The Issue we Avoid

You may be expecting me, as a social and political commentator, to say something about what is currently unfolding in Israel. It really is a frightening situation there which seems to be worsening by the hour. The problem is, that is a subject I have learned over the years to steer well clear of. For starters, it is far too complex a situation for me to ever do justice – how could anyone say anything meaningful about it in a couple of hundred words? The bigger problem is, though, as soon as anyone tries to criticise Israel, you risk being accused of antisemitism. No matter how fair or objective you try to be, as soon as you point out the heavy handedness of the Israeli military or the illegality of their settlers, you open yourself up to being accused of antisemitism. The result is that, over the years, people like me have learned to avoid the subject altogether, not wanting to offend anyone or invite trouble. Indeed, even in pointing this out I’m worried I’ll invite criticism, as someone might say it paints Israel in a bad light.

Yet surely the only way we are ever going to be able to resolve problems like this is if we articulate them: we must not shy away from such issues for fear of offending others. Nor can we let Israel and it’s advocates hide behind this, accusing anyone who speaks out against them of being antisemitic; otherwise they will be allowed to get away with whatever they like. It is not antisemitic to point out that Palestinian men, women and children are being killed, or treated as second class citizens in their own country; yet as soon as anyone tries to point this out, they are accused of being antisemitic, resulting in everyone turning a blind eye to what is happening. I have nothing whatsoever against Jewish people, most of whom will probably be just as appalled by what is happening in Israel as anyone else. And of course, it goes almost without saying that what is happening in Israel should not be used as some kind of perverse excuse for discrimination against Jewish people. Yet surely what the Israeli government is currently doing to the Palestinians is against international law, with some likening it to apartheid. We must not be afraid to state that, or the situation will only continue.

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