Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category

Jewish Voice for Israeli Peace Outlawed

April 28, 2018

In Jerusalem for New Year January 2014 I searched the old city for a Peace, Shalom – Salaam T shirt. Such shirts were common on my last visit at New Year 1997. In 2014 they were nowhere to be seen. Eventually, one small shopkeeper turned up a good quality, embroidered, Israeli-made shirt, which I wore happily. ‘Peace’ in Hebrew letters. ‘Peace’ in western letters. ‘Peace’ in Arabic letters. So be it!


18 months later an Egyptian-American cousin in law told me that the Arabic is fake. The ‘Arabic’ writing does not read ‘Peace.’ It does not read anything. It is made to look like Arabic but is only squiggles.

The T shirt is a cynical, hypocritical, Israeli production, high quality but fake. Produced for the outside world, the visitors, prominently featuring the word ‘Shalom’, ‘Peace in Hebrew’. ‘We Israelis want peace,’ the shirt proclaims.

What does the Israeli-made fake Arabic say? Maybe: ‘The Arabs who speak of peace are all fake.’ This is a common Israeli claim, which justifies not engaging seriously with any peace talk with Arabs. Or maybe: ‘We don’t know their language, we don’t want to know their language, we’ll just pretend we do.’ How can there be peace between people when one side refuses to learn the language of the other, while pretending otherwise?

Now even the real the Israeli voice for peace has virtually died. Uri Avnery, Israeli soldier in the War of Independence, long-standing advocate for peace between Israel and Palestine, wrote 2 weeks ago about Israeli snipers killing unarmed protesters within Gaza, near the border:

Not only is the shooting of the unarmed protesters, far from the fence, done by order, but there seem to be no other voices. The military and political leadership is united. Even in civilian society, voices against the mass murder are very few… Nobody dares to speak out against the killing, apart from some faint whispers. Even the many admirable groups of youngsters who fight against the occupation, each on some special sector, are silent about the Gaza killings.

No mass demonstrations. No huge protests. Nothing.

So we, too, are to blame. And perhaps more than others.

Please write down: I am guilty!’

Jewish Voice for Peace, a US organisation, is now officially banned in Israel. Jewish Voice for Peace is one of 20 organisations whose members are banned from entering Israel. Israel sees itself as the home, the haven, for all Jews across the world – except those who talk honestly and seriously about peace with the Palestinians.

Is my writing here ‘disproportionate and furious hostility to Israel.’ David Hirsh would probably deem it so. In this week’s Church Times, Hirsh repeatedly claims that Jeremy Corbyn’s talking with Palestinians, at times even using their language, is the same as the worst anti-semitism. This is how Jewish, and other, voices for peace are silenced – loud, repeated, shaming, assertions of anti-semitism. David Hirsh’s article shows mostly that he, like many others, is adamantly confusing and conflating being Jewish with being a whole-hearted supporter of the State of Israel. Those, especially currently, in the British Labour Party who carry on criticising Israel, while honouring Jews, are vilified.

 If you want to read a clear, strong, case for separating Judaism from Zionism try Robert Cohen:

Let a Jewish Israeli have the last word here. In his blog of March 17. Uri Avnery wrote:

Real friends of Israel should advise Netanyahu to make peace as long as Mahmoud Abbas (Abu-Mazen) is still around. In two weeks he will be 83 years old, and he is ailing. He is deeply committed to peace. He has no obvious successor, and his replacement may be far, far less moderate.

But Netanyahu doesn’t care. Peace is the last thing he has on his troubled mind. He is far more committed to the eternal conflict with both the Arabs and the Iranians.

After all, what would life be like without enemies?

Roger Harper


Israel and Gaza – Outlaws: 2 August

August 2, 2014

To write about Israel and Gaza or not to write? My few words will make no difference to the war. They may, though, provoke an angry response from some of my wider Jewish family, in Israel and America. My brother has posted ‘Enough Already!’ on Facebook, critical of the Israeli government. He has been taken to task by family members. Now, I want to keep good relationships with my family. A sunny photo of related Israelis, Americans and Brits is above my mantelpiece. I am writing an account of our grandfather’s life and want their assistance. My daughter’s wedding is next year and I want their presence. Good reasons to keep quiet.

