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Posted by on Jan 23, 2009 in Israel | 9 comments

Klug – Not in My Name

My colleague Brian Klug has posted a couple of pieces on the Guardian comment is free section, which may be of interest (whether or not you agree with them). I paste one in here. The link to the other is here:

For many Jews today, Israel is not a normal state – it is a cause or ideal.

Not in My Name


In the midst of the carnage in Gaza, it defies belief that my synagogue has asked me to march in solid support of Israel

Brian Klug

In any conflict between peoples, there is a time for balancing the books, for placing facts neatly in the debit and credit columns, for issuing measured statements about the rights and wrongs on both sides. But not in the midst of one-sided carnage. The only decent thing to feel at the present time is outrage. The only thing for decent people to do right now is to condemn, without reserve or qualification, the brutal campaign that the Israeli military is waging against the population of Gaza. Every if and but derogates from decency.

Earlier this week, my synagogue sent its members an email containing details of two rallies in support of Israel “which we would urge you to support”. No ifs and buts here, just solid support for the perpetrator in the midst of the horror it is perpetrating. Is it possible to go further in the opposite direction to decency?

Attached was a flyer for a “Mass Rally in Support of Israel” organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, with “the support of the major organisations of UK Jewry”, to be held in London this weekend. The flyer proclaims: “End Hamas terror!” No ifs and buts here either. No hint at the unspeakable state terror being unleashed, day after day, by the Israeli military. It defies belief.

So, let me place on record the following fact: the board does not speak for all British Jews and certainly not for this one. Nor does the so-called Leadership Council, nor any of the organisations associated with this misbegotten event. None of them represents me or the Judaism that I cherish and which leads me to say as follows: I condemn utterly the military offensive by the government of Israel against the people of Gaza. The loss of any human life, on whatever side of this conflict, is a terrible thing. At this juncture, though, my heart is with the Palestinians on the ground in the midst of their misery. And I extend my hand to those Israelis who are speaking out against their own government.

For alternative views among Britain’s Jews, see the website of Independent Jewish Voices.

This is also rather moving.


  1. Just a thought.If, as some claim, it was possible to demonstrate against the Gaza invasion and not be supporting Hamas, is it not possible to march in support of Israel whilst not supporting the aforementioned action

  2. “If, as some claim, it was possible to demonstrate against the Gaza invasion and not be supporting Hamas”Your remark “as some claim” suggests you deny this. By that logic, protests at British airstrikes and tank attacks on Catholic civilian areas in response to the IRA Brum bombing would be protests “in support of the IRA”!Obviously they wouldn’t be, would they? Obviously. “is it not possible to march in support of Israel whilst not supporting the aforementioned action.”Possible, yes. But to march while Israel pounds Gaza, while not making it clear that the support was NOT for the action in Gaza, would almost certainly be to be misunderstood as supporting the action itself. Again, pretty obviously.Anyone who claimed only to march in support of Israel, not in support of the action, and did not make that clear on their placards etc., would, therefore, be either a fool or a liar.What matters here is that the protests take place while Israel pounds Gaza, killing hundreds or thousands of innocent civilians, rather than vice verse. That clearly determines how any such protest is likely to be interpreted. If there were protests supporting Gaza while Gaza unleashed similar attacks on Israel, then obviously the protest would rightly be interpreted as supportive of the action, unless protestors clearly indicated otherwise.

  3. Your remark “as some claim” suggests you deny this. Not sure how you come to that conclusion, a number of people claimed this and I’m certainly not doubting them.As to the IRA I would say:then obviously the protest would rightly be interpreted as supportive of the IRA, unless protestors clearly indicated otherwise I think that you need to think about just where your opinions are coming from.

  4. “As to the IRA I would say:then obviously the protest would rightly be interpreted as supportive of the IRA, unless protestors clearly indicated otherwise.”You seem to be missing my point. As I said, if people protested at UK air attacks and tanks etc hitting civilians Catholics areas, those protests obviously would not be taken as supportive of the IRA. Brits protesting in support of Britain while the strikes against Catholics went on would obviously be interpreted as supporting the strikes, unless the protestors clearly indicated otherwise. Maybe spell out what you mean here…”I think that you need to think about just where your opinions are coming from.”You seem to be implying I am anti-semitic. If so, that’s the ad hominem fallacy again. Why not deal with the arguments rather than resort to insult?

  5. BTW, anon, just so we are clear, I am supportive of Israel. I want a strong, secure Israel, and believe Israel has a right to defend itself. Just like Britain has.But Britain would not have been justified in unleashing such havoc on Catholic civilians after e.g. the Birmingham pub bomb, and if it had, it would have been internationally condemned.Do you deny any of this? If so which bits?So I “support” Israel. But if I were to go on a march “supporting” Israel while Israel massacres civilians, and I did not make it clear my support was for Israel in the above sense, rather than the current cruel and stupid Israeli actions, I’d obviously be seen as a supporter of the actions, right?Compare people marching up and down German streets with banners proclaiming their love of the Fatherland while Jews are being rounded up and killed all around them. Would you say: “Oh, they just support Germany, that’s all – they’re not condoning what they see going on around them.”?!Maybe you are just saying “Well, you could “support Israel” while being against the current actions? If so, fine, we’re agreed. I already said that.

  6. Hi Stephen,I can’t add much to what you’ve already said, but I appreciate the links.There must be a lot of people in the Jewish community who are not comfortable with Israel’s intransigence and consequential actions, but one rarely hears their voices.I highly recommend the Israeli movie, Waltzing with Bashir, as an outstanding example of a point of view of participants in conflict, and the insanity involved for both sides. It’s a very powerful film and it had a good reception here in Oz.In the following link: is a transcript of a review, and one of the reviewers says that ‘…many people [in Israel] are very ashamed of what happened there.” Regards, Paul.

  7. The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain Lectures the World on Morality ‘We were the people who were the quintessential strangers to teach humanity that “Thou shall not oppress the stranger.” We were the people who walked through the valley of the shadow of death to teach humanity the sanctity of life. We were the people who were always small but yet survived to teach the world a people does not survive by might nor by strength but by My spirit, says G-d”Maimonides says that when it comes to violating shabbat in order to save a life you don’t do it by employing non-Jews, children, or slaves but it must be the great sages of Israel and the role models who must violate shabbat in order to save a life. Why? Maimonides states that in saving a life you are teaching the most fundamental Torah of all, which is that the judgments and laws of the Torah are not vengance against the world, but compassion, kindness and peace in the world. That has to be done by the role models of Jewish life.’ Compassion, kindness and peace in the world. This is what the Chief Rabbi claims Israle teaches the world.The Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, continues ‘We have the chance today of shaping a society built on justice and compassion in the State of Israel. We have the chance to be an outstandingly authoritative voice in the moral conversations of mankind. If we do it the world will be a better place; if we do it, we will be better Jews.’The State of Israel is an outstandingly authoratative voice in the moral conversations of mankind. Just ask the Chief Rabbi.

  8. From a recent news article:”A Hamas spokesman in Damascus however reiterated to AFP that the Islamist group was willing to observe a “one-year truce” with Israel “on condition” that the Gaza blockade is lifted.”Israel should accept this, on the condition that Hamas declares that in the 1 year ceasefire it will not rearm militants, and that it will genuinely pursue lasting options for peace. The blockade should be lifted, and Israel should thoroughly rethink its whole way of tackling terrorism.

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