Are you Israel's friend?

DAN-CHYI CHUA
Sep 17, 2010
*Special to asia!

The government of Israel consistently speaks out against its enemies: Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and so on. But does it actually know who its friends are?

Pause for a moment and consider, are those who are unquestioningly pro-Israel making a fetish of Israel's security concerns and existential fears? Have they allowed the need for Israel to defend itself from enemies like Iran and Hezbollah taint all discourse and action on Israel?

Perhaps it is time for Israel's cheerleaders to stop labelling every denunciation of Israeli policies as being anti-Semitic.

Cohen made the following point,

“We should defend to the hilt Israel's security within the 1967 borders... be aware of Israel's predicament, but also not adjust too much the values that you would expect of any Western democracy.”

On that note, perhaps it is time for Israel's cheerleaders to stop labelling every denunciation of Israeli policies as being anti-Semitic.

Whether they agree with it is not the point. The point is that there are voices unlike theirs, both inside and outside Israel, that consider the occupation of Palestinian lands to be wrong.

Sometimes this stems from a desire to free the Palestinian people from occupation; sometimes it comes from a realisation of the cost Israel is paying for this occupation.

It is not just a matter of financing and maintaining security in the West Bank. In an age when colonisation is a sin of the past, Israel's continued occupation of Palestinian lands is destroying its reputation and gifting its truly-anti-Semitic detractors a legitimate weapon against itself.

During the discussions, Daniel Levy of the Prospects for Peace initiative made the following points:

There are friends of Israel who want it to remain a victim and those who want it to be strong.

There are also friends who ask, “What is the Israel I am a friend of? Is it an Israel with an occupation, with a threatened democracy?

An ultra-Orthodox Jew walks past a Palestinian flag scrawled on the wall

Ultra-orthodox Jew walks by a Palestinian flag scrawled on a wall in the religious neighbourhood of Mea Shearim, Jerusalem

This weekend marks Yom Kippur, the day of atonement for Jews all around the world. It is a religious holiday when even some secular Jews too will fast and pray.

As they do so, how many of the country's Jewish leaders will have the girth of mind to consider the wrongs inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians? Or perhaps consider atoning for them?

It would be a marvel if those in the Israeli leadership can realise that in their vehement fight to defend itself, a wrong has been done to the Palestinian and this cannot be justified morally in any way.

Israel is in a position of power over the Palestinians. It needs to comprehend that the Palestinian fight for a homeland is as legitimate as the Zionist struggle of decades ago, and a real compromise needs to be reached with the people with whom they share this land.

If this basic principle cannot be upheld by the Israeli leadership, all the peace talks and atonement would be for nothing.

And all the friends it has in the world will never be able to defend it from its ugly reputation as an aggressive oppressive power.

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi