Jews against the war on Gaza

IssueDecember 2023 - January 2024
On 19 November, 800 Jews and friends gathered in Victoria Embankment Gardens in Central London for the largest Jewish-led ceasefire rally in UK history. Photo: Na’amod via Twitter
Feature by Jewish Voice for Labour

When United Nations general secretary António Guterres said the Hamas murders of Israelis in October 2023 did not happen in a vacuum, he was immediately accused by Israel’s ambassador to the UN of a ‘blood libel’ against Jews for which he must apologise or resign.

He, like us, deplores the killings but he also challenged the Israeli assertion that history started on 7 October. According to the Israeli narrative nothing, apart from bestial hate, explains 7 October and 7 October justifies everything the Israelis have done since.

The Israeli reaction to Guterres’ speech was outrageous, coming as it did from a government which was at that moment inflicting massive collective punishment on the people of Gaza, bombarding homes, hospitals and infrastructure, and indiscriminately killing thousands including children in unthinkable numbers.

Killing from 20,000 feet is no less immoral than killing at close quarters. Distance and technology does not confer morality.

Guterres had stated a simple fact, acknowledged by us and many thousands of Jews around the world: ‘The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of occupation, their people displaced and their homes demolished. Their hopes for a political solution have been vanishing.’

This is the background to Palestinian resistance. It is a story which starts long before the current ultra-nationalist, racist, Israeli government. It is a story of dispossession and oppression dating back even before the 1948 foundation of the State of Israel and the resulting Palestinian catastrophe, the Nakba.

Every peaceful avenue for achieving justice, freedom and equality for the Palestinian people has now been closed off. They are expected to submit to subservience in a Jewish supremacist state, to flee their land, or to die.

Taking civilian hostages is wrong but so are Israeli army raids in the middle of the night to seize Palestinians and hold them without charge or trial, as happens continuously in the West Bank. The detainees must be freed.

When Israel claims to be at war with Hamas, defending itself against terror, it is in fact carrying out ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people, committing war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law.

Israel claims to be protecting Jewish lives and accuses its critics of antisemitism. But in fact it is actually endangering Jews worldwide by associating all Jews with the deadly siege of Gaza, the illegal colonisation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, and the continuing exile of more than six million Palestinian refugees in the Middle East and beyond.

There cannot be peace without justice, dignity and equality for all, Palestinians and Israelis, Jews, Christians and Muslims – all who live between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

We say: