Monday, 10 May 2010

Nightmare ZOA

I have just had my worst nightmare in a very long while. It came precisely between 3:00am and 4:00am this morning. I know because I was wide awake, at my desk, on the phone. Chris Gelken, of China Radio International was interviewing me, David Israel Rosen, CEO of the China Transition Institute and Steve Goldberg, Chairman of the Zionist Organisation of America.

David I warmed to. He is Jewish, an Israeli and a Zionist and I liked the guy. He accepted the necessity for Israel to disengage from the Palestinians and withdraw from the Occupied Territories. We agreed that Israel should be accountable to international law like every other sovereign nation. We agreed that AIPAC - the American Israel Public Affairs Committee is seriously bad news for both Israelis and Americans. We agreed the Settlements and Separation Wall must go. I understand why you think Israel needs to be tough and militarily strong. I respect your desire to see Israel safe at peace with her neighbours. I agree with you that time is running out for a negotiated settlement. 

True, we didn't agree on everything, but that is fine. That is what debate is all about - learning from other perspectives than your own, finding out what you have in common and exploring differences from a desire to find agreement where possible. If I ever make it to Beijing I'd like to buy you a beer David. (Although you are a very busy man, I am sure you use Google Alerts as I do).

Steve on the other hand - you scared me witless. I want to think the best of you and I don't want to put words in your mouth, so correct me if I am wrong (as I am sure you will for the same reason as David) but I have to say you made Bibi Netanyahu sound like a wimp and Hamas lover. You blamed the perpetuation of the Middle East conflict entirely on the Arabs. You oppose the withdrawal of Gaza. You seem to favour premptive military action against Iran, Syria, Lebanon, and everyone who refuses to acknowledge Israel's unilateral right to all the Occupied Territories and exclusive claim to Jerusalem. You equated those who favour the Two State solution with Neville Chamberlain and those who wanted to appease Hitler.

We never got round to what you are going to do with the 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank if you get your way but I think I know and its not nice. And what about Arab Israelis? Maybe we shouldn't go there. I suspect you don't trust them either. Steve you scare me. If you get your way, there won't be an Israel in ten years time.

I'm glad we had the conversation, although in future I'd prefer to keep my nightmares in my sleep.