48 comments on ““Inevitable contact”? – and matters of conscience

  1. That’s a very good and very fair post Jeremy. Thanks for sharing it.

    (Just one very small quibble – I’m not convinced that Israeli intransigence is caused by the political system since all the parties from Labour to Likud and all points in between and beyond seem committed to not making peace)

    Good luck with dealing with the thousands of comments you will get in responde to your post by the way🙂

    • Look at the middle east – open your eyes and then open the history books and then make your opinion based on fact.

      • My opinion is based on fact, Corinna. Very much so. The fact of the continued illegal settlement building for a start. I don’t doubt that a large proportion of Israeli people want peace, but no Israeli government in my lifetime seems to want it at all.

      • Hi Corinna,

        I entirely agree with you that looking at the history of the Middle East should be studied and understood, and this I have tried to do, in my own way. as you will have seen from my comments, I am fully aware of the role that my country, Britain, played in the events that have shaped the world there.

        But of course the real issue is not just the facts of history but the potential for the future. How does everyone in that part of the world get to feel more secure, peaceful and happy than they do at the moment? I fear much better minds than mine have tired (and failed so far) to get an answer to those questions!

        Jeremy

    • Hello Andy,

      thanks for replying to/commenting on the post. I am so sorry it has taken me a long time to acknowledge your comments! But almost the moment I got back from Israel I headed out to Vietnam – and now Indonesia. It’s been mental (in a good way!)

      I am glad you think it was fair (the post). I DID enjoy my time in Israel, but gosh, what a lio (tangled web) they have got themselves into in that part of the world. How to change it all! That’s the question!

      Jeremy

      • Thanks Jeremy. By the way I think it’s absolutely amazing and incredibly thoughtful of you to do what you do which is to respond to everybody who comments on your blog. I’m always in awe of that.

  2. Jeremy,

    Thanks for the post.

    I’m glad that after a little reflection you saw how hypocritical and bigoted it is for people to refuse to enter a country because of the government’s actions.

    There’s no doubt whatsoever on the moral bankruptcy of the Israel government and we should do everything we can to stop their madness, but while we’re at it, try naming a government that isn’t morally bankrupt and then let’s see how many countries we should also do a pointless academic boycott on. If we’re going for the big hitters, none of us would be setting foot again in the US, UK, France for sure.

    We always (rightfully) talk about the plight of the people living in Palestine, but to my mind so many people are indoctrinated into a cynical culture of tribalism and mis-education in Israel that to a lesser degree, I consider many people there to also be victims. Thank goodness I wasn’t subjected to such skull-f***ing from birth.

    • Hi David,

      sorry it took a long time to reply, but thanks for your comments.

      Somehow, somewhere, people have to open up to new possibilities, even scary ones. On both sides, I reckon!

      Jeremy

  3. Hi Jeremy,

    Beautiful description of your time spent and definitely things to contemplate when we visit places that challenge our comfort zones and inspire reflection and deep thoughts. I added that beautiful song to my playlist. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

    Shelly

    • Thanks Shelley,

      sorry it’s taken me time to get back to you.

      But yes, getting out of the comfort zone is the best (only?) way to live.

      Enjoy the adagietto, one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written!

      Jeremy

  4. Well done for writing this, Jeremy. You raise a political issue which many of us have had to deal with in our work.

    I’ve spent so much time thinking about this, and I still don’t know what the correct response should be. Yet in seminars on intercultural training I invariably finish by saying that ELT teachers may be able to do more than politicians, diplomats and soldiers. I hope it’s not wishful thinking to say that education and culture, in their broadest sense, have the potential to overcome physical barriers. I think your visit and this post carries the same message.

    Simon

    • Hi Simon,

      sorry for the delay in replying. Too much airporting (but the chance to be in two absolutely wonderful places (well 3 if you count Da Nang!)

      I sort of share your hope for the ‘better’ parts of what we do. The more people talk and share the better it gets, and ELT ‘travellers’ have the power to unite, sometimes, all sorts of people and thoughts.

      Of course that may all be ‘pie in the sky’, but we have to hold to our dreams somehow!

      Jeremy

  5. Interesting reflection on your Israeli trip. I feel boycotts have their uses after all states use them often! For instance such campaigns raise the issues. I remember some years ago I did some transcription work for a tv programme and during those few hours discovered that the programme was going to be aired on Israeli TV. I baulked somewhat and knew vaguely that the Israeli government were ‘bad’ but I had not at that time learnt of how ‘bad’ they really are. So I took the transcription money with only a slight feeling of guilt. Now many years later and having knowledge of the Israeli gov actions and goals I feel that I would not take such a job.

