I usually write about life in general and our lives in particular in what we hope is with wry and even humorous anecdotes of the madness of normality. When the normal is now madness, a different approach is called for.
Below is what I think, feel, know and have experienced as a Jew and a former soldier who has seen war up close, who knows that violence is not a long term solution or an obvious conduit to peace in the Israel/ Palestine situation. Please excuse the odd historical comment, but this is not something that can be understood in just the present tense. Now is the result of what has happened in the past and will affect what happens in the future.
The depraved acts of Hamas on Oct 7th have their roots in extremist sub-human behaviour which reached its industrial zenith with the Nazis and their application of science, organisation and mass murder across Europe with a ruthless and evil efficiency described by Hannah Arendt as "The Banality of Evil". The Jihadists of today lack the cold organisation of the Nazi regime, but the aims are the same - the total annihilation of all Jews and the destruction of the State of Israel. Some of their Western Liberal sympathisers will settle for only half the equation with the destruction of the State of Israel; convinced that Israel or the Zionist entity, as they see it, is the cause of the failure to achieve peace in the region, and the creation of a bonhomie, side by side civilisation of Jew and Arab is only possible in a peaceful, ideally secular, state of Palestine. Good luck with that! In case of doubt, there is not one single Democratic Arab state (and those are few and far between - Hamas was elected in 2006 and there have been no elections in Gaza since) with a high degree of tolerance for Jews.
Hamas, ISIS and other Jihadists are evil - plain and simple; as were the Nazis. Like the Nazis, they were elected in sort of free elections but then immediately took away all Democratic rights from the people. Both the Germans and Palestinians celebrated the death and destruction that followed in numbers that were too large to be just a minority. The minorities were those brave enough to stand against them and to die for the cause. According to polls I have seen, Hamas would win an election tomorrow if it were to be held in Gaza, notwithstanding the fact that Hamas is a corrupt organisation that steals foreign aid money meant for its people and builds rockets rather than schools and factories, and consistently uses innocent Palestinian men, women and children as human shields. You reap what you sow when you elect evil. It only leaves those too young to vote and those who voted for another party clean of the contamination.
While all Palestinians are not members of Hamas, almost all members of Hamas are Palestinians. They are not “militants", a phrase normally used to describe left wing Trade Unionists. They are terrorists; cold blooded murderers. There is no moral equivalence between Israel being forced by circumstance into killing their people in response to this evil and Hamas knowingly and with joy setting about the indiscriminate murder of everyone that does not believe and follow their warped interpretation of Islam. Read their Charter. They have no interest in a two state solution, peace between Jews and Arabs and goodwill among all. They want only one thing - an Islamic Jihadist state not only in Israel but across the world, the destruction of Jews and Christians and all infidels that get in their way. They didn’t spare the lives of Arab Israelis or foreign nationals such as Filipinos in last Saturday’s massacre. They killed everyone they could. They are ISIS by another name. Golda Meir (brilliantly portrayed by Helen Mirren in an otherwise dreadful movie), the former Israeli Prime Minister, put it thus. "We can forgive the Arabs for killing our children. We cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill theirs. We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."
With such people, you cannot have any dialogue. They regard all non-war situations as an opportunity to prepare for the next one and as a sign of weakness from the opposition. This is not the Tories vs Labour or even Democrats vs Republicans, extreme as the latter have become. This is the challenge between open Democratic societies and closed violent ones.
The biggest lie in my opinion is that the lack of a two state solution is the cause of the unrest. It isn't. The Palestinians have, without exception, rejected every peace agreement and two state solution ever offered since the UN partition plan of 1948 which gave the Arabs mainly fertile land and the Jews the desert. Having lost every war before and since, they claim to have now accepted the pre-1967 borders and rejected the Oslo Accords. Hamas and its ilk have never accepted any of this, are not part of any peace process and remain transparently and, ironically, honestly (sic) committed to their aim of killing all Jews and destroying Israel. Evidence suggests we should take them at their word. They have consistently chosen victimhood and violence over a pragmatic solution. In stark contrast, almost all of the Jews living in Arab countries in 1948 were similarly forced to leave, expelled from their homes and all their property confiscated or stolen, but without the parallel of never ending victimhood and with the vast majority wanting to live in peace with their Arab neighbours.
It is hard to believe that antisemitism has reappeared within living memory of the Holocaust, but Jews in this country are increasingly feeling unsafe. It was ever thus. Pre-war WWII my father fought the British Fascists and the police that protected them in the Cable Street battles in East London. In the 1960s there were the Ridley Road battles with Fascists who continued to incite antisemitism only 15 years after the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Now we are faced with thousands of Palestinians and their supporters dancing in the streets celebrating the murderous atrocities of Hamas, and organisations such as Artists for Palestine signing an open letter that had a complete disregard for the plight of the Israelis who were brutally murdered or taken hostage. The hatred felt towards Jews has never gone away and we are still blamed for all the ills in the world.
