March 05, 2005

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner

Ok, I know my promise is now in tatters. Here's more on Ken by way of letters to the Guardian. Sadly, and typically, the Guardian gives the first and last word to the Zionists with Professor Shalom Lappin accusing Ken of "posing as a defender of the Palestinians and a champion of international justice" and the Jewish Chronicle's. Professor Geoffrey Alderman invoking "the systematic ethnic cleansing. of Jews from Arab lands" without offering any descriptions or evidence of course. There's also a letter from the Herut-Likud UK saying that if you "cut Israel, Jews everywhere bleed a little. Even here in London." And one from Israel suggesting that the opposition of Likud members to Sharon's policies amounts to unity with Ken.

So much for the cons; here are the pros:
Ken Livingstone's was a brilliant and honest piece. As a Jew in my 50s, I have been disgusted at the way in which the spectre of anti-semitism have been used as a shield against any criticism of Israel's repugnant and racist policies towards the Palestinians over 60 years. He eloquently reminds us there are still some universal values and that the lessons of the Holocaust apply equally to Israel. I feel proud to be a Londoner having a mayor like Livingstone.
Martin White
London

As a member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Just Peace UK, I applaud Ken Livingstone for speaking out about the creeping ethnic cleansing in the Palestinian territories. Israel is not driving the Palestinians out in an obvious way as in 1948, but is making life unbearable for them by means of house demolitions, uprooting of trees and confiscation of land for the constant expansion of settlements and the wall.

The hype over the "peace process" is an illusion to mask Israel's unilateral forcing of the Palestinians into a so-called interim state, which Sharon really intends to be permanent ghettoes or reservations, linked by tunnels which Israel can close off at will. This massive injustice is, as Livingstone points out, a threat to world peace because of the anger and violence it creates.
Deborah Maccoby (she gets around)
London

Many members of the Jewish community would be outraged at the patronising suggestion that criticism of Israel is necessarily taken by them as anti-Jewish. Many Jewish people strive to distance themselves from the brutal acts of Sharon and his government against the Palestinian people. The view that the Israeli government and its followers endeavour to use the religious card to repel criticism is widely held, not least by members of the Jewish community, many of whom have been some of the most articulate critics of Israeli policy.
Jamal Sheri
London

Ken's offhand offensive comment has been cynically manipulated by supporters of Israel desperate to link those opposing Israel's self-destructive policies to racism. Having several weeks ago visited villages now separated from the land that is their livelihood by the West Bank barrier, one can only conclude that one of its aims is to drive people away into the ever-growing Palestinian diaspora. Only this week, I had defenders of Sharon compare me to Auschwitz experimenter Josef Mengele while I was addressing a public meeting. The continuing row merely serves to emphasise the depths to which some in the pro-Israel lobby will sink to apply all blame for the current situation towards anyone but successive Israeli governments.
Ben Soffa
Member, Jewish Students for Justice for Palestinians

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