November 25, 2006

Why I'm Backing Israel

From Why I'm Backing Israel:

There is never a wrong time to do the right thing and if, like me, you are convinced of Israel's cause, then why not support Israel and why not now? Since its birth 58 years ago, Israel has always been prepared to compromise for peace. From Begin's agreement with Sadat in 1979 to the Arafat-Barak talks at Camp David in 2000, Israeli leaders have been prepared to challenge their own people in pursuit of peace. Last summer Israel withdrew from Gaza, angry settlers and all. Yet the terror from the Gaza Strip has continued - more than 1,000 rockets have been fired into southern Israel in the past year.

We need to think carefully about the consequences of questioning the defensive reactions of a nation-state that is constantly bombarded by an enemy calling for its destruction, especially after it has withdrawn from Lebanon and Gaza. Would we as British citizens accept a single rocket on a British town, let alone hundreds? Israel's willingness to compromise for peace has never been enough, because Israel alone cannot gain peace. The Palestinians and others in the region also have to want peace. Why not concentrate attention there, rather than on the one player in the region who has always been serious about peace?

The writer is chief executive of the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre and the former Labour MP for Rochdale.