At the end of a very moving and impressive article about the suffering of the Jews in the Holocaust, A terrible legacy (Belfast Telegraph, January 27), Peter Bills ends with the conclusion that: ‘The Jews lost their hearts, their compassion. Brutalised by the Nazis, they in turn, unwittingly became aggressors killers of innocent children in the decades to come’.
I cannot agree with this conclusion which ignores 60 years of history. The Jews of Israel have been forced to fight to defend themselves.
Yet Jews have never lost their compassion. Indeed, the phrase a ‘Jewish heart’ is synonymous with a compassionate one. As Golda Meir, a former Israeli Prime Minister, said around the time of the surprise attack by Egypt and Syria on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar (Yom Kippur), in which thousands of Israelis were killed:
“We can forgive them for killing our children, but we cannot forgive them for forcing us to kill their children.”
When any children are killed the people of Israel grieve and not only because it is not in Israel's interest to kill children. Contrast that to the scenes of celebration by Palestinians that followed the slaughter of Jewish children in discos, buses and restaurants by suicide bombers.
The first attempt by Arab or Muslim states to destroy Israel was, in fact, just shortly after the Holocaust when its survivors tried to find sanctuary in Palestine.
The Arab armies, intent on strangling the nascent state, killed 6,000 Jews including many who had barely survived the Nazis. Since then the people of Israel have known no peace.
Today, even Israel's most right-wing leaders accept the inevitability of a two-state solution with its Palestinian neighbour.
And this is just what the downtrodden Palestinian civilian population so desperately need. Yet Hamas seems determined to make that hope an impossibility. If its leaders would accept that Israel has as much a right to exist as the Palestinians do, a peaceful collaboration could bring about the reconstruction of Gaza and bring prosperity and stability to the territory.