* Guardian website comment: “Israel will erect the stolen ‘Arbeit Macht Frei” at Gaza entrance”
* UK government: The Queen can visit pretty much anywhere – just not Israel
* Her Majesty has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 countries during her 57-year reign, but neither she nor any British royal has ever officially set foot in Israel
* John Bolton: “Universal human-rights law never seems to apply to the likes of Kim Jong Il”
* Al-Qaeda bomb-maker who “loved” to see Jews killed and “reveled in violence” given 100% mortgage in Britain
* Will we see: “These goods have been made in Northern Ireland but by people of Roman Catholic extraction”? “Made in Rwanda by Tutsis”? Don’t worry. This won’t happen. The new British government recommendation will start with Israel and stop there, too.
(I had wanted to post this dispatch, which mainly concerns British relations with Israel, a couple of days ago, but have been busy in recent days meeting Palestinian political and security officials in the West Bank.)
1. From an Israeli viewpoint, Britain almost seems to have joined the list of enemy countries
2. Gordon Brown and David Miliband apologize to Israel
3. Prince Harry, war criminal?
4. “The targeting of Israeli ministers by the courts is not justice, it is a disgrace”
5. “Guess the Holocaust gives them this status, ha!?”
6. Guardian website comment: “Israel will erect the ‘Arbeit Macht Frei” at Gaza entrance”
7. Guardian ed says on BBC that Israel murders political dissidents whose “style” it doesn’t like
8. UK government: The Queen can visit pretty much anywhere – just not Israel
9. “It can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area”
10. Criticism for the Conservatives too
11. “So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?”
12. Kadima MKs call for UK boycott in response to UK product labeling of food grown by Jews
13. New EU foreign minister – Britain’s Lady Ashton – lambasts Israel in her maiden speech
14. Counting limos at the Copenhagen climate-change conference
15. “Abuse of process” (Editorial, The Times of London, Dec. 16, 2009)
16. “Democracy under arrest” (By John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 15, 2009)
17. “Labelling as sop to boycotters” (By Daniel Finkelstein, JC, Dec. 17, 2009)
18. Andrew Roberts’ address at the annual dinner of the Anglo-Israel Association
19. “Al-Qaeda terrorist gets 100% mortgage in Britain” (The Sun, Dec. 16, 2009)
FROM AN ISRAELI VIEWPOINT, BRITAIN ALMOST SEEMS TO HAVE JOINED THE LIST OF ENEMY COUNTRIES
[All notes below by Tom Gross]
This dispatch concerns Britain’s relations with Israel. Following a London court’s issuing of an arrest warrant last week for Tzipi Livni, the leader of Israel’s center-left opposition Kadima party, the British government’s refusal to back Israel over the Goldstone report (in contrast to many European countries that did back Israel), and the British government’s collusion with Sweden earlier this month in an attempt to unilaterally strip part of Israel’s capital away from her, many might conclude that nothing could be worse than the present British Labour party government.
However, there are signs that the leadership of Britain’s opposition Conservative party (which is expected to win next spring’s general election), not to mention Britain’s third party, the Liberal Democrats, will be just as negative towards Israel, if not more so. Much of this negativity is fuelled by the incredible misreporting about Israel in the British media, which now almost rivals the Iranian and Egyptian media for the inaccuracies it spreads about Israel, and the utter failure of the British Jewish community leadership to effectively counter this.
Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East, with full rights for religious minorities, women, gays and others, but you would never know this from the British media. Meanwhile, Britain’s standing in Israel has dropped down not just below that of France, Germany and Italy, but of the new east European members of the EU.
GORDON BROWN, DAVID MILIBAND APOLOGIZE TO ISRAEL
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he was “completely opposed” to the arrest warrant issued by a British court against Tzipi Livni for alleged war crimes and pledged to work to change the law that allowed it.
The warrant was issued after an application by pro-Palestinian lawyers – including, it is believed, Daniel Machover, an extremist left-wing Jewish lawyer who was born in Israel and is now a Britain citizen. Livni subsequently cancelled her trip to Britain.
The British prime minister phoned Livni from the climate talks in Copenhagen to apologize for the episode, while David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, called his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, to also apologize. Miliband described the arrest warrant as “completely unacceptable”. “Israeli leaders – like leaders from other countries – must be able to visit and have a proper dialogue with the British government,” Miliband stated.
Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, called the issuing of this and other arrest warrants for Israeli diplomats and politicians a “serious mistake” by Britain.
Attempts to arrest Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, after he attended a meeting at the British Labour Party conference in September, were rejected since he enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a representative of a state. Livni, however, is no longer a government minister and therefore had she set foot on British soil last week, she would have been subject to arrest.
Both Livni and Barak are strong supporters of the two-state solution.
In contrast to Livni, Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has been allowed to visit Britain in the past despite praising Palestinian suicide murderers as “martyrs”.
