Thursday, April 05, 2007

We need to talk about Israel

In a nuanced, balanced and well written piece, published in The Australian, by academic Lynne Segal, she details why there has to be dialogue on Israel without all the rancour, accusations of anti-semitism or vilification of those not speaking off the same page as the Jewish "establishment".

"What do you love about Israel?" our critics ask. It is a hostile question, designed to undermine the basis of our organisation, Independent Jewish Voices, launched in Britain in February.

Jews like to see themselves as a disputatious people; it's the nub of endlessly recycled Jewish jokes. Yet the laughter stops in the blink of an eyelid once discussion turns to Israel. IJV wants the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be addressed in terms of general principles of human rights and social justice, with agreements reached in accordance with international law. Our most passionate critics besmirch us with accusations of self-hatred, betrayal, anti-Semitism.

Jews generally have always prided themselves on traditions of commitment to principles of justice, equality and free speech. Yet, such principles are automatically shut out by some self-affirming Jews, observant or secular, never to be aired in the light of day, when heads turn to the starkest human rights violations visible throughout 40 years of Israel's illegal expansion into, rule over or enclosure of, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

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