Debate on Zionism Sparks Angry Clashes; Heated Exchanges over Israeli Occupation of Gaza

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 26, 2005 | Go to article overview

Debate on Zionism Sparks Angry Clashes; Heated Exchanges over Israeli Occupation of Gaza


Byline: OLIVER FINEGOLD

SUPPORTERS and opponents of Zionism have clashed at a debate over the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The exchange was over the motion "Zionism today is the real enemy of the Jews" during the forum at the Royal Geographic Society in London.

The motion was carried with 355 people in favour and 320 against.

Earlier in the week it came under fire from some groups which criticised it for attempting to " delegitimise" the Jewish state, and it is expected to lead to further controversy. A distinguished panel of Jewish commentators spoke for and against the motion.

Speaking for it at the Evening Standard sponsored Intelligence2 debate last night were Professor Jacqueline Rose, Professor Avi Shlaim and Israeli journalist Amira Hass.

Former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, Professor Raphael Israeli and Daily Mail and Jewish Chronicle columnist Melanie Phillips spoke against.

The result followed a far closer poll at its start, with 228 for and 227 against. An earlier internet poll however, registered 846 for and 9,230 against.

The commentators debated topics including the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Six Day War in 1967.

Professor Rose said Zionism, the original ideology on which the Jewish nation was founded, had become the enemy of the Jews.

She said: "Jews did not survive attempted genocide to become brutal oppressors."

Professor Shlaim, who teaches at Oxford University, said Zionism was helping to fuel anti-Semitism. He said Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon was a "Jewish Rambo" and the "antithesis of Jewish values of truth and justice".

Professor Shlaim said Jewish settlers were the "unacceptable face of Zionism" and were eroding Israel's democratic ideals.

"Zionism is not racism but many of the hard-line settlers are racist," he said. …

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