CHALLENGES AND CRITICAL SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL, THE ‘LIVING MIRACLE’
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 www.jfjfp.org
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