PRINCE HARRY, WAR CRIMINAL?
Of course if Israeli cabinet ministers are deemed liable to arrest for war crimes, the entire British government ought to be too. Britain has killed considerably more civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years than Israel has in Gaza. (Even reliable Palestinian human rights groups don’t believe the concocted high figure of 800 civilians killed by Israel in Gaza last January given by some British media, is correct.)
But not only British politicians are war criminals by this standard. Among those who should be tried for war crimes is Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, who served last year as a Forward Air Controller on the front line in Helmand Province in Afghanistan where his job was to select targets for British bombing, which resulted in numerous deaths and injuries to Afghan civilians.
“THE TARGETING OF ISRAELI MINISTERS BY THE COURTS IS NOT JUSTICE, IT IS A DISGRACE”
I attach two articles about the Livni arrest warrant in the “Full Articles” section below. The first is an editorial from The Times of London, which states that “the targeting of Israeli ministers by the [UK] courts is not justice, it is a disgrace”.
“It is not merely frivolous: it is repugnant. It risks damaging Britain’s relations with an ally, undermines the Government’s moral authority in promoting a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and brings the legal system into disrepute,” says the paper.
(The Times’ opinion page remains largely sympathetic to Israel, in contrast to its news and features pages, where the skewered misinformation that has been fed to readers in order to demonize Israel is now some of the worst by any media in Europe.)
“GUESS THE HOLOCAUST GIVES THEM THIS STATUS, HA!?”
Some of the reader comments immediately following The Times’ editorial on its website are also highly disturbing:
Jason Welt wrote:
It is a disgrace that in 400 years the “law” does not prescribe war. But what, we just should forget about it if it’s an Israeli doing it. Did the holocaust give them a pass or something. Not just a free country but a pass to butchery.
Bernhard Walter wrote:
A war crime is a war crime no matter who perpetrated. Or shall I understand that Israelis are above this. Guess the Holocaust gives them this status, ha!?
And on The Daily Telegraph website, a reader writes:
Proud Brit that I am, it is Good that NAZI scums like Tzipi are stopped from coming to our country.
GUARDIAN WEBSITE COMMENT: “ISRAEL WILL ERECT THE ‘ARBEIT MACHT FREI” AT GAZA ENTRANCE”
Tom Gross adds: By contrast, The Guardian at least now tries to remove some of the anti-Semitic readers comments that pepper its website.
However, The Guardian did leave this one yesterday posted under its Jimmy Carter article:
19 Dec 2009, 1:44PM
Israel has no intention of letting Gaza be rebuilt. They, with the acquiescence of the west in general and the United States in particular, are going to let 1.5 million Palestinians suffer indefinitely under increasingly miserable conditions. Wonder what happened to the “Arbeit Macht Frei” sign that disappeared from Auschwitz? The Israelis are going to erect it over the Karni Crossing.
(Tom Gross adds: A reader advises me that exactly the same comment was left on the neo-Nazi website Vanguard News Network (VNN), which incidentally chooses to runs its “Auschwitz theft” story from… The Guardian.)
The second article below is by John Bolton from The Wall Street Journal. “‘Universal jurisdiction’ sounds like a term plucked from obscure international law journals, but it has pernicious and profoundly antidemocratic consequences in the real world,” he says. “The fallout from this misguided warrant [for Livni] will linger long after it fades from the headlines.”
“It is no accident that arrest warrants never seem to be issued for the likes of Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” he adds.
GUARDIAN EDITOR SAYS ON BBC THAT ISRAEL MURDERS POLITICAL DISSIDENTS WHOSE “STYLE” IT DOESN’T LIKE
In another blatant lie about Israel, The Guardian’s assistant editor, Michael White, said last week on BBC Radio London’s Breakfast Show that Israel “murders” political dissidents whose “style it doesn’t like.” He made the defamatory outburst out of the blue, when asked about the recent assault on Italian President Silvio Berlusconi.
The BBC moderator did not challenge White, but merely gave an approving “hmm”.
You can listen to it here.
White has a track record of making dubious comments concerning Jews. In January 2008, he even implied the Holocaust was a bore, writing: “MPs had a short debate yesterday to mark Holocaust Day, a familiar ritual in many countries which causes backbenchers like Hendon’s Andrew Dismore (not Jewish himself, but hot on anti-Semitism) to be dismissed in newspapers as ‘Holocaust bores.’”
UK GOVERNMENT: THE QUEEN CAN VISIT PRETTY MUCH ANYWHERE – JUST NOT ISRAEL
In a speech to the Anglo-Israel Association, my friend the historian Andrew Roberts drew attention to the continuing boycott of Israel by members of the British royal family, made on orders from the British Foreign Office (foreign ministry).
