This conflict has endured for over 60 years. It matters because of the status of Jerusalem and because many see the conflict as a religious one. Achieving peace requires difficult concessions from both parties but a two state agreement is the only realistically acceptable solution. It is essential for Israel to avoid policies that would make a two state solution impossible.
The IHRA definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the UK Government, amongst others. Many, on both sides of the Israel / Palestine dispute, think the definition labels all criticism of Israel as antisemitic. It does not. I wrote an article about the definition on ConservativeHome and have reproduced it on this page. The page also explains the etymological fallacy committed by those who argue Arabs cannot be antisemites. It also explains why "antisemitism" is the preferred spelling.
I was invited to speak to the sixth form "History and Politics Society" of a girls' school in London about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as providing a brief history of the dispute, the most important point I made was the extent to which people take sides on this dispute. I emphasised that both parties to the dispute have rights and wrongs. That is what makes it so difficult. I recorded the 21-minute presentation for this website.
Views about the Arab / Israeli dispute are highly polarised, and the history is strongly contested. Israel's birth saw civil war between Jews and Palestinians and war between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Benny Morris has written a detailed, well documented and very readable account of the conflict. Everyone, regardless of their existing views of the dispute, will learn from reading it.
An antisemite is a person who hates Jews. Hatred is a mental state. Deciding if someone is antisemitic requires evidence in the form of words or deeds. What the person says about Israel may be such evidence. However such utterances need to be assessed alongside other evidence to determine whether the person hates Jews. Assertions denying one is antisemitic will not displace the conclusion drawn from words or deeds, if those clearly evidence antisemitism.
Many people wrongly use the word "Israeli" to mean "Israeli Jew." However 25% of Israelis are not Jewish. They face severe discrimination. I recommend what Israeli Arabs can do to make their lives better, how Britons can help them, and what the Israeli government should be doing. Improving Israeli Arabs' lives should also advance the cause of Israeli / Palestinian peace.
The parties to almost all disputes have radically different views on the causes and aims of the dispute and usually display extreme reluctance to understand the opposing party's narrative. The Israel / Palestine dispute exemplifies these behaviours. I recently presented the Jewish narrative of the conflict before an audience in Liverpool that was mainly Jewish audience plus some Christians and Muslims. I particularly recommend it to those who believe Israel has no case and is entirely in the wrong.
In this short but passionately written book Oz argues that both Jews and Palestinians have legitimate claims to Palestine. He considers that the only solution is compromise in the form of the two state solution. Many on both sides of the dispute are fanatics with closed minds; this book should help to open such minds.
Britons from an immigrant background care far more about foreign issues than do white Britons. In particular, most British Muslims are very concerned about the Israel / Palestine dispute. As well as explaining the importance of the subject, I outline one presentational point for Conservative politicians and raise one policy question.
To understand Hamas, one must read its Charter. It shows that Hamas is committed to reconquering the whole of Palestine. This goal is not achievable, but causes immense suffering to Gaza's Palestinians. Accordingly Hamas needs to change its goals or to dissolve itself.
Hebron is a holy place to Jews and Muslims, housing the graves of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It has a terrible history; Jews were massacred there in 1929, and Palestinians in 1994. It is a microcosm of the hatred that divides Palestinians and Jews in the Holy Land, and was the most depressing part of my visit to the Holy Land at the end of 2009.
When Israel is criticised, its defenders often contend that the critics are motivated by antisemitism. The accusation is made even when the critics are Jews. I encountered the argument that anti-Zionism is always antisemitic for the first time a few years ago. However once you define your terms carefully, the question ceases to be controversial.
This is a work of fiction in the form of a thriller, set mainly in Jerusalem, in the midst of Israel / Palestine peace negotiations. The author uses the book to set out his vision of the underlying unity of all religions. It is exciting and captivating to read, with an almost magical quality that leaves one feeling uplifted. It reminds us that good things are possible as well as bad.
This is a short work of fiction where Palestinian terrorists smuggle an atomic bomb into Jerusalem with the help of a Palestinian "sleeper." It is very easy to read, and quite gripping. Accordingly I recommend it as mental relaxation. It also has an important message of reconciliation.
Sir Martin Gilbert is an eminent historian and Winston Churchill's official biographer. He covers the period from the beginning of Islam to the end of the 20'th century. Under Muslim rulers, special rules applied to Jews (and Christians). Overall, Jews were better treated than Jews in Christian Europe, but periods of tolerance were interspersed with periods of persecution. In the 20'th century, the rise of Zionism led to increasing persecution of Jews by Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa, culminating in the expulsion of their Jewish populations.
Does Israel exist for all of its citizens, or only for the 80% who are Jewish? The Israeli national anthem is problematical for its non-Jewish citizens as is the new requirement that the Palestinians recognise Israel as a Jewish state in any peace agreement.
Muhammad Asad was born as Leopold Weiss in Poland, but became one of the most famous Muslims of the twentieth century. This autobiography covers his first 32 years. It paints a vivid picture of his early life, recreates the Middle East of the 1920's, explains what brought him to Islam, and reflects upon the radical message of the Prophet (pbuh).
There were been demonstrations in London about Israel's attack on 31 May 2010 on the flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza. I have never been on a demonstration, and prefer to work by other means. In that regard, I wrote an open letter to the Israeli ambassador in London
British Muslims often complain about the influence of the Israel lobby in the USA and the UK. However, for me the key message is that instead of complaining, we need to learn from their commitment to political engagement.
This was written the day after Israel started bombing Gaza at the end of 2008, before the ground invasion in January 2009. I was outraged, but decided to focus on the future and the urgent need for a permanent peace.