1948.
    Palestine Arab Islamic state like the rest of the Arab and Islamic states surrounding
    Them. Means that there are Jews and Zionists in Palestine a big mistake, because this entity
    Zionist is not consistent with the surrounding area (such as language, customs, traditions and religion)
    The only solution to end the Arab-Israeli conflict is the expulsion of Jews from Palestine
    All of Palestine. The Jewish people will not rest and will not feel comfortable and stability
    But if it gets out of Palestine and the Middle East completely. If people continue to
    Jews in Palestine and the Middle East, the death and destruction will continue.
    Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain

  2. The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab-Muslim is in itself a strange
    Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world, anything that characteristics such as religion, customs
    Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
    In the Middle East also note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign objects inside the human body begins
    Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure even go out foreign objects.
    To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
    From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because he Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
    Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, but if
    Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

  3. In the name of God the Merciful
    The existence of the Zionist entity in the heart of the Arab and Muslim is itself a strange
    Because the Zionist entity is not shared with the Arab world of anything characteristics such as religion, customs
    Traditions and language. The existence of Israel within the Arab world is a big mistake, and constant tension
    In the Middle East, and we note since 1948. Such as the entry of foreign bodies within the human body begins
    Body fever, tension and fatigue and to ensure that until the UFOs.
    To all Arab and Islamic countries to form the Ministry of Defence and one common to all States and the expulsion of the Jews
    From the Middle East. This is the best choice for Arabs and Jews in that one because Bjrdasiraiil within the Arab world
    Will feel the Arab world would not be true of the world would not be true of the Jewish people will never feel the stability and comfort, unless
    Came out of Palestine, all Palestine greetings to all

  4. Editor

    Please note that comments may be “nested”.

    To reply to an individual comment, press the “reply” button below that comment. To make a general point (or introduce a new one) then scroll to the “reply” box at the foot of this page.

    I hope that makes sense to someone!

    Thanks for all the sensible comments received thus far.

  5. (continued)

    To answer your colonial point, your simplistic paradigm of colonial oppressor v native victim simply does not fit. To talk of ‘occupation’ without taking into account the Arab rejectionism of Israel – that caused the aggression that caused ‘the occupation’ in the first place – is futile .The colonial paradigm does not take into account the unique case of the Jews, an ancient people who survived against all odds in order to return to their ancestral homeland. Genetically, religiously, linguistically, the roots of the Jews are in the Middle East. To talk of the Jews as colonialists is propaganda – half Israel’s Jews never left the Middle East but were driven out of ‘Arab’ countries which the Arabs conquered 1,000 years after Jews first settled in the region.
    If Israel is a colonial invention, so is Lebanon, which was created by France to protect the rights of Maronite Christians; Iraq was created out of three Ottoman provinces, Jordan a convenient fiefdom for the Hashemies expelled from Saudi Arabia. Why do anti-Zionists question Israel’s legitimacy, yet do not question the Gulf states – a few tribes with their own UN seat and armies, whose countries were built by millions of disinfrenchanchised South Asians, treated little better than slaves.
    If you want to fight colonialism you should be fighting on behalf of indigenous Middle Eastern peoples for self-determination and political rights – the rights of Copts, Assyrians, Berbers, Kurds – and Jews. This includes the right to speak their own non-Arab languages and in most cases practise a religion other than Islam .
    If you were really concerned with human rights you would be fighting for minority rights, women’s rights, religious freedom, and freedom of expression in the ‘Arab world’.
    That’s what Margolis was trying to say – that so much criticism of Israel smacks of lack of context and double standards.

  6. Hello Sunny
    I would be happy to respond to some of your points. So much criticism of Israel arises out of misconceptions, misunderstandings and downright lies.

    The fact that Jews from Arab countries escaped with their lives while one third of European Jews validates the creation of Israel as a safe haven for Jews – and that is what Israel is. Just because things were worse in Europe does not mean that persecution was tolerable in the Middle East. Most of that persecution took place after 1948, but historically non-Muslims were always considered inferior to Muslims and suffered from humiliating and institutionalised discrimination. I don’t need to tell this to you, a Hindu.

    I would defend the right of anyone to criticise Israeli government policy – but so much of the criticism one hears is unfair. You can criticise Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, but take into account the context: Israel has had to bear eight years of indiscriminate rocket fire; Hamas has a genocidal charter seeking the death of every Jew; and Hamas cowers amongst civilians. By all means criticise Israel’s policy in the ‘occupied’ territories, but what would you do if suicide bombers were coming in to blow up your civilians on a daily basis? Bearing in mind this important context let’s hear some constructive criticism – WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE ISRAEL DO?

