Belfast Telegraph

Israel right to protect its borders

By Avraham Sender

As a member of the Jewish community, I've waited a long time for Eamonn McCann to say something positive about Israel (the only state for the Jewish people and the only democracy in the Middle East). After all, Israel is a haven for Holocaust survivors. It is where almost a million refugees from Arab lands have settled.

Eamonn will particularly rejoice that Israel is now home to more than a million Russian Jews who, under communism, faced prison sentences if they wished to teach their children Hebrew.

It has absorbed a huge percentage of its population as refugees from racial and religious persecution. What a lesson for the West as we struggle to absorb immigrants or refugees from the Middle East.

Eamonn could also acknowledge the positive contribution Israelis make to Northern Ireland. For example, one in six medicines dispensed by the health service is developed in Israel.

Patients in our hospitals are swallowing a micro camera pill, rather than face surgery. I'll leave it for Eamonn to explain which Israeli hospital invented that.

A device enabling disabled children to walk is being manufactured in Northern Ireland - the invention of a Jerusalem mum.

In a more charitable moment, Eamonn might acknowledge the risks Israelis have taken for peace with their neighbours - Egypt and Jordan, for example. Or the proposals put by Israeli Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert, which - if negotiated on - would have resulted in an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

However, Eamonn's latest column is yet another negative tirade. Who does Israel have on its borders that Netanyahu refers to as "wild beasts"? He was referring to Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates, who are active on Israel's borders, driving out Christians, Yazidis and Muslim minorities alike and contributing to 200,000 dead in Syria alone.

I don't know how Eamonn refers to Islamic State or al-Qaida.

However, I think many readers will consider Netanyahu justified in building a security fence to keep out terrorists. They are bringing carnage to the streets of Damascus and would dearly love to do the same in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Avraham Sender lives and works in London

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