Antony Loewenstein says “not many Jews” agree that the 2001 UN conference against racism in Durban was an anti-Semitic hatefest (Letters, July 23).
I was a delegate and I don’t remember Mr Loewenstein being there when hundreds of Palestinians and Muslims were screaming in our faces “death to the Jews”. Nor when Palestinians and members of the Arab Lawyers League were handing out leaflets saying that if Hitler had done his job properly, there would have been no Israel and no Palestinian problem.
More importantly, he misses Anne Bayefsky’s key point, which is that Western values of free speech and support for open interfaith dialogue are threatened, rather than supported, by the UN Human Rights Council.
Alan Gold Leura
The headline on Antony Loewenstein’s letter, “Israel the aggressor must accept reasonable and unbiased criticism” could have been more appropriately worded “Israel must accept reasonable criticism”.
Each of us brings our bias, our opinion weighted with life experience, when we enter into conversation. As a Jew, I recognise mistakes have been made on both sides of the conflict in the Middle East. But to argue as Mr Loewenstein does that the “Palestinians are the eternally demonised people, occupied, starved and killed with impunity by Israel” only presents another “biased” perspective, not reasonable criticism.
In the past week, Israel has mourned the losses of soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, while Hezbollah and Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, have praised the release of the murderer Samir Kuntar. I hope Mr Loewenstein, in his ardent pursuit of human rights, would not condemn Israel while its neighbours dance in the street when murderers go free.
Reasonable criticism and a pursuit of human rights will come only when we acknowledge the mistakes of both sides. But when one nation mourns and others celebrate a vigilante with seemingly no respect for human life, I reserve my right to be reasonably biased.
Paul Jacobson Bondi
A few comments are in order. The issue of human rights in the Middle East is indeed a fraught one, but far too many Jews seem able to convince themselves that Israelis are on the side of angels and only Arabs are the terrorists. Hardly. The occupation of Palestinian land is a daily attack on dignity. Until the Western world understands the reality of Arab resistance to Zionist designs on the region, conflict will continue.
It’s amazing, in the letters above, how I’m chastised for not appreciating the Jew-hatred of the “enemy.” I’m well aware of it, having travelling around the Middle East a number of times. But Zionists refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for creating anti-Semitism, defending the occupation or remaining silent about it.