The Gloves Are Off !


By Jon_i_Cohen
January 2, 2011
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This is a must read article.

The gloves are off
By KATIE GREEN
12/12/2010

To our Diaspora brethren: When it comes to criticizing Israel, there are areas you cause grave offense, and others where your input is welcome.

For a couple of years now, I’ve thought of writing an article called “The gloves are off.” But I delayed because I didn’t want the gloves to be off, and even if they were off, I didn’t want to be the one to state that they were. But now they are off, and the person who really helped us admit it is Mick Davis, chairman of the UJIA in the UK.

In a recent speech, Davis berated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for “lacking the courage to take the steps” to advance the peace process, adding: “I don’t understand the lack of strategy in Israel.”

He also predicted an “apartheid state” unless Israel is able to achieve a two-state solution.

His remarks caused a furor in the UK Jewish community, with many prominent Jews in public positions defending his remarks, noting that it was high time “that honest and open discussions” about Israel took place in the public arena. Other Jewish leaders were chagrined or irritated, and issued mixed statements, while only a very few – most notably Jonathan Hoffman of the Zionist Federation and Lord Stanley Kalms – professed outright indignation.

Davis’s comments are disturbing because of who he is. As chairman of the UJIA, he has devoted much time and energy to raising funds for Israel. Yet he still used this language in a public forum. This means that a growing desire to openly criticize Israel is moving from the fringes of the Jewish community into the mainstream. This is the new discussion, and arguments about whether it should or shouldn’t be suppressed, are moot. It’s out there and it’s gaining momentum.

I’M ASSUMING that as a UK-born Israeli who has spent 25 years living, working, voting and paying taxes here, I can be part of this discussion. After all, if we’re going to be honest and open, it’s best to get a lot of stuff which hasn’t been articulated on the Israeli side out on the table.

But before I do this, I’m going to say that if your love of Israel is unconditional, if you’ve come to the conclusion that Israelis are pretty much doing the best they can and are paying a high price to do so, you can skip this article.

But if you’re thinking of joining this new chorus of public criticism, here are the two things that I would like to put across to you.

One: There are areas of criticism where you cause grave offense, and others where your input is necessary and welcome.

In the welcome category are issues which affect Jews everywhere, and where I would be glad to see a concerted joint effort and involvement in Israeli affairs. For example, I don’t see the Western Wall as Israeli only but as a Jewish historical and spiritual heritage that concerns us all. I’m increasingly alarmed at the haredi takeover of this site, and would love for women of all denominations to mount a campaign to claim equal and respectable space, freedom of worship and visual access to the men’s section. Similarly, the behavior of the rabbinical courts in matters of marriage, divorce and conversion affect all of us. I think it perfectly legitimate for there to be loud and furious debate on these issues across the globe.

I would also love to get more of your input and expertise for our school systems and community centers. The achievements of Diaspora communities in Jewish education and engagement, communal cohesion and responsibility and religious diversity and creativity could greatly benefit Israeli society, and have indeed already begun to do so.

But there are some in the UK Jewish community who seem increasingly inclined to level criticism in the grave offense category, on the subject of our conflict with the Palestinians, the finalization of our borders and our responses to provocation from Hamas and Hizbullah. On these issues, I believe you have no right to speak at all, mainly because you have not risked your lives and futures, and the lives and futures of your children, for Israel’s security. We may be equals in many things, but in this matter we are not, because we have not invested equally. We are separated by a vale of tears and an ocean of blood, mostly very young blood.

In my particular case, I’m separated from you guys by two Lebanon wars, two Gulf wars, two intifadas, two children who’ve completed army service and a third about to begin, seven general elections, four unsuccessful peace processes and five terrorist organizations operating in my region. So I don’t believe that your understanding of our region is as nuanced as er… mine.

I do see that these security issues affect your comfort level in British society. But the government can hardly be expected to make tough decisions on the basis of that. Anyway, I think we’ve each chosen our level of discomfort.

You chose the UK, so you get to squirm when the BBC reports, as a deliberate lie, that there’s been a massacre in Jenin. My neighbors and I, on the other hand, chose Israel, so we get to send our sons into Jenin, hoping against hope that they’ll come out again. Which they sometimes don’t (or do, but as paraplegics).

This is why the remarks you fling in our direction leave us astonished and dismayed.

We may not make a big deal of it, but we walk in shadow.