    • Hi,

      yes, well it’s always a difficult call, isn’t it, the issue of whether to get involved in places where you have strong views about what is going on. I guess I explained my point in the post above – and I was comforted by the outreach that the British Council tries to have in the region.

      Plus, of course, we were doing a show for people, not governments!

      Jeremy

      • Of course the other side of a full boycott of Israel is that you would also be effectively boycotting Palestine (or the West Bank anyway), since you can’t actually travel to the latter without passing through the former (or in the case of the bridge near Jericho, without passing through an area which the former controls)

  6. I liked reading your candid account, Jeremy and am glad you managed to meet a wide variety of people with such a plethora of opinions in just three days! I agree with David Crystal that it would be hypocritical to refuse to enter a country because of the government’s actions even though I remember in the 1990s I, like many others, “boycotted” France over their nuclear tests in Polynesia. Ah, the fallacy of youth!

    And for those who haven’t seen Jeremy and Steve’s shows, it was fabulous – full of magical moments, emotion and an odd tear (well, mine) towards the end. Both performances were amazing but, unlike Jeremy, I think the second one (in Tel Aviv) was received the way it deserved to be.

    LEO

    • Hi Leo,

      I am SO sorry that I didn’t reply before, but you will have seen from my comments above (and you knew anyway) that I’ve been zooming around Asia. Incredibly enjoyable, but it’s difficult to ‘keep up!’

      You know that i had a great time with all of you from the British Council. And I learned stuff. That’s not bad going for a short trip!

      Jeremy

  7. I attended the Tel-Aviv show. It was wonderful! I’m so happy that you gave both teachers and Jewish/Arab students the opportunity to experience the beautiful and inspiring content of your show. It DOES make a positive difference. Cultural boycotting only makes things worse. Thank you!

    • Hi Mich,

      thanks for your comments. I am so happy you enjoyed the show. As you must have seen we love doing it!

      We all need to believe we are making a difference in the end, don’t we!!

      Jeremy

  8. The British press posts one-sided articles. The most of them anti Israeli. So I am not surprised what people write here, It hurts that people are exposed to one sided reality which is often staged.

    • “A girl”,

      I wonder if you’ve ever done a study on the British press. Have you ever done this kind of media research? In fact, have you ever read a decent research paper or report that gives us the kind of information you’ve just asserted.

      For me, the fact that people don’t really know what they’re talking about most of the time, is the biggest problem. All too often, we don’t check our bias. We don’t bother to even check our facts. That’s what hurts us.

      Oh, and by the way… ever asked yourself why we have these ‘categories’ of human being… for example, Jew, Christian, Arab, Australian etc etc…?

      The fact that most people don’t understand human biology and what we know about our minds and how, in fact, such labels are more or less socially constructed and *not all essential* is ultimately, in my scattered opinion, what we have to come to terms with if we want to understand *any* kinds of conflict and solve them.

      Biologically, there is no such thing as a Jew or an Arab, but so many people are under the impression that there is and so at some level we have to separate people in some essential way.

      People really need to read more about this stuff.

      If anybody wants to continue discussing this subject, please don’t respond here (I don’t want to clog up an ELT blog with this stuff), please drop me a line🙂

      causticmystic@gmail.com

      Thanks

  9. A pretty fair balanced piece. Only after you visit Israel and get a better understanding of both sides can you truly see how complex it is and how (the majority) of both peoples yearn for peace

  10. Hi Heremy, so I hear from Steve that you’ve done some Dickens events. Great. And I really feel we should do something together. In the meantime, I felt I need to do my bit for Dickens and have created http://www.dickens2012.eu which I am afraid not enough teachers know about, so feel free to spread the word. Miss you (?hmm), miss working with you definitely, winek said you’ll be in Poland at some point, gosh, forgot am in Edinburgh, enjoyed reading your Israeli blog. Have a feeling will see Steve before I see you.

  11. Hi all
    I am sorry to say – you are all very nice and politically correct but seriously you dont comprehend the issues or who the people of this region are.
    Dont you ever question how come muslims are slaughtering muslims and there is nothing said about this? Does a Muslim life mean so little to you? And then you think that Israel has with whom to talk with?? What do you think ENgland would do in such a situation – no way on earth would England dream of doing what you believe Israel should do. If you want to see peace in this area which I doubt will ever happen – then at least give the situation the due respect of understanding the real issues of why there is so much hatred and by whom.

