Guernsey Press

Palestinians seek a piece of land to call their own

I’M writing in response to Ms Kennedy’s recent comments in the GEP of 23 April, regarding my earlier remarks on Mr Alberg’s letter from March. Regarding the comparison between the governing arms of Israel and Hamas, I must clarify that my focus was primarily on Mr Alberg’s characterisation of Israel as a liberal democracy, he didn’t mention the governance of Gaza and so neither did I. Had he also called Gaza a liberal democracy, I would have had to disagree with him on that too. I was pointing out that Israel is an ethnic democracy where the minority Arab population faces discrimination and I see that Ms Kennedy and I agree on this. Where we don’t agree is that, while it’s true that discrimination exists in many societies around the world, the fact that it does does not justify it nor excuse it. It’s not okay. And while they succeed to varying degrees, governments in most liberal democracies generally work to combat discrimination and promote equality. The Nation-State Law of 2018, endorsed by Netanyahu’s coalition government, stands as evidence of discriminatory practices within Israel.


Furthermore, the Council on Foreign Relations’ article referred to goes on to underscore disparities in the treatment of Arab citizens within Israel, particularly in East Jerusalem. I believe that such discrepancies in rights and privileges based on ethnicity raise legitimate concerns about equality under the law.

Regarding the accusation of victim-blaming, it’s essential to acknowledge the complexity of perceptions surrounding victimhood, especially within the context of ongoing conflicts. While condemning the abhorrent actions of 7 October, it’s crucial to recognise that this event was not an isolated incident but part of a broader pattern stemming from decades of occupation, control and territorial expansionism. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip following the June 1967 war has led to one of the most prolonged and brutal military confrontations of modern times. The 7 October stands as yet another tragic chapter among many in this ongoing conflict. I do not accept the analogy between the state of Israel and a woman being raped for wearing a short skirt – it’s not valid or appropriate.

Comparing border restrictions around Gaza to those of other regions with histories of hostility overlooks the unique nature of Israel’s control over Gaza’s territorial waters and airspace as well as movement of goods and people in and out of the territory. Such comprehensive control contributes to the isolation of Gaza, exacerbating the humanitarian situation in the region.

Ms Kennedy and I will have to respectfully disagree on whether four decades of occupation followed by 18 years of living in an overcrowded open prison will inevitably lead some individuals to irrationality, extremism, and hate. Ms Kennedy asks of these Gazans, ‘They have agency, do they not? They have the capacity to cultivate virtue, do they not? Can they not restrain themselves?’ Etc… While acknowledging the agency of individuals, it’s essential not to ignore the broader systemic factors at play. If I am being included in this group of ‘sophisticated westerners’, who are accused of ‘infantilising foreign peoples’, I reject the accusation. I know and recognise that the Palestinians are people just like us – no better no worse. And like us, what they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

While I will read any responses to this letter with interest, I must clarify that my public engagement on this matter has reached its limit, but the lively discourse within the GEP serves as a testament to the depth of passion surrounding this issue, regardless of one’s stance.

Odette Duerden