Opinion: Israel is not yet the safe haven that the Jewish people have a right to expect

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Opinion: Israel is not yet the safe haven that the Jewish people have a right to expect

We must stand against terror and for peace, reconciliation and coexistence, writes Steve McCabe, Labour MP for Birmingham

Kibbutz Kfar Aza
Kibbutz Kfar Aza

Two weeks ago, the Jewish people experienced their darkest day since the Holocaust.

Thousands of men, women and children were massacred, with hundreds more taken hostage. Women raped, babies mutilated, and the bodies of the dead publicly desecrated.

In short, Israel experienced a pogrom.

The State of Israel was founded to provide Jews with a safe haven after centuries of persecution that culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust.

This terror attack was a terrible reminder that Israel is not yet the safe haven that the Jewish people have a right to expect.

When we watch events in the Middle East, it’s easy to feel helpless and powerless. Expressions of solidarity, thoughts and prayers somehow feel inadequate.

Steve McCabe MP

For the thousands of people in the UK with friends and family in Israel, this moment is painfully personal.

Twice this year, I have visited Kibbutz Kfar Aza, where Hamas committed some of its worst atrocities. It was a beautiful, peaceful community close to the border with Gaza. Most of its residents are now dead or held hostage by Hamas. Those who survived are devastated and heartbroken after seeing their tight-knit community torn apart.

We best support Israel and honour the victims by telling the truth and providing moral clarity.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, not lending itself to easy answers.

But there’s nothing complex about what happened two weeks ago. It was a brutal, sadistic and inexcusable terrorist attack: given Israel’s population, the worst of the 21st century.

Those who can’t see that – and certainly those we’ve seen online and on the streets of some British cities celebrating or justifying the attacks – do so for one reason: they think Jewish lives don’t matter. That’s an abhorrent position. We must ensure that those justifying or glorifying Hamas’ massacre are prosecuted and punished.

Likewise, anti-Jewish racists using the current conflict – as they always do – to intimidate, harass and attack our fellow citizens should feel the full force of the law. It is frankly appalling that Jewish schools should feel the need to close and advise their pupils not to wear their uniforms. It is Jews, not antisemites, who should be able to walk our streets without fear.

We must also be clear that Hamas are not freedom fighters or militants, but a proscribed terrorist group..

Hamas and its supporters are antisemites to their core; fanatics who care more about killing Jews than the lives of the long-suffering Palestinian people.

As it exercises its right to defend itself and bring its hostages home, Israel must make every effort to avoid harming innocent civilians. The death of all civilians, Israeli or Palestinian, are tragic.

But Hamas doubly attacks innocents: slaughtering Israelis and then hiding cowardly behind Palestinians, stowing its weapons of wars in their schools, hospitals and residential streets.

We must also be clear that the ultimate source of this carnage is Hamas’ paymaster: the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. For years, Iran has exported death and destruction across the region. As the security services have warned, Iran is now plotting to incite violence and hatred – and kill and maim – on the streets of Britain. We must face up to this threat and start by banning Iran’s ideological army, the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps).

Iran and its terrorist allies in Hamas and Hezbollah are fanatics who thrive on fear, hatred and violence. They stand against peace, reconciliation and coexistence.

These are dark days but, ultimately, we must defeat them.

  • Steve McCabe is the Labour MP for Birmingham, Selly Oak, and has been an MP continuously since 1 May 1997.*
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