  12. Dear Corinna,

    I think I understand the situation very well, as it happens. I am, of course, aware of Arab conflict (see the comments from the Arab/Israeli taxi driver in my post). I think you have a point about the difficulty of finding someone to negotiate with. That’s a real problem.

    Politically correct? I don’t think so. But what I DO think is that nothing, but nothing justifies the treatment meted out to Palestinians in the Occupied territories, the murderous OVER reaction of the Israeli army, or the constant settlement land grabs.

    (And before you say anything, nothing, but NOTHING justifies lobbing rockets into populated areas either)

    I am better informed than I was before I went to Israel, but I don’t think you can go on saying that we don’t know the history or the situation. That doesn’t wash!

    As for peace, a just peace? I very much hope so.

    Jeremy

    • Dear Jeremy
      I know the Palestinians suffer and it breaks my heart that they do and that our young soldiers have to sometimes behave in ways which is overly tough. The question though is why is it happening? Its not as simplistic as your argument suggests. Israel reacts to aggression and not the other way around. Would there be a wall if there hadn’t of been unbearable terrorist attacks – would Palestinians have to go thru humiliating searches had they had only wanted to go to work. I personally believe that the Palestinian people are being used and abused by people who do not want to see a peace with Israel and are using them to fuel the fire. I believe this because Palestinians are treated extremely cruelly by their so called Arab brothers – look at the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria – they are kept in squaller and denied rights to decent jobs – why is that? I think that if the truth is really told about the conflict and not the same nonsense that goes round and around fueling the fire then perhaps peace could have a chance but whilst the West refuses to deal with the real issues then its pointless. Israel is living in a constant state of war – we are a tiny country surrounded by countries that want to destroy us – if we show weakness it will be a military mistake don’t you agree? What would England do in the same situation? What would any country do in our situation? I think we are trying our best to do the right thing – we may seem the bully but if you look at the bigger picture it is Israel that is being bullied.

      Shalom
      Corinna

      • soldiers “have to” behave in a way which is “overly tough”? You need to spend some time in the West Bank Corinna and see what they do. They are indiscriminately brutalising normal people trying to go about their daily lives. Not all of them obviously. But tell a bunch of 18 year old children that Palestinians are all dogs and terrorists and then equip them with body armour and heavy weaponry and what happens is just what you might expect.

        I don’t imagine you’ll take my word for it as someone who spent a lot of time there, but I really recommend reading Israeli journalists who are genuinely familiar with the reality like Gideon levy and Amira Hass.

        The aggression is almost exclusively from Israel. Which is not to condone or justify any acts of aggression from the Palestinians, but it is the case. As Amos Oz says, the first and worst crime is the occupation.

        Are you suggesting that the way Palestinians are treated in Syria is a justification for the way that Israel treats them?

      • That you quote Gideon Levy already makes me shudder. As the saying goes with friends like that who needs enemies. I hate war – I hate the Palestinian suffering – I hate Israeli suffering – I hate world suffering – to not understand the situation thoroughly which you seem to not do or refuse to understand the mentality that is not only plaguing Israel but the whole world is not doing anyone a favour except the extremist nut cases – they love your way of thinking. When you say tell a bunch of 18 year children that Palestinians are all dogs and terrorists is ridiculous and if you state such a thing then you must counter argument by stating how the Palestinian children are brought up – Kill the Jews etc etc – children’s nursery rhymes are full of it – I am sure I don’t have to tell you that – its pretty well documented. What you refuse to understand is that the Palestinian problem has actually nothing to do with the Palestinians but rather to do with getting the Jews out of the land of Israel. For Muslims having a Jewish state in the Middle East is unacceptable – Jews are Infidels – no Jew is allowed a prominent position living in an Arab country – where is your voice with this? An Arab has a freer life living here in Israel then he would ever have in any other Arab country. I think if you really cared for the Palestinians which I am sure you do then fight for them in the correct way – start insisting that they recognize Israel for the Jewish people – start insisting that they stop inciting hatred in their schools and kindergartens. Start insisting that it is good for them to make peace with the Jews. Do that and you will have your peace. Don’t expect Jews to roll down and play nice when they have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

