Joint Fast and Vigil with Scottish Islamic Foundation

Candlelit vigil for Gaza

On a very cold December evening in Glasgow over 70 people gathered to mark the 1st anniversary of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead – the 22 day assault on Gaza which resulted in the deaths of over 1400 Palestinians, thousand of injuries and the wholesale destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure. The candlelit vigil was jointly called by the Scottish Islamic Foundation and SJJP and supported by many other groups and individuals. The day coincided with the Muslim festival of Ashura when Sunni Muslims believe that Moses freed the Jews from Egypt and is marked by fasting from sunrise to sunset. Given the continuing oppression of Gazans through Israel’s blockade and Egyptian support, the symbolism (and indeed, irony) of the event was not lost on those present. In time honoured tradition, the Ashura fast was broken with the breaking of Samosas and Matzoh!

Speakers at the event included MSPs Sandra White and Pauline McNeil, both staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause alongside speakers from the Muslim community and support groups. Our own speaker rounded off the event and focused on the impact the war and blockade is having on children in Gaza – particularly relevant given the time of year when children are very much in our minds. This was a sombre and powerful event; and significant, perhaps not in terms of numbers, but both symbolically and practically. Joint initiatives like this involving Jews, Muslims and other sections of civil society demonstrate a number of things – that criticism of Israel is not anti-semitic as others would have us believe; that there is a joint will for peace and justice in the Middle East and that strong constructive relationships can be built here and now between our communities – a real building block for the future. We should actively pursue further opportunities to engage with the Muslim community and develop a real dialogue over how we can work towards a just peace. We can maybe sometimes underestimate the impact of our network and what our collective activity can achieve.

Fun at the expense of the JC

I don’t normally reproduce other people’s postings, but this appeared on the JustPeaceUK mailing list where most people won’t see it, and I couldn’t resist:

I am beginning to think those people are right who say the amount of antisemitism in Britain is exaggerated. I always used to suspect them of downplaying a serious issue, but lately I have been reading the Jewish Chronicle and seeing how hard pressed it is for news.

I could understand editor Stephen Pollard getting upset because some passing bloke on a bike shouted “dirty Jew” at him as he came out of shul, but whereas in my childhood years such incidents were not out of the ordinary,and might have been dealt with by shoving the bloke off his bike, Mr.Pollard thought it was news, and what’s more, required searching for an explanation. He figured the cyclist must have been reading some criticisms of Israel, (by Jewish writers), in the London Review of Books. There’s a deduction for you.

This week I see the JC headlined an “attack” on a Hapoel Tel Aviv supporter in Glasgow for the Celtic match. I was relieved to then read that police said a man was arrested for brandishing a weapon during a confrontation between two groups of men in a Glasgow pub, and said no one had been hurt. All the same, I am sure violence and threats are exceedingly rare in Glasgow pubs, and rival football fans normally embrace in friendship and sing each other’s songs,so perhaps this was an antisemitic incident, and may, as the JC seems to suggest, have had something to do with people waving Palestinian flags at the game. The JC quotes outraged Celtic fans, who of course have never waved flags at football matches before. Still, it is reassuring to know this was the nearest thing the JC could find to a serious incident.

Worse, perhaps, was the evidence the JC was able to report of antisemitism at a pro-Palestinian carol concert. I thought they must have heard a speech or interpreted the words of the alternative carols carefully, but no, it seems that another anonymous person in the street (did he arrive on a bike?), confronted by those charming people from the Zionist Federation outside, made some anti-Jewish remarks.

You may say that is an obvious news story, but it takes a keen ear and journalistic instinct or skills to spot things like that. I mean, how many times have you heard people coming out of a Zionist event or Israel property fair giving you their opinion on Palestinians and Arabs, and what should be done to them, or tell you that “you should have died in Auschwitz”? OK, you may have told your friends about it, but I bet you didn’t rush to write it up as a news story, let alone manage to get it on the JC front-page.

I once stood on a picket across the road from an Ilford shul where an obnoxious Israeli general was speaking for Jerusalem Day. An Asian woman in shalwar and khemis crossed the road, nothing to do with our demonstration, and one of the shul security people jeered “She must be one of your lot!”, as though this was the most insulting wit he could think of. I remarked about his ignorance, but it never occurred to me to write up the incident as showing what sort of people were at the shul event (though the general had spoken of Palestinians as “cockroaches”).

