The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment & Analysis -

You crit­i­cised my­self and par­lia­men­tary col­leagues ( JC, July 29) for speak­ing to Ha­mas on a visit to Gaza last week.

It is per­fectly true we met, in an un­of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity, the Prime Min­is­ter and other elected mem­bers of the Pales­tinian Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil, which in­cluded Ha­mas, dur­ing our visit. We also spoke to Fatah, NGOs, UNRWA, OCHA, busi­ness peo­ple, women’s groups, fam­i­lies of prisoners, and made vis­its to a hos­pi­tal, a wa­ter util­ity, a univer­sity and a refugee camp.

In 2005, I was a mem­ber of the North­ern Ire­land Grand Com­mit­tee and learned that ev­ery ar­gu­ment has two sides. And each side builds its own nar­ra­tive to jus­tify its ac­tions, how­ever ex­treme.

Dur­ing the three days we vis­ited Gaza, I am told the Is­raelis fired two rock­ets. I was also told that rock­ets fired into Is­rael are to­day not com­ing from Ha­mas but from ex­trem­ist groups who con­sider Ha­mas not rad­i­cal enough. If the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment is good enough to al­low me in, I want to go and hear the other side of the story. I ex­pect to find in Is­rael what I found in Gaza: a proud and en­ter­pris­ing peo­ple in a beau­ti­ful land whose wish is to live in peace and free­dom.

But to achieve this, I be­lieve that one side has to blink first. Sup­pose Is­rael were to lift the block­ade and al­low in ev­ery­thing ex­cept weapons and ex­plo­sives. Would this not dis- sipate much of the anger and frus­tra­tion, weaken the ex­trem­ists’ hold and win Is­rael much needed in­ter­na­tional sup­port ?

It would also take courage and fore­sight on the part of the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment. How­ever, both gov­ern­ments need to do what we did in North­ern Ire­land: think the un­think­able and talk to the en­emy. Lorely Burt Lib­eral Demo­crat Mem­ber of UK Par­lia­ment Lon­don SW1

You quote Carol Roberts ( Rich talk for Is­rael crit­ics, JC July 29) de­scrib­ing Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans as “vir­u­lently anti-Is­rael”.

We chal­lenge the poli­cies of the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment and are ded­i­cated to end­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion, to sup­port­ing peace, hu­man rights, jus­tice and com­pas­sion for all Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans, surely a re­flec­tion of Jewish eth­i­cal tra­di­tion.

Such mis­con­cep­tions arise as long as those with al­ter­na­tive views about the direc­tion in which Is­rael is trav­el­ling are de­monised and de­nied the op­por­tu­nity to de­bate and dis­cuss their views within Jewish venues.

We Jews pride our­selves in our tra­di­tion of gen­uine de­bate: the JC, for ex­am­ple, in­cludes al­ter­na­tive views on many is­sues. Rabbi Danny Rich should be con­grat­u­lated for his will­ing­ness to work with the grow­ing com­mu­nity of Jewish hu­man rights ac­tivists. Let’s not shut down dis­cus­sion on an is­sue which pro­vokes so much pas­sion., Diana Neslen Jews for Jus­tice for Pales­tini­ans

Mark Goldberg ( Let­ters, July 29) sees Mick Davis as at­tribut­ing the “ex­is­ten­tial dan­ger fac­ing Is­rael” to its “cur­rent poli­cies”.

Might I sug­gest that Is­rael’s great­est ex­is­ten­tial dan­ger in fact springs from her very ex­is­tence, which, in the minds of her en­e­mies and de­trac­tors, has no va­lid­ity? Ha­mas, Hizbol­lah and their ap­palling spon­sor, Iran, are chill­ingly clear about their stance on Is­rael; Fatah and Mah­moud Ab­bas con­tinue to be­tray their own peo­ple by stead­fastly re­fus­ing to act like lead­ers and ne­go­ti­ate for peace.

David Landy be­lieves we should “cel­e­brate” be­cause “Many peo­ple’s in­volve­ment in Jewish life has been deep­ened through their work in Is­rael-crit­i­cal Jewish groups”. Re­ally?

Is­rael is a liv­ing mir­a­cle and has time and again demon­strated re­straint to­wards mur­der­ers, thugs and fools. It is a source of im­mense pride and joy to Jews the world over.

May David Landy and his soul-mates re­dis­cover their true Jewish roots. Mike Fligg Leeds Lobby Group, Moor­town, Leeds

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