  13. I am sorry I didn’t spot this earlier – hope my contirbution isn’t too late. I am so disappointed and appalled to read that you should have gone to Israel, Jeremy. It is in no way self-indulgent to refuse to visit a state which treats fellow human beings in such an inexusable ways and has done so for over 60 years. All these little projects of co-operation have got the Palestinians nowhere – they serve only to help Israel present a civilised face to the world while continuing to steal Palestinian land, bomb civilians, imprison children etc. etc. Barenboim’s orchestra is a sincere venture, but actually very few if any of its Arab members are Palestinians – there are too many restrictions on their movements to make it practical.
    Please read the Palestinian call for academic and cultural boycott http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1801
    made in 2005 and supported by over 171 civil organisations.
    Would you have gone to aparthied South Africa armed with the same arguments? Archbishop Tutu has described the situation in Plasetine as worse than that suffered by black South Africans.
    Please reconsider your position. It is exactly these arguments that perpetuate an inexcusable and continuing outrage.
    PS as Steve fairly recently performed in the excellent ‘E-mails from Palestine’ I’d have hoped he would have a better grasp on the situation.

    • Jenny I dare you to visit Israel – what are you afraid of?? too much democracy? Have you ever lived under apartheid? I am thinking not – you have no idea what it means because if you did you would know that by quoting it here denigrates its meaning in the worst possible way – giving such an important word so little reverence – shame on you.

    • Hi Jenny,

      it’s taken me a couple of days to get back to you on this.

      I do understand why you (and members of my family) were appalled at my visit. But it seemed to me that, genuinely, I would be better off in my very strong opinions about the way that Palestinians are treated if i had a chance to see what it felt like from ‘over there’, rather than from the comfort of my easy opinions. I knew, by the way, that it would not be a popular course of action among many people I admire and whose company I enjoy.

      I am still pleased I went. I am not convinced that a boycott would have any effect. I am not convinced that there will ever be a strong enough international will to pressure Israel until and unless some of her allies come onboard, and in my estimation that is not ring to happen anytime soon,

      Furthermore – and the visit taught me this – Israel is never going to knuckle under to that kind of thing. Hell, they’re armed to the teeth, ruthless, economically powerful, and psychologically ready for the longest protracted struggle anyone could throw at them.

      Yes, I glimpsed real humanity – and Corinna’s article certainly demonstrates that – but I also got a full flavour of ‘us or them’ which hardens hearts and makes the unacceptable do-able. Of course it’s not easy when the Palestinians are unable to speak with one voice or when, despite the rhetoric, they do not get full support from their Arab neighbours. And of course, the lobbing of rockets into Israel areas is an outrage and has to be stopped.

      But how? Not in the murderous and overreactive way that Israel usually employs.

      By performing Dickens in Israel I do not feel that i was ‘supporting’ a regime (not a people, you understand, but a regime) whose policies I distrust. On the contrary, those who, inside Israel, really dislike what the people in the Knesset and the army do – like the Arabs in Haifa – were happy to listen to what we (me and Steve) were doing. In some small way some kind of exchange took place and I can’t feel guilty about that.

      And so, finally, persuade me that a boycott will have effect and I’ll be there. In the meantime somehow, some way talk is the only, the only way out.

      Jeremy

      • Hi Jeremy,

        Thanks for a reasonable and considered response and for not taking offence at my first post. Persuade you of the case for Boycott. That’s a challenge worth rising to. But I’m afraid it’s not easy to put briefly. Here goes:
        Armed struggle obviously has no hope of working. Talking and dialogue (often referred to as ‘normalisation’ in that it makes the situation in Israel and the OPT seem normal), which you seem to advocate, has also clearly failed to work. On such projects PACBI says ‘..normalization initiatives posit an equal relationship between an indigenous population and a settler-colonial regime, attempting to understand the issue as a dispute and misunderstanding that can be resolved through dialogue, rather than an anti-colonial, anti-racist struggle for asserting internationally recognized rights. Palestinian civil society, by launching the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, importantly rejects normalization with the Israeli state and its complicit institutions and the whitewashing of its crimes against the entirety of the Palestinian people.’
        http://www.pacbi.org/etemplate.php?id=1812

        So if fighting doesn’t work and talking is not an answer, what is left? Either to just accept that Palestinian people should be reduced to the sort of slow extinction Australian Aborigines and Native Americans are living with or devise some other (non-violent) way of fighting back.