It takes aptitude, training, and knowing the policy of your paper. If some of us had been sent to get a story about the mayor attending a gay party we’d probably have come back to the Standard office saying we could not get his comments because he was pissed and insulted us and the paper. A skilled man got the insults on tape, and the story ran and ran.

The voice of Anglo-Jewry is almost as good. Not that Stephen Pollard is taken in by false allegations of antisemitism. When a Polish right-wing politician says there’s no need to apologise for a massacre of Jews because Jews did not apologise for Bolshevism, others tried to make something of this, but Stephen Pollard rejected the accusations, pointing out that Mr.Kaminski was not only leader of the Conservative group at Brussels, but a declared friend of Israel.

So short of shouting insults at Mr.Pollard as he goes past on a bike, he is certified kosher. All hail Stephen Pollard, he know’s what what and what’s not!

Open letter to Gordon Brown on the Goldstone report

The Times yesterday published, as a full-page advertisement, an open letter to the Prime Minister supporting the Goldstone Report and regretting “your Government’s failure to endorse the Report and its recommendations at the United Nations General Assembly”. It was signed by more than 500 British Jews – a lot of work went into gathering so many signatures in just a few days. Several SJJP signatories were among the letter’s supporters, and SJJP itself was a sponsor of the initiative. You can read the text of the letter and see the signatures on the JfJfP blog.

Scottish Parliament motion on Mohammed Othman

Mohammad Othman is a human rights activist and a volunteer with the grassroots “Stop the Wall Campaign”. On 22 September 2009, Mohammad arrived at the Allenby Bridge Crossing. He was returning home, to the West Bank, via Jordan, from his travels in Norway where he attended several speaking events and advocacy meetings. He was taken into administrative custody where he remains despite never having been charged and no specific allegations made against him. Note that he is a human rights activist who is not suspected of any violence. The current administrative detention order expires on December 22/23, but even if he is released then, he will have spent three months in detention without any due process – a clear message of intimidation to Palestinians contemplating non-violent activism against the occupation.

More information on the Free Mohammed Othman blog.

Update: press release from Dr. Bill Wilson, SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, 1st December 2009

Israel’s attempt to silence human rights activist condemned in Scottish Parliament

Dr Bill Wilson, an SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, today lodged a second motion condemning Israel’s detention of human rights activist, Mohammad Othman, who recently had his administrative detention extended by a military court.

Dr Wilson said: “It’s easy to despair at Israel’s continued abuse of human rights on multiple fronts, and its determined attempts to shut down even peaceful voices of dissent such as that of Mohammad Othman, who was locked up after returning from a campaigning trip to Norway and is effectively facing indefinite unlawful detention. However, despair will not solve the problem, and it’s not the response of the many brave people – Palestinian, Israeli and of other nationalities – using peaceful means to fight the human rights abuses of the oppressive Israeli regime.

“This sort of behaviour on Israel’s part – flouting international norms of due legal process and civil liberties, such as those outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – can only make peace in Israel and Palestine more remote.

“For the sake of all in the region, I urge Israel to respect human rights and international obligations and norms, and to release Mohammad Othman, or, if there is any credible evidence that he is guilty of any serious offence, to offer him a speedy and fair trial.”

Settlement News

An early-day motion proposed by Phyllis Starkey on settlement goods labelling will actually be discussed in Parliament on 2nd December:

That this House endorses the call by President Obama for a full and complete freeze on all Israeli settlement building in occupied territories, including natural growth; notes that all settlements including outposts are explicitly illegal under international law and exist in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions; further notes that they are a major obstacle to peace and a meaningful two state solution which includes a viable, independent sovereign Palestinian state; and welcomes the Government’s call for such a total freeze on settlement activity and urges the Government to do all in its power to bring this about.

Please ask your MP to attend the debate and vote the (the right way!) on this important issue. makes it easy to locate your MP and send a message to him or her.

In other news, the Israeli government has announced a settlement freeze. This sounds like a very positive development, but the devil will be in the details; for example, Peace Now observes that 800 foundations have been laid in anticipation of the announcement of a freeze like this, which applies only to new starts, not to building already underway. The Peace Now posting cautiously welcoming the freeze also promises to monitor its implementation; although Peace Now has been politically insignificant for many years, monitoring settlement development has been their one strong suit.