The chief rabbi of the UK, Lord Jonathan Sacks, understands this perfectly well. In a recent piece on the United Synagogue website, he wrote that the debate that has erupted over Davis’s remarks is “deflecting us from the real issue,” which is that Israel’s enemies – Hamas, Hizbullah and Iran – refuse to recognize its existence as a matter of religious principle. And as long as this is the case, he says, “there can be no peace, merely a series of staging posts on the way to a war that will not end until there is no Jewish state at all.”

THERE ARE other areas where the offense is not grave, just annoying. Take the issue of African refugees pouring across the border with Egypt in their tens of thousands.

Let’s see – the government has just allocated millions of shekels for the construction of a new transit center for these illegal immigrants.

I pay 50% income tax, so with the greatest compassion in the world, I’m not sure I want to finance their long term support. But no doubt, when the numbers in these temporary dwellings have swelled beyond the originally intended figures, and this holding facility becomes nothing more than an overcrowded slum, many Jews living outside of Israel will be campaigning for the food and health and shelter of these immigrants, and they'’ll be campaigning for me to pay for it.

Last year, my son spent three months of his IDF service on the Egyptian border, dragging the bodies of dead and wounded refugees to waiting ambulances because they’d been shot on the Egyptian side. One Eritrean, faint from hunger and exhaustion, sank to his knees and wrapped his arms around Yonatan’s legs when he discovered he’d reached the Israeli side. This refugee presumably hadn’t listened to CNN or BBC, so he didn’t know that Israel was a hotbed racism and apartheid. He only knew that nobody on the Israeli side would try to kill him, and that he’d get a hospital bed for his wounds and food and shelter for his family, before being released into Eilat to look for a job.

Of course this issue is ethically complex.

It’s just that I find the need of Jews living outside Israel to enlighten me on those complexities incredibly patronizing. What is their investment level in this social and political dilemma? If it’s zero, then that’s what the opinions are worth.

POINT TWO: What is the motivation behind this need for public criticism? This is a very important factor in the debate. I can castigate a friend or sibling if I believe her behavior to be selfish or unreasonable, but if I do so in public, I will only humiliate and wound her. I would be mad to think that making her look ridiculous in front of others, and permanently damaging their perception of her is going to produce good results. In fact, I would only do such a thing if my friend’s wellbeing were not the primary object. I might want to hurt her and put her down for complicated reasons of my own.

I speak for myself and many other Israelis when I say that for us, public criticism by UK Jews is suspect. For one, your call for “openness” has escalated at exactly the same rate as the delegitimization and demonization of Israel by the British establishment. This vindictive ostracizing of Israel has resulted in an extreme lowering of comfort levels for the Jewish community, as we’ve agreed. But should it result in your shouting to join that vindictiveness? And if you join in, does it increase your status and respectability in British society? My feeling is that it certainly does. So you’ll forgive me if I doubt the integrity of your backing the shrill accusations of the British government and media.

I actually think this discomfort is an encouraging sign that the heart and soul of British Jewry is in good working order. If British Jews were not viscerally connected to Israel, the feeling would be one of apathy or contempt, not discomfort. But they are connected.

To so many of them, Israel is precious and important. When they land at Ben-Gurion Airport, their hearts are filled with belonging.

This is something we all share, we who live here and we who come to visit. To sever us from this profound recognition and unity in our psyche, to force us to feel that we have no choice but to expunge it, is to cripple us indeed. So my suggestion to you is don’t agree to be crippled. Hold your head high, take it on the chin, fight it like a lion or leave.

Where does that leave us, you and I? I personally would rather we did not go this route.

But if you would like to criticize Israel as much as you like, then I, by the same token, will feel free to criticize you as much as I like. We will call this new way of relating “tough love.”

We will use the two-directional model, instead of Diaspora Jews behaving as if their criticism is a lifesaving antibiotic, which Israel, the ever truculent child, refuses to swallow.

In conclusion, I’d like to invite Jonathan Hoffman, Lord Kalms and Chief Rabbi Sacks to dinner the next time they are in Beit Shemesh. In a crisis, it sure is nice to know who your friends are. As for poor Mick Davis, he will not get even one bite of my fabulous lasagna.

The writer is a filmmaker.

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=199142

COMMENTS

jandrsimonson (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 12:39

Rate this:

-3 points

One of the problems with being criticised is that we are not able to stipulate what it is about us that may be criticised.

I agree to be criticised by my wife but I first need to make it clear to her what she can legitimately criticise and what she may not. So long as she doesn't criticise my leaving my dirty laundary all over the bedroom floor ( the occupation ? ) then its ok


Kahina

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 12:45

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4 points

Great piece - thanks for posting it Jon.


