Mick Davis: full comments

November 18, 2010
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On Jewish leadership:

If you try to characterise the leadership of the Jewish community…you would probably find most of them are left of centre in thinking about Israel, that they strongly support a two-state solution, they are worried about the rights of minorities.

I think you have a left of centre leadership with a genuine concern about minority issues, concerned about the moral dilemmas that we face, concerned about where Israel goes, but it's a leadership which has never, ever spoken up publicly about that.

Issues that cause moral dilemmas for leaders:

Additional building on settlements, or the bulldozing of houses of people in circumstances which just doesn't seem to be morally conscionable… forcing non-Jews to take an oath about the nature of the Jewish state…the fact that many Arab Israelis live in circumstances of extreme poverty - that is not to say some Jewish Israelis don't either - and have a second class service delivery from the state.

Why leaders have been reluctant to speak publicly about such issues:

Those are issues that ideally we would like to talk about…but you are fearful of doing that, because you then suddenly say: 'Well, is it possible that those things will get picked up and woven into the debate of the delegitimisers and present a platform from which they then grow in strength?'

In Europe, and this country in particular, there is a strong sense amongst the leadership, and I guess most of the community, that there is a concerted effort to delegitimise the state. Not to attack Israel's policies, but actually question whether the state as a Jewish state should exist.

On Benjamin Netanyahu:

I object to the fact that Netanyahu hasn't got the courage to take the steps that he would like to take. I think he would like to be seen as the person who makes the great advance…He is a prisoner of the past and a prisoner of the circumstances that he finds himself in. I don't understand the lack of strategy in Israel.

The risk of Israel becoming an apartheid state:

If… the world community no longer believes that a two-state solution is possible, we de facto become an apartheid state because we then have the majority who are going to be governed by the minority.

Israel is not today an apartheid state… Even though we have things that are entirely offensive to us passed in the Knesset, those things come from tactical issues rather than from anything else and do not represent the mainstream of Israeli society. We still have wonderfully fertile ground to build the moral nation that we want to have.

On why diaspora philanthropy is not enough:

I think the government of Israel …have to recognise that their actions directly impact on me as a Jew living in London. When they do good things it is good for me, when they do bad things, it's bad for me. And the impact on me is as significant as it is on Jews living in Israel… I want them to recognise that.

On Anglo-Jewry:

I think there is not only amongst young people but quite a few Jews in this country a desire to see a discussion take place which echoes views about Israel which address the current dilemmas, without wanting to at the same time be attacked and labelled as a self-hating Jew.

Last updated: 1:56pm, November 25 2010