Uri Avnery, in his assessment, doesn’t think we need to wait for the results of monitoring.

It has no real content. Building “public structures” will go on (about 300 new ones were approved just this week). Building will be continued in housing projects whose foundations have already been laid (at least 3000 apartments in the West Bank). And, most importantly: there will be absolutely no limitation to Jewish building activity in East Jerusalem, where building continues frantically in half a dozen locations in the heart of the Arab part of the city. And, besides, the suspension will last only for 10 months. Then, Begin promised, construction will be resumed in full swing.

That would not have appeased the settlers, if they did not know what every Israeli knows: that it is all phony. Building will continue everywhere, with the officials cooperating on the quiet and the army closing its eyes. It will be claimed that building permits had already been issued, that the foundations had already been laid. (In many places extra foundations have indeed been laid, just in case.) That’s the way it was in the past, under the governments of Labor and Kadima, and that’s the way it will continue now. This week it became known that in the whole of the West Bank, just 14 (fourteen!) government inspectors are supervising all building activity.

Update 2:

The British government has responded to (and commented implicitly) on Israel’s announcement. In his response, the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, said:

Britain continues to call for a full settlement freeze in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, including so-called ‘natural growth’, in accordance with the responsibilities set for both sides in the 2003 Roadmap. Settlements are illegal.

What does Israel have against a Palestinian stadium?

If you want a single example of why occupation is wrong and counterproductive, even when not a single life or livelihood is threatened, read this story by Amira Hass of how the IDF is forcing the demolition of a football stadium near Ramallah, even though plans for it were approved nearly thirty years ago and have never been revoked. This is the same cat-and-mouse game played by the Civil Administration that has resulted in the loss of thousands of Palestinian homes during the Oslo process.

The Goldstone Report

In case you’re not up to speed on the Goldstone report, here’s a crash course (for viewers of US TV serials: “previously in The Goldstone Saga…”). I’ve tried to stick to the brief facts. Sorry, no links – I may add some later if I get time:

  1. In April, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) set up a fact-finding mission to investigate the Gaza conflict of last winter, appointing as its head Judge Richard Goldstone, prosecutor of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Goldstone renegotiated the mandate of the mission, regarding its initial formulation as being biased against Israel. Goldstone is a Zionist himself, a longstanding member of the board of the Hebrew University.
  2. The Israeli government refused to co-operate with the mission, on the grounds that the UNHRC is so biased that any report that it commissioned was bound to criticise Israel unfairly.
  3. The mission held public hearings in Gaza and Geneva during the summer. It made fields visits to Gaza and Amman, though it was not permitted by Israel to enter the West Bank.
  4. In September the fact-finding mission published its report (pdf, 575 pages). Its conclusions were severely critical of both the Israeli government and of Hamas, having found prima facie evidence of war crimes on both sides. The refusal of the Israeli government to co-operate hampered the commission in gathering evidence about possible Hamas war crimes; either for this reason, or because there was less to investigate, the section on Hamas is much shorter than the section on Israel. In its conclusions (which are wide-ranging, and include a call for the end of the Gaza blockade), the commission called on both sides to investigate possible war crimes committed during the conflict. It recommends that if after six months Israel has not proceeded with a “good faith” investigation, that the situation in Gaza should be referred to Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
  5. The Israeli government and its supporters mounted an intensive campaign to discredit the report, on various suppositional grounds: its biased mandate and unbalanced conclusions, the prejudices of its members, the lack of evidence from the Israeli government, the personal ambitions and failings of Judge Goldstone, and many others. (To show the thoroughness and success of this campaign, search in Google for “Goldstone report”; virtually every single item on the first page, apart from the report itself, will be hostile commentary).
  6. The US/Israel tactic for handling the report in the United Nations was to defer consideration for three months. At first this looked like succeeding because it was supported by the Palestinian Authority (governing the West Bank), but a storm of protest in Palestine and the wider Arab world forced Mahmoud Abbas to reverse his position. The report was accepted by the UNHRC on 15th October.

Backing by the UNHRC will give the report momentum within the United Nations, and (IMO) wider credibility in the absence of any serious refutation. The doctrine of universal jurisdiction means that senior IDF officers and some government ministers cannot now travel to many western countries, including Britain, for fear of arrest. But the report’s most weighty recommendation, referral to the International Criminal Court, will not be acted on – the US veto in the Security Council will see to that.

