Questions for protesters
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Let's get the labelling stuff on the table straight off. I'm a Jew, and I'm a Zionist. I care deeply about the state of Israel for two main reasons. Firstly, because I care for the welfare of my fellow Jews, and, secondly, because if life grows uncomfortable for me as a Jew in the UK, I will have somewhere safe to run to.
I'm also a passionate believer in a two-state solution because there's no denying that the Palestinian Arabs have been displaced and left stateless by the creation of the state of Israel (irrespective of the fact that they could have had their own state in 1947 when it was offered by the UN). I'm bitterly disappointed that, although Israel and the PA have come close on numerous occasions, a deal has thus far eluded them, with a huge and growing price in blood.
Like any right-minded person, I deplore the death and destruction in Gaza I've witnessed on my TV screen. It upsets me doubly to see such suffering and to know that, whatever the sequence of events, my own brethren have inflicted so much sorrow on the civilians of Gaza.
It's understandable, then, that protesters might take to the streets. As a democrat, I would defend to my core their right to protest (even though my analysis of the situation differs from theirs). Yet the tone of many of the protests (e.g. equating Israelis with the Nazis) leaves me profoundly disturbed. It seems to me that Israel's actions stir the passions of people in a way that nothing else can and I want to understand why.
Please tell me your motivation. I want to know
To the Palestinian protesters I say, I hear your pain; let's hope that out of this bloody mess an opportunity arises for a durable peace between our two peoples. To the other Arab protesters I say, I admire your solidarity with your Palestinian Arab kin, but where have you been for the 150,000 Syrians who have died in the conflict there, some murdered by poison gas? Where are you for the Christian and Shi'ite victims of Isis beheadings and crucifixions in Iraq?
To the Muslim protesters, I say I admire your solidarity with your coreligionists, but where are you for the victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria, for the victims of the Taliban in Afghanistan or for the victims of the Pakistani Taliban?
To the non-Palestinian, non-Arab, non-Muslim protesters, I admire your humanitarianism, but why does it not extend with the same passion to any of the Muslim victims of war listed above, or more widely to, for example, the people of Darfur or South Sudan or to the victims of the Shabab in Somalia or of civil war in the Central African Republic?
Please tell me. I desperately want to know. Is it because the TV cameras have been able to cover the Gaza conflict blow by blow in a way, denied access, they could not elsewhere? Is it because Israel has set itself a higher moral standard in its declaration of independence by aspiring to be a light to the nations? Is it because Israel is an advanced Western liberal democracy and as such must be held to a higher standard?
I dearly want to know because, if you can't tell me, then I must depressingly arrive at the conclusion that your passion, your zeal, your rage, is motivated not primarily by heartfelt concern for the Palestinian victims of this conflict but by your deep-seated hatred of Jews that has found an outlet for its expression in the protests against Israel's military campaign against Hamas in Gaza.
Please tell me I'm wrong, because if I'm not, then you've proved beyond doubt that my Zionism is well-founded for the reasons I offered at the start of this article.
Rising antisemitism is a widespread concern in the UK, and in France, where the situation is more acute, it is estimated that 5,000 French Jews will emigrate to Israel this year (one per cent of the Jewish population).
Surely an own goal for the anti-Zionists?
Mark Berg is the director of a London-based PR company