Very often, discussions about Israel and Palestine descend into name calling and accusation throwing. Therefore, rather than attacking those on the left, I wish to ask them three questions. Hopefully, by asking questions, rather than shouting accusations from across the ideological divide, the debate can be furthered.
(Naturally, I am making some generalisations about what “left wing” opinion broadly constitutes, and obviously not all questions will apply to all “left wing” people.)
1. There are currently two political parties in the Palestinian government. One, Hamas, is defined by most Western countries as a terrorist group, and it believes in waging Jihad with the purpose of destroying the State of Israel. The second, Fatah, regularly posts pictures of suicide bombers who killed Israeli civilians on its Facebook page. Do you think these two parties can be part of the Peace process? If a party existed in the country where you lived, that posted photos of suicide bombers on its Facebook page, would you vote for it, or would it even be allowed?
2. What did Israel do wrong in the Gaza War of 2014? Civilians living their lives in Israeli cities were being attacked by tens of missiles every day, and there was a threat that Hamas would use its 30 tunnels into Israel to launch further attacks on civilians. Israel bombed Hamas positions, rockets and fighters, killing hundreds of militants, whilst also incurring civilian casualties, as occurs in every other war. Israel drew praise from the British and American military for their exceptional efforts for limiting civilian casualties. Did Israel do anything wrong? Was there anything else Israel should have done? Doesn`t a country have a right, and a responsibility, to destroy the enemy that is firing rockets at its civilians?
3. Do you think that there is a double standard when it comes to Israel? Why did more people protest the Gaza war, in which 2,000 Palestinians were killed, than protested the Syria war, in which 200,000 Syrians have been killed? Why have more than half of the resolutions at the UN Human Rights Council been about Israel? And why is Yehuda Glick, a man who is fighting for freedom of religion and the right for Jews to practise their religion on the Temple Mount, considered dangerous, rather than a human rights activist?
I think that questions, rather than accusations, are the way that we will move forward in our discussions about this important issue.