Some tough ques­tions here

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Mark Berg

LET’S GET the la­belling stuff on the ta­ble straight off. I’m a Jew, and I’m a Zion­ist. I care deeply about the state of Is­rael for two main rea­sons. Firstly, be­cause I care for the wel­fare of my fel­low Jews, and se­condly, be­cause if life grows un­com­fort­able for me as a Jew in the UK, I will have some­where safe to run to. I’m also a pas­sion­ate be­liever in a two-state so­lu­tion, be­cause there’s no deny­ing that the Pales­tinian Arabs have been dis­placed and left state­less by the cre­ation of the state of Is­rael (ir­re­spec­tive of the fact that they could have had their own state in 1947 when it was of­fered by the UN). I’m bit­terly dis­ap­pointed that, although Is­rael and the PA have come close on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, a deal has thus far eluded them, with a huge and grow­ing price in blood.

Like any right-minded person, I de­plore the death and de­struc­tion in Gaza I’ve wit­nessed on my TV screen. It up­sets me dou­bly to see such suf­fer­ing and to know that, what­ever the se­quence of events, my own brethren have in­flicted so much sor­row on the civil­ians of Gaza.

It’s un­der­stand­able then that pro­test­ers might take to the streets. As a demo­crat, I would de­fend their right to protest to my core (even though my anal­y­sis of the sit­u­a­tion dif­fers from theirs). Yet the tone of many of the protests (e.g equat­ing Is­raelis with the Nazis) leaves me pro­foundly dis­turbed. It seems to me that Is­rael’s ac­tions stir the pas­sions of peo­ple in a way that noth­ing else can and I want to un­der­stand why that is.

To the Pales­tinian pro­test­ers I say I hear your pain, let’s hope that out of this bloody mess an op­por­tu­nity arises for a durable peace be­tween our two peo­ples. To the Arab pro­test­ers I say I ad­mire your sol­i­dar­ity with your Pales­tinian Arab kin, but where have you been for the 150,000 Syr­i­ans who have died in the con­flict there, some mur­dered by poi­son gas? Where are you for the Chris­tian and Shi’ite vic­tims of Isis be­head­ings and cru­ci­fix­ions in Iraq?

To the Mus­lim pro­test­ers, I say I ad­mire your sol­i­dar­ity with your co-re­li­gion­ists, but where are you for the vic­tims of Boko Haram in Nige­ria, for the vic­tims of the Tal­iban in Afghanistan or for the vic­tims of the Pak­istani Tal­iban?

To the non-Pales­tinian, non-Arab, non-Mus­lim pro­test­ers, I ad­mire your hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism, but why does it not ex­tend with the same pas­sion to any of the Mus­lim vic­tims of war listed above, or

Please tell me your mo­ti­va­tion. I want to know

more widely to, for ex­am­ple, the peo­ple of Dar­fur or South Su­dan or to the vic­tims of the Shabab in So­ma­lia or of civil war in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic?

Please tell me. I des­per­ately want to know. Is it be­cause the TV cam­eras have been able to cover the Gaza con­flict blow by blow in a way, de­nied ac­cess, they could not else­where? Is it be­cause Is­rael has set it­self a higher moral stan­dard in its dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence by as­pir­ing to be a light to the na­tions? Is it be­cause Is­rael is an ad­vanced Western lib­eral democ­racy and must be held to a higher stan­dard as such?

Please tell me that it’s one of these rea­sons. I dearly want to hear it, be­cause if you can’t tell me that then I must de­press­ingly ar­rive at the con­clu­sion that your pas­sion, your zeal, your rage is mo­ti­vated not pri­mar­ily by your heart­felt con­cern for the Pales­tinian vic­tims of this con­flict – but by your deep-seated ha­tred of Jews that has found an out­let for its ex­pres­sion in the protests against Is­rael’s mil­i­tary cam­paign against Ha­mas in Gaza.

Please tell me I’m wrong, be­cause if I’m not, then you’ve proved be­yond doubt that my Zion­ism is well-founded for both the rea­sons I of­fered at the start of this ar­ti­cle. Ris­ing an­ti­semitism is a wide­spread con­cern in the UK, and in France, where the sit­u­a­tion is more acute, it is es­ti­mated that 5,000 French Jews will em­i­grate to Is­rael this year (one per cent of the Jewish pop­u­la­tion).

Surely an own goal for the anti-Zion­ists?

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