Liberals and the Middle East


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A different view of Israel from a liberal westerner

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Liberals and the Middle East

  1. 1. If you consider yourself a liberal . . . . . . we’re already in agreement Press CTRL-L for full screen
  2. 2. We agree on basic liberal principles •Democracy •Human Rights •The abolition of capital punishment •Gay rights •Feminism •Opposition to all forms of racism •Religious Tolerance…
  3. 3. We agree on basic liberal principles •Opposition to apartheid •Opposition to fascism •Concern for religious and racial minorities •Freedom of speech •Freedom of thought •Freedom to change one’s religion
  4. 4. And… An end to conflict between nations I’ve probably left some things out, but this should do for starters. They are all things I believe in, and, as a fellow liberal, I hope that you believe in them too There’s just one thing on which we may disagree…
  5. 5. Israel and Palestine
  6. 6. To many Liberals, Israel is… •An apartheid state •A fascist state •A racist state •Even a “Nazi” state
  7. 7. I will ask only one question… If that is true, why is a lifelong liberal like myself proud to call himself a friend of Israel?
  8. 8. There are two sides to every story - especially this one… The funeral of Muhammad Samur, Palestine, 2001
  9. 9. But only if you go on turning the page Young Israeli soldiers bury a comrade
  10. 10. Some call Israeli soldiers Nazis - but it pays to question stereotypes. When have you seen a photograph of a Waffen-SS soldier reaching out his hand to help a Jew across a difficult spot? This is the norm. The Israeli Defence Force has high ethical standards. This is not a Nazi stormtrooper. He’s a young man serving his country, and that includes helping Palestinians, some of whom may be his sworn enemies. He knows that someone in that crowd may try to kill him. You’ll see more photographs like this.
  11. 11. Israel is often painted in lurid colours - but it’s not all black and white. There are no photographs like this from the Third Reich.
  12. 12. There is a view that Israel is an “evil, Nazi state”. But how many people take the trouble to examine such a claim open-mindedly? In a Nazi state, the soldier would shoot the little boy.
  13. 13. A lot of these pictures show soldiers. Is this because Israelis are natural killers? That they kill by choice? 1948-49 1967 1973-4 1982 2006 The aftermath of a suicide attack on an Israeli bus. •Those are all years when Israelis had to fight wars of defence against enemies bent on their destruction. •The concentration camps were only liberated in 1945. •British internment camps closed three years later. •That was when the Arabs launched their first major attack. •This is the context of today’s struggle for peace.
  14. 14. Those are just the all-out wars. But since the 1920s, Israeli Jews have been the victims of merciless terrorist attacks. 17 April 2006, Tel Aviv, the old central bus station. 8 died.
  15. 15. Israel is a democracy •It has never been ruled by a dictator •It has the liveliest multi-party system in the world •There are no restrictions on the opposition •The press is completely free to criticize the government
  16. 16. Israel defends women’s rights Downtown Tel Aviv
  17. 17. …and treats women with respect A pretty face, certainly; but this IDF trooper is a real soldier in a real army facing a real enemy.
  18. 18. Israel’s women soldiers may be beautiful, but they do national service just like men - and women play many other roles in society…
  19. 19. As businesswomen… Jewish and Arab women at the launch of Jasmine, the Association of Businesswomen in Israel
  20. 20. As politicians… Golda Meir, Prime Minister 1969-1974
  21. 21. and scientists Prof. Hagit Messer-Yaron, former Chief Scientist and Head of the Directorate of Science in the Israeli Ministry of Science
  22. 22. Israel defends the rights of gay men and women, Jewish and Arab alike. •If you want to learn the truth about Israeli freedom, ask a gay Arab who has taken refuge there. Gay Pride march, Tel Aviv
  23. 23. Israel protects the rights of all its religious minorities The Baha’i Gardens Haifa. The Baha’i religion is actively persecuted throughout the Middle East. It has its world headquarters and holiest shrines in Israel.
  24. 24. I believe in human rights and freedoms. In rights for women, racial and religious minorities, gay rights, the right to free speech and a free press. In freedom to believe what I want. •None of these rights exist in Gaza or the West Bank. •Not in Lebanon, Syria or Egypt. Not in Saudi Arabia. •Not in Iran. Not in the Gulf States. Not in Syria. •As a liberal, I choose Israel, a country that gives these rights, over any country that does not. •If you are a liberal, please give this some more thought.
  25. 25. Israel is not an apartheid state. There are no laws that enforce discrimination between Israeli citizens
  26. 26. Nor is it a Nazi state. There is no dictatorship, no institutional racism, no secret police, no Nuremberg Laws, no SS, no concentration camps, no genocide, no Holocaust. A soldier prays in the heat of battle.
  27. 27. Or perhaps you think this is truly liberal… Palestinian security forces use the Nazi salute.
  28. 28. or this… Two gay teenagers being hanged in Iran. Fascism lives on, but not in Israel.
  29. 29. Photographs like this make me angry to the core. But when did any liberals protest about such sick behaviour in Iran or elsewhere? If anyone takes to the street nowadays, it is to condemn Israel. Just Israel. Does that seem fair to you? There is no capital punishment in Israel. And nobody marches with banners like these…
