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The Gaza Issue
Last uploaded : Saturday 12th Jan 2013 at 13:21
Contributed by : Carol Gould


First published December 12, 2012

This has not been a happy few months for me; as soon as Israel is in the news I find myself in the firing line in various fora or having to take an extra aspirin to avoid a fatal heart attack listening to enraged Zionist-haters venting their thinly-disguised Jew-hatred on radio and television. What an irony! My parents never sent my sister and me 'on kibbutz' and my mother railed against the right-wing-governments of the Jewish State until her last day on earth. I am not a Zionist activist but something, I suppose, in my DNA, makes me defensive when people launch venomous attacks on the tiny strip of land the size of Wales.

It troubles me, for example, that on ‘Any Questions?’ on BBC Radio 4 on 16 November a member of the audience was allowed to submit the following question to the panel : ‘Despite masses of aid Israel cannot get on with her neighbours. Does Israel deserve a future?’ Now, first of all ‘masses of aid’ is code, as an enraged Israel-hating neighbour spewed to me a few weeks later, ‘all that Jewish money.’ Yes, thousands of Jews across the world donate to Israeli organisations and charities. The most eminent of these are the Technion, the Weizmann Institute, the Hadassah Hospital and University, the JNF (they plant trees) and the liberal New Israel Fund. Billions of dollars go to scientific, medical, cultural and industrial development. Sadly because of the huge amount of money Israel has had to spend on defence against hostile neighbours and on civil defence (bomb shelters are the reason why so few Israelis die in endless daily rocket attacks from Gaza) several orhcestras and cultural groups have had to fail; still, for a tiny country there are more art galleries, symphony orchestras and theatre companies than in many nations ten times its size.

So the masses of money poured into Israel has had no effect, according to the audience member at BBC Radio 4, on the tiny country ‘getting on’ with her neighbours. What wonderful, friendly neighbours Israel has had for sixty-four years ! War after war and terrorist attack after terrorist attack have characterised most of Israel’s history. The average Israeli, like the average Jewish person in the global diaspora, does not wish for war or murder. When I visited a high-security prison near Newcastle, England in 2008 on a multi-faith BAP (British-American Project) conference, we were welcomed by the chaplains of the religions representing the prison population. There was no rabbi so a Christian member of our group asked why. The prison governor explained that despite a population of close to 1,000 there ‘was no call for this as there are no violent Jewish criminals here.’ I have always said, having lived in Israel, that for the most part the Jews are a peaceful people who raise their children to respect their parents and teachers and who encourage them to sit down to dinner with family every evening and most particularly on Friday night. I never felt Israelis wanted war and violence as a way of life.

The idea that an audience member of the BBC programme would wish to see Israel obliterated (this is how I interpreted ‘Does Israel Deserve a Future?’) can be interpreted as ‘What do we do with these bothersome Jews?’ -- a question asked at the Wannsee Conference when the Final Solution was devised. Having been born in the post-Holocaust generation I get chills when I hear someone suggest a conurbation of six million Jews should be eliminated. (Needless to day the programme receivd telephone calls in to 'Any Answers' from others as shocked as I. Whilst reports from Syria indicagte they are mutilating Muslim children Israel is the country most needing to be removed from the earth??)

Jonathan Dimbleby, the programme’s host, made the comment ‘Israel has hit 600 targets -- is that proportionate?’ and to this I respond that over a million Israeli children and adults have been suffering from protracted trauma-related illnesses due to the relentless stream of missiles being launched into Israel from Gaza. The last Jewish settlers were evacuated from Gaza by Ariel Sharon some seven years ago and instead of continuing as an agricultural centre it became a rocket-launching base for Hamas, whose goal is to eradicate the Jewish State. (And before readers start shouting ‘The very concept of a Jewish State is racist!’ may I remind them that there are dozens of Muslim and Arab nations across the globe?) There is no civil defence infrastructure in Gaza or the West Bank hence the tragic loss of life when Israel tries to take out rocket launching centres, from which Hamas has made no effort to remove civilians.

On the same radio programme Baroness Williams
( I know her as Shirley and have always liked her) made a bizarre pronouncement about the two-state solution being a hypocrisy. She said the one state ( the Jewish one) was a piece of beach and that Israel‘s ill-treatment of the people of Gaza and the West Bank resulted in the territories being ‘full of people struggling to find a box to live in.’ Shirley, if Israel is a piece of beach then tell that to the millions of people around the world benefiting from Israeli scientific, industrial and medical advances, not to mention the visitors enjoying the thousands of cultural attractions that fill the streets of Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Herzliya, Jerusalem, Caesarea and scores of other towns. A beach resort Israel is not. Its hard-working citizens are engaged in a six-day week and their enterprising nature has given the world life-saving developments that keep people of all faiths alive and healthy, be they Muslims, Hindus, Christians or Jews. That ‘Any Questions? should be a forum for inaccuracies and for suggestions that Israel disappear is dismaying and actually a frightening new phase in British Israel-bashing. I do not believe Dimbleby or Baroness Williams are Jew-haters but the tone of this programme made me understand why so many Jewish people feel under siege when the only haven they have in the world is portrayed as a cruel pariah state.

At this festival of Chanukah, so poignantly described by the late Rabbi Hugo Gryn on BBC Radio 4’s Moral Maze, when he explained that in a concentration camp he and his father and brother were sustained by a tiny drop of butter, may Israel and all nations of the world prosper, enjoy peace and reconciliation and speak no more of removing one another from the face of the earth.
In my next essay I will provide a rebuttal to Torah-bashing footballer Joey Barton and I will also describe the ugly tongue-lashing I received from a group of people whose Christmas Fair I had attended when I mentioned the good side of Israel..


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