Let me start this by saying that I am a Jew. My great grandfather Aaron Ginsburg was Liverpool’s representative to the First Zionist Conference in Basle in 1897. I am born a Zionist too. I understand and applaud Baroness’ Warsi’s resignation over her frustration at being unable to have the British Government, of which she was part, speak out more strongly for the rights of the people of Gaza with whom she and many of her constituents and fellow Muslims identify because of their humanity and their beliefs and religion.
That said, it starts to get very complicated. No human with any heart and any ability for reasoned judgement can condone, for whatever reason, the shelling of a school or UN sanctuary. But then few of us would think it right to launch a rocket against our enemies from the midst of that school if we knew it would attract incoming fire. I would warrant that the Israeli army of 30 years ago, would in any event not have fired on those schools. But that was before suicide attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, that was before the population of Israel doubled to its eight million; that was before the failure of the Camp David Agreement; that was when Israel’s political masters could still trace their own roots back to the Camps of World War Two.
Israel is judged by a complex set of rules. Some will say a set of rules leaning too heavily in their favour; others will take a view that its every action is judged too harshly. Really will there be an arms embargo on a Religious State where many of its neighbours are still committed to the destruction by force of that very state and the dispersement of its population. Are we cheering on the manical work of ISIS as it destroys both Syria and Iraq and gruesomely slaughters the indigenous religious population. The Yom Kippur War of 1974 came within days of achieving that aim for the then regimes of Syria, Egypt and Jordan. Israel is a democratic state under constant threat of war and distraction by external forces; that alone understandably influences the outlook of its people.
It is fine and understandable to march and protest Israeli Army’s use of weapons against a civilian population but that is not an answer to the problem of how to have Hamas and the State of Israel seek a political solution that allows Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in a democratic State. Lest we forget, Israel is the only stable democratic state in the region; and unlike Hamas and those who fund Isis, it is politically accountable not just to other States, but so too are its leaders to its own people. Protest in Israel, and around the world against Israeli Army actions do ultimately have a political effect.
But unwinding the wrongs on both sides is too difficult now; it would unspool all the way back to Balfour and British Imperialism of 1917. What needs to be looked at is how to achieve peace today; and not for those, from the safety of liberty and law and order of peace to invoke international courts to hold accountable two peoples in the midst of what is for them a very life threatening war.
Seventy British servicemen lost their lives in one day in 1948 in Jerusalem at the hands of the Haganah who attacked the King David Hotel in a period when Jewish terrorists fought to give freedom and statehood to Israel. The head of the Irgun, Menachem Begin, became Prime Minister of Israel 30 years after laying down his arms. The PLO through Fatah, 30 years after Camp David, have come to govern the West Bank. Hamas leaders now need support (both carrot and stick) from world Governments, to enter meaningful long term negotiations with an Israeli State it has to recognise, but which itself that understands from international opinion and world leaders that it has reached the end of the road in terms of sympathy and understanding.
Israel also knows it is a bulwark against fundamentalism and instability in the region. The West needs Israel and Israel needs peace. Mr Cameron and his world partners have a big chip to play. That is why he has been ruthlessly careful with the language that has so disappointed Baroness Warsi. Only politicians, not the courts, not the Armies and not the terrorists, bring lasting peace.