Unfortunately in the face of the wrath of Guardian editorials talking about moral equivalence without recognising its absence; and in the face of this massive increase in antisemitism from whichever direction, we have no short term solution other than to fight evil irrespective of the cost to our lives while trying to limit the cost to theirs. Sadly in a world where the Athenian warning to the Melians is ever true (Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War. Melian debate) - that the strong will do what they have the power to do, and the weak will accept what they must, if Israel is not seen to be powerful it will be a signal to Iran and Hezbollah to try their luck.
Violence will not solve the problem, but it will temporarily prevent Hamas from attacking for a while. Long term, there has to be a negotiated peace. Israel has been able, after many wars, to negotiate peace agreements, albeit more cold than hot, with Egypt, Jordan and some of the other smaller ME states. The agreement with Saudi Arabia had been spoken of by both sides. This would not have suited Iran or its proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and its more complicated relationship with Hamas. The only solution we can offer is the one tried over Gaza when the Israelis unilaterally withdrew from there in 2005, but it may be worth trying across all of Palestine. As there is no one for Israel to negotiate with, Israel needs to be brave. Resurrect the Olso Accords; give the settlers a choice of living in the West Bank under Palestinian rule or within the new Israeli borders; then make a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state and build a road and railway line between the West Bank and Gaza. If they live in peace we can have open borders and trade. If they don't then it's the defence of one state against the aggression of the other without the issues of unlawful occupation or minority rights.
Sadly and maybe inevitably, it will be a failed state wallowing in its own anger, sense of victimhood, corruption, racism, and antisemitism. But maybe leopards will change their spots and the Palestinians will embrace a state that engenders freedom, democracy and mutual respect for all religions, races, genders and minorities. But then that state already exists. It's called Israel.
Authored by Lee Moor - Jewish True & Fair Party Member and Ex-Soldier
Responses to the Lee Moor blog:
Response from Lynda Renham - Party member, Jewish and Pro-Palestinian
We all condemn the Hamas October 7th attack, but Mr Moor’s portrayal of Israel’s response was as though Israel wore a halo around her head.
Not once did Mr Moor mention the people of Gaza and what they are suffering, but he justified their genocide, referring to Hamas with the statement, ‘You reap what you sow when you elect evil.’ Is he saying that if the Palestinians voted for Hamas, they deserve to starve to death? Does he not understand that depriving civilians of medical aid, food, water, and fuel, is a war crime?
Israel is not above reproach. The Israeli government have treated Palestinians badly for many years. Amnesty International’s web page reads, ‘Amnesty International has analysed Israel’s intent to create and maintain a system of oppression and domination over Palestinians and examined its key components: territorial fragmentation, segregation and control, dispossession of land and property, and denial of economic and social rights. It has concluded that this system amounts to apartheid.’ Hamas’s actions on October 7th were unjustifiable, but if one country oppresses another for long enough, tensions are bound to reach breaking point at some time.
In another quote in Mr Moor’s posting, he says, ‘The hatred felt towards Jews has never gone away, and we are still blamed for all the ills in the world.’ This is a falsehood. Not everyone hates Jews. What’s this Jewish persecution complex? The people protesting against the war in Gaza are not expressing hatred for Jews but showing human compassion for the suffering people of Gaza.
Response from John Tippler - Party Member
Lee Moor’s ‘personal perspective’ is seriously misleading. True, Hamas did commit a major atrocity against Israelis, but I’ll come back to that. First some background.
The Zionist movement grew out of the persecution of Jews, particularly in east Europe. It fixed its mind on taking the territory of Palestine, in which mainly Arabs had lived peaceably for some hundreds of years. It sought and got the co-operation of Britain to begin immigration there, Britain having conquered the country in WW1. The permission, with strict qualifications, was given in The Balfour Declaration, described by a committee of the UN General Assembly in 1947, as having disregarded the self-determination rights of the Arab population.
After WW2, Britain asked the UN General Assembly to make recommendations on the status of Palestine. The UN had no power to do more than make a proposal for consideration of the parties. It suggested sharing the country, 44% for the Arabs and 56% for the Zionists. The Jewish Agency accepted; unsurprisingly the Arabs, given their centuries-long tenure of the land and sensing the ultimate Zionist intention, did not.
The consequence was that the Zionist para military organisation, the Haganah, supported by two terror gangs, launched brutal assaults on the Palestinians. Amongst other things, a refugee area was shelled, the men of Deir Yassin village were massacred, bombs were thrown into crowds of Palestinians, and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their land and homes. Ben Gurion, who pre-WW2 had said that if the land was divided, a Zionist army would be formed to take the whole country, now told the army commanders: A “major offensive against the Arabs [would] greatly reduce the percentage of Arabs in the population of the new state.” Ben Gurion’s biographer quoted him as saying, the fewer Arabs in the new Jewish state ,”the better he would like it.” An attitude which explains much of Israel’s behaviour to this day.
