These are difficult days for supporters of Israel. The sight of Israeli snipers barricaded behind reinforced walls picking off protesters as young as 14, killing scores and injuring thousands, is not easy viewing.Palestinians called it a massacre of innocents. Israeli leaders called the demonstrators “murderous terrorists”. On Wednesday Hamas admitted 50 of the dead were actually their terrorists.
The protest saw Israel’s border violently attacked, the expressed intention being to break into the country. Israel’s ambassador to the UK said Israel’s response to the violence was “measured”.
The IDF said Hamas, true to form, paid people to reach the fence, and threw women and children in first. Emotions were heightened by the underlying sensitivities and timing – of the US embassy move and the 70-year anniversary of independence (or ‘nakba,’ catastrophe).
Benjamin Netanyahu is right: a country has every right to defend its borders. The question being asked, even by Israel’s defenders, is whether the IDF needed to do so with live fire. Are there not less lethal means of dispersal? To ask that question is not to excuse Hamas, which has its people’s blood on its hands.
The British invasion
As President Rivlin said last week, you can’t travel around Israel without marveling at the British contribution – from schools, to hospitals, to parks. As in the UK, our impact within the Jewish state is totally out of proportion to the small size of the community.
So our Aliyah 100 list, in partnership with the Jewish Agency and UJIA, was an opportunity to celebrate those who have packed up their lives to pursue their dreams thousands of the miles away.
It was an honour to bring many of them together for a reception hosted by British Ambassador David Quarrey last week. Thank you to everyone on the list for all you do – and to the many others who didn’t feature but whose work makes such a positive difference.