Trying to find some reality among all the strong emotions that the issues of
On one side are those who damn the country. Their motivations vary: anti-Semitism and a visceral hatred of everything Jewish; or objections, based on religious belief, against the presence of a Jewish state on perceived Muslim Waqf land; or Jews on the left who feel driven to distance themselves publicly from Israel for reasons that are not always fathomable but seem to stem from embarrassment at having been born Jewish.
Israel's occupation of the West Bank and its grip on the Gaza Strip are bad enough, but critics distort and exaggerate these with accusations of "genocide". They falsely try to convey a picture of marauding Israeli soldiers, randomly killing as they go, and of artillery shells fired without any care. They ignore the context of the conflict, which has put
The Palestinian occupation is described as unprecedented in the world. Never mind
The prejudices of these critics are so deep-rooted that they are unwilling or unable to take on board that both sides contribute to the conflict, and that it is as little a matter of Israelis bad and Palestinians good as one of Israelis good and Palestinians bad. They pervert the meaning of Zionism, as if it were a uniquely racist ideology, instead of a national liberation movement comparable with others elsewhere. They condemn the "Jewish state" as though no group of people had the right to decide for itself how it wants to order its society. (And they do not know, or they choose to ignore, that the Jewish state is diluted by the considerable percentage of people who are not Jewish - the Arab 20 per cent and the roughly 7 per cent non-Jewish Russian immigrants. Even children of immigrant workers are now slowly getting citizenship.)
The detractors also accuse
At the other pole of attitudes towards
Yet one cannot justify denial of criticism.
Israelis are morally corrupted by what they do in the cause of survival. The details are known. The information appears daily in Israeli new s papers and is carried in the international media. Those supporters of
Apart from the opposing groups of supporters and critics which react, each in its own way, with knee-jerk predictability, there is a broad cross-section of people around the world whose attitude towards
These different opinions featured earlier this month on the Guardian's Comment Is Free website when a week was given over to the launch of the Independent Jewish Voices network. The IJV signatories include some of
Benjamin Pogrund is co-editor of "Shared Histories: a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue" (
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