An Israeli in Belfast – letter in Belfast Telegraph, 6 Aug 2010

As an Israeli living in Belfast I feel increasingly intimidated by the  language and symbols of hate being used to condemn Israel. I am shocked that the Belfast Telegraph is contributing to an atmosphere of hate against me and fellow Israelis living and working here.
How else can you explain your headline that my nationality is “murderous” (“How Murderous Israel became EU’s protege”, Comment, 2nd August)? To say that some Israeli actions are wrong or even that they should be investigated for war crimes is to exercise free speech. To single out the Jewish state as “murderous” is racist.

Proclaim “murderous Arabs” and it doesn’t sound anything other than a slogan designed to cause outrage and offence, and I would be the first to condemn it.  Declare “murderous Israel” and it is simply adding to an accepted rhetoric of hatred which seeks to inflame anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias.
Fellow Israelis here are intimidated at work and an attack upon them in a Belfast shopping centre is glorified on Youtube. When asked, I am scared to tell people where I come from. 
Who should we go to for help in the face of this demonisation and hatred?
I belong to a trade union which claims to protect the rights of foreign workers in Northern Ireland and does a good job in many cases . This union seems happy to include me as a Jew or even as an Israeli so long as I do not identify myself as a  “Zionist”.

I have to be opposed to my people’s right to have a state which can exist in security.  Israel is deemed so illegitimate by my Union that it has a policy of Boycotting all goods and services from Israel.

I appeal to all people here who have strong views on the Middle East, whether they support Israel or the Palestinian: learn something about the other side’s fears and concerns and accept the complexity of the situation. 
I recognise Israel has faults. Growing up in Israel I was positively encouraged to express my criticsm of Israeli governments and policies which I didn’t support.

I am a proud Israeli and a proud Jew. However, because of the atmosphere I face here in Belfast I can’t sign this article with my name.


We are delighted to see this letter has received very strong support on the Belfast Telegraph website and elsewhere.