Robert Festenstein

Start at the beginning

David Cameron, the UK Foreign Secretary has recently suggested that a way forward to deal with the war in Gaza in particular and the overall issues concerning Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in general would be to recognise Palestine without negotiations first coming to near a conclusion.  In other words, this appears to be an incentive to Hamas and the Palestinian Authority to make progress with peace talks.

It sounds good if you say it quickly, but this idea doesn’t really bear any serious scrutiny.  At about the same time I was considering this I read a report last week from the Jewish Telegraph, a UK regional Jewish newspaper which underscored what the fighting in Gaza is all about.  It was about a lady called Adina and her experience of being kidnapped on the 7th October.

The report said “Adina said terrorists raided the home she shared with her husband David, who was shot the leg.  They snatched her out from the window of her house’s safe room and another terrorist went back in to shoot her husband dead, she said.  Before being killed he blew her a farewell kiss.  She was then taken into Gaza on a motorcycle flanked by two armed terrorists”.  One of the terrorists stole her jewellery and a passer-by stole her glasses”.

I have read a large number of articles and reports about the war, yet this this article stuck with me.  Firstly the almost casual brutality of the murder of Adina’s husband, and secondly the theft of her glasses.  We are not very far past Holocaust Remembrance Day which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.  The enormity of that crime of humanity is reinforced by the piles of belongings taken from the dead bodies including shoes, gold teeth and of course – glasses.

October the 7th was the greatest loss of Jewish lives since the Holocaust and the theft of Adina’s glasses, by a passer-by brings back all those stories of how the Nazis reduced the Jews to less than human – wholly devoid of dignity.  The numbers of those murdered last October might have been less, but the hatred and the deadly intentions were the same.

So how then, with that background is a ceasefire today going to make any difference to the murderous intent from Hamas and the continued Jew-hate by ‘passers-by’?  The answer simply is that it is not.  I remain both alarmed and disappointed that so many political leaders just don’t grasp the significance of the history of the conflict.  This is not a dispute surrounding access to the sea or scarce resources.  It is far simpler than that. The Palestinians hate Israel and the Jews and want to see the country destroyed and the Jews driven out or killed.

No amount of concessions, including recognition of Palestine will change that.  Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will just laugh at the naiveite of the West (as they have been for decades now), take the recognition and continue to campaign for a one state solution, one which replaces Israel and is – in the words of Nazi policy – Judenfrei.  Land free from Jews.

I wrote to Mr Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, expressing concern of his comments concerning international issues when his remit is, or at least should be, regional, with no input on UK foreign policy.  He had the decency to reply and included in that he said ‘Of paramount importance is a sustainable ceasefire and the release of all the hostages unharmed, leading to an end to hostilities and the loss of innocent Palestinian lives’.

Whilst his sentiments are praiseworthy, he has, respectfully, missed the point, or more accurately missed the history, something which he has in common with political leaders up and down the country.  A ceasefire and release of the hostages, and even the end of the fighting will not solve the problem.  Aside from the fact this would leave Hamas still in charge, it fails to address the key issue, which is that the Palestinian leadership don’t want the Jews around at all and are prepared to murder and rape in support of this desire.

For hundreds of years Jews lived as second-class citizens amongst majority Muslim populations across North Africa and Arabia.  The attitudes of that majority did not change overnight following the creation of the Jewish state.  The intense opposition to the idea that Jews should have equal status as Muslims is at the heart of the Hamas Charter, as is the open declaration that Israel should be destroyed.  The statements made by the Palestinian Authority might use different language, but the sentiment is the same.  Jews are not equal to Muslims, are not entitled to a state of their own and Israel should be destroyed.

Some of the Arab states have grasped this nettle and have been condemned by the Palestinian leadership for their trouble.  The Palestinians need to accept Jews as equals and their entitlement to their own state, and there can be little progress with the peace process until their historical attitudes towards Jews change.    I might write to Lord Cameron and let him know.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in fighting the increase in anti-Semitism in the UK and is President of the Zionist Central Council, an organisation devoted to promoting and defending the democratic State of Israel.