The terrible suffering of the Palestinian people, the continual advance of illegal settlements and the apartheid conditions under which they live, are issues I have often been willing to speak out about and to support their international condemnation.
However, the brutal and inhuman terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7 against the Israeli and Jewish people stunned the world and were rightly condemned. It was truly shocking to see such deliberate and premeditated, terrorist savagery.
But, the response to one set of crimes with another can never be the right course of action.
The struggle for human rights is what I have worked to support for much of my life and that applies as much to Jewish people as to Palestinians. Rights can only have any meaning if they are equal rights for all people, as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 75 years ago.
The Jewish people’s terrible history of suffering and racism will not be forgotten nor the role that Jews have played in the battle for human rights and civil rights all over the world. I absolutely condemn any antisemitic attacks.
At the same time, we all have to be free to criticise any government that ignores international law or commits war crimes and as Israel’s response to the Oct 7 attack becomes increasingly heavy-handed and excessive with more and more civilian casualties, we have to speak out.
Peace only happens when everybody’s human rights are respected, and that must be what we campaign for.