Roberts, who is a longtime subscriber to this email list, said:
“One area of policy over which the Foreign Office has traditionally held great sway is in the question of Royal Visits. It is therefore no coincidence that although Her Majesty the Queen has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her [57-year] reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit. Even though Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who was recognized as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, was buried on the Mount of Olives, the Duke of Edinburgh was not allowed by the Foreign Office to visit her grave until 1994, and then only on a private visit.”
“IT CAN’T HAVE BEEN THAT SHE WASN’T IN THE AREA”
Roberts, who was speaking at a prestigious London hotel before an audience of 400 that included senior figures in the British establishment (many of whom seemed aghast at what he had to say), continued:
“A spokesman for the Foreign Office replied that ‘Israel is not unique’ in not having received an official royal visit, because “Many countries have not had an official visit.” That might be true for Burkino Faso and Chad, but the Foreign Office has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the Queen on State visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan & Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.
“Perhaps Her Majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get round to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East. At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco where she was kept waiting by the King for three hours in 90 degree heat, or at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda the time before last, where they hadn’t even finished building her hotel.
“The true reason of course, is that the Foreign Office has a ban on official Royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the Foreign Office Arabists.”
CRITICISM FOR THE CONSERVATIVES TOO
Roberts also said:
“William Hague [a senior Conservative MP who is tipped to be Britain’s next foreign minister] called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hizbullah in Lebanon in 2006, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists.
“In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans – 12 times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?
“SO WHY SHOULD ISRAEL BE EXPECTED TO BEHAVE ANY DIFFERENTLY?”
“Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would do placed in the same position?
“The population of the UK is 63 million – nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example entirely at random, Hizbullah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired 4,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further 43 civilians.
“Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would not do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire 36,000 rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing 72 British servicemen in an ambush and capturing a further 18?
“I put it to you that there is absolutely no lengths to which our government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right, too. So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?”
Andrew Roberts’ full speech is included further down this dispatch. The reception by the audience was polite rather than rousing. Needless to say, the speech hasn’t been published in a British newspaper or mentioned on the BBC.
KADIMA MKS CALL FOR BOYCOTT OF BRITISH GOODS IN RESPONSE TO UK PRODUCT LABELING OF FOOD GROWN BY JEWS
The Tzipi Livni row came just days after Israel protested about a British government advisory to UK supermarkets suggesting that they differentiate between West Bank imports according to whether they were produced by Jews or by Arabs, even though West Bank Palestinians have asked the British not to.
Members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, have initiated a petition calling on the Israeli and international public to reconsider the usage of products and services from the United Kingdom. The petition was initiated by Ronit Tirosh and other Knesset members from the center-left Kadima party.
I attach an article on this subject below by Times and Jewish Chronicle columnist Danny Finkelstein, who is a longtime subscriber to this email list.
He writes: “‘The British government is opposed to any kind of boycott of Israel’ says a spokesman for the British Embassy in Israel. Yeah, right. What do you think I am mate, an idiot? Now I can be absolutely sure I haven’t accidently bought something made by a Jew…
“Anyone fancy: ‘These goods have been made in Northern Ireland but by people of Roman Catholic extraction’? ‘Made in Rwanda by Tutsis’? Don’t worry, though. This won’t happen. The new recommendation will start with Israel and stop there, too.”
NEW EU FOREIGN MINISTER – BRITAIN’S LADY ASHTON – LAMBASTS ISRAEL IN HER MAIDEN SPEECH
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s new foreign policy chief, has lashed out against Israel. In her first major speech since taking office earlier this month, Ashton – a former deputy minister in the British government and until recently EU trade commissioner – condemned Israel’s occupation, demanded that Israel lift its “blockade” of the Gaza Strip and severely criticized the security barrier that has saved so many Israeli lives and brought a large degree of calm and prosperity to Israelis and Palestinians alike. It should be removed “without delay” she said.
In her address to European Parliament members in Strasbourg, she also belittled Israel’s construction freeze in West Bank settlements. Ashton also seemed to criticize former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, currently the special envoy to the Middle East for the Quartet consisting of the U.S., EU, UN and Russia. She said “The Quartet must demonstrate that it is worth the money, that it is capable of being reinvigorated. I have talked about this with both sides in Jerusalem, to Mr. Blair and the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”
Ashton announced that she planned to visit the Middle East in late January or early February.
COUNTING LIMOS AT THE COPENHAGEN CLIMATE-CHANGE CONFERENCE
Here is one more item, on a different subject. But it is another reminder of international hypocrisy:
Majken Friss Jorgensen, managing director of Copenhagen’s biggest limousine company, on the climate change conference, from the London Daily Telegraph (December 5):
Jorgensen says that between her and her rivals the total number of limos in Copenhagen next week has already broken the 1,200 barrier. The French alone rang up on Thursday and ordered another 42. “We haven’t got enough limos in the country to fulfill the demand,” she says. “We’re having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden.”