        The BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) campaign is modelled on the South African one. That took a long long time to build up momentum, but in the end I think it was largely external pressure that led to change there. I bet you were one of the earlier people to top buying South African goods, weren’t you? It built up slowly but by the late 70s/early 80s it was virtually everybody. This can work, too, as long as people commit themselves to it. Otherwise it’s like saying ‘I’m not going to vote for that party because they’ll never win.’ Well, no. Clearly not, if you don’t vote for them.
        There is already a change: supermarkets are more careful not to supply stuff produced in settlements, Agrexco (which exported settlement goods) went into liquidation last year http://www.jnews.org.uk/commentary/why-did-agrexco-go-bankrupt
        Veolia (a company which provides services to the Settlements, although it is illegal to profit from an occupation) has come under enormous pressure and is losing contracts all over the place, American (US) students have had excellent divestment campaigns in their universities. There are many more examples but I’m trying not to go on too long.

        I think most important is that this is the direction Palestinians have chosen to take themselves. But they cannot succeed without our support. The arguments are very clearly presented in Omar Barghouti’s book ‘BDS’. Do read it.

        The Academic and Cultural aspect of the boycott is an important one because Israel (rightly) is so proud of her achievements in these areas. The reaction to the campaign within UCU to support boycott has been so vicious that it is obvious this is an issue that really matters to Israel and her supporters.

        This is the only strategy left to Palestinians. They can’t just wait and hope that Israel will decide to be nice. It will be too late – as you said someone observed to you about Jerusalem. Please support them.

        Sorry this is so long. Here is your gift if you’ve got to the end – a poem by BDS campaigner, Rafeef Ziadah. Do watch it – it’s beautiful and brilliant.
        http://electronicintifada.net/blog/nora/watch-palestinian-poets-remi-kanazi-and-rafeef-ziadah-we-teach-life-sir

        Jenny

  14. Hi Corinna
    I don’t want to hi-jack Jeremy’s blog with this so won’t post any further comments on this topic after this (apologies everyone if I come across as an ureasoning ranter). You’re right I haven’t been to Israel or the OPT. I would love to go to Palestine but my present situation doesn’t allow me to. I would feel uneasy about spending my money in Israel so probably wouldn’t go (although of course it is very difficult to get into Palestine without spending some time in Israel because Israel controls the borders). I think a personal visit is diffferent a cultural one. I have Palestinian friends, Israeli Jewish friends and know a lot of British people who have visited or lived and worked in Palestine and am not speaking from a position of complete ingnorance. No one I know has gone there and come back saying ‘Oh, the situation is really much better than I thought’. I don’t use the word apartheid carelessly. Nor, I am sure, does Desmond Tutu. Please read this report http://electronicintifada.net/downloads/pdf/090608-hsrc.pdf
    Or you should listen to organisations such as Boycottfrom Within, Machsom Watch or ICAHD if you feel outsiders are not able to judge.
    Sincerely
    Jenny

    • Jenny, just come to Israel – make up your own mind from what your eyes tell you not from the anti Israel rhetoric that you seem to be inspired by.
      Here is an article for you this time:

      How one Palestinian journalist found hope of peace in Israel’s health care system.

      There are many reasons to be pessimistic and at times to despair about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet even when things look hopeless, hope has a way of appearing, offering a vision of what can be rather than what is. Recently, I caught a glimpse of this hope in an unlikely place – the Israeli health care system.

      In December, I went for a routine checkup with my family doctor in east Jerusalem and received the news everyone fears – I had cancer. What had seemed like a small lump in my neck was in fact thyroid cancer – devastating news for someone in his late 20s. I was quickly scheduled for surgery and given a date of May 17.

      I immediately called my close friend Dr. Adel Misk, a Palestinian neurologist from east Jerusalem. Misk works in both Israeli and Palestinian hospitals, treating Palestinians and Israelis alike. He referred me to his colleague, Dr. Shila Nagar, a Jewish Israeli endocrinologist.

      When Misk referred me to Nagar, he was not thinking in the terms of Palestinians and Israelis, but rather in terms of which specialist could best treat me. He was not concerned about her religious practices or political opinions. He was only concerned about her track record as a doctor.

      In the waiting room outside Nagar’s office, I could not help but notice how many Palestinians were there. It did not bother them that she was Jewish, just like Misk’s Jewish patients do not mind that he is Palestinian. All the stereotypes and fences of nationalist fervor were replaced with basic survival instincts.