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 12:48

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2 points

Maybe again jandrsimonson should be more accurate and stipulate which occupations of the Indian tribes he criticised?


Jon_i_Cohen

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 12:56

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1 point

I still think Turkeys occupation of Northern Cyprus is the one he/she means.
It is something we should all be concerned about, having been to Famagusta and looked out over no mans land and heard all the stories of forced expulsions I thing we should all be pushing the United Nations to enforce resolution 186.


jandrsimonson (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:03

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-2 points

I refer to THE occupation because it is it's continuation that , above all things, threatens Israel's long term future.


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:07

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1 point

You mean THE continuing occupation of Tibet? No Buddhist ever tried suicide bombing though.
Or THE continuing occupation of Cyprus?

This is not clear jandrsimonson, "THE" other occupations do not seem to be preoccupied much about China's and Turkey's long term future.

Do I sense a kind of double standards there?


Jon_i_Cohen

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:08

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1 point

How does Turkeys occupation of Northern Cyprus threaten Israel's long term future?


jandrsimonson (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:12

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-2 points

Does the occupation of north Cyprus , Tibet etc etc represent an existential threat to Israel ? NO !!

Does the continuing occupation of the territories and the creation of an appended apartheid province threaten the legitImacy of Israel, the very existence of Israel as a Jewish State, threaten to turn Israel into a pariah state ? YES !!


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:27

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2 points

The occupation of Cyprus and Tibet represent a grave moral danger to Turkey and Tibet.
As shown by the evacuation of Gaza, evacuation is an existential threat to Israel, not so much occupation.
"Apartheid" is just a stupid word tossed when no other argument is available to Israel-bashers.
Show us an Israeli citizen that doesn't have equal rights to vote for example. This is a challenge.


Jon_i_Cohen

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:30

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2 points

Oh, here we go "apartheid".
An Arab General in the IDF - "apartheid"
Hundreds of Arab soldiers in the IDF - "apartheid"
Arab High court Judges in Israel - "apartheid"
Arab members of parliament - "apartheid"
Arab citizens accorded the full right to vote - "apartheid"

This "apartheid" seems fine to me.

Occupation? Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005, do you mean the Hamas occupation of Gaza, Hamas is an internationally proscribed terrorist organisation that has taken control of Gaza and enforces its rule with an oppressive and brutal regime.
As for Judea and Samaria, these were areas that were liberated from Jordanian control after 1967, they are not occupied, but are now free of Arab control.

The biggest "EXISTENTIAL THREAT" TO Israel is from the cabal of useful idiots that are hell bent on this campaign of self criticism, I must suppose that you feel that the criticism from our enemies is simply not working and that people like you think that by adding a self-hating, Jewish perspective to the criticism of Israel you will do a better job.


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 13:49

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1 point

The biggest "EXISTENTIAL THREAT" TO Israel is from the cabal of useful idiots that are hell bent on this campaign of self criticism

It is not so much "self criticism": these useful idiots criticise Israel about things they wouldn't even think to criticise in other countries, in fact even for much worse problems.

They apply double standards and double standards are a sure sign of antisemitism, not of Jewishness.


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 14:03

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1 point

One more comment about this "existential threat": does occupation Tibet threaten to turn China in an apartheid state?
Chinese already represent a high percentage of Tibetan residents. But they can do so because they have a massive population reservoir in mainland China.
Israel does not have such reservoir, so should it abandon all hopes of a Jewish State, just because some useful idiots confuse occupation with apartheid and cannot understand there is no intention for Israel to force anyone to be an Israeli citizen against their will.

"Apartheid" is best characterised by the political anti-apartheid slogan "one man, one vote". If all men have equal voting rights, there cannot be apartheid. As we saw in South Africa, as soon as all people had the same voting rights, the apartheid regime collapsed.
So there is no risk of apartheid in Israel, as long as there is occupation of Judea Samaria and not anexation of it.
So occupation, in fact, protects Israel from being an apartheid state.


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 14:28

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1 point

By the way, have any of you heard how preoccupied the useful idiots were about the antisemitic and apartheid laws voted by the PA 'Parliament'?
Aren't these laws an "existential threat" that risk turning the future Palestinian state into an apartheid pariah state?


