Letter on Gaza visit


By Lorely Burt
August 4, 2011
Share

This is the full version of a letter in this week's Jewish Chronicle

To the Editor,

Your paper recently criticised myself and parliamentary colleagues from the UK and European parliaments for speaking to Hamas on a visit to Gaza last week.

It is perfectly true we met the Prime Minister and other elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, which included Hamas, during our visit. We also spoke to Fatah, NGOs, UNRWA, OCHA, business people, women's groups, families of prisoners, and made visits to a hospital, a water utility, a university and a refugee camp.

I will explain my reasons for speaking to Hamas, which was not in an official capacity, as your article implies.

My first job after being elected in 2005 was to be a member of the Northern Ireland Grand Committee. I spoke to both sides and felt then that the bitter and entrenched attitudes I met could never result in a peace. But today we have relative peace, and Northern Ireland largely governs itself.

Through this experience I learned that every argument has two sides. And each side builds its own narrative to justify its actions, however extreme. It has carefully crafted justifications at the ready to answer every criticism of its own actions, and this can shield it from objectively considering awkward questions that fall outside the narrative.

During the three days we visited Gaza I am told the Israelis fired two rockets, one of which landed less than a mile from our hotel. I was told that rockets fired back into Israel are today not coming from Hamas but from extremist groups who consider Hamas as not radical enough and have become part of the establishment.

I have many Jewish friends in the UK, and have been invited to visit Israel. If the Israeli government are good enough to allow me in, I want to make that visit: to see and hear the other side of the story.

I expect to find in Israel the same as I found in Gaza: a proud and enterprising people in a beautiful land whose wish is to live in peace and freedom.

But to achieve this, I believe that one side has to blink first, and right now it seems to me the Israelis are holding all the cards.

My initial thoughts are that Israel is making a rod for its own back by imposing the blockade which continues to provoke anger, resentment and backlash from the Palestinians. These actions are feeding extremists who are recruiting new young terrorists, who have little hope of jobs and prospects, from the refugee camps. From what I have seen the backlash is solely against Israel and not against Hamas.

Please consider this scenario. Suppose Israel were to lift the blockade and allow in everything except weapons and explosives. Would this not dissipate much of the anger and frustration, and weaken the extremists' hold?

Would it not also win Israel much needed international support at a time of great uncertainly in the wider region? But would it not also take courage and foresight on the part of the Israeli government?

And the achievement of a peace, which both peoples want, would need both governments to be prepared to do what we did in Northern Ireland: to think the unthinkable and talk to the enemy.

Yours sincerely,

Lorely Burt

Liberal Democrat Member of UK Parliament

COMMENTS

Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:17

Rate this:

1 point

http://www.davidtrimble.org/publications_misunderstanding.pdf

The foolishness of your comparison with Ulster is brilliantly set out here.

You seem to forget that Hamas is dedicated to the extermination of all Jews........... and throws Fatah members from fourth floor windows ....


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:22

Rate this:

0 points

What can you say from someone from Jenny Tonge's party?

I hope you expressed your disgust at the antisemitism of Hamas, its call for the genocide of the Jews in its charter, its degrading misogyny, treatment of gays, Christians, and glorification of violence against Jews and suppression of all dissent.

You did, didn't you?


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:24

Rate this:

0 points

No Lorely Burt, it is not up to Israel to eradicate the racism and violence endemic, and glorified in, Palestinian society.

At what point do the Palestinians take responsibility for themselves and their actions?


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 15:25

Rate this:

0 points

No Burt, the Palestinains do not wish to live in peace and freedom...if it means allowing Israel to exist or for Jews to be present in the Middle East. Poll after poll has shown this.

Do some basic research before spouting off.


Real Real Zionist

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 16:10

Rate this:

-2 points

Well Lorely now you have experienced it yourself...The loneliness of the long distance reasonable person among the loony zealots on this blog site.


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 16:12

Rate this:

0 points

Lorely, real real zionist is not a zionist of any description by his/her/its own admission, and is a far leftist Israel hater.

He/she also runs away when challenged with facts, don't we, rrz?


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 16:14

Rate this:

0 points

real real zionist, I expect that you too are concerned about the Hamas administration's racism, and that you hope as ardently as I that Lorely Burt brought this issue up when meeting the thugs of Hamas?

