Thursday, 8 January 2009

Israel/Palestine - not a 'holy war'

. I like reading Irfan Ahmed's blog however, I have to disagree with his current stance on the Israel/Palestine question very vigorously. Yesterday, he posted actually taking pride in Iain Dale's characterisation of the Liberal Democrats as an 'anti-Israel' party; an issue which I took-up with Iain in his comments section and there is also another excellent reply by Mark Valladares on his blog.

Irfan is however intent on pressing his case; having already caused some uproar in his comments section by referring to the 'disgusting' behaviour by 'the Jews' he carries on;

"The war between Palestine and Israel is a holy war and people need to remember that otherwise a solution will never take place."

Irfan goes onto say;

"When the Jews were attacked by Hitler because of their religion and looks they fled to Palestine and now the Muslim and Jews of Palestine are fighting holy wars."

This is wrong on so many levels it is untrue; it rather shows a hook-line-and-sinker swallowing of Hamas propaganda. While it is true that the majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are Sunni Muslim there are also 2-3,000 Christians who live in the Strip. Are they not under attack too?? If you hop over to the West Bank the figure becomes around 8% of the population.

What is more; as we well know many Jews oppose the state policy of Israel vigorously. The existence of organisations like Peace Now blows a giant hole in the argument that this is a 'holy war' and speaks ill of blanket condemnations of 'the Jews'. Does Irfan really think that members of Peace Now consider the Israeli Defence Force to be 'freedom fighters'?? Other Jewish organisations exist to oppose Israel's policy and call for peace; Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is an American grassroots Jewish organisation lobbying for peace.

Simplistic statements simply will not do when considering such complicated realities. How does Irfan's schema explain the existence of the above which is undeniable?? The reality of the Israel
/Palestinian conflict is that it is a national conflict which the demagogues of Hamas want to make a religious issue but it simply isn't; if Palestinians had a viable state which Israel allowed to flourish by it's side then the rocketeers, the 'destroy Israel' crowd would have no place in Palestinian society. Strengthened and emboldened moderates would soon gain ground and Hamas would be forced to adapt or would be quickly marginalised.

Israel may well self-define itself as a 'Jewish' state but the notion that this means it acts on behalf of or even with the consent of all Jews is complete and utter nonsense and is totally disproved by the facts. Anger at the actions of the Israeli state in Gaza is understandable and too a large degree justified however we must not allow that to be misdirected into a simplistic 'holy' hostility or else we are dangerously close to bigotry.

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