Israel is different from its neighbours, writes Marie van der Zyl. It is the only country in the Middle East in which Arabs, Jews and Christians are equal under the law
A group of anti-Israel campaigners have called on Radiohead to boycott Israel and not perform in Tel Aviv this week (Letters, 17 July). We congratulate Thom Yorke and his band for having the courage to withstand the taunts of those who campaign against the world’s only Jewish state. Indeed, Israel is different in many ways from its neighbours. It is the only liberal democracy in the region. It is the only country in the Middle East in which Arabs, Jews and Christians enjoy full human rights and equality under the law, where the LGBT community is able to hold a Pride parade through its largest city, and where women and minorities face no discrimination. Yet this is the only country in a region filled with tyranny and dictatorship to be subjected to calls for a boycott.
This is not to say we do not have sympathy for the people of Gaza. When Israel withdrew in 2005, the people there had a historic opportunity for peace – an opportunity that was squandered when Hamas took power. The ensuing conflicts with Israel have all been the response to missile campaigns by Hamas aimed at civilians across the border. This is a regime that is undemocratic and misogynistic, discriminates against LGBT people, terrorises not only Israeli civilians but also its own people, and is classed by the UK government as a terrorist organisation. For supporters of this regime to call for a boycott of Israel is not only unjust, but laughable.
Marie van der Zyl
Vice-president, Board of Deputies of British Jews