What kind of people become involved with COFIS?
We are ordinary people who want to see peace in the Middle East. We want to inform people about the great benefits in technology and medicine that Israel brings to the world, and about the work that Israel does to protect human rights and preserve peace in an unstable region where Israel is the only democracy. We want to challenge the lies that are spread by hateful individuals and hate groups who claim to care about 'the Palestinians' but really just want to attack Israel. We want to ensure that Jews feel safe in Scotland and we want to raise public awareness that hatred directed at Israel always ends with attacks against Jewish people.
How do we address some common issues?
Can we be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian?
Overwhelmingly, our message is pro-Peace. And you can't have peace for just one side. Peace can only be achieved and maintained if both sides in a conflict get a fair deal, and know that they are getting a fair deal. Hating Israel, or hating Palestinians, just leads to more hatred.
Why are we pro-Palestinian and not pro-Palestine?
There has never been an independent country called Palestine. In future, there may well be. Until that is resolved, we believe it is better to put people before politics: millions of people identify as Palestinian, and they have the same everyday priorities and needs as anyone else on the planet.
"The British had no right to create Israel."
The simple answer is - they didn't. The UK created an Arab state in Transjordan, forcing the Jewish population to leave, and then repeatedly failed to carry out its legal responsibilities towards the Jews of Mandatory Palestine.
Anti-Israel campaigners never question the legitimacy of Britain creating Jordan (formerly Transjordan) in 78% of what was Palestine under the British Mandate. The remaining 22% was allocated by the League of Nations for the creation of a Jewish state. Arab leaders refused to accept this and then the Second World War intervened.
In 1947, the United Nations voted to divide the remainder of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. Britain abstained. Far from 'creating Israel', Britain did all it could to obstruct the expressed will of the international community.
So, the question should be - "Why did Britain think it had a right not to help found the modern state of Israel?"
"What is a Zionist?"
A Zionist is someone who believes the Jewish people have a right to self-determination in their historic homeland. This is shown by the existence of the State of Israel.
"Aren't the Jews of Israel European invaders?"
No. For comparison, Australia, New Zealand and every country in North, Central and South America are dominated by the descendants of invaders. Every country outside of sub-Saharan Africa is populated by people whose distant ancestors originated somewhere else.
DNA studies demonstrate that Jewish populations, no matter where in the world they have been located in the last 2000 years, are more closely related to each other than to surrounding populations. This all leads back to the indigenous Jewish population which has lived continuously in Israel for 3000 years.
Many Israeli citizens are descendants of 850,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab countries in the years after Israel declared independence.
"What is antisemitism?"
Antisemitism involves hatred, prejudice and/or discrimination against Jewish people. The IHRA definition has been accepted internationally, including by the UK and Scottish governments. Criticism of the Israeli government is not, in itself, antisemitic, but singling out Israel whilst ignoring far worse human rights abusers may well be.
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