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 16:05

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0 points

Note again the deafening silence of those who apply double standards as a systematic way of thinking. It seems this escapes from their internal radar. Must be the antisemitic bug.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 18:06

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-1 points

Posner I am just curious. A response isen't mandatory. But How old are you ? Seriously Jon is easy to figure but I can't make up my mind about you. Like whether you are senile or only 13


Watchful Iris (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 18:20

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-2 points

So there is no risk of apartheid in Israel, as long as there is occupation of Judea Samaria and not anexation of it.
So occupation, in fact, protects Israel from being an apartheid state.

Yeah..that's good thinking....for a facist. Just amazing.


jandrsimonson (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 19:08

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-2 points

Iris that is just so spot on.

Israel won't annexe the territories because that would create one state between the river and the sea with roughly the same number of Jews and Arabs which would either necessitate Israel becoming an apartheid state or granting the entire population full civil and political rights including freedom of movement etc etc which would be the end of Israel as a jewish state.

At the same time Israel won't relinquish control of it. The implicit old policy of creating favourable facts on the ground so when there is an eventual peace deal Israel would be left with most of the choice bits, is dead in the water Israel doesn't know what to do since it can't stomach it's only sane option.

i.e reach a two state agreement along lines the whole world advocates including the US and the Arab League

i.e two states with borders roughly coinciding with the green line with maybe a few minor land swops and a sharing of Jerusalem with international supervision of the holy basin

Israel thinks time is on its side

the contrary is true


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:02

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0 points

At the same time Israel won't relinquish control of it.

Amazing thinking, jandrsimonson! Totally disregarding facts but amazing!

Of course, we know that Israel relinquished:
- Sinai (a desert, but strategic because of some petrol in it and militarily important)
- Gaza, proving that concessions to 'Palestinians' don't bring any peace but terrorism.

Brillant, jrandrsimonson, brilliant!


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:05

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1 point

Yeah..that's good thinking....for a facist. Just amazing.

I guess a series of exceptional contributions such as your fantastic "0) @Posner" ended here!

Remember that all occupations are not fascist? Remember that England occupied Germany for some time? That USA occupies Afghanistan.
On the other hand, maybe you were referring to the Nazi occupation of Jerusalem by Jordan?


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:05

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1 point

Posner I am just curious

Where is Posner, Wheelchair?


Jon_i_Cohen

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:15

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1 point

The usual left-wing, useful idiots outdated response with the tiresome spurious demographics.

The actual population figures are a total of 7,374,000 with 5,569,200 Jews and Arabs 1,487,600, the balance are Christians and other non-denominational.

http://www.cbs.gov.il/publications/isr_in_n09e.pdf

As it is impossible to divide the area up again and "create" a mythical Palestinian state, where would you want that state? a state in Gaza, and another state in Judea & Samaria?, two more states?
What is happening in world opinion is a move to accept the history and accept Jordan as the State for the arabs, try reading these posts:-

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/jordan-is-palestine-the-reality-gathers-pa...

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/jordan-is-palestine-says-jordan


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:43

Rate this:

1 point

Like whether you are senile or only 13

13 is more likely your IQ. Don't confuse, Wheelchair.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 20:54

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-2 points

So occupation, in fact, protects Israel from being an apartheid state.

Jon do you agree or disagree with the above mind blowing jaw dropping confession from Posner or disagree with it ?


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 21:02

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1 point

Jon do you agree or disagree with the above mind blowing jaw dropping confession from Posner or disagree with it ?

It was me and not Posner, Wheelchair.

Remember that UK occupied Germany? Was UK an apartheid state during all this time?


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 21:03

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1 point

The problem with the antisemite bunch is that they cannot think except in term of ready-made slogans: "occupation is bad", "freedom is good", etc.


Armchair Quarterback

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 21:48

Rate this:

-2 points

the moral of this story is that if you type enough you are bound to screw up big time on a regular basis and no one types more than the incontinent posner

Posner explain to us how the occupation protects Israel from becoming an apartheid state

the people want to know


jose (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 22:27

Rate this:

0 points

Posner explain to us

Where is Posner, Wheelchair.

the people want to know

By "the people", you mean idiots like you?


