I was thinking of injecting a little Robert Fisk into the ongoing conversation on Israel-Palestine - though after the recent hurling of comment grenades by Hallam’s Army, I use the word “conversation” loosely - and I would no doubt have to jettison it altogether were I to cite Fisk. So I’ll try a little Avi Shlaim, a Fellow of St. Antony’s College and Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. The following two excerpts come from his collection of essays Israel and Palestine (2009).
…. This brief review of Israel’s record as an occupying power over the past four decades, and especially of its conduct during the 22-day assault on Gaza, makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with ‘an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders’ [from an earlier citation of Sir John Troutbeck, writing in June 1948 to the British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, accusing the Americans of helping to create "a gangster state headed by 'an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders'"]. A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practices terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbors but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. In Gaza it went too far: it sowed the wind and it will surely reap the whirlwind.
(From the essay “Israel’s War Against Hamas: Rhetoric and Reality”, p. 317)
The majority of British Jews share the British tradition of civilised debate on all subjects, including that of Israel. There are differences of opinion among them, but the debate is mostly conducted responsibly. Moreover, it is widely accepted that criticism of Israel does not involve disloyalty to Jews in general or to the values of Judaism [my italics]. Independent Jewish Voices and Jews for Justice for Palestinians, for example, succeed in combining a critical position on Israel with a strong Jewish identity. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is another notable example of this fair-minded, liberal and pluralistic position. He knows better than most that among the most fundamental values of Judaism are truth and justice, and that Israel’s record in this respect leaves something to be desired. Sir Jonathan is also a great believer in inter-faith dialogue. One of the 16 books he has authored is called The Dignity of Difference: How to Avoid a Clash of Civilisations.
But on the other side of the Atlantic, public debate about Israel is much more fierce and partisan, leaving relatively little space for the dignity of difference. The passion with which many prominent Jews defend Israel betrays an atavistic attitude that is often blid to other points of view….
(From “Free Speech? Not for Critics of Israel”, pp. 369-70)