War is war: Why I stand with Israel

There are serious concerns to be raised about Israel's policies, but when Hamas declares war, it must be able to defend itself


As a liberal Zionist, certain statements are expected from me at times like this, so let's get it out of the way:

1. The kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers was an abominable crime.

2. So was the kidnap and murder of a Palestinian teenager.

3. Palestinians have a right to a state of their own, secure in its own borders,

4. But so does Israel.

5. Hamas is a wholly malevolent organization who would be recognized as neo-Nazis if they happened to be white Christians.

6. The Israeli government, whatever my disagreements with it, is still a liberal democracy doing its best under highly adverse circumstances.

7. This doesn't mean that every innocent Palestinian killed isn't a tragedy, but...

8. War is war.

Are we done now? Can we not have this printed and bound in pamphlet form, to be distributed by the well-wrung hands of liberal writers each time events in the Holy Land take another apocalyptic turn? Because I'm a bit exhausted, to be honest. The kind of existential, moral exhaustion that might also be called despair.

This is how I feel, as a coddled third-hand observer a happy ocean or two away, so what Israelis and Palestinians feel must be beyond the power of words to describe. In 2017, Israel will have held the Palestinian territories for half a century, and the solution keeps on receding into the distance.

As my list above implies, I can't pretend to be entirely neutral: I stand with Israel, as the hashtag has it. Even if I didn't find the Zionist claim to a state in the historical Jewish homeland compelling, I'd still feel inclined towards Israel for reasons of solidarity.

What I mean by this was expressed beautifully by Howard Jacobson in 2009. So little has changed since then that, after I read it for the first time recently, I assumed it had been written this week. You should take the time to read the whole thing, but the nub is this: there is legitimate criticism of Israeli government policy, and then there is the international anti-Zionist movement, and the two bear scant relation to one another.

As Jacobson writes of the latter, it is "a discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here [...] But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. It is, I am assured, 'criticism' of Israel, pure and simple."


A simple illustration: in the Hobbesian nightmare that is Bashar al-Assad's Syria, about 9,000 children have been killed since the civil war began in 2011. Nine thousand. That's the equivalent of a large British secondary school reduced to ashes every six months.

Forgive me if I'm merely being unobservant, but where is the international campaign against the Syrian regime? Is it hiding? Did campuses all over the world hold a “Syrian Genocide Week”, and I just wasn't paying attention?

I think not, somehow. This is not “criticism”, this is obsession.

A part of me is tempted to voice my very real concerns about where Israeli society is headed, but after a week or two of arguing with people who will do anything but recognize terrorist aggression has dissuaded me.

I still have those concerns, but somehow, I just can't bring myself to talk about them. Not while my Israeli comrades are rushing to their bomb shelters and being blamed for it at the same time.

I stand with Israel.

Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron's 'compassionate conservatism' is now lying on its back  

Tory modernisation has failed under David Cameron

Michael Dugher
Russian President Vladimir Putin 'hits his foes where it hurts'  

Dominic Raab: If Western politicians’ vested interests protect Putin, take punishment out of their hands

Dominic Raab
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform