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The Israel / Palestine dispute

The dispute over Palestine has had a central role in global politics since the 1940's.

My personal view of the dispute

A personal view of the Israel / Palestine conflict
This conflict has endured for over 60 years. It matters because of the status of Jerusalem and because many see the conflict as a religious one. Achieving peace requires difficult concessions from both parties but a two state agreement is the only realistically acceptable solution. It is essential for Israel to avoid policies that would make a two state solution impossible.

Other relevant pages - in reverse date order.

My perspective on Israel's minorities
I am a Vice Chair of Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East. While discussing Amnesty International's comments about Israel's minorities, I stated how I would feel about being a minority citizen of Israel. I have now written some text for the LDfPME website which I have reproduced on the linked page.
Israel’s legal policy in East Jerusalem is hypocritical
The establishment of Israel led to many Arab and Jewish refugees. However after the 1948 War of Independence, Israel also had Arab citizens who were internally displaced. Their property was confiscated just like that of Arab (non-citizen) refugees who were no longer in Israel. After Israel's purported annexation of East Jerusalem, Israel has enforced the pre-1948 land titles of Jews who fled East Jerusalem during the 1948 conflict. Such enforcement is hypocritical while Israel denies the land titles of its own Arab citizens who were internally displaced persons ("Present Absentees") in 1948.
Understanding Muslims and Jews perspectives on Israel and Palestine
TalkMatters is a new initiative to support Israeli Jewish and Palestinian people working together for a better world. I have known the founder Jenny Nemko for many years, and was asked to contribute an article. My article explains how the perspectives of Jews and Muslims about Israel and Palestine differ, but are both correct. My new page also includes TalkMatters' launch press release, reproduced with permission.
Why it is essential to teach the Israel / Palestine conflict in schools
The Israel / Palestine conflict arouses strong emotions in many people. Accordingly, teachers are often reluctant to cover it in school because it risks creating or aggravating conflicts between pupils. However, if schools do not teach it, pupils who care will get their knowledge about the conflict from other sources, many of them dangerous. Parallel Histories has developed an excellent way of teaching this contested history in a way that develops pupils' thinking.
My 27-minute presentation on the Israel / Palestine dispute
This 3 ½ hour event had an audience mainly of Pakistani origin. The planned speakers were one Jew, one Palestinian and myself. However the Jewish speaker was unable to attend due to illness. The page includes an audio recording of my presentation with self-advancing PowerPoint slides. In the 27 minutes, I give my full overview of the dispute. The page also has audio of my responses in the Q&A session. It also includes a full 2 hour 25 minute video of the entire event, although the video does not show the Palestinian speaker's slides.
Does the Quran support Zionism?
Manchester Limmud is a one-day educational conference with mainly, but not entirely, Jewish speakers and attenders. I have spoken there on many occasions. I chose this subject, as a way of learning more about what the Quran has to say. In my view nothing in the Quran prohibits the existence of a Jewish majority state in Palestine. My personal views of the Israel / Palestine conflict are fully set out on my page "A personal view of the Israel / Palestine conflict."
Should Israeli Arabs learn more Hebrew?
You have a responsibility to make your life better. Sometimes that may conflict with the way other people want you to behave. Are you betraying your heritage by mastering an extra language? I asked this question in the context of Israel's citizens of Arab origin, but it arises for many countries.
Lecture: One Muslim’s perspective on the Israel / Palestine Dispute
Greater Manchester Humanists asked me for a lecture on the Israel / Palestine dispute. The 1-hour of lecture time provided enabled me to explain the history and the issues in detail. This dispute attracts partisans, so I tried hard to give a balanced overview. As well as the self-advancing PowerPoint presentation with audio, I have also provided the audio of my answers to questions from the audience.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism
The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the UK Government, amongst others. Many, on both sides of the Israel / Palestine dispute, think the definition labels all criticism of Israel as antisemitic. It does not. I wrote an article about the definition on ConservativeHome and have reproduced it on this page. The page also explains the etymological fallacy committed by those who argue Arabs cannot be antisemites. It also explains why "antisemitism" is the preferred spelling.
Presentation: Thinking about the Israel / Palestine dispute
I was invited to speak to the sixth form "History and Politics Society" of a girls' school in London about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as providing a brief history of the dispute, the most important point I made was the extent to which people take sides on this dispute. I emphasised that both parties to the dispute have rights and wrongs. That is what makes it so difficult. I recorded the 21-minute presentation for this website.
Review of "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War" by Benny Morris
Views about the Arab / Israeli dispute are highly polarised, and the history is strongly contested. Israel's birth saw civil war between Jews and Palestinians and war between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Benny Morris has written a detailed, well documented and very readable account of the conflict. Everyone, regardless of their existing views of the dispute, will learn from reading it.
When is being anti-Israeli evidence that you are antisemitic?
An antisemite is a person who hates Jews. Hatred is a mental state. Deciding if someone is antisemitic requires evidence in the form of words or deeds. What the person says about Israel may be such evidence. However such utterances need to be assessed alongside other evidence to determine whether the person hates Jews. Assertions denying one is antisemitic will not displace the conclusion drawn from words or deeds, if those clearly evidence antisemitism.
The 25% of non-Jewish Israelis are often overlooked
Many people wrongly use the word "Israeli" to mean "Israeli Jew." However 25% of Israelis are not Jewish. They face severe discrimination. I recommend what Israeli Arabs can do to make their lives better, how Britons can help them, and what the Israeli government should be doing. Improving Israeli Arabs' lives should also advance the cause of Israeli / Palestinian peace.
