I think the best thing we can do about the nightmare being inflicted onto the people of Gaza is to write to our Member of Parliament. Let them know where you stand. I wrote to mine, Peter Kyle MP, over two weeks ago but he’s not replied. Normally MPs reply quickly but when it comes to Israel, British politicians seem to go into a kind of coma.

I’d be really interested to know what you think about the situation, and/or my letter. You are far more likely to write something interesting than my MP, who is obviously caught in the US-driven policy of blindly support apartheid and would probably only send me a polite but dismissive reply.

Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Mr Kyle,

I was impressed that you didn’t vote against the SNP’s parliamentary motion calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and I have a related question for you: do you think the Labour Party should call for a ceasefire?

As a new resident in Hove I was looking forward to voting for you in the next General Election, as I had heard you are a good MP, but I won’t do this if Labour doesn’t drop its unconditional support for Israel’s extreme nationalist government. If you were to support Israel’s progressives, the ones who want peace through dialogue with moderate Palestinians, the Labour Party could set an international precedent: a way to support Israeli people without condoning the actions of an extreme government.

Surely you can see that the Israeli government is carrying out collective punishment on Palestinian civilians in the wake of Hamas’s terror attack? The Israeli policy towards the Palestinians is clearly apartheid and even David Cameron, when he was PM, described Gaza as an “open prison”.  Israel is proud of its democracy but it applies cruel military law to those living in Gaza and the West Bank. 

I’ve been reading about the historical background to the conflict as, I believe, understanding the past helps us to navigate the present. In Simon Sebag Montefiore’s book Jerusalem he describes how this great city was fought over for centuries by Jews, Christians and Muslims. In ancient times the conquering party would often massacre the victims, but not always: sometimes they would show clemency and toleration. Palestine was ruled for over 400 years by the Muslim Ottoman Empire and they were relatively tolerant towards their Jewish and Christian minorities. They certainly didn’t wall them up in ghettos as happens now. It strikes me that the current Israeli government is acting like one of those ancient empires, when punishing whole populations was quite normal. But why do our governments support such barbaric practices? 

The other book I’m reading offers a useful background to the situation and I recommend it: The Question of Palestine by Edward Said. This book answers a question I’ve had for a long time: how can progressives/liberals/left wingers in the West be so blindly supportive of Israeli policies that break so many of the human rights they apparently believe in? He also explains that Israeli Zionism is, in fact, a colonial project that enforces a different set of laws on its subject peoples.

In my opinion, the NATO powers were quite right to stand up to Russia in Ukraine, but the diplomatic advantages we gained by this is being thrown away by the double standards we are showing in Israel/Gaza. We all know the US government is under pressure from their Jewish and evangelical lobbies, and our conservative government will blindly follow whatever Washington DC does, but it’s sad to see that this rationale also applies to the Labour Party. Not only is this against what most Labour voters apparently believe, but it makes us look cowardly and craven on the international stage. 

A recent article in Al-Jazeera says, “The Labour establishment has always been complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people, but their moral corruption on Palestine is not representative of the contemporary Labour grassroots.” 

I would be grateful if you could let me know what your position on Gaza is, but please don’t trot out the Israeli government talking point about their right to defend themselves. That is the most ridiculous statement I’ve heard, as nobody is saying they don’t have that right. What we’re saying is you don’t need to carpet bomb a whole population if you’re going after a few terrorists. 

With kind regards

Rupert Wolfe Murray


Rupert Wolfe Murray
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