And the total number of electric cars or hybrids among that number? “Five,” says Ms Jorgensen.
I attach five articles below.
[All notes above by Tom Gross]
“THE CAMPAIGN FOR LEGAL TARGETING OF ISRAELI LEADERS IS NOT MERELY FRIVOLOUS: IT IS REPUGNANT”
Abuse of process
The targeting of Israeli ministers by the courts is not justice, it is a disgrace
The Times (UK)
December 16, 2009
The application of law to warfare is among the greatest advances in Western civilisation over four centuries. In the name of human rights, that tradition is being traduced by a politicised campaign to harass the statesmen of a democracy. It is unlikely that you will have needed to read this far to learn that the targeted nation is Israel.
Tzipi Livni, the leader of the Israeli Kadima party, accepted an invitation to speak at an Anglo-Jewish event in London last weekend. It emerged in the meantime that British magistrates had issued an arrest warrant against Ms Livni for alleged war crimes committed during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza last winter, when she was Foreign Minister (see page 14). The warrant was the latest attempt by pressure groups to seek British court authority for the arrest of Israeli leaders. It was rescinded only when the court learnt that Ms Livni had cancelled her trip to Britain, apparently because of a scheduling clash. The Israeli Foreign Ministry nonetheless expressed fury.
The Israeli reaction is far from overwrought. Ms Livni’s is the second such case in recent months. Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defence Minister during the Gaza offensive, attended a meeting at the British Labour Party conference in September. Campaigners unsuccessfully sought an arrest warrant against him from the same court.
The difference between the cases appears to be that Mr Barak was still a serving minister, whereas Ms Livni is not. Lawyers acting for the campaigners cite the principle of “universal jurisdiction”. Under it, courts in England and Wales have jurisdiction over certain crimes regardless of where in the world they were committed.
Mr Barak, however, enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a representative of a state.
It is preposterous that so serious an issue is reduced to a legal technicality. It makes British justice look ridiculous. The least of the consequences of the warrant against Ms Livni will be a monumental waste of time. Any Israeli minister visiting the UK will seek a meeting with a British counterpart merely to insure against the risk of a frivolous legal case.
But the campaign for legal targeting of Israeli leaders is not merely frivolous: it is repugnant. It risks damaging Britain’s relations with an ally, undermines the Government’s moral authority in promoting a two-state settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and brings the legal system into disrepute.
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, is now looking urgently at ways to close the loophole. Universal jurisdiction has honourable intent. It seeks to protect the vulnerable by ensuring that war criminals can be tried even if they live in countries with weak legal systems. It is the rationale for the indictment of Radovan Karadzic before an international tribunal at The Hague. But Israel’s Gaza offensive was not the genocide at Srebrenica.
The Times reported the deaths and suffering in Gaza, and exposed Israel’s use of white phosphorus despite official denials. That campaign was not a crime against humanity. It was a chapter in Israel’s history of trying to stop violence against its own civilians, which is a prerequisite of achieving the two-state resolution that Mr Barak and Ms Livni have worked for. You cannot reasonably criticise Israel’s military tactics without understanding Israel’s security needs.
The legal campaign against Israel’s leaders is not justice but politics, and disreputable politics at that.
“IT’S TIME TO UNAMBIGUOUSLY REJECT UNIVERSAL JURISDICTION BEFORE ITS INFECTION SPREADS EVEN FURTHER”
Democracy under arrest
“Universal” human-rights law never seems to apply to the likes of Kim Jong Il
By John Bolton
Wall Street Journal
December 15, 2009
“Universal jurisdiction” sounds like a term plucked from obscure international law journals, but it has pernicious and profoundly antidemocratic consequences in the real world. A British arrest warrant, issued over the weekend in London for former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, shows precisely why.
The warrant charged Ms. Livni – the current leader of the Knesset opposition – with war crimes allegedly committed by Israeli forces during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter. Ms. Livni and other Israeli leaders have always staunchly defended their operation against Hamas, and the arrest warrant was withdrawn Monday when it became clear Ms. Livni would not be in Britain as previously scheduled. But the fallout from this misguided warrant will linger long after it fades from the headlines.
Universal jurisdiction originated centuries ago to deal with hostes humani generis (“the enemies of all mankind”) such as pirates or slavers, who were not under any state’s control but legitimately concerned them all. It has grown explosively in recent years, as self-styled human-rights advocates have pushed to criminalize national actions that they find offensive.
Today’s version of universal jurisdiction masquerades as a legal concept, but is in fact a form of political morality. It empowers prosecutions in states with little or even no connection to alleged offenses such as war crimes and gross abuses of human rights. And in many countries, as in Britain, the ability of private citizens to trigger the criminal process only adds to the danger of politicized prosecutions.
