'Tis the season of Nativity scenes. But here's a question to consider: would Joseph and Mary even have been able to reach Bethlehem if they were making that same journey today? hatever your view of Jesus or Muhammad, if you are a Palestinian resident of the West Bank you are a victim of the longest military occupation in the world.
Israelis need to confront a truth that too often is ignored: they too have their zealots, and their murderers. They too have spokesmen who glorify mass murder. When they recoil in horror from the triumphalism of some Palestinian groups, they need to remember - just occasionally - to look in the mirror... the sad truth is that Israelis have grown far too confident that their overwhelming firepower - and the continued support of the US Congress - makes them invincible. It does not.
The truth is that we must hold both sides accountable for the extremists in their midst and for the violence that they commit. And the best tribute we could pay to the poor, innocent people who have been killed is a recommitment to genuine peace and justice, rather than a strategy based on, to quote Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "a heavy hand".
The problem I face is that neither motion adequately reflects my considered view on what needs to be done to resolve this very important issue. The original motion makes no demand on Hamas to give up its rocket attacks on Israel and to accept Israel's right to exist, while the amendment offers no sense of urgency or of the injustice being experience by Palestinian people.
By affirming without ambiguity that both Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights to statehood, international recognition of the State of Palestine can help break this impasse. That is why another amendment tabled by Jack Straw and other senior MPs makes clear that by voting for recognition today MPs will contribute to securing a negotiated two state solution.
It is significant that the Labour leadership backs the motion in Parliament on Monday. Hopefully many Conservative politicians will join them so that the motion is passed with the handsome majority that such a mild measure requires. If the British Parliament votes in favour it would be highly important symbolically, a strong expression of Parliamentary support for recognition...
My support of the petition has been attacked as anti Semitic. I understand anti Semitism to be a hatred of Jews, the denial of the right for Jews to have a homeland, the denial of the horrors of the last century and the plight of the Jewish people throughout history. This is obviously not my position, anti Semitism, Islamaphobia and homophobia are all prejudices that I resolutely reject, like any right-minded person. In the context of the accusation that I face, anti Semitism must be taken to mean opposing big businesses making profit from violence against Palestinian people.