Here’s a letter to the editor written to The Guardian by James D. G. Dunn, New Testament scholar and my doctoral supervisor, about the situation in Israel and Gaza:
I count myself as a supporter of the state of Israel, of its resettlement in its historic setting. But I have been distressed not only at the news of what is currently happening in Gaza, but also at the unwillingness of reporters and commentators to bring into the discussion the history of Israel’s re-establishment.
I never thought that even the relative precariousness of Israel’s position in the Middle East justified the degree to which the Israeli state has been manifestly unfaithful to what I regard as its own Torah teaching on righteousness and justice, as reinforced by the prophets. I used to assume that Deir Yassin was an anomaly in Israel’s otherwise glorious fight for statehood, until I read Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine some years ago. The fact that so few voices of eminent Israelites and Jews have been willing to admit the illegality and injustice of Israel’s West Bank settlement policy, pursued so relentlessly since 1967, I have found deeply disturbing. I acknowledge the legitimacy of Israel’s concerns in building the security barrier, but am distressed that no Elijah-like protest (1 Kings 21) is to be heard or given publicity against the land-grab of the positioning of the barrier or at the abuse of traditional rights of Arab landowners and olive groves. Nor can I defend the Hamas policy of firing rockets into Israel, but neither can I defend Israel’s policy of treating Gaza as little more than an extended prison camp. We must surely set the current catastrophe within its historical context.
Since Israel owes the legitimacy of its status in the Middle East to a United Nations resolution, would it not be an obvious step forward for a properly representative UN panel to review the rights and wrongs of Israel’s expansion since 1948 and 1967, including the impact on the previous inhabitants of the region, and to recommend how Israel and Palestine might coexist both peacefully and to the mutual benefit of each other in the future.
(Prof.) James D. G. Dunn
This is not the first time he has written about this topic. He had an opinion piece published in The Guardian in 2009.