  7. Dear Sunny,

    I would like to ask you to consider why, of all the massacres and other terrible things that happen in the world, in Tibet, China, Africa, the former Soviet Union, South America etc etc, the world concentrates most of its attention on a tiny state that is hardly visible on a map of the region.

    I have family, living in Ashdod, where rockets have fallen, a couple of blocks from their apartment. What do you think any other government would do, faced with daily rocket attacks ?

    How do you make peace with people who have been brought up to hate you ? Are you aware of the virulent antisemitism taught throughout the middle east, and even available in Arab bookshops in London.

    In France there has been a huge wave of antisemitism recently by Moslems, and it is becoming more accerptable to voice it, even in this country.

    Did you know that during the 2nd World War, there was a specifically Moslem force in the SS, and that the Palestinian leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, spent much of the war in Germany, as a guest of Hitler.

    It is as a direct result of Israel WITHDRAWING from Gaza that they have the problem of rocket attacks, NOT because they are currently occupying it.

    You should remember that the Palestinians were kept locked into the Gaza Strip between 1948 and 1967 by Egypt, and even now the Egyptian border is kept closed, yet Israel is blamed for the hardships currently being endured.

    Did you know that the 1967 war was brought on, not by Israel, but by the Arabs, and that Israel sent Golda Meir on a secret mission to see King Hussain, to ask him to stay out of the war, but he refused, no doubt fearing assassination, like his father before him, if he sided with the Jews.

    Have you forgotten that Arafat was offered a very good deal by Clinton, but he turned it down. Why, because he knew that he too might be assassinated if he made peace.

    I have two suggestions for you, firstly try to see Brecht’s play Arturo Ui, or at least read it. It chronicles the rise of fascism, and ends with the chilling prophecy that it will return.
    THe second is to visit Israel, and see for yourselves the conditions, and the geography.

    It is approximately 10 -15 miles from the West Bank to the Med. To allow a Palestinian state there, until one is certain thatr they really want peace, would be suicidal, and I regret that the Israelis stiull remember the Holocaust, and have no wish to repeat it.

    Finally, may I draw your attention to the fact that not only the present president of Iran, but also his predecessor, Rafsanjani, have openly declared their intention to wipe Israel off the face of the map, with nuclear weapons.

    No other country has, in recent memory, been so threatened, and yet the world does nothing meaningful to condemn it, and the Iranian president is welcomed around the world.

    Can you blame Israel for wanting to rely on its own strength, and not on meaningless rhetoric from the UN etc ?

    • The specifically Muslim force in the SS was mostly Bosnian Muslims. Would Hitler have accepted any Arabs to fight? After all, Arabs are not Aryan whereas Bosnians are just about.

