Thank you to David Chandler for reinforcing my point that we need to hear both sides of the argument when discussing the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. That is precisely the point I made in my letter when raising concern that those attending the Marlborough College Summer School might only be hearing the Israeli side.
But I do wonder when David was last in Israel and heard the witness statements of people – both Israelis and Palestinians – who are working for peace and reconciliation. For example the Parent’s Circle made up of Israelis and Palestinians who have lost children in the conflict and come together in their grief determined to bring about change in attitudes and behaviour on both sides.
Or, as reported to us by a British Lawyer Gerard Horton working for Military Court Watch (whose trustees include two prominent Jewish QCs), the human rights breaches committed by the Israeli military against Palestinian children as young as 12, who are arrested from their beds in the middle of the night by armed soldiers.
David describes Israel as ‘an open society’. Tell that to Amnesty International and the 20 NGOs – including War on Want and a US Nobel Peace Prize winning Quaker group - whose representatives (as reported in the media today – January 8) are being banned from Israel. And tell it to the 40,000 African migrants that Benjamin Netanyahu says he is deporting – contrary to the 1951 UN Convention on refugees and others seeking asylum, which Israel signed. This action is being widely criticised not least by the UN High Commission for Refugees.
I have been made aware of an Anglican Church group that have been involved in taking Pilgrims to Israel and Palestine for many years. They are formulating a motion for their diocese and have drafted the following so far:
“This diocesan synod:-
- recognises the right of the State of Israel to exist in safety and security with equality for all its citizens both now and in the future.
- Acknowledges the on-going suffering of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation, noting that the UK and International Governments have failed to uphold the rights of all people living in the Holy Land.
- Acknowledges that the occupation policies of the Israeli Government are in contravention of international law and present a significant obstacle to peace specifically the building of settlements…illegal under the Geneva convention.
Finally, I would dearly love to know the significance of the fact that of 97 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 563 on the treatment of Palestinian children, illegal in international law, only 5 were Conservative MPs. Perhaps David Chandler could enlighten me.