Not all Jews are Zionists

Week 8 of Term 1 and due to the hard work of the Friends of Palestine Society and Warwick Amnesty, Palestine Week kicked off. The events covered anti-Israel boycotts but more poignantly reminded us that Palestine is an area of the world that, disregarding political opinion, is simply in a humanitarian crisis. Whether you are a Jew, Christian, Muslim or Atheist, the provision of aid to Palestine should be viewed in the same light as sending clothes to Africa or building schools in Central America. Whether you choose to take a political interest is up to you, but it should not cloud your moral judgement.

If we do decide to look at the situation in Palestine a little more closely, then several points immediately jump into view. Firstly, it is difficult to justify the creation of a country at the expense of another. It is even harder to justify the forced relocation of an entire people from their home to a life of living off scraps in refugee camps. Additionally, the state of Israel has not left the Palestinian people to exist alone even in this primitive state, for they implement strict control of the water supply and more relevant to the aim of Palestine week, they have blockaded Gaza, refusing to allow humanitarian aid to also avoid the influx of weaponry. The Goldstone report has labelled the acts committed by Israel in the Gaza conflict at the beginning of this year as war crimes, yet surely the Israeli government’s refusal to allow the inhabitants of Gaza to rebuild their lives and infrastructure is an equally potent offence.

This is the current situation; let us cast our minds back to the post-WW2 world. The Jews were landless victims of one of the most vicious attempts at ethnic cleansing the world has ever known. The Zionist movement campaigned for the creation of a Jewish state, as a homeland for the Holocaust survivors. With decolonisation becoming an emerging trend for the outgoing world powers of France and Britain, there was previously unavailable land left unprotected. In the case of Palestine, it has never in its history been an independent nation. In the ancient world it was part of various empires. It was also ruled by the Ottoman Empire either side of a brief period of Egyptian rule. In 1917, the Balfour declaration decreed that Palestine would become a Jewish homeland after its capture from the Turks at the end of World War I and in 1948 Israel was born.

{{ quote The fact that someone is Jewish does not necessarily mean that they are a Zionist and in favour of Israel’s actions. }}

It would seem fair to ask whether the Palestinian people have ever known freedom. We can argue whether the British had the right to bequeath a land to a people, yet we know that when one power conquered a new land, it assimilated the people; it did not forcibly move them from their homes into a tiny strip of land.

With regard to the events of Palestine week, there was one of particular interest, a talk by a Glyn Secker, representative of Jews for Justice for Palestine, who has signed his name on a recent letter to Gordon Brown concerning the Goldstone report. A point of interest was that he was arguing in favour of Palestine, regardless of his religion and this is something that many Jews must have been crying out for.

The fact that someone is Jewish does not necessarily mean that they are a Zionist. Therefore that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily in favour of Israel’s actions. This works both ways, for the media frequently labels anti-Israeli sentiment as anti-Semitic. What the media has failed to grasp is that not all Jews are in favour of Israel, thus to criticise a nation that has openly committed war crimes and yet uses its past suffering as a guilt trip is not necessarily a slight on every Jew.

Of course, ignorance cannot entirely be blamed; for example here at Warwick there is not a Jewish society but a Jewish-Israeli society, a fatal flaw by the creators. During the Gaza conflict this society experienced open opposition, and for those Jews who were members purely to retain a Jewish connection whilst on campus, this must have been a source of extreme frustration.

Mr Secker proposed the notion of a single, secular state in which both peoples could live side by side. This came under fire in the question period and yet if anything, Mr Secker’s attitude has demonstrated that it could work. Indeed you could go so far as to suggest that the constant conflict is maintained by a few radicals on either side. However, this is speculation and no one can claim to know the opinion of every Israeli and Palestinian person. Therefore whilst a solution may not yet be in the offing, at least we can ask people to wage their wars of opinion against the right people.

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