When leaders of constitutional, representative governments are targets, there is simply no argument for applying universal jurisdiction. Ms. Livni and her colleagues won free and fair Israeli elections, and were in fact defeated in subsequent free and fair elections. Israel’s laws have been adopted by democratically elected Knesset members and enforced by an independent judiciary. If crimes under Israeli law have been committed, they can be prosecuted by Israel’s courts. Same goes for the United States.
Augusto Pinochet’s 1999 arrest in Britain on a Spanish warrant for offenses committed while overthrowing Chile’s Salvadore Allende first brought universal jurisdiction global prominence. But Pinochet’s arrest was followed by Belgium’s toying with the idea of arresting Donald Rumsfeld for having the temerity to visit NATO headquarters in Brussels. Now Ms. Livni and other Israeli officials involved in recent regional conflicts are subject to potential arrest and trial if they travel beyond Israel’s borders.
It is no accident that arrest warrants never seem to be issued for the likes of Kim Jong Il or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, since the real targets of universal jurisdiction these days are Western nations. Ultimately, what it targets is the very ideas of sovereign accountability and political independence. These goals largely motivated the 1998 Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court, itself a step toward constraining states’ abilities to police their own affairs, and an institution that the Obama administration yearns to join.
Transferring accountability for decisions from democratic politics to the criminal justice system understandably intimidates policy makers from making perfectly justifiable choices, such as defending against terrorist threats. Moreover, “command responsibility” has been transmogrified from liability for failing to stop known criminal activity, to liability when officials “should have known” their subordinates were committing crimes. This further ups the ante and explains why former foreign ministers like Ms. Livni or Henry Kissinger are at risk.
This deterrent impact is exactly what universal jurisdiction advocates seek – both to affect decisions at the highest national levels, and to discourage mid- and low-level officials from implementing disfavored policies. Some foreign critics hope to prosecute former President George W. Bush for enhanced interrogation techniques and the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. While they likely won’t get to the former president, they’ll be at least somewhat content prosecuting the attorneys who wrote the underlying legal justifications. Incredibly, the Obama administration has yet to definitively reject the possibility of allowing such prosecutions overseas.
Universal jurisdiction against officials of authoritarian regimes sounds appealing. But in these cases, the real goal should be replacing such regimes with representative governments that undertake sovereign accountability for prior transgressions.
Nonetheless, human-rights activists who view their morality as higher than that of elected governments are satisfied by nothing less than prosecution. That is precisely why contemporary universal jurisdiction is so profoundly antidemocratic.
Undoubtedly, leaders of constitutional democracies make mistakes about whom they do and do not prosecute. But to substitute the judgments of self-designated international Platonic Guardians for representative governments and independent judiciaries is perilous at best, and authoritarian at worst. It’s the time to unambiguously reject universal jurisdiction before its infection spreads even further.
“GREAT. NOW I CAN BE ABSOLUTELY SURE I HAVEN’T ACCIDENTLY BOUGHT SOMETHING MADE BY A JEW”
Labelling as sop to boycotters
The only new settlement policy that will work will be one that stems from softened Arab attitudes
By Daniel Finkelstein
The Jewish Chronicle (UK)
December 17, 2009
“The British government is opposed to any kind of boycott of Israel” says a spokesman for the British Embassy in Israel. Yeah, right. What do you think I am mate, an idiot? (Don’t answer that.)
Last week, the British government helpfully clarified its position on labelling goods from the West Bank. It is already illegal to label a good that comes from the West Bank as having been made in Israel. But now further guidance has been forthcoming. Not a rule, you understand, simply a recommendation. Goods should be labelled to indicate whether they are made by Israeli settlers or by Palestinians.
Great. Now I can be absolutely sure I haven’t accidently bought something made by a Jew. I hate those guys.
There is a vast difference between the original rule – that goods from an area that is not internationally recognised as being in Israel should not be labelled as coming from Israel – and this new recommendation. The government is promoting the idea that the ethnic origin of the goods should be made clear on the label.
Anyone fancy: “These goods have been made in N. Ireland but by Roman Catholics”?
Anyone fancy: “These goods have been made in Northern Ireland but by people of Roman Catholic extraction”? “Made in Rwanda by Tutsis”? Don’t worry, though. This won’t happen. The new recommendation will start with Israel and stop there, too.
So the suggestion that the British Government does not support a boycott is disingenuous. Labelling goods as coming from the West Bank can be justified as a pedantic insistence upon international law. By contrast, labelling goods as coming from settlers is nakedly political — rather than administrative. It is intended to aid those organising boycotts of those goods. This labelling idea was initiated by boycotters and has been granted as a political concession to them. So, if this is a naked piece of politics, what ought we to think of it? Besides remarking that the singling out of Jewish-made goods for an ethnic labelling system is disgusting. Is it good politics?