And yet… My Muslim friend from a Pakistani family says that if I keep quiet, how can anyone expect any Muslim in a more oppressive society to speak up about the stupidity of Hamas firing tin pot rockets at a country they know will retaliate with F15s?

My aunt used to say that our family is a mini United Nations. (When we gathered in Israel we included Mongolians and an Egyptian.) In the United Nations there is bound to be disagreement, but also a common commitment to keeping relationship, keep talking. It would impoverish the family, especially a Jewish family, if we refrain from speaking because we know others will disagree.

The view of this British Christian with Jewish and Israeli relatives is:

Israel started this war by going after Hamas in the West Bank under the pretext of searching for missing Israeli teenagers, knowing that Hamas are bound, under their own ideology, to retaliate. No evidence has been provided that Hamas were responsible for the teenagers’ death. Hamas had ensured for a few years that rocket attacks from Gaza were considerably less than previously. (‘Rocket firings, averaging 240 per month in 2007, dropped to five per month in 2013.’ ) Israel would have known that rocket attacks are the most likely response to Israeli aggression.

Israel attacked Hamas because Israel, for some time, has given up on relying on the Law, relying on military might instead. When a crime is committed, such as the abduction and eventual murder of three Israeli teenagers, the legal response is to investigate, find evidence, apprehend the perpetrators, determine their guilt and apply the previously agreed penalty. This is the rule of Law. It takes determination, time and patience. The military response is to kick the hell out of ‘them’ for what they have done, coming to quick conclusions about who ‘they’ are and pragmatic conclusions about how much kicking to administer – mostly as much as we think we can get away with / enough to teach them a lesson they will not forget.

The rule of Law is a great Jewish contribution to human civilisation. In the Jewish, Old Testament, tradition, kings are not above the Law. If kings violate the law they are taken to task and warned by prophets and, eventually, they, and the whole nation, can lose the LORD’s support. The rule of Law was made plain by the very first king being disowned by the LORD. The Israeli government has not just flouted the rule of Law, of Torah, they have thrown it in the rubbish bin.

Israel has been encouraged to do this by the US, Britain and other countries who also decided after 9/11 not to apply the rule of Law to terrorists but to kick the hell out of them and anyone who supports them.

Israel is acting like Austria-Hungary 100 years ago. The Austrians insisted on sending their troops into Serbia to ‘get’ those who had assassinated the Archduke, using the military, not the law. The outcome was the death of hundreds of thousands all over Europe. The US and Britain did the same after 9/11. Israel has done the same now. When will people stop repeating the mistakes of history?

Israel has retaliated for Hamas rockets and continues to retaliate, in huge disproportion to the damage inflicted by Hamas. The great Jewish principle of equivalent response, ‘one eye for one eye..,’ is being horrendously flouted.

Israel believes it can stop future war by fighting hard now. Once Israeli security is established, Israelis will carry on with life. The truth is that even the war to end all wars only created another war. Wars do not make peace. Wars only create quiet through intimidation for a while. Especially when there is no attempt to make peace in other ways. The Israeli blockade of Gaza is like the demand of France and Britain for heavy reparations from Germany after the First World War – fuelling future war.

Israel is right to regard Hamas as an outlaw organisation which needs to be combatted. The way to combat Hamas is to use the Law, including international law and especially Torah, and, when necessary, to respond to violence with violence only with an equivalent effect. The US, Britain and other countries also need to return to the rule of Law.

Israel is losing respect and friends across the world. Israel is fortunate at the moment to have sympathetic governments in Egypt and the Gulf. For these governments combatting Islamic terrorism is one of their high priorities. In a few years, the priority will swing towards addressing the grievances which lead to support for Islamic terrorism, one of which is the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and ‘de facto’ of Gaza.

Israel is named after Jacob. Jacob lost God’s blessing and had to the leave the land when he allowed his sons to retaliate against a local tribe with massacre. (Genesis 34 onwards.)

Israel needs to hear old words afresh: ‘Not by strength, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.’ (Zechariah 4:6) If Israel continues to ignore the ways of the LORD, what future can it have?

Jesus weeps for his people, as He did before.

Roger Harper

For a good Jewish view see

For a good Christian view see