Israel and Palestine – a cycle of conflict

Sir, – Regarding the complexity of the conflict in Israel, it should be possible to have a deep sympathy to the plight of the Jewish people over many centuries of persecution and genocide, to acknowledge Europe’s and Christianity’s prime responsibilty for this, and believe in good faith that part of the restitution for that injustice was the creation of the state of Israel, whose inhabitants deserve to live peace and security.

It should also be possible at the same time to acknowledge the deep injustices against the Palestinian people at Israel’s inception and in following wars, to abhor the continuing horrific injustices that Israel perpetrates against a beleaguered and downtrodden people, and to seek ways to remedy and redress this.

There are those on both sides – political opportunists, bigots and religious fanatics – with a vested interest to make this a zero-sum choice. People of goodwill around the world have a duty to ensure they don’t succeed. – Yours, etc,




Sir , – I echo Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney’s declaration that the deaths of 32 children by Israeli fire last week “cannot be acceptable to the international community”.

However, Mr Coveney’s call for the UN Security Council to “hold those responsible to account” will serve as a test case for his professed belief that multilateral diplomacy is the most effective means by which Ireland can meet its moral obligation to protect Palestinian human rights.

At the risk of appearing pessimistic, I predict that there will be no decisive action at UN level, due to the US’s consistent use of its Security Council veto to shield its regional ally from accountability.

The EU, in turn, has proven unwilling even to suspend Israel from the Euro-Med Trade Agreement, despite consistent and flagrant violations of the human rights protocols which form the basis of the agreement.

On this basis, it falls to Dáil Éireann to legislate to end Ireland’s complicity in the relentless colonial expansionism that sparked the current conflagration. The Occupied Territories Bill has passed both Houses of the Oireachtas, and was due for examination at Committee stage when it was controversially excluded from the programme for government at Mr Coveney’s point-blank insistence.

By enacting this Bill, we can end our incentivisation of state-sponsored illegal settlement enterprises worldwide, we can show our solidarity with long-oppressed people in Palestine, Western Sahara and elsewhere, and we can prove that Ireland is a nation of principle, truly deserving of a place on the global stage. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Heather Abrahamson's portrayal of Israel as having merely "misjudged" the issue of evictions in Jerusalem (Letters, May 15th) is the wrong description of Israel's escalation of hostilities against both 1967 Palestinians in the occupied territories, and 1948 Palestinian citizens within its borders. Likewise, by focusing on Israel's current fight against Hamas, Ms Abrahamson confuses cause with effect.

She has nothing to say about Israel’s shocking and unwarranted attacks on Palestinian worshippers in the Al Aqsa Mosque, nor about the Israeli mobs – many of whom bussed from West Bank settlements – who are roaming Israel’s mixed population cities wreaking indiscriminate havoc on Palestinian citizens.

The fire was ignited by the ongoing threat to evict legal Palestinian homeowners from their houses in Sheikh Jarrah. This, and the racial gentrification of the city of Yafa, opposed by Palestinian (and Jewish) homeowners pressured to give way to Israeli vulture landlords, were coming to a head last week. The Israeli police’s brutal suppression of demonstrations in both locations, and interference with worshippers in Al Aqsa during Ramadan, led to predictable and understandable Palestinian resistance from Gaza, and from within Israel’s Palestinian-Jewish cities.

Several Israeli commentators have said that the timing of the current round of hostilities is suspiciously convenient for beleaguered Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his bid to remain in office and prevent an alternative government being formed.

Ms Abrahamson’s question whether it is “Israel’s fault that they have a strong army” would be laughable if we did not know that Zionist leaders from David Ben Gurion onward have deliberately built up the Israel Defence Forces as a “people’s army” in order to construct Israel as a cohesive colonial entity.

Since Israel has far greater military power and enjoys the support of the international community that allows it to continue oppressing the Palestinians with impunity, it has caused untold damage that, despite repeated claims that “it never targets civilians”, has meant killing hundreds of Gaza’s civilians, including children and women.

The IDF’s claim to be the “most moral army in the world”’ is grotesque in view of Mr Netanyahu vowing to “crush Hamas with unrelenting bombardments”, defence minister Benny Gantz’s 2019 election-campaign boast to have sent Gaza “back to the Stone Age”, and indeed previous deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai’s shocking threat to visit the holocaust on the Palestinians during the 2014 Gaza carnage.

As a Jewish Israeli, I fully support the Palestinians’ right to resist the ongoing Nakba. – Yours, etc,



Retired Associate

Professor of Sociology,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.