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Monday, February 25, 2008

Israel Boycott: Letter to UK Green Party from Denis MacEoin

Jean Evans has sent round a call from ICAN to represent the Israeli case to the UK Green Party, which has just passed a resolution for — guess what? — a boycott of Israel. I voted for the Greens a couple of times some years ago before I decided I was wasting my vote, so I have felt a certain justification in sending the following letter. Even if they aren't very influential, their resolution stands for something in UK politics, so I urge everyone to take a few moments to write in an effort to have this decision reversed.

Please write, email or phone the Green Party at:-
Address - 1a Waterlow Road, London, N19 5NJ
Tel:  020 7272 4474
Fax: 020 7272 6653



Dear Sirs,

I have in the past voted Green, but I am unlikely to do so again. Your call for a boycott of Israel disturbs, just as it would disturb me to hear you had voted to boycott a company manufacturing solar panels. In the case of Israel, I seriously have to ask why this seems to you an ethical or politically wise thing to do. Within its region, Israel stands head and shoulders above its neighbours in several important respects: its regard for human rights, notably the rights of women, homosexuals, and religious minorities; its dedication to democracy in both theory and practice; its promotion of harmony between the two main cultures within it, through equal rights in voting, education, health care, and access to all areas of society for Jews and Arabs alike; and its promotion of science, technology and sound environmental practice. Why would you wan to boycott a country like Israel when you don't boycott countries run by dictators like Egypt, Syria, or Saudi Arabia, or countries that actively practise a form of apartheid by discriminating against their religious minorities like Egypt or Iran, or which have expelled all religious minorities, like Saudi Arabia.

What you propose is preposterous from any half-way liberal perspective. You punish a country that fights for its survival, yet do nothing to rebuke those that grenerate or aid terrorism. You single out Israel from among all other countries, when it is a promoter, not a violater of human rights, democracy, and the freedom of the individual. I make these as assertions, and you are free to disagree, but I think you have to present your evidence. You have to go to Israel and see things at first hand. Do not be misled by what you may see on the surface. If you are offended by the wall, then viwsit it: for 97% of its length, it is a fence. From its first foundation it has saved lives. A lot of lives. Punish the Israelis for building and maintaining a barrier to civilian deaths if you must: just don't boast about it.

If it is wrong for Israel to use its army to fight back against aggressive neighbours, how much more wrong is it for Hamas and its affiliates to fire rockets on a daily basis into civilian areas in Israel. Hamas openly plots the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a totalitarian Islamic state on its ruins. Would you really collude in that? Iran boasts that it will 'exterminate' Israel and its presdient calls Jews 'a filthy virus'. Do you honestly seek to be complicit in that? If so, how do you square it with your consciences? Israel's enemies repeatedly urge that they will finish what Hitler left undone, by which they mean a second Holocaust. Yet you are so morally blind as to lend succour to the idea that Israel is uniquely guilty among nations and its Jewish inhabitants fit for extermination. You may deny that any of that is your aim, and I will believe you. But knowingly or unknowingly, you lend succour to the forces that make such an outcome more likely.

I believe you are better than that, and that you are capable of rising above the mindless stereotyping that characterizes so much left-wing condemnation of Israel today. If we are liberals, you and I, we must remain true to liberal values. Boycotting Israel comes from quite a different part of the political spectrum.

If you seek peace in the Middle East, it will most certainly not come by demonizing or hurting one of the main players. Israel is the only one of the countries of the Middle East that has remained consistent in its desire for peace. Israel wanted a Palestinian state in 1948, and it still wants it. The Palestinians still talk of reclaiming the entire region for themselves, blow hot and cold, and, in the case of Hamas, reject international peace conferences, compromise, and negotiations out of hand. You need to think about all this much more carefully than you have done. I will talk to you, I will arrange for others to talk to you. All I ask is for you to act with justice and some understanding of this complex subject. If you aren't willing to do any of that, you are not fit to stand for government at either the local or national level. I believe you have a role to play, but only if you can play it fairly and honestly.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Denis MacEoin

Denis MacEoin

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