It is time for those who believe that violence doesn't work to stand up

July 3, 2014 4:42 PM
By Leon Duveen - Bassetlaw and Sherwood in Liberal Democrat Voice

Leon and Yannie DuveenLast October, I wrote a piece for LDV called "Time to do away with LD Friends of Israel & Friends of Palestine" and other pieces on the subject on my own irregular blog.

After the tragic events of the last three weeks, with the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers being found murdered and now a Palestinian youth having been killed in Jerusalem, seemingly in "revenge", I feel I need to speak out, even it is to "state the obvious".

In addition to the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, the Israeli reaction to the kidnapping and killing of Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach has cost at least six other deaths of Palestinians on the West Bank & yet unknown numbers of lives in Gaza. We here in the UK need to be strident in the commendation of the extremists on both sides who, through their rhetoric, have encouraged the violence.

What else should we do, living in safe comfortable Britain, to try to bring an end to this current upsurge in violence?

One thing none of us should do is to act as cheerleaders for one side or the other to say that any of the violence is justified, that one side or another has the right to attack those on the other. Most of us do not have relatives or friends in the area and we cannot imagine what it is to be caught up in these events.

Our role, especially in a political party that tries to build bridges with those we don't always agree with must be to support the moderates on both sides calling for calm and a reduction in the violent rhetoric extremists on both sides seem to like to engage in. There are many groups and individuals in both Palestine and Israel who are calling for dialogue, compromise and understanding of the other side. These are the people we need to be supporting.

Ten days ago I was at a meeting in Bethlehem where Abdul-Majid Atallah, the Mufti of Bethlehem, spoke movingly about how, despite being subject to arbitrary arrest & administrative detention (a form of interment), does not hate Israelis and wants a peaceful settlement. There are many like him in Palestine and also others like Uri Savir and Uri Avnery in Israel who want the same. As Liberal Democrats, these are the people we should be supporting, not the extremists or the men of violence on either side.

Finally I would like to repeat the words of Rabbi Hillel the Elder, first said over 2000 years ago. When asked to explain the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), he said "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn". This saying has become known as the Golden Rule and appears in different forms in all the three monotheistic religions as well as many other. We would all do well to follow it and call on all sides in Palestine and Israel to do the same.

Editors' note: Given the unfortunate tendency of posts relating to this area of the Middle East to attract large numbers of comments that breach our comments policy, all comments below this piece will be moderated before publication.

* Leon Duveen is a Liberal Democrat activist in Worksop, Nottinghamshire