Live Together, in Peace; Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, a Rabbi at the University of Wales, Lampeter, Believes the Conflict in Gaza Is Strengthening Anti-Semitism and Jews and Palestinians Must Find a New Way to Live Together the Wednesday Essay

Article excerpt

OVER the Christmas vacation my wife and I were staying in Kensington in London near the Israeli Embassy.

Every day I went out for a brisk walk in Kensington Gardens. All last week the embassy was surrounded by police and metal barriers.

In the background were mounted riot police.

In the late afternoons a crowd of Palestinians gathered behind the barricades and shouted slogans in support of the Palestinian cause.

Interspersed among the crowd were placards denouncing Israeli policy as well as children waving Palestinian flags.

This past Saturday tens of thousands of protesters against the war marched from Hyde Park down Kensington Church Street. We were having lunch in a cafe on their route and watched from our table near the window.

The throng was composed of young Arabs as well as the elderly wearing badges and holding flags.

Many of those in the crowd were ordinary British citizens sympathetic to the cause.

After lunch we made our way across the street and were caught up in a flood of protesters. One took a multicoloured badge from his coat with the slogan Free Palestine and handed it to me.

"Join us," he said as he marched off into the distance.

My wife pinned it on my lapel and we followed the crowd as they descended in the direction of the embassy.

I must have been the only rabbi caught up in the march. Yet, despite my Jewish credentials, I had no hesitation joining the protesters even if this happened by accident.

Every day as I watched television and read the newspapers, I was sickened by the horror of this onslaught. I could not help but be reminded of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War who fought against the Germans.

Few in number, these brave fighters engaged in a hopeless struggle against insuperable odds.

Eventually they were killed and the Warsaw Ghetto set alight.

Paradoxically, the Jewish community seems blind to the obvious parallels. Supporters of Israel are anxious to point out that Hamas has officially refused to recognise the existence of the Jewish State in the Middle East. For this reason suicide bombers are willing to give up their lives in the struggle to free the Holy Land from what are perceived as foreign invaders and usurpers.

Hamas is intent on driving the Jewish population into the sea.

Given such determination on the part of Palestinians, Israel has no choice but to defend itself.

Such an argument is persuasive.

But in my view, this assault against Gaza will not destroy Israel's enemies. …