on 13 MARCH 2008

Many Jews feel shame about Israel's actions

Criticising Israel is a risky business. Robert Goot and David Knoll (Letters, March 12) round on Alan Ramsey for suggesting that Palestinians will not be celebrating Kevin Rudd's parliamentary motion on the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state. They use the armoury of Israeli Foreign Ministry talking points to portray the Palestinians as bloodthirsty terrorists out to obliterate all Jews. Many Israelis do not agree, a majority recently telling a Haaretz-sponsored poll that they believed in talks between Hamas and the Israeli government. Despite the rhetoric in the Western media, many in the Hamas leadership have consistently offered a long-term ceasefire and accepted a two-state solution.

After unilaterally disengaging from Gaza in 2005, Israel has maintained an economic blockade. Israel targeted civilians at the end of the 2006 Lebanon war by dropping cluster bombs in the last days of its botched campaign. Mr Goot and Mr Knoll paint Israel as a robust democracy in the heart of the Middle East, conveniently ignoring the ever-expanding illegal occupation in the West Bank and racially discriminatory policies in Israel proper.
Many Diaspora Jews, myself included, remain ashamed at Israel's behaviour. It does not speak in my name.
Antony Loewenstein


I was disappointed by Robert Goot and David Knoll's letter, and particularly disturbed by their labelling of Alan Ramsey as someone who hates Israel. There is a big difference between being critical of a government and hatred of a group. Consider the labels "self-hating Jews", "un-American" or "un-Australian". These labels try to demonise those who think differently from a perceived norm. Mr Ramsey's different view from Messrs Knoll and Goot's does not equate to hatred, just difference, and thankfully he can voice his opinion, just as they can.
Stewart Mills                                                                                                                

Robert Goot and David Knoll do not seem to understand that it is precisely because Israel is a thriving democracy that its actions in Gaza are so disappointing. Collective punishment, the slaughter of civilians and the siege of Gaza amount to a humanitarian disaster. As a citizen of another thriving democracy, I feel a collective sense of deep shame.
Peter Fletcher 



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