Here is my view. The decision to settle in the land Israel conquered in the wars was a disastrous error – a wrong that will have to be reversed. Israel and supporters like me cannot complain about the huge international pressure to reverse the policy.
So I sympathise with the position of the Obama administration and its frustration that it cannot persuade the Israelis to back down on settlement building. So long as they don’t think a new Israeli policy on settlements will bring peace. Or even much advance it.
The Arab governments and the Palestinians were opposed to the state of Israel before there were settlements in the territories. They killed Jews before there were settlements in the territories. They launched wars before there were settlements in the territories. They will go on doing so after there are settlements.
How do we know this? Because when the Sharon government withdrew from Gaza, the situation got worse rather than better. And world opinion, which is so anxious for settlements to be dismantled, did not shift at all when Israel did exactly that.
Natan Sharansky has argued that instead of the dismantling of the settlements being required for peace, the opposite is the case. We will know that peace is possible when we believe that the settlers would be able to remain in a Palestinian state without being killed.
The diplomatic pressure being exerted on Israel to halt settlement building is understandable. It is also international displacement activity. If you insist on political labelling of food, why not put this: in the end, peace will only come when the Palestinians decide they are willing to live peacefully alongside Jews.
“SO WHY SHOULD ISRAEL BE EXPECTED TO BEHAVE ANY DIFFERENTLY?”
Andrew Roberts’ address at the annual dinner of the Anglo-Israel Association
December 8, 2009
My Lords, Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s a great honour to be invited to address you, especially on this the 60th anniversary of AIA, and I’d like to take the opportunity of this anniversary to look at the overall story of the relationship between Britain and Israel, and to try to strip away some of the myths.
Because it seems to me that for all the undoubted statesmanship implicit in Arthur Balfour’s Declaration of November 1917, promising ‘a National Home for the Jewish People’, it doesn’t mean that Britain has ever been much more than a fair-weather friend to Jewish national aspirations. The Declaration itself was at least in part conceived to keep Eastern European and Russian Jews supporting the Great War after the Bolshevik Revolution, and Chaim Weizmann’s preferred wording of ‘a Jewish State’ was turned down by the British Foreign Office. As David Ben-Gurion wrote at the time: ‘Britain has made a magnificent gesture … But only the Hebrew people can transform this right into tangible fact: only they, with body and soul, with their strength and capital, must build their National Home and bring about their national redemption.’
Sure enough, at the Versailles Conference and its ancillary meetings up to 1922, although Britain was given the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, the Jewish National Home was not established. During the Mandate period there was an observable tension between the CO, which was responsible for administering Palestine and wanted to do so within the terms of the (admittedly self-contradictory) Balfour Declaration, and the FO, which feared that allowing the de facto creation of a Jewish State would alienate Arabs. In 1937 the Peel Commission recommended ending the Mandate and partitioning Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with population transfers of 225,000 Arabs from Galilee, an outcome Ben-Gurion said [quote] ‘could give us something which we have never had, even when we stood on our own during the days of the First and Second Temples’. Nonetheless, both the Arabs and the 20th Zionist Congress rejected Peel’s recommendations, to the palpable relief of the Foreign Office, which concentrated its own opposition to it on the basis of its supposed impracticality.
Instead there was the notorious 1939 White Paper, which severely limited Jewish immigration into Palestine at precisely the period of their greatest need, during the Final Solution. A total upper limit of 75,000 Jewish immigrants was set for the fateful years 1940-44, a figure that was also intended to cover refugee emergencies. The White Paper was published on 9 November 1938 – the very same day as the Kristallnacht atrocities in Germany – and was approved by Parliament in May 1939, a full two months after Hitler’s occupation of the rump of Czechoslovakia. The Manchester Guardian described it as ‘a death sentence on tens of thousands of Central European Jews’, which in sheer numerical terms was probably an underestimation. Although the Labour Party Conference voted to repeal the White Paper in 1945, the Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin – a bitter enemy of Israel – persisted in it, and it was not to be repealed until the day after the State of Israel was proclaimed.
In late April 1948, Bevin ordered that Arab positions in Jaffa needed to be protected from the Jews [quote] ‘at all costs’, and when Israeli independence came the next month, the departing British sometimes handed over vital military and strategic strongpoints to the five invading Arab armies, the most efficient of which, Transjordan’s Arab Legion, was actually commanded by a Briton, Sir John Glubb. And then on New Year’s Eve 1948 the British Government actually issued an ultimatum to Israel threatening war if Israel did not halt its counter-attacks on Egyptian forces in the Gaza Strip and Sinai. Britain was the only country in the UN that came to Egypt’s aid in this regard.
