Recognising a Palestinian state

Turmoil in the Middle East

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – The Israeli ambassador to Ireland bemoans anti-Israel sentiment in Ireland (“Ireland’s planned unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state sends a dangerous signal”, Opinion & Analysis, April 11th). But how can we feel sympathy with Israel, given the ongoing merciless onslaught unleashed on Gaza by Israel’s army and air force?

The thousands of dead Palestinian children, the indiscriminate levelling of buildings and homes, the closing of aid and food routes, and the spread of famine are shocking.

We feel, with the Jews, that the Holocaust was a heinous moral outrage that will haunt humanity forever. The Hamas killing of Israelis and the abduction of hostages were atrocities.

But now, as we follow the Gaza story, the dilemma for us is that Israel may have, unfortunately, neglected to follow a human moral compass in its prosecution of this terrible war.

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The ambassador has to understand our perplexity. – Yours, etc,

SEAN McENTEE,

Dublin 6W.

Sir, – I am grateful to The Irish Times for the article by the Israeli ambassador to Ireland Dana Erlich. Listening to alternative perspectives (regardless of whether we agree) is a necessary part of democracy and a healthy discourse. It is also a further reason (for those who need one) to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. Please continue to offer diversity in my daily reading about the Israel-Hamas war. – Yours, etc,

ROBERT WHELAN,

Greystones,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – I have no time for the theocratic regime in Iran and the last thing the Middle East needs is more violence but are there no international laws or conventions Israel will not breach in pursuit of its foes?

Embassies throughout the world have largely enjoyed the status of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations which affords them protection – but not from Israeli missiles. Under international humanitarian law, patients are protected while being treated in hospitals – but not from Israeli assassins, as in the Ibn Sina hospital in the city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Aid workers, and not just those killed working for World Central Kitchen, must be “respected and protected”, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross but, guess what, not when it comes to Israel.

If international law is to mean anything, Israeli exceptionalism must end. – Yours, etc,

PAUL ARTHERTON,

Belfast.

Sir, – David McWilliams writes in favour of a new “Marshall Plan” for Gaza and makes a convincing case that the economics work out (“A successful, prosperous Gaza is possible. Here is a model”, Opinion, April 6th). According to McWilliams, the global community can achieve peace in the region if we all simply “put our money where our mouth is”. But the main problem with McWilliams’s idea isn’t the money, but the politics. The Marshall Plan, enacted in 1948, was made possible by the unconditional surrender of the main Axis powers, Germany and Japan, three years previously. In the intervening years, there was little resistance – armed or otherwise – to the Allied occupation of the former Axis countries of Europe, as the war-weary population tried to rebuild their shattered lives.

In Gaza today, the situation is very different. McWilliams conjectures that an unnamed “new Palestinian leadership” would agree to unspecified “conditions” in order to access his proposed Palestinian Marshall Plan aid.

To take his analogy seriously, though, what would actually be required to replay the postwar Europe recovery is the unconditional surrender of Hamas, including release of the Israeli hostages, followed by several years of unopposed occupation of Gaza by a dominant military power – presumably Israel. (What other country would volunteer its own soldiers for such a thankless mission?) This all seems unlikely, to put it mildly.

Another complicating factor that isn’t even mentioned by McWilliams is the presence of Iran, a large and powerful country that is currently engaged in a proxy war against Israel, which it prosecutes mainly by arming and empowering militant radicals all over the region.

Unfortunately, for all concerned, money won’t solve what is first and foremost a political problem. – Yours, etc,

COLM P KELLEHER,

Cambridge,

Massachusetts.

Sir, – Israeli ambassador Dana Erlich writes that many Israelis and Jews living in Ireland “have expressed . . . fear and insecurity since last October” and “the entire nation of Israel and Jewish people” have been vilified by extremists.

Ms Erlich ignores Jews, both here and internationally, who reject the Israeli government’s war against the Palestinian people, and who see a genocide unfolding in real time before our eyes. We stand proudly as Jews, from Skibbereen to Derry, rejecting the false claim that Jewish security is more important than the lives of nearly 34,000 Palestinians brutally murdered, including 14,000 children. That it justifies withholding water, electricity, food and aid to ordinary people in Gaza, while we watch children and babies starve.

It is precisely because the nation state of Israel depends on a cruel system of inequality, inhumanity, ongoing violence and land dispossession that we reject Zionism. And let us be clear, fighting against Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people is in no way, shape or form anti-Semitic. On the contrary, our Judaism has nothing to do with the Zionism espoused by the nation state of Israel which stands for Jewish supremacy and which has developed a cruel system of domination characterised by Amnesty International as the “crime of apartheid” and a “crime against humanity”. – Yours, etc,

ANNIE de BHAL,

Skibbereen,

Co Cork;

JACOB WOLF,

Dublin;

SUE PENTEL,

Belfast.