As the conquest of the Arabs proceeded and increasing numbers of Zionists came in, the new state of Israel was declared. A final act of this phase was the utter destruction of nearly 400 Arab villages. Palestinian history has many elements - too much to record here in all the detail, but I believe the above summary is fair.
I have made several visits to Palestine/Israel and seen how mistreated the Palestinians have been over the past 75 years, through daily harassment, legal discrimination, and violence, including murderous violence, and continual seizure of their lands. And with the continuation of such experience for three quarters of a century, Palestinians have sometimes adopted violence themselves. (We might remember, that when Russia attempted the seizure of Ukraine, we did not condemn Ukraine for responding in kind. Palestinians did not have a sophisticated military, like Ukraine, to deter seizure of their country.)
The contributor Lee Moor’s IDF was originally formed from the Haganah and the two terror gangs. I knew a British woman whose son, an unarmed British photographer, was shot dead by the IDF when he was trying to rescue two Arab children who were hiding for fear of the IDF. It took his parents years to get the Israeli authorities to investigate. One of my trips to Palestine/Israel was with a British Jewish group, and it was moving to see how saddened the Jewish members of the group were by what they had seen of the treatment of the Arabs.
As for the distorted picture presented by Lee Moor: Yes, Hamas committed a major atrocity, but two things need to be said, first that the Hamas atrocity should be seen in the light of what has been done to the Palestinians over the years, which doesn’t make it less of an atrocity, but does alter the perspective regarding the balance of vile treatment. Second, it was Mr Netanyahu who encouraged Hamas to take power, hoping to divide the leadership of the Palestinians. I can’t help thinking when I see the huge number of Palestinian civilians and their children being killed in Gaza, that someone is still guided by those Ben Gurion sentiments.
What about antisemitism? We do not consider criticism of Russia as a criticism of Christianity in general. Equally, I do not consider legitimate criticism of Israel as criticism of world-wide Jews in general.
Response from Rabbi Jeremy Rosen - Party member
31.10.23 - Why Jews are Paranoid
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22
History is littered with catastrophes. And there are always two sides, faults, and all. Israel has been at war, outnumbered and outvoted since 1948 when it was recognized by the UN. Israel accepted partition. The Arab world did not and declared war. Although there have been peace treaties with several Arab countries since, no solution has been found to the Palestinian problem which still technically remains at a cease fire. Much of the Muslim world is endemically hostile to Israel regardless because it is a non-Muslim independent state within the Dar Al Islam. And the Marxist-Socialist States are hostile because Israel is supported by the USA. Israel is a convenient scapegoat for all their own ills.
Why are we paranoid? Since 1948 the United Nations has been so biased against Israel that it has spent more time condemning Israel than the rest of the world combined. As of 2013, the State of Israel had been condemned in 45 resolutions by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Syria? Russia? China? Turkey? The UN still cannot condemn Hamas for the rape, torture, and murder of civilians. Or the use of human shields, hiding missile launchers under hospitals in defiance of International Law. Anyone who has read the Hamas Charter will know that the Arabic text explicitly calls for the end of Israel and the death of the Jews.
Billions express the most anti-Jewish invective (and claim it is something else). Jews are assaulted all over the world simply because they are Jews. Islamic Jihadis to neo-Marxists who are fundamentally and morally in opposition join in an alliance against Israel. Israel is accused of being a white colonialist despite having a majority of non-white citizens; an interloper in the land despite a history of three thousand years. If it has a feminist, gay and lesbian population it is accused of only covering its other sins. And anyone who claims that Israel is guilty of genocide must ask why it is that the Arab population within Israel and on the West Bank have grown exponentially over the past twenty years if Israel is so determined either to kill them or throw them out.
Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza in 2005, removing 9000 Israeli citizens living in 25 settlements leaving agriculture and businesses that were simply destroyed instead of used to build a flourishing economy. And Egypt has a long border it refuses to open.
Whereas a million Jews living in Arab lands were driven out after 1948 but settled elsewhere, the Arab world refused to accommodate the Palestinians. The vast majority of Israel has always focused on building, being creative and offering peace to those who wish to live peacefully with them.
Israel is culturally and religiously divided, complex and far from perfect. But the near universal hatred can only reinforce the determination of Israelis and Jews not to capitulate because we know that when people like Hamas say they want to exterminate Jews they usually mean it.
Nothing will be gained by trying to turn the clocks back. The only solution is negotiating a peaceful future. Which requires compromise on both sides. But if one side is encouraged by the rest of the world to resist, it does not look hopeful.