Equality v Fair Play – Part 1 – What hope Gaza and the Palestinians? Careless talk costs lives

You are being misled by the News Media, by the Left and by some lawyers.

There is no shortage of injustice in the world.

They all conjure up in their own minds dreams of Utopia while they themselves enjoy some of its fruits. They mean well I am sure, but sometimes Diversity should pre-empt Equality and fairness should pre-empt victimhood in a world where priorities matter.

The 70-year war between Israel and the Palestinians provides me with a new place to explore this. You may think I am a little biased when I write what follows because I am a Jew. I am being realistic where some realism is urgently needed.

The province of their Utopia here is the Two-State solution and the criticism of Israel is that it does not facilitate it. I want to address the naivete of the Left here, their Achilles Heel, always. No, I don’t allege anti-Semitism. It’s not that they are anti-Semitic. Not in their core belief. But is this what they think?

“But there are some Jews! Stubborn! Too stiff-necked ! Capitalists? Can’t like them all. No, don’t see Christians in quite the same way.

Anyway, a Two-State Solution must be right here. Israelis and Palestinians have a right to the same bit of land, and an equal right to it.”

Well now, let’s look at this a bit more carefully. I certainly don’t argue that the Palestinians have not lost possession of the land they lived on. Israel has some responsibility here, but would it have happened if the Arab armies had not defied the UN resolution recognising the State of Israel in 1948?

They are not the only peoples in history who have lost their homes and the land they farmed. The Māoris in New Zealand after the Treaty of Waitangi – not one of Britain’s finer colonial moments. A million Native American Indians, in the past their fate very much worse than that of the Palestinians, now in reservations, areas each designated with its own tribal sovereignty. Armenians. Kurds.

There is no great enthusiasm for a national State for any of them today. But now a clear recognition of the lost rights of some of them with the Courts awarding substantial compensation for their benefit and for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. There are your precedents for dealing with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Let’s go back to the original proposition. Israel and the Palestinians have an equal right to the same land. That terrible word Equality which muddles up so much thinking when the right words to use here are Fair Play. As I keep saying “We are equal only sometimes, unequal most times, and different always.” And, likewise, with human rights. When they are different and maybe in a conflict situation equality raises totally unrealistic hopes only later to see them shattered whilst fair play offers a real prospect of reconciliation.

I invite you to play a little parlour game to see the big difference between equality and fair play. Click it. It may surprise you.

Israel and the Palestinians are not equal, they are profoundly unequal, and they are different. One today is a State, the other no more than a Swiss canton. Some want to recognise it as a State, but it patently isn’t one and there are other rights involved here that work to deny it. Read my last post for two other illustrations of unequal and diverse rights, notably in education, that you cannot equalise.

We have here the core weakness of the Left. They are so pre-occupied with the plight of the underdog – there is no doubt who is the underdog here; the deprived, the disadvantaged, the poor and impoverished victims in Gaza – and you should feel for them – indeed I urge you to do so in order to secure an end to their suffering – but, do not ignore other people’s rights. And see fair play not equality as the solvent to the conflict. Ignore that, and it will go on, and on for ever or until it explodes in yet another war.

Let me explain. Everyone – I hope that the Left will acknowledge it – has the right of self-defence. Israel sees what Shiite does to Sunni and Sunni to Shiite. They see the destruction, mayhem, in Aleppo and Mosul with no respect for treasured antiquity. They see refugees in abundance. And you do too. Many Israelis have lost close family in the Holocaust. It happened in their collective memory and was allowed to happen. Israel, for the first time in two thousand years, a haven from pogroms, the Pale and the Ghetto.

They see Iran pledged to destroy it. Another Final Solution in their minds? Israel isn’t even on their maps.They see it arming Hamas and Hezbollah with tens of thousands of rockets. They see many of them being used.

.Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map of the region.” (2001)

Hassan Nasrallah, a leader of Hezbollah: “If they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” (2002)

Nasrallah: “Israel is our enemy. This is an aggressive, illegal, and illegitimate entity, which has no future in our land. Its destiny is manifested in our motto: ‘Death to Israel.’” (2005)

For Aleppo and Mosul, read Tel Aviv and Haifa crowned with the Bha’i Temple. Do you seriously think that Israel can contemplate allowing a State on its borders – right next to Ben Gurion airport – that could be a proxy for Iran’s intentions? That threat alone echoed by Hamas and Hezbollah kills any hope the Palestinians may have to their own State. With friends like Iran who needs enemies. Is it any wonder Israel put settlements on the West Bank?

You don’t like the Wall either. I agree. Walls that divide people are obscene. But if you want to exercise your right to self-defence to acts of terror on your civilian population it is an undesirable necessity.

You belabour Israel for what you see as disproportionality in relation to provocation by Hamas. You do not recognise the disproportionality of your own response when you see the murder, carnage, destruction of so much else in the Middle East in the comfort of your own armchairs. And say nothing.

The besetting sin of the Left and I keep referring to it in my other writing is to address the claims of some and totally ignore the claims of others and their totally legitimate rights. The tragedy. The irony. As I show elsewhere, they sometimes don’t even help the ones they are trying to help. They make the situation worse. Here a case in point.

In their ignorance they compound it with stupidity. Israelis should go back where they came from to allow the Palestinians a right of return. Nearly a million of them were made to feel unwelcome in the Arab countries and understandably reinforce Israel’s lack of enthusiasm for a Two-State solution. Read Uprooted: How 3000 Years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight by Lyn Julius. Know these things if you want to comment on the plight of the Palestinians. Nobody heeds the suggestion that the Arab countries should be as welcoming to the Palestinians as Israel was welcoming those who left the Arab countries.

Let me bring Donald Trump into this. In the black/white world which some inhabit, nothing good can come from Trump. It’s a big mistake to write him off here. Here he does see the big picture where most appear to see only a tiny little bit of it. Put very simply he sees Dubai with Burj Khalifa, by far the tallest building in the world and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Mecca, the precious water of the River Jordan, and solar energy panels layering the desert, the vibrance and talent of Jew and Arab, and he asks a very simple question, and I sense he wants a deal with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia in his search for the answer.

Why don’t you start recognising Israel’s legitimate existence and finally compensate financially the Palestinians for their loss, and in the big way too that their claim merits? The peace dividend is there for the taking. This bit of Utopia just around the corner if only you can see it.

Although Inclusion enthusiasts may not willingly acknowledge it, tribalism would appear to be part of the human psyche. Tragically in the Middle East you can trace current antagonisms back thousands of years to the tribes in the desert then. We must surely move on, not to ignore tribe and its loyalties but, in the 21st Century, underpin them with mutual respect for other tribes to replace mutual hatred and suspicion. Or is this an illustration of my naivete to write this?

I am not alone. Visit your NHS and see doctors, nurses and others from many lands, different colours, different faiths, or no faith, working together to help you whoever you are. I am myself benefitting from this at this moment.

Daniel Barenboim says it with his Semitic West-Eastern Divan Orchestra that he created in 1999 to unite religions and cultures. At the Lucerne Musical Festival this year under the banner headline “The power of music exceeds the power of words” Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. Let him play to you.

A closing thought for the Left – you too are a tribe with tribal loyalty, euphemistically solidarity. Isn’t time for you to move on as well, and recognise the rights of others in addition to the rights of those you espouse?

And a closing thought too for those in positions of power and authority who perpetrate sordid little cover-ups, your tribal loyalties should make way for much needed true professionalism.

Very soon a test.


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