One can easily see, therefore, why when Brig-Gen Sir Wyndham Deedes set up the Anglo-Israeli Association only weeks after Israel was finally recognized by Britain in 1949 – months after America, Russia and several other states had already done so – it was much-needed. There was still massive resentment over the War of Independence; Israel was considered at best a headache by the FO; and worst of all, unlike her neighbours, she had no oil. Nor did the Suez Crisis much help matters seven years later: the way in which Israel fitted in neatly with British plans to crush Nasser ought to have endeared her to the Foreign Office, but of course it didn’t.
When in May 1967 Nasser announced the blockading of the Straits of Tiran, closing Israel’s commercial lifeline to the east, the guarantors of this international waterway – including Britain – failed to act quickly or decisively, and although Harold Wilson was proud of his pro-Israeli sentiments, his foreign secretary George Brown and the FO certainly did not reciprocate them. Britain compounded its generally lukewarm attitude during the Six Day War by sponsoring Resolution 242 at the end of it, which called on Israel to withdraw [quote] ‘from territories occupied’, in a resolution that was so badly worded by the FO that Arabs and Israelis have been able to argue over its proper meaning ever since.
The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 saw even worse bias by the FO in favour of the Arabs and against the Jews. Announcing an arms embargo ‘equally’ between the belligerents, the Heath Government effectively stopped Israel buying spare parts for the IDF’s Centurion tanks, whilst allowing them to be bought by Jordan, the only other country affected, because it was not (officially at least) a belligerent. Egyptian helicopter pilots continued to be trained in Britain, with the foreign secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home lamely telling the Israeli Ambassador that it was better for the pilots to be training in Britain than fighting at the front. Heath even refused to allow American cargo planes taking supplies to Israel to land and refuel at our bases on Cyprus.
In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher seemed to offer a new warmth to Anglo-Israeli relations. She sat for Finchley, her Methodism chimed well with Jewish values, and she was the most philo-Semitic PM since Churchill, yet even she was stymied by the FO, especially over Intelligence cooperation with Mossad. It’s true that John Major sent a special SAS unit to seek and destroy Iraqi Scud missile batteries targeting Israel during the First Gulf War, but that was largely to remove the danger of Israel retaliating, and thereby perhaps destroying the Arab coalition against Saddam.
After 9/11 Tony Blair seemed to appreciate how Israel was in the very front line in the War against Terror, and he thus bravely refused to condemn Israel’s acts of self-defence in Lebanon, but since then Britain’s contribution to the EU’s strand of negotiating over Iran’s nuclear ambitions has been, frankly, pathetic.
One area of policy over which the FO has traditionally held great sway is in the question of Royal Visits. It is no therefore coincidence that although HMQ has made over 250 official overseas visits to 129 different countries during her reign, neither she nor one single member of the British royal family has ever been to Israel on an official visit. Even though Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Alice of Greece, who was recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations” for sheltering a Jewish family in her Athens home during the Holocaust, was buried on the Mount of Olives, the Duke of Edinburgh was not allowed by the FO to visit her grave until 1994, and then only on a private visit.
“Official visits are organized and taken on the advice of the Foreign and Commonwealth office,” a press officer for the royal family explained when Prince Edward visited Israel recently privately – and a spokesman for the Foreign Office replied that [quote] ‘Israel is not unique” in not having received an official royal visit, because [quote] ‘Many countries have not had an official visit.’ That might be true for Burkino Faso and Chad, but the FO has somehow managed to find the time over the years to send the Queen on State visits to Libya, Iran, Sudan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan & Turkey. So it can’t have been that she wasn’t in the area.
Perhaps Her Majesty hasn’t been on the throne long enough, at 57 years, for the Foreign Office to get round to allowing her to visit one of the only democracies in the Middle East. At least she could be certain of a warm welcome in Israel, unlike in Morocco where she was kept waiting by the King for three hours in 90 degree heat, or at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda the time before last, where they hadn’t even finished building her hotel.
The true reason of course, is that the Foreign Office has a ban on official Royal visits to Israel, which is even more powerful for its being unwritten and unacknowledged. As an act of delegitimization of Israel, this effective boycott is quite as serious as other similar acts, such as the academic boycott, and is the direct fault of the FO Arabists. Which brings us on to Mr Oliver Miles.
One of the reasons I’m proud to be an historian is that there are scholars of the integrity and erudition of Prof Sir Martin Gilbert and Prof Sir Lawrence Freedman who also write history. If people as intelligent, wise and incorruptible as they choose to be historians, then it must be an honourable profession. Let me quote to you, therefore, word-for-word, what a former British Ambassador to Libya and Greece, Mr Oliver Miles, wrote in The Independent newspaper less than a fortnight ago, commenting on the composition of the present Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War:
“Both Gilbert and Freedman are Jewish, and Gilbert at least has a record of active support for Zionism. Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream British and American media. … All five members have outstanding reputations and records, but it is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available. Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.”
Ladies and gentlemen, if that’s the way that FO Arabists are prepared to express themselves in public, can you imagine the way that they refer to such people as Professors Gilbert and Freedman in private? For the balance that Mr Miles is talking about here is clearly a racial balance, that only a certain quota of Jews should have been allowed on to the Inquiry.