You care about this issue, don't you?


Advis3r

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 16:51

Rate this:

0 points

First Ms Burt the rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel - not the other way around - Israel responds to provocation it does not initiate attacks against innocent civilians and we only have the word of Hamas that they were not responsible - given past evidence little or no credence can be given to anything they say.
Secondly, I would like to know if you consider MPs like should have visited another regime, also democratically elected, which also called for the destruction of the Jews, I mean of course Hitler's National Socialist Party.
Thirdly nowhere do you mention that you requested Hamas to release details of the current state of Gilad Schalit let alone call for his release - nor do you say you agreed to carry a letter for him from his family which I therefore presume you did not. Am I right?


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 17:16

Rate this:

0 points

Ms Burt, can you give any other example of any country providing assistance to another territorial entity at the same time it is suffering attacks from the governing body of that entity?

Israel, absurdly in my view, provides thousands of tonnes of supplies to Gaza, and thousands of Gazans have received free medical treatment in Israel - even as Hamas fires rockets at Israeli civilians (and the Israeli power station which provides Gaza wih electricity) and promises to destroy Israel and the Jews. Israel owes Gaza nothing.

Egypt, on the other border with Gaza, provides precisely zero. Hamas fires rockets at Israel, not Gaza.

Can you explain that?


amber

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 17:16

Rate this:

0 points

Correction - Hamas fires rockets at Israel, not Egypt, which gives Gaza nothing.

Can you explain that?


JC Webmaster

Thu, 08/04/2011 - 20:02

Rate this:

0 points

This comment by Real Real Zionist has been moderated


Harvey

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 09:20

Rate this:

0 points

Dear Ms Burt
Following your recent visit to Gaza and from your meetings with Hamas officials , can you state categorically that Hamas would be prepared to accept an irrevocable peace accord with Israel on the premise of two separate states based on approximately 67 borders .
This would entail the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and renouncing claims of" right of return" which would of course is just another way to delegitimize Israel .
If as I suspect you are unable to provide this assurance , then with all due respect your post as indeed your cause is meaningless . Instead it represents one more wholly misguided attempt by your party to foist an unsustainable "solution" to the israel / Palestine conflict .


Joe Millis

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 09:35

Rate this:

-2 points

What's a Jewish state, Harvey? Israel hasn't defined it yet, but could you?


Elliotto

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 09:39

Rate this:

0 points

Hello Lorely
Obviously your work as an MP leaves you with lots of time to gallivant around the world trying to sort out the problems of other countries. There's lots for you to do, lots of trouble spots to keep you busy. Why do I sense that it's only the Israel-Arab situation which is top of your list, as with other meddling British politicians?


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:54

Rate this:

0 points

Lorely, why don't you reply? Did you bring your concerns about Hamas' racism and genocidal policy up when you met with these thugs?


Harvey

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 11:50

Rate this:

1 point

Millis
It's the same as a Muslim state only it's a Jewish state .
Maybe I got it wrong and Saudi Arabia defines itself as a Jewish state . But then again not .
Do you have a problem with israel defining itself as a Jewish state ?
Your comment says it all . For you it is not about israel maintaining its democracy by relinquishing the west bank . Thats mere window dressing . In reality your problem is that Israel defines itself as a Jewish nation in the first place . You have much in common with the likes of the tyrants of Iran and many others of similar intent . You should be proud of yourself !


Harvey

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 11:59

Rate this:

0 points

Amber
Burt is a sock puppet for the bds /Psc brigade who perform according to a strict doctrine of posting sniping hit and run blogs while steadfastly avoiding below the line comment . It's a standard tactic . On the other hand they countenance no opposition on their own sites . The bds and lenins tomb for instance delete any opposing comment . MPAC make it a private face book party . This is all far left fascist strategy inherited from the old communist text book of counter propaganda .


Joe Millis

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:07

Rate this:

-2 points

Garfield, straw man whataboutery. Again. Israel claims it's a Jewish and democratic state. Saudi - and other Muslim states - don't, as far as I know, add the democratic appendage. Turkey might, but I'd have to check.
I have no problem with Israel defining itself as a Jewish state. With or without democratic. But what you and it fail abjectly to do is define what it means to be a Jewish state. With or without "democratic" added. That was the basis for my question. So, if you would be so kind, please define what you or Israel mean by "Jewish state".