  30. 30. If we’re ever going to bring peace to the Middle East, the first step is for liberals in the West to stop demonizing Israel and whitewashing the Arabs. Shouldn’t the Left be ashamed to be associated with this?
  31. 31. It’s right to feel pity for the Palestinians. I do. But don’t Jews get any sympathy in your liberal heart?
  32. 32. I’m not asking you to believe that the Israelis are always the good guys and the Palestinians always the bad. That is obviously not the case. But this soldier is weeping precisely because she is not a cold-hearted Stormtrooper, and because a terrorist has just killed a friend of hers.
  33. 33. I would just like my liberal friends to stop acting as though Hitler was right and that the Jews are the only force of evil in the world. Israeli soldiers play with a Palestinian boy. They never open fire on Palestinian children deliberately. Why would they do that? Do they look like sadists? Ask rather why Palestinian gunmen open fire near where children are playing.
  34. 34. Israelis have done more good in the world than harm. In medicine, science, education, religious tolerance. They want the same things that you and I want - peace, human rights, justice… Above all, they want freedom from this . . . A Hizbullah rocket hits Haifa, 2006
  35. 35. I have included numerous photos of Israeli soldiers in this presentation, because most Israelis serve in the armed forces at some time or another - and because the military is Israel’s front line between survival and genocide. This is what a Nazi soldier looks like. This is genocide.
  36. 36. Most Israelis have been soldiers…
  37. 37. and doctors… Israel doctors train Palestinian doctors at Medilink
  38. 38. and teachers… Israeli and Palestinian teachers meet at a Compassionate Listening workshop
  39. 39. . . . but are driven to be soldiers out of necessity. In 1933, there were only gentle Jews… "This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre, which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League in 1948, before the Arab attacks on Israel.
  40. 40. Without its army, Israel would no longer exist “We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand, we shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood” Egyptian President, Gamal Abdel Nasser 1965
  41. 41. Israel’s soldiers have fought against overwhelming odds “The Zionist barrack in Palestine is about to collapse and be destroyed. Every one of the hundred million Arabs has been living for the past nineteen years on one hope: to live to see the day Israel is liquidated. There is no life, no peace nor hope for the gangs of Zionism to remain in the occupied land”. Cairo Radio (Egyptian state radio) broadcast 1967
  42. 42. If you were armed, who would you point your rifle at? Between 1933 and 1945, there were only gentle Jews. Arab writers today complain that Hitler didn’t finish the job. Hamas boasts that it will complete the German genocide. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims he will wipe Israel off the face of the map. Put yourself in place of the Israelis for once. Would you bless Hitler and kill the Jew? Or let your bullet find a truer mark?
  43. 43. For 60 years now, Israel’s enemies have been pointing guns and rockets at her. An Iranian built Fajr3 missile, now in the Hizbullah arsenal and aimed at Israel. Iran is building nuclear materials for nuclear warheads to fit one of these.
  44. 44. Think of the rifle in the soldier’s hand and the pistol held by the SS officer. That Hizbullah rocket is today’s equivalent. Is this really the proper liberal response to that ?
  45. 45. Have we lost all sense of proportion that we identify with a theocratic, misogynist, fascist movement in preference to a multicultural, democratic country? Ethiopian Jews in Israel celebrate the annual Sigd festival.
  46. 46. It’s time to think harder about Israel, and a lot harder about your own biases. You don’t have to stop dreaming dreams for the Palestinians. You just have to start asking about the nightmare the Israelis are going through as well. Peace for Israel will mean peace and prosperity for the Palestinians and the entire Middle East. Killing Israelis and threatening genocide is a recipe for ongoing disaster for both sides.
  47. 47. I don’t ask you to love Israel or fight for her or to live there. Only to judge her and her citizens with fairness. Without justice there can never be peace for anyone. In times of persecution, the Jews have nowhere else to go. Why should they, after so long wandering, be the only people in the world to be denied a homeland? They came to the Holy Land in peace and were greeted by enmity and violence. It’s time to listen to their story. Time to hear their voice every bit as loudly as you hear the voices of the Palestinians. The Israeli voices are passionate. They call for peace and justice and human rights. But when they are threatened by bombs and rockets, their children put on uniforms and go into battle. No-one has the right to deny them their right to self-defence. No-one has the right to ask everything of them and nothing of the Palestinians. They are not the best people in the world; but they are very far from the worst. Listen to them. They have a story to tell, a story unlike the story of any other people on earth.
  48. 48. •Presentation designed and written by Denis MacEoin •Photo 8 copyright Emmanuel Pain AFP •Photo 22 copyright Marco Abrar •Dedicated to the 69 Israeli soldiers injured on September 11, 2007 when an Islamic Jihad rocket struck the Zikim military base •If a copyright notice has inadvertently been omitted, or if you wish to comment about the presentation, please contact: