Here is the letter published by the Dunbarton Reporter on June 14th by Jason Pearlman of Modi’in, Israel, in response to the ongoing controversy surrounding West Dunbartonshire’s boycott of Israeli goods.
The name of West Dunbartonshire has featured widely in media concerned with the Middle East this past week. Here in Israel, it is has taken a notable hit following news of a ban on Israeli goods, and especially Israeli books – for Israeli Jews, there scarcely exists a scarier echo of the Third Reich.
I am Jewish, was born in the UK and now live in Israel. I live in an Israeli city near the West Bank, and am often in Jerusalem – accordingly I have regular contact with Palestinians, and like a majority of Jews in Israel, daily contact with Israeli Arabs, Christian, Muslim and Druze alike. What for you may be a political campaign, a hobby, a cause to support – for me is daily life. And let me tell you a bit about it.
When I drop off my kids at kindergarten in the morning, there is an armed guard at the door. When I enter any shop, hospital, cinema, museum or office, there too is an armed guard who checks my bag, and either passes a wand over me, or requests I walk through a metal detector.
In my home, I am required by law to have a safe room, with reinforced concrete and an airtight window and door. I have gas masks under my bed – for me, my wife and my infant children. I pay a high level of tax to afford a security service capable of defending me and my family from daily attempts on our lives, whether in the form of bombs, shootings, stabbings, deliberate hit and runs, or rockets from neighbouring territories and states. These attacks pre-date 1967, they occurred before Israel’s independence in 1948. Indeed they began as early as the 1920s, and were carried out by those incited into ‘jihad’ by the Islamic Mufti of Jerusalem and his supporters – a man who, while your parents and grandparents were fighting the Nazis, was making alliances with Hitler.
Yet, when my wife was diagnosed with cancer, she was treated by Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, and alongside Jewish and Arab patients. Her surgeon was a Palestinian from Hebron, her nurse was a Druze from Haifa and her day care doctor was a Jew from Jerusalem. This is not reported in the media, because it is not unique. This is normal life, and is happening right now.
Speaking of the media, Israel’s press is the most open in the Middle East. If you doubt me, ask any British journalist in Israel; they have just been across the region covering the Arab Spring – see if they really feel that sound humanitarian reason would propose a boycott of Israeli publications over those from other states. There is freedom of speech in Israel like nowhere else in the region.
I am not suggesting Palestinian life is all fine and dandy. But myths such as a humanitarian crisis when economic figures are booming, and claims of occupation when Palestinians are suppressed by their own leaders, mean the Palestinian rhetoric as it is heard around the world is far from reflective of reality. Moreover, Palestinian television and press continue to preach, to children and adults alike, the culture of jihad, the honour of martyrdom and sickeningly deny Jews the right to exist. Farfur the ‘Mickey Mouse’ character who sung of suicide bombings to five year olds is just one example.
Finally, I ask you to consider the root of this motion to boycott Israeli goods, and books of all things. The Left in the UK is enduring difficult times. In recent years we have seen its key figures invite Islamist preachers and supporters of homophobia, suicide bombings and domestic abuse. We have seen leaders of Israel’s political opposition unable to speak in the UK. We have seen university unions deny the very definition of anti-Semitism, and leading members of the Houses of Parliament voice support for suicide bombings.
Remember 7/7, remember the attack on Glasgow’s airport. Imagine having this threat every day, not for a decade, but for a century.
I am not asking you to agree with Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians. I am simply asking you understand why and how these policies have come to be. I am asking you to listen to mainstream voices in Israel, not simply the hard Left or Right.
We all want peace. But I want a peace that assures my children a future. We may disagree on how we achieve this, but banning my leaders, boycotting my goods, blocking my books, silencing my voice – does only harm to all of us.
- Scottish Council BDS leader, Jim Bollan: “Hamas are freedom fighters” (cifwatch.com)
- Keep the pressure on West Dunbartonshire Council: Fight Racist Boycott of Israel (cifwatch.com)
- Scottish anti-Israel forces defeated in Dundee Council (cifwatch.com)
- The inimitable Mr. McColl (cifwatch.com)
- Whisky Counter-Boycott (cifwatch.com)