Amira Hass – “Lifetime Failure Award”

Amira Hass is a courageous and outspoken journalist who has lived in Gaza and the West Bank, and often writes highly perceptive pieces in Ha’aretz and elsewhere about the occupation. On Tuesday she accepted a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation. Her acceptance speech is a remarkable five minutes of video (transcript on the same page). Excerpt:

I am generally defined as a reporter on Palestinian issues. But, in fact, my reports are about the Israeli society and policies, about Domination and its intoxications. My sources are not secret documents and leaked out minutes which were taken at meetings of people with Power and in Power. My sources are the open ways by which the subjugated are being dispossessed of their equal rights as human beings.

There is still so much more to learn about Israel, about my society, and about Israeli decision makers who invent restrictions such as: Gazan students are not to study in a Palestinian university in the West Bank, some 70 km’s away from their home. Another ban: Children (above the age of 18) are not to visit their parents in Gaza, if the parents are well and healthy. If they were dying, Israeli order-abiding officials would have allowed the visit. If the children are younger than 18 – the visit would have been allowed. But, on the other hand, second degree relatives are not allowed to visit dying or healthy siblings in Gaza.

It is an intriguing philosophical question, not only journalistic.

Today she gave a longer interview on Democracy Now! (interview starts ~35mins in, transcript and audio download also).

Naomi Klein on boycott, divestment, and sanction

Via Julie at Modern Mitzvot, I learn of this article by Naomi Klein on boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS).

Here at SJJP we’re of mixed opinion as regards BDS, and many of our membership do support and participate in the BDS campaign against Israel. Others are uneasy about it, or oppose it. Klein’s article addresses major objections to the BDS campaign and provides counterarguments to each. It’s well worth a read, whatever your position on BDS.

There are opposing views of course. Including Martha Nussbaum’s article on boycotts. Never let it be said that we do not encourage wholehearted debate here at SJJP.

Having read Klein, I’m now off to ponder it.

Wolf prize money donated to Birzeit University

The algebraic geometer David Mumford, one of the three winners of the Wolf prize this year, is donating his share of the prize money to Birzeit University — a Palestinian university, and Gisha — an organisation that promotes Palestinian freedom of movement. From the Haaretz article:

“I decided to donate my share of the Wolf Prize to enable the academic community in occupied Palestine to survive and thrive,” Mumford told Haaretz. “I am very grateful for the prize, but I believe that Palestinian students should have an opportunity to go elsewhere to acquire an education. Students in the West Bank and Gaza today do not have an opportunity to do that.”


“The achievements I accomplished in mathematics were made possible thanks to my being able to move freely and exchange ideas with other scholars,” he said. “It would not have been possible without an international consensus on an exchange of ideas. Mathematics works best when people can move and get together. That’s its elixir of life. But the people of occupied Palestine don’t have an opportunity to do that. The school system is fighting for its life, and mobility is very limited.”

London Jewish Cultural Centre meeting “Two States for Two Peoples: Solution or Illusion?”

The London Jewish Cultural Centre is running a series of events on Israel at 60. Last night’s was on the theme “One State or Two?” I found it astonishing, not at all what you would expect – certainly not if you go along with the usual right-wing convention that one-state means “pro-Israel” and two-state means “anti-Israel” (for example, remember the recent fuss when the Oxford Union gave in to right-wing pressure to remove Norman Finkelstein from the two-state side of a debate because he’s “anti-Israel”? Really, we should refuse to accept these meaningless terms at all.)

The speakers here were Tony Klug, who started arguing for a Palestinian state thirty years ago (and of course was regarded as deeply anti-Israel for doing so then). He’s been a sharp critic of the occupation ever since, and is a founder member of Independent Jewish Voices. Speaking for one state was Daniel Gavron, a lifelong Zionist who has recently concluded that withdrawal from the Occupied Territories will never happen and that democracy can only be achieved within a unitary state. The meeting was chaired by Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian and of the Jewish Chronicle (when the Board of Deputies permits).