    • Sunny Sharma

      Dear John,
      Thank you for your comment and for providing some constructive balance to the article.
      To answer your first question, why does the world pay alot of attention on Israel. I can’t answer for the whole of the world. The Arab world must feel aggrieved and a sense of injustice as to what happened in Palestine. Some countries in the EU may feel more sympathetic to Palestine than others, for example Ireland, due to their own experiences of imperialism as with other former colonies and liberation struggles such as the ANC in South Africa. The aim of the article is to outline why I personally support Palestine.
      Your next question relates to operation Cast Lead and the rockets fired by Hamas. I agree that Israel had a duty towards its civilians to prevent them from attack from a militia group. I feel that the way that Israel approached the problem was deeply disturbing. The Israeli armed forces (the full time members) are supposedly some of the most well trained and sophisticated armies in the world. They were facing crude rockets (estimates are 3000 fired over 3 years with 4 fatalities). Israel had fired approximately 15,000 shells into Gaza over the same time period killing around 60 people who were predominately civilians. After this period there was a truce called and it is a gray area of who was responsible for breaking the truce.
      I believe that a sophisticated army should only be used once diplomacy has failed. Should the army be called for they should not behave in the manner of the IDF, to collectively punish the people of Gaza for the actions of a small number of militants. It’s difficult to give accurate figures of the amounts of civilian deaths during the devastation, B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, were denied entrance by the IDF. A fair figure would be around 1000, where a third of those were children. Gaza has plunged into a humanitarian crisis and I believe that the peace protest has been set back decades. After the horrors of the offensive in which suspicions of illegal white phosphorous being used in civilian areas seem highly credible, there will be many more Palestinians willing to take up arms against Israel.
      With regards to the anti-Semitism taught in parts of the Middle East and in some bookshops in London, and in Jewish graveyards in France, since when did two wrongs ever make a right? I ask you to put yourself in a Palestinians shoes. During the Nakba, half the population of Palestine had to flee their homes where they haven’t been allowed to return. Many were raped and murdered. Israel has been decent enough to apologise for the crimes committed during this period. How would your feelings be towards Israel, The USA and Britain should you have gone through similar experience? And the hatred towards the USA from within Palestine doesn’t extend to all citizens. For example, Rachel Corrie, the American peace activist who was murdered by the IDF is considered a martyr in Palestine.
      During WW2 I was unaware of the Muslim force in the SS although I’m not sure whether this is relevant. The majority of Nazi’s were Christians, are we going to forever seek revenge against Germans and Christians for crimes committed generations ago? The difference is that I do not believe the Palestinians should be seeking revenge against Israel but freedom and compensation.
      I am aware of the grand Mufti of Jerusalem and his crimes against Jews in the lead up to Nakba. He seems like a ruthless blood thirsty man but it’s also important to remember the context. Palestine had been promised to the Jews by the British long before Hitler came to power. There was already a civil war raging in Palestine between Jews (some existing but mainly new immigrants fleeing persecution in eastern Europe) and Arabs. The Grand Mufti was vehemently opposed to Zionism and seeked out allies who he perceived to be supporting his cause. You also have to remember that terrible crimes were being committed against Arabs by Jews during the Grand Mufti’s reign, but as the Grand Mufti had a status of power, obviously his are going to be remembered. It is unsure whether the Grand Mufti was aware of the Holocaust but I am of the opinion that he probably did, even if to a small extent.
      The blockade imposed on the people of Gaza for electing Hamas is too tight. I question the motives of the blockade, whether to force the people of Gaza to unelect Hamas or to punish them for their actions. It is suggested that the blockade is a crime against humanity by the UN and even the USA.
      “Israeli acts that deprive Palestinians in the Gaza Strip of their means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, that deny their freedom of movement and their right to leave and enter their own country, that limit their rights to access a court of law and an effective remedy, could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, has been committed” Richard Goldstone.
      The 1967 war is a stain on the history of Israel, that still is tarnishing its name today. I would like to quote Moshe Dayan, the Israeli defense minister at the time, who is talking about provoking the Arab states in the run up to ‘pre emptive’ strikes and land grabbing by Israel:
      “I know how at least 80 percent of the clashes there started. In my opinion, more than 80 percent, but let’s talk about 80 percent. It went this way: We would send a tractor to plough someplace where it wasn’t possible to do anything, in the demilitarized area, and knew in advance that the Syrians would start to shoot. If they didn’t shoot, we would tell the tractor to advance farther, until in the end the Syrians would get annoyed and shoot. And then we would use artillery and later the air force also, and that’s how it was. I made a mistake in allowing the Israel conquest of the Golan Heights. As defense minister I should have stopped it because the Syrians were not threatening us at the time”
      With regards to the Clinton deal I presume you are talking about Camp David. I agree that this is probably one of the best offers the Palestinians have had so far but still far from ideal. Israel should have to accept that the settlements built on occupied territory are illegal and this should be a precondition to peace talks. However is news reports are correct, Israel is planning to connect illegal settlements to the rest of Jerusalem in a new light railway system. It is clear that they have no intention of letting go.
      Thank you for the suggestion of Arturo Ui, I will search for it in the library. With regards to a trip to Israel, I would love to visit as I enjoy travel. However I have holiday plans to travel from Cairo to Istanbul via Syria and Jordan and am fairly sure I would be denied entry to Israel because of the passport stamps. I plan to visit the west bank as soon as I can though.