      I shared my thoughts about Israeli-Palestinian medical cooperation with Nagar, who told me a story of a Jewish friend of hers who had prostate problems. One night he was suffering from a painful blockage and went to the emergency room. The doctor on duty was an Arab woman. He was not pleased: It is doubly bad, he thought, an Arab and a woman. At first he refused to let her treat him; however, as the pain increased he changed his mind and called her in. Years later, this Arab woman is his permanent doctor and a close friend. This personal experience was Nagar’s example of how humanity (and physical necessity!) can overcome nationalism.

      Fast forward to the day of my surgery. In an ironic twist of fate, here I was, a Palestinian journalist, draped in a hospital gown covered in Stars of David. I was stressed and fearful. Yet none of these emotions had to do with the nationality of my doctors or the pattern on my hospital gown. I was afraid of the surgery, and the possibility of not waking up again. However, when I was brought to the operating room, I was again given another dose of hope.

      I had two surgeons, a Palestinian Arab and an Israeli Jew. The anesthesiologist was an extremely experienced and competent Russian who joked with me until I fell asleep. My life was in the hands of an ideal team.

      Meanwhile, my family waited outside. My wife and mother were both in tears, and later told me that a Jewish woman waiting for news of her relative’s surgery comforted them.

      In the midst of the hatred, anger and bitterness of the conflict, you can still find glimpses of goodness. Unfortunately, this light often passes unnoticed. Yet it offers a practical example of the dream we all share, of a future where we can live safe and full lives without fear of injury.

      My surgery went extremely well, and I recovered quickly. Moreover, through this painful experience I caught a glimmer of hope in what seems like a hopeless environment. I have many criticisms of Israeli policies and politics, but the functioning universal health care system in Israel and its ability to separate politics from medicine earns my praise.

      This is not to say that the system is perfect. Like any future Israel and Palestine might share, there is the possibility of getting distracted by issues of insurance and bureaucracy. However, when it matters most, Israeli and Palestinian doctors share a commitment to human life regardless of ethnicity, religion or nationality. Moreover, when it comes time to choose doctors, we base our choice on who is mostly likely to promote human life. If only we voted on the same basis!

      Unfortunately, I had to experience the health care system personally before being able to appreciate this example of what Israelis and Palestinians can achieve. Despite the pain and suffering, I am grateful to have discovered such a hidden treasure of humanity at its best.

      Aziz Abu-Sarah is director of Middle East projects at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, and a winner of the Eliav-Sartawi Award for Common Ground Journalism. His blog can be found at http://azizabusarah.wordpress.com.

      So Jenny – I wouldnt say this is a propaganda article for Israel but what it does do is put your argument of aparthied to rest, Israel is a bundle of colours and races! its absolutely absurd to call us aparthied! we are no more aparthied then England is.

      • Hello Corinna,

        that’s a lovely story. Of course it is. But for every story of humanity there are stories of brutality and unnecessary cruelty (yes, I know from both sides, but Israel has the muscle to be a way way way bigger bully). There are Israeli victims too – the many young people brutalised by their military service (as exemplified so well in ‘Waltz with Bashir’, a film enjoyed by many Israelis).

        But sooner or later here has to be a moment when Israeli people – you – say ‘enough’. When you can get 30,000 people out to the streets to protest about the economic situation, surely there has to come a time when 30,000 people come out into the streets ofTel Aviv and Jerusalem to say that what the army actually does, the means they use, (however sorely provoked) is unacceptable to any sense of civilised behaviour.

        Jeremy

      • Shalom Jeremy
        I don’t condone wrong doing but I also understand we are at war and war is not a dinner party. I would feel less defensive if your arguments against Israel were at the very least balanced with your outrage at the way the Palestinians behave – ie. no freedom of speech, women’s rights, child abuse concerning indoctrinating to hate oh and lets not forget human shields. Lets make a comparison – can a Jew or an Israeli go into Gaza safely? Can a Jew work in Arab towns? Can a Jew live in an Arab town? Do Arabs need to have their bags searched every time they go to their local supermarket? It is a matter of normality to have to live with having ones bag searched where ever one goes in Israel – and why is that? Our basic human right is being breached! and we accept it. Do you seriously believe that if Israelis had the choice between having to live in a constant war atmosphere to that of living in peace you think we wouldn’t choose the latter?? I ask you to look at what the Palestinian leaders are really saying when they talk to their own people about Israel. Do you think they talk about living in peace? They do not – – you will never find one document written about a peace treaty with Israel in a Palestinian government. Where has all the billions of dollars gone to in Gaza? To make a better life for themselves I think not. These very people who govern Gaza are the same people who sit together with Syria and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and why isn’t this your top worry and send flashing warning lights to you? I am sorry but you really do need to get real and understand that life cant not always be pleasant when ugliness is in the way. Out of interest did you write articles about Gilad Shalit when he was captured inside of Israel? Did you write articles about the numerous murderers that had to be released to bring him home. Did you write about the woman terrorist that seduced an innocent boy to his death and she is now treated as a hero. This is the mentality of Israel’s and the West’s I might add enemies and as always is the way – the innocent suffer the most.
        Corinna

