September 22, 2009

Be careful what you wish for...

There was a flurry of letters on Palestine in The Guardian on the weekend. I wouldn't have noticed them but Tony Greenstein mentioned on his blog one that he had published on Saturday:
The reaction of Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to the United Nation’s Goldstone Inquiry (Israel rejects UN criticism over Gaza war, Guardian 17 September) speaks volumes. Using biblical metaphor, the report was apparently ‘conceived in sin and is the product of a union between propaganda and bias.’

The clear message from Israel’s very own propaganda chief is that despite being authored by a liberal Zionist and former South African judge, Richard Goldstone, the Inquiry’s findings are motivated by anti-Semitism. There was a time when such accusations might have had some political purchase but those days have long since gone.

The historic vote at the Trade Union Congress this week to support a boycott of Israeli goods tells its own story. No section of British society was as supportive of Zionism as that of British trade unionism which saw socialism being put into practice in Israel’s kibbutzim.

Mark Regev speaks about bias and he is correct. Just as those who condemned the pogroms against Europe’s Jews were biased against anti-Semitism, so those who were opposed to the one-sided war against the Palestinians of Gaza were biased. Bias in favour of justice is surely no offence?

Supporters of Israel seem to be in denial. For 6 months before the Gazan invasion they honed their media strategies and trained their internet warriors but no amount of hasbara can substitute for pictures of UN schools and ambulances being bombed with white phosphorous and dead children. A war crime is not diminished by a silver tongue.

The reality is that the Israeli army has refused to countenance any criticism or inquiry. They first barred reporters from seeing what was happening in Gaza, then they banned the UN Inquiry from entering Gaza, then they derided the reports of their own soldiers as to what had happened and ignored criticism of the activities of the military rabbis. Now they have turned their fire upon the messenger.

Those who learn nothing from the past are condemned to repeat its mistakes.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Greenstein
Words, that is whole sentences in italics show what the Guardian cut from the letter.

Anyway, there was a letter on Friday whose author wished for a "law-abiding Israel":

Richard Goldstone's report has reached its conclusions: both Israel and Hamas committed crimes contrary to international law. The conclusions are, however, fruitless. This report was rejected by Israeli and diaspora Jews even before it had been written. Israel must take on board the recommendations made to ensure that, if further conflicts arise, they will adhere to international law. British Jews should wish for a law-abiding Israel, and a restoration of the morality which we so proudly speak of.

Zak Golombeck

Well Nicholas Jacobs wasn't going to have another Jew or anyone else speak for him:
Since when can a report be regarded as "fruitless" (Letters, 18 October) simply because it is rejected by a party it finds guilty? And what gives Zak Golombeck the right to speak on behalf of "diaspora Jews"? This diaspora Jew calls not so much for a "law-abiding Israel" as for its dismantling as a Zionist state. As for "the morality which we so proudly speak of"– any Jew who can still speak like that is out of touch or a hypocrite.

Nicholas Jacobs


I couldn't help noticing that in some ways these two guys may not be as distant from each other as they think and since I have only just seen the letters I have only just written to The Guardian to say so:
Dear Sir

Zak Golombeck should be careful what he wishes for as his demand for a "law-abiding Israel" may be closer than he realises to Nicholas Jacobs's belief that the zionist entity, Israel, should be dismantled.

Israel's existence is predicated on colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and racist laws, not to mention relentless aggression. All of these things are illegal under international law so a "law-abiding Israel" would be no Israel at all.

Good riddance, I say.

Yours faithfully

Mark Elf
It's the height of bad manners to publish your own letter before the person/people it's addressed to have had a chance to read it but they don't usually publish letters that have come so long after the piece or pieces they are referring to have appeared so I don't feel too bad about it.

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