Some Guardian letters on Gaza

A selection of letters published in the Guardian in recent days.

Photo: Al-Monitor

Calls for inquiry into Israel’s Gaza killings

Nine prominent Israelis compare the shooting of Palestinians to South Africa’s Sharpeville Massacre

We, Israelis who wish our country to be safe and just, are appalled and horrified by the massive killing of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza (Reports, 15 May). None of the demonstrators posed any direct danger to the state of Israel or to its citizens. The killing of over 50 demonstrators and the thousands more wounded are reminiscent of the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 in South Africa. The world acted then. We call upon decent members of the international community to act by demanding that those who commanded such shootings be investigated and tried.

The current leaders of the Israeli government are responsible for the criminal policy of shooting at unarmed demonstrators. The world must intervene to stop the ongoing killing.
Avraham Burg Former speaker of the Knesset and chairman of the Jewish Agency
Prof Nurit Peled Elhanan 2001 co-laureate of the Sakharov prize
Prof David Harel Vice-president of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and recipient of the 2004 Israel Prize
Prof Yehoshua Kolodny Recipient of the 2010 Israel prize
Alex Levac Photographer and recipient of the 2005 Israel prize
Prof Judd Ne’eman Director and recipient of the 2009 Israel prize
Prof Zeev Sternhell Historian and recipient of the 2008 Israel prize
Prof David Shulman Recipient of the 2016 Israel prize
David Tartakover Artist and recipient of the 2002 Israel prize

Since 30 March, each week has seen more protests by Gazans at the border with Israel and more killings of largely unarmed protesters by Israeli snipers using live ammunition. As of the morning of 15 May, Nakba Day, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and some thousands injured. The position has been aggravated by the provocation of the opening of a new US embassy in Jerusalem, hammering another nail into the coffin of an already moribund peace process.

The Independent Jewish Voices steering group wishes to express our horror at the flagrant disregard for the human rights of the Palestinians and the norms of international law, and our support for those many thousands who have been demonstrating their opposition around the world. We call upon the UK government to condemn the actions of the Israeli authorities, to demand an independent inquiry into the use of force on the Gaza border, to make clear that the UK embassy will remain in Tel Aviv, and to redouble all diplomatic efforts to bring the occupation to an end.
Dr Anthony Isaacs, Dr Vivienne Jackson, Dr Katy Fox-Hodess, Dr Tamar Steinitz, Professor Jacqueline Rose, Ann Jungman, Merav Pinchassoff, Professor Adam Fagan, Professor Francesa Klug
Independent Jewish Voices steering group

An unlikely idea for Middle East peace?

A one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict may seem a laughable idea, says Karl Sabbagh, but so did Theodor Herzl’s idea for a Jewish state that later became reality. Benedict Birnberg says both sides should campaign for two states

In 1902, Theodor Herzl wrote a book, Altneuland (OldNewland), presenting the laughable – at the time – idea that Palestine, then over 90% Arab, should be turned into a Jewish state. The sheer improbability of the proposal at the time did not prevent the predicted events coming to pass.

This week, on the 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, we published a short book, A Modest Proposal To Solve the Palestine-Israel Conflict, in which – perhaps equally laughably – I summarise the benefits to Palestinians and Israeli Jews of setting up a democratic state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean in which all people living in that area have equal rights and to which those Palestinians who want to can return.

Increasingly frequently it is being admitted in public that the two-state solution is dead in the water, and another solution is needed. Two months ago, 60 review copies of A Modest Proposal… were sent out to newspapers, periodicals, and radio and TV programmes, so it is puzzling that none of them, including the Guardian, has reviewed this book, published an article based on it, or even addressed the issue at all. Perhaps the world will have to wait another 46 years before the only fair solution to this running sore of world politics is finally put in place.
Karl Sabbagh
Managing director, Skyscraper Publications

The logic of those, like the numerous and distinguished signatories to the letter (15 May) headed by Prof Tony Booth who argue that the two-state solution is dead, is irrefutable. But I believe it is wrong. Despite all that has gone on, it is still the only game in town. The advocacy of a secular state with equal rights for all is an attractive proposition but an illusion which does not measure up as “the reality” it is claimed to be. However implacable the odds against it appear to be, those who work for it on both sides of the divide should be campaigning for two states, which, I submit, with goodwill from Israelis and Palestinians, is realisable, particularly now when Palestinians have their backs against a hostile world and Israel is featuring characteristics of a neocolonial, quasi-fascist regime.
Benedict Birnberg

Israel is 70 – is hope for a two-state solution gone?

More than 130 Jewish people sign a letter calling for a secular state with equal rights for all.

Ten years ago, the Guardian published a letter from more than 100 Jewish signatories explaining why we would not be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. We are now approaching the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, the catastrophe that dispossessed Palestinians from their land and turned three-quarters of a million of them into refugees. And the situation, both within Israel and in the occupied territories, has significantly worsened.