Yehuda Erdman

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 07:22

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-2 points

To return to the original post by Jon_i_Cohen, I don't think he has the right to set the agenda as to what may or may not be debated by Jews and others in a Jewish newspaper in the UK. The assertion that because he lives in Israel, is a tax payer and his son serves in the IDF gives him exclusive rights is just plain wrong.
He also has low esteem for the religious Jews in Israel, an opinion which I know is shared by many secular Israelis, but this fails to recognise that within the Ultra Orthodox Jews of Israel there is a spectrum of beliefs and practises, and there are many that serve in the IDF and work for a living for example, which are two of his own criteria.
I also resent the implication in many of the posts above that only the right wing gung ho type of Zionists have valid opinions and that left wing views are rubbished out of hand. No one has a monopoly of wisdom and debate in the JC blog needs to be conducted on a more civilised level.
It is true that occupations have taken place in other regions and the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus was mentioned as well as the Chinese occupation of Tibet. In the case of Cyprus stick to the facts which were that Turkey invaded after the Greek Junta threatened to expel Turkish Cypriots from the North of the island. In any case all these ethnic and national disputes are very hard to solve but it is still essential in the interests of preventing war to try.
For a very long time now many of the finest diplomats and statesmen in the world have attempted to resolve the Israel/ Palestine problem and most people in the world now agree that the two state solution is the only way forward. It does not help to repeat the mantra that Jordan is Palestine, and to carry on building up Jewish settlement on the west bank in the hope that eventually these areas will all be in Israel, and the Palestinians will be left with very little on the west bank.
I do agree that Hamas ruled Gaza makes it harder to achieve one state of Palestine because I accept that Hamas do not operate by recognised democratic ways. By the same token, the Islamic republic of Iran also rejected the voice of the people in the last elections there and they have no intention of relinquishing power. They are also financing Hitzbulla and Hamas as proxies in their battle with the West and Israel in particular. Nevertheless, although as we know democracy is not perfect it is still the least bad system of government because it allows peaceful change.
This does mean that everyone must be allowed to speak and be heard. It is not for Jon_i_Cohen to castigate Micky Davis and praise the Chief Rabbi. They are both worthy but their opinions do not over rule others.


jose (not verified)

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 07:27

Rate this:

3 points

The assertion that because he lives in Israel, is a tax payer and his son serves in the IDF gives him exclusive rights is just plain wrong.

As usual, Erdman's reading comprehension does not allow him to understand who is writing the text he is reading, not mentioning understanding the arguments.


Kahina

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 10:42

Rate this:

3 points

Yehuda, the piece was written by Katie Green, a film maker in Israel. It was published in the Jerusalem Post. If you go to the link and read the talkbacks you will see that it reflects the sentiments of a lot of Israelis.

It also reflects the sentiments of most people I know. Maybe Katie will invite me for lasagne too?


Yoni1

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:05

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2 points

"within the Ultra Orthodox Jews of Israel there is a spectrum of beliefs and practises, and there are many that serve in the IDF"

You don't even know what 'ULTRA Orthodox' means, idiot. The ULTRA Orthodox most certainly do NOT serve in the IDF except occasionally as cooks or kashrut supervisors.


Yoni1

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:07

Rate this:

2 points

"In the case of Cyprus stick to the facts which were that Turkey invaded after the Greek Junta threatened to expel Turkish Cypriots from the North of the island"

What an idiot. Turkey committed massacres in Cyprus, idiot. Greece is a democracy and Turkey is still occupying an EU country illegally, idiot.


Jon_i_Cohen

Mon, 01/03/2011 - 11:45

Rate this:

2 points

As usual the left-wingers chip-in with comments completely off the point.
If Mr Erdman took the time to read the posts and links above he would see that the momentum is gathering pace for an acceptance of Jordan as the only viable Palestinian Arab state.
With 56 Moslem majority states in the world their is no need to create another between Israel and Jordan or between Israel and the Med, aka Gaza.
Gaza will eventually come under Egyptian control and Jordan will revert to being the Palestinian Arab state in the area.
There is no alternative, to believe otherwise is either naive in the extreme or to be an enemy of Israel.
With the current "moderate" PA leadership of Saab Erekaat calling for:-
1. the return of all pre-1948 Arab refugees and the generations of their descendants to be settled in Israel proper and NOT the West Bank.
and
2. Refusing to accept the acceptance of a Jewish State Of Israel.
These are not just "negotiating" positions, these are clearly what the so-called "moderate" Palestinian Arab leaders believe.
Katie Greens article and the associated comments reflect the majority Israeli and diaspora Jewish opinion, that Israel must stand strong and reject the PA position out of hand.
And yes Mr Erdman if we want Israel to survive we are right to criticise the loony left, and I include Mick Davis in that category, who is not a politician or a diplomat, he is a wealthy individual who has abused his un-elected position to align the UJIA with the loony-left and Israels enemies. He has caused irreperable damage, many substantial donors I know will now no longer give to the UJIA but in the future will donate direct, this will in turn result in a smaller UJIA and job losses, unless Mr Davis resigns quickly.

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