Gaza protest
There have been protests against Israel's incursion into Gaza around the world, including this one in Romania.REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel

Around the world, protests are taking place over the situation in Gaza following Israel's assault on the Palestinian people – or alternatively as Israel takes defensive action against terrorist groups, depending on whose side you're on.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is one which for most people is black and white: you pick your side and stick with it, even when this means you may be in agreement with some pretty unsavoury characters.

Judging by the demonstrations taking place around the world, most protesters are firmly on the side of the Palestinians. Television footage and gory images of killed and maimed children, aerial bombardment and Israeli tanks bulldozing their way through dusty Gaza streets have a powerful impact on public opinion.

The Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels
A woman passes in front of the Jewish Museum, the site of a shooting on Saturday, in central Brussels 25 May 2014.Reuters

Yet some of the protests against Israel have attracted neo-Nazis, Islamic fanatics and Holocaust-deniers.

In Ireland, protests in support of the Palestinians have been attended by prominent Republicans – bringing back uncomfortable memories of the long-standing military links between the IRA and PLO. In France there are claims that pro-Palestine marches degenerated into attacks on local synagogues.

Although there are also marches supporting Israel, they have tended to be smaller in number. However some of the tweets supporting Israel are also pretty extreme, attacking comedian Jon Stewart for being "anti-Israel" and publishing photographs of Jewish children during World War II with the slogan: "Never again."

Many pro-Israel messages imply that anyone who criticises the carnage in Gaza is anti-Semitic, motivated more by a loathing of Jews than by any particular affinity with Palestine.

The anti-Semitism charge is a sensitive one for both sides, because although it is undoubtedly true that some supporters of the Palestinian "cause" are anti-Semitic, many ordinary people simply want Israel's attack on Gaza to end immediately; for all the politicians, factions and states involved to resolve their differences, and for innocent people on all sides to be left in peace.