  15. Corinna :

    Shalom Jeremy
    I don’t condone wrong doing but I also understand we are at war and war is not a dinner party. I would feel less defensive if your arguments against Israel were at the very least balanced with your outrage at the way the Palestinians behave – ie. no freedom of speech, women’s rights, child abuse concerning indoctrinating to hate oh and lets not forget human shields. Lets make a comparison – can a Jew or an Israeli go into Gaza safely? Can a Jew work in Arab towns? Can a Jew live in an Arab town? Do Arabs need to have their bags searched every time they go to their local supermarket? It is a matter of normality to have to live with having ones bag searched where ever one goes in Israel – and why is that? Our basic human right is being breached! and we accept it. Do you seriously believe that if Israelis had the choice between having to live in a constant war atmosphere to that of living in peace you think we wouldn’t choose the latter?? I ask you to look at what the Palestinian leaders are really saying when they talk to their own people about Israel. Do you think they talk about living in peace? They do not – – you will never find one document written about a peace treaty with Israel in a Palestinian government. Where has all the billions of dollars gone to in Gaza? To make a better life for themselves I think not. These very people who govern Gaza are the same people who sit together with Syria and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and why isn’t this your top worry and send flashing warning lights to you? I am sorry but you really do need to get real and understand that life cant not always be pleasant when ugliness is in the way. Out of interest did you write articles about Gilad Shalit when he was captured inside of Israel? Did you write articles about the numerous murderers that had to be released to bring him home. Did you write about the woman terrorist that seduced an innocent boy to his death and she is now treated as a hero. This is the mentality of Israel’s and the West’s I might add enemies and as always is the way – the innocent suffer the most.
    Corinna

    Shalom Corinna,

    we are probably not going to agree on much! Except this: I condemn violence, the unjust taking of hostages, the extra-judicial killings of people from another cuntry by assasination, bombings, air strikes or any other means. It is wrong when it is done by Palestinians, it is wrong when it is done by Israel. Yes, yes (how many times do we have to say that?), it is wrong to lob rockets into civilian Israeli communities (as Hamas etc do). It also wrong to seize, grab and colonise land that does not belong to Israel – the settlements are an outrage to any sense of international jurisprudence.

    It is also wrong to overreact by sending vastly superior forces into densely populated areas – as the `Israeli military has done in Gaza. There is no such thing as a ‘smart’ weapon. They kill civilians. If you think the rockets attacks into Israel are wrong (and you do), then you have to agree that a rocket attack into densely populated Gaza is equally wrong. If you can agree that then we have some possibility of dialogue!

    As for the rights of women, civil rights etc, well Israel isn’t totally squeaky clean about that either. The rights of ultra orthodox Jews in Israel? I don’t think so.

    As for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, well I have no sympathy with the holocaust denial he espouses, or with his wish to wipe Israel off the map (though that is more rhetoric than reality). I absolutely abhor Netenyahu’s threats against Iran; that way madness lies.

    I fund this article very interesting: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2012/03/12/120312taco_talk_remnick

    Israel and her neighbours are set for endless endless conflict unless someone lears a bit of humility. That is an obligation on Israel just as much as on the others in the region.

    Jeremy

    • Shalom Jeremy
      Mmmm your arguments are weak at best. Question – Do you believe that Israel makes a military decision to go for Palestinian civilians? Is that what you are saying? Do you believe that 1 million Israelis hiding in bomb shelters against the rockets is OK? Or do you think we should have a few deaths to make it fair? Is that what you are saying? Where are the bomb shelters in Gaza? You would think that after Gazans have lobbied rockets over to Israel they would have the sense to put their civilians into bomb shelters knowing that there would surely be retaliation. Do you think if you were sitting in your home in England and rockets were falling into your back garden (you are not hurt) that you wouldn’t expect Britain to do something about it even if it meant losing life on the other side??? Israel is being attacked and you expect what exactly???

