I am happy to carry the statement below, although it doesn’t go far enough in pinning the blame for the war crimes that are taking place on the Israeli state. Independent Jewish Voices, which Brian co-founded, was formed about 2 years ago as an alternative voice to the ‘Israel right or wrong’ brigade. The late Harold Pinter was another founding signatory of the group.
As well as being co-founder of IJV Brian is also a philosophy lecturer and research fellow at St Benet’s Hall, Oxford and member of the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University
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.
Yesterday, 7 January 2009, 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”, for the morning of Sunday 11 January in Trafalgar Square . 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.