Harvey

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:21

Rate this:

0 points

Millis
If it needs defining , then I suggest you define it for . Try defining over at Mondo Weiss
Or Arzmons hate site . You will feel right at home on either .


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:42

Rate this:

0 points

Harvey, thanks. I know this is the leftist tactic. The fact that she refuses to engage should be highlighted.


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:43

Rate this:

0 points

millis, it sounds awfully like you do have a problem with Israel being Jewish.


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:44

Rate this:

0 points

You certainly have a problem with it not being a socialist utopia.


Joe Millis

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:47

Rate this:

-2 points

Garfield, more straw man whataboutery. You are the one who can't define it. It's really quite easy, if you think about it.
Now here's another question to tickle your grey cell. If you think Israel is so wonderful, why are you still schlepping your tuchas in London when you could fit in so easily as a sherut driver at Natbag? Or you could be a "Speyshal" driver.
IOW, why haven't you gone on aliyah?


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 12:55

Rate this:

0 points

millis, your definition of every settler as a "fascist" is fascistic in itself.

You are the extremist here.


Harvey

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 14:29

Rate this:

0 points

Millis
I'm not sure whose blog it is but JC watch certainly has your number .


Joe Millis

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 14:40

Rate this:

-2 points

Garfield, try and answer the question(s). How do you define a Jewish state? If Israel is so wonderful, why aren't you there?
Whataboutery is really quite stupid, much like one-thing watch sites run by bitter and twisted Julius Streicher-alikes.


Elliotto

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 15:10

Rate this:

0 points

The Old Kid on the Blog is off again. Good question though, what is a Jewish State? If it's a state for Jewish people to go to discos and cafes, then we have a problem and the enemies have a case. Slowly but surely it's becoming a real Jewish State and when that happens the Israel haters around the world will really jump up and down; the Arabs,though, will actually have more respect.


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 15:10

Rate this:

0 points

millis, you answer the question. You accused me of being someone else, and you accused the JC of being complicit in it.

Who do you think I am? Don't be a coward all your life.


Joe Millis

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 15:26

Rate this:

-2 points

Elliotto it defines itself as the state of the Jewish people. At least, that's Netanyahu's precondition for peace. No problem with that definition. However, if I understand you correctly, you would prefer it to be some kind of halachic state. Who would pay for all those yeshivah students? Or rabbis?
That itself raises the question of how would that kind of state function in the 21st century and how would it relate to all those Jews around the world who aren't Orthodox - the majority?


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 15:40

Rate this:

0 points

Come on millis, don't be a coward all your life.

Put the name to your accusation - or withdraw it.


amber

Fri, 08/05/2011 - 15:40

Rate this:

0 points

millis, why don't YOU define it?


Elliotto

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 11:28

Rate this:

0 points

Mr Millis you're jumping to conclusions, regurgitating the stereotyped negative images put out by the ultra-secular media. There are many more observant Israelis than in the past and no, they’re not all scroungers and draft dodgers; most are regular working people. Religious soldiers are well represented in the army and are usually highly motivated. This is what a Jewish State is, and yes Jewish status is halachically defined.


Belfast Steven Jaffe

Mon, 08/08/2011 - 11:40

Rate this:

1 point

Spot on Jonathan. Is it always right to talk to terrorists? When does it contribute to peace or give legitimacy to terrorism? In 1972 Martin McGuiness was flown to London to meet secretary of state, William Whitelaw. It contributed to the worst year of the Troubles as the IRA took the view that violence was the way to recognition and negotiations. Countless "well meaning" visitors to NI gave the same impression. The lesson was learnt by the time of the Good Friday agreement, the parties had to sign up first to the Mitchell principles of non violence. To say that Hamas is not yet at that stage is to state the obvious. Lorley's visit serves only to encourage Hamas that it might gain international legitimacy while it remains wedded to its genocidal charter and intentions towards Israel. That is incredibly dangerous.

POST A COMMENT

You must be logged in to post a comment.

LATEST COMMENTS