Seeing the Israel / Palestine conflict through Jewish eyes
The parties to almost all disputes have radically different views on the causes and aims of the dispute and usually display extreme reluctance to understand the opposing party's narrative. The Israel / Palestine dispute exemplifies these behaviours. I recently presented the Jewish narrative of the conflict before an audience in Liverpool that was mainly Jewish audience plus some Christians and Muslims. I particularly recommend it to those who believe Israel has no case and is entirely in the wrong.
Review of "How to Cure a Fanatic — Israel and Palestine: Between Right and Right" by Amos Oz
In this short but passionately written book Oz argues that both Jews and Palestinians have legitimate claims to Palestine. He considers that the only solution is compromise in the form of the two state solution. Many on both sides of the dispute are fanatics with closed minds; this book should help to open such minds.
How Conservatives can neutralise the Palestine question
Britons from an immigrant background care far more about foreign issues than do white Britons. In particular, most British Muslims are very concerned about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as explaining the importance of the subject, I outline one presentational point for Conservative politicians and raise one policy question.
My perspective on Hamas and Gaza
To understand Hamas, one must read its Charter. It shows that Hamas is committed to reconquering the whole of Palestine. This goal is not achievable, but causes immense suffering to Gaza's Palestinians. Accordingly Hamas needs to change its goals or to dissolve itself.
My visit to the City of Hebron in Palestine
Hebron is a holy place to Jews and Muslims, housing the graves of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It has a terrible history; Jews were massacred there in 1929, and Palestinians in 1994. It is a microcosm of the hatred that divides Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land, and was the most depressing part of my visit to the Holy Land at the end of 2009.
When does anti-Zionism become antisemitism?
When Israel is criticised, its defenders often contend that the critics are motivated by antisemitism. The accusation is made even when the critics are Jews. I encountered the argument that anti-Zionism is always antisemitic for the first time a few years ago. However once you define your terms carefully, the question ceases to be controversial.
"And Then Came Peace" by Greg Masse
This is a work of fiction in the form of a thriller, set mainly in Jerusalem, in the midst of Israel / Palestine peace negotiations. The author uses the book to set out his vision of the underlying unity of all religions. It is exciting and captivating to read, with an almost magical quality that leaves one feeling uplifted. It reminds us that good things are possible as well as bad.
"The Bomb on the Rock" by Michael Weiss
This is a short work of fiction where Palestinian terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into Jerusalem with the help of a Palestinian "sleeper." It is very easy to read, and quite gripping. Accordingly I recommend it as mental relaxation. It also has an important message of reconciliation.
Review of "In Ishmael’s House – A History of Jews in Muslim Lands" by Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin Gilbert is an eminent historian and Winston Churchill's official biographer. He covers the period from the beginning of Islam to the end of the 20'th century. Under Muslim rulers, special rules applied to Jews (and Christians). Overall, Jews were better treated than Jews in Christian Europe, but periods of tolerance were interspersed with periods of persecution. In the 20'th century, the rise of Zionism led to increasing persecution of Jews by Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, culminating in the expulsion of their Jewish populations.
Advocating Israel to Muslims
“How should supporters of Israel get its message across to Muslims?” I had to think about that question when speaking at an Israel advocacy event in Manchester called "The Big Tent for Israel."
An Israel for all Israelis
Does Israel exist for all of its citizens, or only for the 80% who are Jewish? The Israeli national anthem is problematical for its non-Jewish citizens as is the new requirement that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any peace agreement.
Interview given to Children of Peace
I have been a friend of this charity for over a year. I recently gave them an interview which summarises my thoughts on the Israel / Palestine dispute.
"The Road to Mecca" by Muhammad Asad
Muhammad Asad was born as Leopold Weiss in Poland, but became one of the most famous Muslims of the twentieth century. This autobiography covers his first 32 years. It paints a vivid picture of his early life, recreates the Middle East of the 1920's, explains what brought him to Islam, and reflects upon the radical message of the Prophet (pbuh).
“Old New Land (Altneuland)” by Theodor Herzl
A novel by the founder of modern Zionism, setting out his utopian vision for the future of Palestine.
Reflections on visiting Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is the most important centre documenting and commemorating the Jews who died during the Holocaust. I visited it at the beginning of 2010, and found it very moving.
Is Israel criticised unfairly?
Israelis often complain that their country is criticised while other countries which behave much worse are not, and that this is unfair.
 Antisemitism amongst Muslims – a personal view
I feel strongly about antisemitism, but it grieves me most when find it amongst fellow Muslims because I believe that we should be "the best of people."
Letter to Israeli ambassador about the Gaza flotilla and blockade
There were been demonstrations in London about Israel's attack on 31 May 2010 on the flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza. I have never been on a demonstration, and prefer to work by other means. In that regard, I wrote an open letter to the Israeli ambassador in London
Reflections on visiting Auschwitz
I regard the Holocaust as the ultimate in human depravity. In 2009 with some other Muslims and Jews I visited Auschwitz, and wrote this afterwards to share how I felt about it.
"The Israel lobby and US foreign policy" - a blueprint for British Muslims
British Muslims often complain about the influence of the Israel lobby in the USA and the UK. However, for me the key message is that instead of complaining, we need to learn from their commitment to political engagement.
Gaza and the need for peace now
This was written the day after Israel started bombing Gaza at the end of 2008, before the ground invasion in January 2009. I was outraged, but decided to focus on the future and the urgent need for a permanent peace.
"The Jewish State" by Theodor Herzl
This short book was the founding text of modern Zionism. The seeds of the Israel / Palestine conflict can be found inside it.


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