CALLING CONFLICT RELIGIOUS COULD CREATE HOLY WAR
In claiming that the Israeli-Palestinian “quarrel is (and always was) religious”, Geoffrey Alderman ( JC, Oct 23) is in dubious company. Article 15 of the Hamas charter similarly asserts that “the problem of Palestine is religious”. Just because Alderman and Hamas decree it, doesn’t make it so. But if we credit their positions, the self-fulfilling prophecy could indeed transform the conflict into a terrifying, irresolvable, holy war. Alderman risks contributing to this process by purposefully spotlighting the odious remarks of an Islamic scholar who allegedly holds that all Jews in Palestine are fair game: “even the women… even the children”. Fearmongers on the other side are fond of quoting the analogous 2008 declaration of a prominent settler rabbi who, alluding to the biblical commandment to wage war against Amalek, reportedly said “All of the Palestinians must be killed; men, women, infants, and even their beasts.”
Demonising an adversary through selectively quoting extremist theologians is a dangerous game. The root of the conflict, in a period of great turmoil, was that two desperate national movements simultaneously aspired to political sovereignty on the same piece of land. Everything else has been superimposed. It will be resolved, if at all, when both peoples properly recognise the national imperative of the other and grant it appropriate territorial expression.
Failing that, the quarrel may well become nastier and interminable and doubtless bring out the worse of everyone on both sides, as it has already started to do. Tony Klug London NW5