James O'Brien reflects on the Israel-Palestine conflict which is 'on brink of war'

12 May 2021, 16:55

By Tim Dodd

James O'Brien gives his take on the Israel-Palestine conflict which the UN has warned is on the brink of 'full scale war'.

The conversation comes as Boris Johnson urges both sides to "show restraint" following the growing violence in recent days.

James began by saying: "For me, the phrase that resonates is always 'when it happens again' or 'never again'.

"The notion that next time they come for us we will have somewhere to go - how you stop that becoming 'absolutely nothing is off the table when it comes to protecting the haven to which we will flee, next time it happens'.

"As an outsider who cares, that's the bit that most scares. Because I don't know how you ever climb down from that position."

James then said that the alternative way of looking at it is that there will never be peace in the Middle East until Hamas "learn to love their children more than they hate Jews".

Read more: Tel Aviv targeted by rockets after Israel unleashes new air strikes on Gaza

"I remember being very surprised when the Israeli leader, who seemed to be coming close to a two-state solution, was assassinated by a Israeli-Jewish student.

"Two-state solution historically was possibly mythical or an overly optimistic light at the end of this particularly bloody tunnel, but even that I would say, in the course of the last 10 years, has perhaps dulled or dimmed a bit.

"When you are walking through the allegations of antisemitism or apartheid, the two sides of this divide, it's incredibly important to understand the distinction between hating people because of an accident of birth, whether it's ethnic or religious, and hating the actions of the government.

"But that notion of a two-state solution being anathema to people on both sides of the divide seems to me to be the most depressing element of the whole historical conflict."

James continued: "Whether it is Hamas' original charter calling for the destruction of Israel, or the rhetoric or ambition of driving all Jews into the sea, and then you have the other end of the argument - the idea that whatever we do to Palestinian people will be justified.

"Whatever we do to innocent Palestinian civilians as a response to our military enemies - whether you consider them terrorists or freedom fighters doesn't really matter - the rhetoric of anything we do is justified, is to an outsider, almost an identical position."

James concluded by asking: "Is there any hope of peace?"

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