      Now lets go to your settlements point – according to international law, land can be occupied only from a previous sovereign owner. The territories were occupied from Jordan, who was not recognized as a sovereign owner. Therefore when we occupied/released it from them, it did not become occupied territory under international law, and therefore there is nothing illegal about the settlements.
      Even if that would be different, and you want to say that it’s Palestinian land, though it never was in the past, which Israel occupies, according to the agreements between those 2 parties the settlements will stay in place until otherwise decided between both parties. Therefore if you reckon it’s Palestinian land, since they signed those agreements, it’s not correct to call them settlements.

      To the orthodox Jewish women – yes I don’t agree to how they live but its a chosen lifestyle and if they wanted to leave it and needed help from the courts they would receive it like any other woman in Israel. This cant be said for the women in Gaza – the law isn’t on their side. They have no one to turn to.

      Jeremy if you truly care for the Palestinians give them the credit that is due to them – expect higher things from them – expect from them what you would expect from any other people. You seem not to expect much from them. Personally if I was a Palestinian I would be a little insulted.

      • Corinna,

        “therefore there is nothing illegal about the settlements.”

        In 2004. the International court of Justice – the highest judicial body in the world – ruled the settlements are absolutely illegal under international law. The judges also gave their opinion on the separation wall and other issues.

        http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&ca

        Unless you are a legal expert who somehow has a better idea about the situation than the 15 highest judges on the planet, I sincerely hope you will read the information and just accept that you were factually mistaken.

        Shalom

      • Mr. David Avram
        Wrong!The ICJ never gave a ruling, but issued a statement paper based on the points (as in facts) that were brought to him
        The court never sat on those facts, but took them for granted
        Therefore the ICJ never ruled the settlements to be illegal, but it gave the UN an opinion paper about the security fence.
        In order for that opinion paper to become international law, the UN (security council) should have decided it accepts that opinion. It never did. It’s not a court ruling, but an opinion paper (and wasn’t based on the facts). The UN asked the ICJ to give his opinion. To do so, the UN wrote down several ‘facts’. Those ‘facts’ were never checked (juridically) by the court.
        A ruling is something completely different. If Israel and the Palestinians would today bring their case before the court, and ask it to decide, then you’d be talking about a ruling.That’s not the case. And the important part is, that in order to write the opinion, the ICJ didn’t need to (and indeed didn’t) go into specifics.Which is why there is NO court ruling that the territories are Palestinian. None what so-ever.

        Shalom

      • Yes, it’s absolutely true the ICJ gave an advisory opinion – not a ‘ruling’. Sure, I used the word ‘ruling’, but I could have used the word ‘verdict’ or ‘judgement’… the point is the same – the highest judicial body in the world has given their opinion on the legality of the settlements.

        Your argument these judges didn’t know the “facts” is really quite arrogant and intellectually dishonest.

        You see, I could easily talk to you about what I see as the many good sides of society in Israel and the many bad sides of society Palestine, but until you can get past this irrationality of thinking you are the world’s greatest legal expert and that you just know it all, there’s no point in discussing issues of social, moral progress.

        And by the way, you’re arguing with someone who wants to support people in Israel, though acting like I’m not one these (ostensibly left-wing) militant Israel bashers. Why? I have no interest in seeing people suffer in Israel or ignoring their real fears of terrorism and so on. I just want us to have an honest conversation, without all the bullshit. By all means, we can still disagree on many things, but not in this irrational way…

        If you read the very first post I wrote here, you will see my arguing against the so-called bigoted ‘boycott’ actions of many Israel bashers..!

        Listen, I don’t want to have a political shit-slinging match in public (especially not in an ELT forum!!!). If you are interested in continuing this conversation, please see my email address below and drop me a line.

        sababa45@hotmail.com

        Shalom

  16. “and The British Council has offices in Ramallah too, and maybe, if we did the Israel gig we would get invited there.”

    naive at best to assume that doing a ‘gig’ in Israel will win you any favours or invitations to occupied Palestinian territory….

    Very interesting to read your blog post and comments.

    • Hello anonymous! What a strange name! I don’t think I’ve heard it before!!
      Yes it was naive, but I don’t think I explained myself properly. I do NOT think that going to Israel would win me any favours with people in Palestine. My hope was that the British Council itself (which is present in both places) would be more accommodating. That was all.
      Jeremy

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