Far from Northern Ireland following Israel’s response to terrorism, it is the Israelis who should follow ours

A letter from Arnold Carton:

By Editorial
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:58 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 3:59 pm
Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I was disappointed by the tone and the message of today’s News Letter editorial (‘Unionists should shun any citizens’ assembly on Irish unification,’ May 19, see link below) which, while arguing that unionists should not engage with events planning ‘Ireland’ Future’, used Israel’s response to Hamas in Gaza as an example of how to respond to terrorist attempts to overthrow the state.

I would argue the complete reverse of the News Letter argument, ie that Northern Ireland’s response to IRA terrorism is an example that we should have encouraged Israel to follow.

Gaza is not Northern Ireland and Hamas are not the IRA, but there are striking similarities.

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Gaza has a similar population to Northern Ireland packed into a much smaller area, and like us endured decades of politically motivated violence, to which Israel has responded with overwhelming force on several occasions, eg Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in 2009 caused over 1,100 deaths but solved nothing – the violence continues today.

We in Northern Ireland took the correct path in 1998, while Israel missed its opportunity to talk to an elected Hamas government after 2006.

Somewhat unwillingly, we discovered that talking to your enemy might not make him your friend, but it does stop you killing each other’s children.

No-one here would seriously like to turn the clock back and try the Israeli solution.

Out of interest I attended the first Ireland’s Future event in the Waterfront Hall in Belfast; it was interesting but my identity was not threatened and I was not turned into an Irish nationalist by listening to the views expressed or talking to the people in the audience beside me.

I suggest unionism loses nothing by engaging and talking to Irish nationalism.

Staying outside the room allows us to dismiss these events as echo chambers, but we miss out on the chance to engage with Irish nationalists and to introduce some realism by constructively criticising their plans.

In return, some of us unionists may even benefit from their constructive criticism of us.

Arnold Carton, Belfast BT6

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