The room was full, with well over a hundred people. In their appearance and in their comments, the audience seemed not to be JfJfP types, but rather part of the mainstream North London Jewish community. Richard Kuper, who is prominent in JfJfP, told me that the last time he had tried to contribute to a discussion in that room, the chair had to intervene to prevent him from being shouted down, but the event last night was totally different in its tone. The background assumptions of all three speakers were the same: that the Israeli government, and often the Israeli people, have completely misunderstood their own situation in the world, and as a result are passing up on a unique opportunity for peace, one which won’t come again. Since all three also expressed affection (or more) for the idea of Israel, there was an air of complete puzzlement and sadness about how so many people could be making such a huge mistake. Of course, there’s no shortage of theories — some were offered here — for why that has happened, but what surprised me was the unanimity of the tone and the fact that these assumptions were shared by virtually everyone who spoke — probably a third of the audience.

The discussion between one and two states did have some of the usual elements, mainly the argument over the feasibility of the two solutions. Each side argues that the solution offered by the other can’t work, for well-rehearsed reasons: two states can’t work because of the settlements, one state can’t work because of the hostility between the people. It may be pessimistic to say this, but I find the arguments against each solution pretty convincing. (But in any case I don’t think it’s up to me to choose what solution other people choose for how they live). Usually, this part of the debate feels very tired because there’s no discussion about the actual-existing Israel – only an argument over whether it should continue or cease to exist. Last night, by contrast there was agreement that in any imaginable future Israel would have to change enormously to remove the injustices and inequalities that currently exist in the treatment ofa quarter of the non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish state.

Leaving, I could hardly feel cheerful about a debate in which each side had convincing arguments as to why the “solution” proposed by the other would not work. And as Tony Klug said, “We are now in the last chance saloon… the alternative is perpetual conflict”. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of hope that the situation is finally being understood in mainstream British Jewry. That is far from saying that opinion has changed unanimously, but there’s no question in my mind that a decisive change of mood is under way, in London at least. It may be a little while before it makes its way North to our parts.

“Something quite interesting taking place at the JC” – impossible, surely?

Richard Kuper (ex-chair of JfJfP and more recently its publications and policy officer) has posted to the Just Peace UK group a long list of surprisingly sympathetic pieces in the Jewish Chronicle, and ending with the proposition

Opinion within Britain’s Jewish community has shifted massively in recent years and the JC seems to be making an effort to catch up.

Mike Marqusee – If I Am Not For Myself

Today I went to Glasgow to hear Mike Marqusee speak about his new book If I am Not for Myself – Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew. You can read about the book on Mike’s blog, and details of the remainder of his short Scottish tour are here. In his talk, he described the starting-point for the book as his refusal to accept the label “self-hating”–a description of an anti-Zionist which can only make sense if you accept Zionism’s claim to be the sole representative of the Jewish people. To dispute that claim, he brought forward evidence from the prophets, from haskalah (Jewish enlightenment), and from the history of the Bund (the Jewish trade union federation of Eastern Europe and Russia). He emphasised that Zionism was not the inevitable path of European Jewry, but the product of accident and of mistakes (and also, I would add, of ruthless determination by Jews emulating the right-wing nationalists of Eastern Europe). Even though I came in more or less convinced of his arguments, I still found his talk informative and thought-provoking. (Incidentally, in case it worries you too, he gave a pretty good answer to my misgivings about adopting the label “anti-Zionist” in the twenty-first century).

I bought a copy of the book (well, my dad and I bought half a copy each :) ) and I’m looking forward no end to reading it. I strongly recommend that you catch one of Mike’s talks if you get the opportunity.

Action on Gaza blockade

Here’s some armchair activism for you, in protest of the Gaza blockade.

For everyone: sign a petition urging an end to the blockade and a free flow of supplies:

To the United Nations, the European Union, the Quartet, the Arab League & Israel: We demand that you end the blockade and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, ensure the free flow of supplies by land, sea or air, and help to broker the ceasefire which civilians on both sides desperately need.

For Scots: there is currently a motion before the Scottish Parliament condeming the fuel blockade:

S3M-1188 Bashir Ahmad (Glasgow) (SNP) : Gaza Strip Blackout– That the Parliament condemns the Israeli fuel blockade of the Gaza Strip; believes that both Israel and Palestine have a right to defend their citizens from aggression within international law; agrees with both UN and EU officials that the fuel blockade, which has led to the shutting down of the Gaza Strip’s power stations, equates to collective punishment; expresses grave concern that hospitals are being adversely affected which will undoubtedly result in the loss of further innocent life, and calls on the state of Israel to resume fuel supplies to Gaza immediately.