Of course there’s a reason why “Such facts are not usually mentioned in the mainstream media”, of course, and that is because it is a disgraceful and disgusting concept even to notice the racial background of such distinguished public servants, and one that wouldn’t have even occurred to most people had not Mr Miles made such a point of it.
Because there are 22 ambassadors to Arab countries, and only one to Israel, it is perhaps natural that the FO should tend to be more pro-Arab than pro-Israeli. On occasion there are remarkably good British Ambassadors to Israel – your president, Sir Andrew Burns, was one such in the early 1990s – just as there are on occasion remarkably good Israeli Ambassadors to Britain, indeed we are fortunate to have one at the Embassy today in Ron Prosor. Overall, however, such men are swimming against the tide of an FO assumption that Britain’s relations with Israel ought constantly to be subordinated to her relations with other Middle Eastern states, especially the oil-rich ones, however badly those states behave in terms of human rights abuses, the persecution of Christians, the oppression of women, medieval practices of punishment, and so on.
It seems to me that there is an implicit racism going on here. Jews are expected to behave better, goes the FO thinking, because they are like us. Arabs must not be chastised because they are not. So in warfare, we constantly expect Israel to behave far better than her neighbours, and chastise her quite hypocritically when occasionally under the exigencies of national struggle, she cannot. The problem crosses political parties today, just as it always has. William Hague called for Israel to adopt a proportionate response in its struggle with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2007, as though proportionate responses ever won any victories against fascists. In the Second World War, the Luftwaffe killed 50,000 Britons in the Blitz, and the Allied response was to kill 600,000 Germans – twelve times the number and hardly a proportionate response, but one that contributed mightily to victory. Who are we therefore to lecture the Israelis on how proportionate their responses should be?
Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would not do placed in the same position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 millions is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example entirely at random, Hezbollah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed 8 patrolmen and kidnapped 2 others, and that summer fired 4,000 Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further 43 civilians. Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what we would not do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire 36,000 rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing 72 British servicemen in an ambush and capturing a further eighteen? I put it to you that there is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. So why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?
There has hardly been a single year since Brigadier-General Deedes established AIA in 1949 when a speaker has not been able to say that Israel faced a crisis, and on some occasions – in 1956, 1967, 1973 and especially in the face of the present Iranian nuclear programme today – these were existential. At a time when Barrack Obama appears to be least pro-Israeli president since Eisenhower, the dangers are even more obvious. For there is simply no way that Obama will prevent Ahmadinejad, perhaps Jewry’s most viciously outspoken and dangerous foe since the death of Adolf Hitler, to acquire a nuclear Bomb.
None of us can pretend to know what lies ahead for Israel, but if she decides preemptively to strike against such a threat – in the same way that Nelson preemptively sank the Danish Fleet at Copenhagen and Churchill preemptively sank the Vichy Fleet at Oran – then she can expect nothing but condemnation from the British Foreign Office. She should ignore such criticism, because for all the fine work done by this Association over the past six decades – work that’s clearly needed as much now as ever before – Britain has only ever really been at best a fairweather friend to Israel.
Although History does not repeat itself, its cadences do occasionally rhyme, and if the witness of History is testament to anything it is testament to this:
That in her hopes of averting the threat of a Second Holocaust, only Israel can be relied upon to act decisively in the best interests of the Jews.
HE BOASTED ON DATING WEBSITES OF BEING A “TERRORIST” WHO “LOVED” TO SEE JEWS KILLED
Al-Qaeda terrorist gets 100% mortgage
By Guy Patrick
The Sun (UK)
Dec. 16, 2009
A bank was blasted last night after giving a 100 per cent mortgage to an al-Qaeda terrorist who smuggled himself into the UK.
Albanian Krenar Lusha, 30, landed the NatWest loan after it failed to complete full checks on his UK status, a court heard. He used the £93,000 terraced house in Derby to keep bomb-making equipment and set up an al-Qaeda base.
Lusha got the loan with no deposit at the height of the credit crunch last year. He had opened a NatWest account after sneaking into the UK in a lorry in 2000. Despite failing to win asylum, he got a driving licence and an engineering job – and had declined another mortgage offer.
One mortgage adviser told Preston Crown Court: “He was just a pleasant-natured person.” But Lusha was yesterday jailed for seven years for possessing the bomb-making gear and manuals following a three-week trial.
He boasted on dating websites of being a “terrorist” who “loved” to see Jews killed. Footage on his PC showed beheadings. Mr Justice Butterfield said Lusha had a side that “revelled in violence”.
Tory MP David Davies said last night: “Can we assume hundreds of illegal immigrants have been given mortgages?” NatWest said it had “robust mortgage account opening procedures”.