      The Iranian president Ahmedinejad is misquoted, he said that ‘the regime occupying Jerusalem must be wiped of the pages of history’, nothing about nuclear weapons. Need I remind you that there is only one country who has ever used atomic weapons of mass destruction of civilians, the United States. The Iranian president is far from welcomed around the world. His presence sparks mass walkouts whenever he speaks. Some of his criticisms of Israel are legitimate yet fall on deaf ears because of previous idiotic statements he has made. However should we fight idiots with idiocy?
      I would like to ask you a question. Do you believe that the Palestinians deserve their own state? Should east Jerusalem be part of that new state? What are your views on illegal settlements? Do you accept that significant crimes have been committed against the Palestinian people from 1919 to now? My point of view is that the Israelis and Palestinians have lost the ability to broker peace themselves. Both countries have strong nationalistic identities and there is too much baggage and pain that distorts decision making. Similarly the USA has too much domestic pressure to be able to effectively ensure that Israel behaves responsibly and doesn’t flaunt international law. When the people of Gaza elect a government which has an armed wing, Israel can pressurize the people to do otherwise.
      However who regulates Israel? Sure we can rule that the wall around the occupied territories is illegal and a crime of apartheid, sure we can say that further settlement growth is illegal and Israelis should be pulling out of the territories that have been occupied since 1967, not making further moves to annex them, but who can enforce this? If a country like Israel wants to be part of the globalised community and trade with the rest of the world, it needs to conform to global standards. In that way Israel will gain respect, protection and prosper.

    • I think the reason why the world gives it so much attention is because the media began to focus on it after 9/11. There were not many demonstrations in favour of the Palestinians before 2001. People see the West v Islamism conflict played out in miniature in Israel v Palestine.

      I think that most of what you write is true, but that does not give Israel an excuse to do some of the things it has done in the Occupied Territories, especially as regards their policy towards certain settlers in Palestine.

  8. I’ve never read a more ignorant piece about Israel. Colonial? The Jews are indigenous, not just to Palestine but to the entire region. The Arabs are the colonialists and the imperialists, who’ve ethncially cleansed their lands of their Jews. If you go to Israel, you won’t meet too many whites with American accents – most Israelis come from Arab and Muslim lands. There are black Ethiopian Jews too. Educate yourself!

    • 2.8 million Ashkenazi Jews – more than a third of the country’s population – live in Israel. Jews – however defined – and Arabs can both lay claim to indigenousness (and to being both perpetrators and victims of ethnic cleansing), which is one of the main reasons why this conflict is so intractable. The two-state solution mentioned by Sunny Sharma seems to me to be the least-worst option, distant at the moment though it appears. The British mishandling of disengagement from Palestine in 1948 remains alas the most shameful blot on the record of the Attlee Labour government, so that Mr Sharma’s response as a British-Indian seems to me far from surprising.


    • Sunny Sharma

      Dear Bataween,
      Thank you for reading my article,
      First of all please bare in mind that wherever i talk about Israel I am talking about the government and army, not the citizens. Also i accept that the comment about white Israelis was lazy, i meant that alot of Israelis have some sort of European Heritage but of course I accept that there are many Jewish Israelis from different races across Israel. I have met many Israelis on my travels around the world including Israelis of Iranian descent who still have family living in Iran.
      Thank you for the blog that you sent me. i have briefly read a few articles although most of them seem to be about Arab Jews emigrating to Israel post 1948. Obviously i am aware that Jews faced discrimination in the Middle East prior to 1948 but nowhere near on the same scale as the persecution they faced in Europe.
      In response to your last point, maybe you haven’t understood the point of the article. I am challenging Jonathan Margolis where he says that he feels uncomfortable with non Jews criticising Israel. I also am challenging the idea that student groups in the UK are anti Israel because of fashion that it is fashionable to be against Zionism. In Jonathans article he asks why Israel and not China, Sri Lanka or America. Although there are human rights groups in the UK who are concerned with Tibet and the Sri Lankan civil war, I am basically providing an argument that the Israel Arab conflict means more to us than wearing a black and white scarf.
      The colonial point was raised as Palestine was a British colony before the British decided to make part of it a Jewish homeland. Therefore we Britons should take some responsibility in ensuring that Israel doesn’t behave recklessly towards the occupied territories. I would imagine that should Jonathan and I ever meet we would have very similar views on Israel, are my points less valid because i am not Jewish?
      For example, operation Cast Lead was reckless. There was a massive disproportionate use of force. I accept that Israel should protect it’s civilians from rocket fire but the manner in which the IDF (supposedly one of the most sophisiticated armies in the world) tackled the problem was barbaric. The international community needs to be firm with Israel and force Israel to abide by international laws. If Israel wants to trade internationally it must abide by law, if not we should stop trading with them South Africa style.
      If you have some more specific criticisms as to why you think the article is ‘ignorant’ I will be happy to respond.

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