Find out if your MSP supports the motion by following the link, or write to your MSP asking them to support the motion.

US and Israel to boycott UN meet on Gaza blockade, while Gazans rush to Egypt

Border crossings into the Gaza Strip have been closed for a week, stopping shipments of all imports except “emergency supplies”, resulting in shortages of fuel, food, and medicines.

A section of the fence at the Rafah crossing was toppled early this morning, and some 200,000 Gazans crossed into Egypt to get supplies.

From the NYTimes article:

Aid officials had warned earlier this week that Gaza, gripped by fuel and electricity shortages, was two or three days from a health and food crisis.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants, announced Monday that it would have to suspend its food aid to 860,000 Gaza residents by Wednesday or Thursday if the crossings from Israel into Gaza were not reopened, because the group was running out of the nylon bags it uses to measure and distribute staples, like flour.

Fuel shortages in Gaza will quickly precipitate a health crisis, since electricity is relied upon for pumping water — power cuts mean disruption in clean water supply. At present, 40% of Gazans lack running water.

In the meantime, the US and Israel are expected to boycott a special meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on the Gaza blockade. I’m not sure how Israel expects to maintain any moral credibility when claiming it has no partner for a negotiation dialogue when they themselves cut off Palestinian supplies and then refuse to engage in a dialogue regarding the humanitarian situation that the blockade precipitates.

More on double standards

An op-ed by Gideon Levy in Ha’aretz raises the question of whether the Isreali government actually wants peace at all. One may or may not agree with his conclusion, but he highlights some important examples of the Isreali government’s double standards and convenient excuses regarding negotiation.

Terror, used as the ultimate excuse for Israeli refusal, only helps Olmert keep reciting, ad nauseum, “If they [the Palestinians] don’t change, don’t fight terror and don’t adhere to any of their obligations, then they will never extract themselves from their unending chaos.” As though the Palestinians haven’t taken measures against terrorism, as though Israel is the one to determine what their obligations are, as though Israel isn’t to blame for the unending chaos Palestinians suffer under the occupation.

Israel makes a point of setting prerequisites and believes it has an exclusive right to do so. But, time and time again, Israel avoids the most basic prerequisite for any just peace – an end to the occupation.


In London last week I went to a showing at the ICA of a new film, Forgiveness, made by the Israeli director Udi Aloni (son of Shulamit Aloni, for people who like making connections). Aloni was at the showing and discussed the film with the audience afterwards. “Forgiveness” is a tremendous film, about memory and the repression of memory. Its central setting is a mental hospital for Holocaust survivors that was built on the ruins of Deir Yassin, and which the film pictures as a place where two different kinds of ghosts can meet and reach reconciliation. There’s far more to it than that, of course—the website has a story outline and reviews, if you want to read about it—but really, you should just get out and see it.

SPSC on Atzmon, again

A follow-up to this post: Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign has written a highly critical article on Atzmon. (At the time I’m writing, the SPSC server isn’t working, but you can get a flavour from an extract here). I can’t resist ungraciously pointing out that Mick doesn’t actually mention anywhere that the SPSC recently gave Atzmon a platform, but the main thing is that in this piece he recognises the danger that Atzmon and his allies represent both to Jews and to the Palestinian solidarity movement by bringing genuine anti-Semitism into the campaign. That’s a very welcome statement.

Thoughts on the demands made to Hamas

The Palestinian government is constantly being told that it must renounce violence and recognise the state of Israel.

Here’s the thing: Hamas has no incentive to renounce violence as long as Israelis aren’t being told to do the same.

And what does it mean to recognise the state of Israel? It doesn’t mean “acknowledge Israel” because no one is denying Israel exists. What the “hawks” keep claiming is that Hamas/Palestinians/Arabs/insert-term-of-choice-here want to “chase Jews into the sea” and “wipe Israel off the map”.

So “recognise Israel probably means something like “accept that Israelis are here to stay, and that Israel isn’t going to disappear”. In which case, why is no one demanding that the Israeli government “recognise” Palestine? Where are the demands for the Israeli government to accept that Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the places they live in or grew up in, and have a right of return? Where are the demands for the Israeli occupation forces withdraw from the occupied (not “disputed”) territories?

It’s deeply foolish and, dare I say it, naive to place demands on the Palestinian government and expect them to comply, when no parallel demands are being made to the Israeli government.