There are now 750,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Palestinians in the West Bank live under an oppressive apartheid system, face demolition of their houses and uprooting of their olive trees, while the settlements expand unchecked. In East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, the policy of ethnic cleansing continues to be implemented, while the vicious punishment of the civilian population of Gaza is creating a human catastrophe and rendering the territory uninhabitable. Israel itself is a highly segregated society where the non-Jewish minority is viewed as a demographic threat and excluded from full citizenship; where religious fanaticism and repression take greater hold and dissident voices like B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence and the few principled journalists like Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, are attacked, marginalised and delegitimised.

Ten years ago a two-state solution still seemed possible. That chance has now gone. There are no peace negotiations. The peace process is dead. In reality it was never more than an excuse for Israel to consolidate its settlement project. The two-state solution is dead. Both Netanyahu’s government party and the so-called opposition, Zionist Unity, which includes the Israeli Labour party, are in agreement: the settlements will not be removed.

It is surely time to face up to the reality. As Jews, we believe that Israel has no long-term future as an exclusively Jewish state, an apartheid state. The only just solution for both sides is one secular state with equal rights for all.
Kate Adams
Sue Bard
Graham Bash
Frances Bernstein
Julian Bild
Leo Bild
Frank Black
Jay Blackwood
Nechamah Bonanos
Alice Bondi
Professor Tony Booth
Dave Brown
Elizabeth Carola
Hazel Chowcat
Robert Cohen
Neil Collins
Judith Cravitz
Mike Cushman
Angela Dale
Martin Davidson
Gregory Douglas
Elisabeth Dresner
Linda Edmondson
Thomas Eisner
Mark Elf
Liz Elkind
Michael Ellman
Professor Debbie Epstein
Dr Fiona Factor
Jessica Feinstein
Dr Jack George Field 
Deborah Fink
Arye Finkle
Sylvia Finzi
Paul Fisher
David Ian Garfinkel
Tessa van Gelderen
Carolyn Gelenter
Rene Gimpel
John Goodman
Frances Gorman
Helen Green
Heinz Grunewald
Abe Hayeem
Rosamine Hayeem
Joel Hirsch
Nick Jacobs
Jennifer James
Riva Joffe
Ann Jungman
Ros Kane
Olive Kane
Louisa Kaplin
Jenny Kassman
David Kay
Rodney Kay-Kreizman
John Keidan
Monash Kessler
Godfrey King
Professor Rick Kuhn
Richard Kuper
David Landau
Richard Leigh
Leah Levane
Rachel Lever
Les Levidow
Peter Levin
Rosalind Levy
John Lohrenz
Susan Loppert
Ruth Loshak
Dorothy Macedo
Jenny Manson
Miriam Margolyes
Stephen Marks
Gill McCall
Ros Meadow
Dr Heather Mendick
Angie Mindel
Professor David Mond
Shoss Morris
Mica Nava
Diana Neslen
David Nissen
Susan Pashkoff
Professor Sol Picciotto
Judy Pile
Jacob Prager
Caroline Raine
Roland Rance
Frances Rifkin
Professor Steven Rose
Professor Jonathan Rosenhead
Leon Rosselson
Michael Sackin
Joan Safran
Leslie Safran
Sabby Sagall
Esther Saraga
Professor Donald Sassoon
Ian Saville
Mike Scott
Glyn Secker
Jenny Secretan
Marian Sedley
Professor Lynne Segal
Andy Simons
Professor Avi Shlaim
Liz Silver
Ludi Simpson
Margaret Spector
Vanessa Stilwell
Janey Stone
Hedley Taylor
Steve Tiller
Lisa Trainer
Michel Trainer
Tom Trainer
Norman Traub
Daniel Vulliamy
Dr Philip Ward
Brian Warshaw
Tanya Wess
Josh Welby
Ivan Wels
Charlotte Williams
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi
Naomi Woodspring
Miriam Yagud
Myk Zeitlin
Sandra Goldbloom Zurbo

Comments (5)

  • David Wilson says:

    It’s always the same names… this time calling for a one-state solution.

    Tell us, how are Jews treated in other middle-eastern countries?

    What sort of history do Arabic parties have in respecting democracy and freedom?

    • Jaye says:

      David, Jews left Arab countries in their droves as refugees and were absorbed by Israel. They know the score and there is no chance of one “democratic” (lol) state with a Jewish minority. Never Again. Arabs in Israel don’t want to live in an Arab state and after 3 generations no Arab country will absorb the grandchildren of Arab refugees. So Mike I think that tells you what you need to know about Israeli democracy and freedom that you question. Not perfect but as good as it gets in the ME and a lot better than in many other Western countries.

      • Mike Cushman says:

        This comment exemplifies the need for JVL because of the effort that apologists for Israel put into to excusing their crimes.

        We find it very regrettable that some people find our measured commentary on criminality more ‘offensive’ than the crimes themselves.

        It is important to remember than supporters of Apartheid South Africa made similar excuses for Sharpville.

    • Mike Cushman says:

      What is the record of Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett, Shaked and the rest on democracy and freedom?

Comments are now closed.