The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

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

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