Worrying Times

February 23, 2013

If you are Jewish it is hard to comprehend all that has occurred in the past few days.

First of all there was the report that Israel’s deputy ambassador had to be evacuated from Essex University, unable to give the lecture he was supposed to give because of disruption from students. There was all the usual talk from the PSC and SWP students about “war crimes” and Israel being an “apartheid state.” It is neither surprising nor unprecedented for the extreme left to stifle the voices of those with whom they disagree; nor is it surprising that this should have happened at Essex, a university with a long history of extreme left politics. None the less, this is one more in a long list of examples of the extreme hostility that those who dare to support Israel face on our campuses.

If that wasn’t enough for one night, we then had the case of George Galloway who walked out of a debate at Christ Church, Oxford on the subject “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. On learning that his opponent was an Israeli, he simply marched out of the door saying that he does not recognise Israel and does not debate with Israelis.

What a way for a Member of the British Parliament to behave.

And whilst all that was happening over here, across the channel in a pub in Lyon, a group of Spurs supporters, in France to see their team play in a Europa League cup match, were attacked by a bunch of Neo Nazis. The reason? Tottenham Hotspur has a large number of Jewish supporters and therefore is known as a “Jewish” club.

Any one of these incidents should give rise for concern. That all three should occur within a matter of hours is to me very worrying. It is reported in the Jewish Chronicle this week that French Jews are fleeing to London in large numbers to escape growing anti-Semitism in that country. Given what is happening here in the UK one wonders if they are not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Remember too, only a couple of weeks ago there was David Ward MP making deeply offensive anti-Semitic comments and the equally offensive Scarfe cartoon in the Sunday Times.

Jews in France are caught in a vice. On one side is a far right movement much more prominent there than here. On the other side is a large North African population that in some areas the authorities can barely control.

Here, in spite of a rise in anti-Semitic incidents, thanks to the superb work of the Community Security Trust (CST) who monitor all such incidents and work very closely with the authorities, Jews still consider themselves relatively safe. However, this is no time for complacency.

I have no doubt that as long as the demonization of Israel continues, so will the rise in anti-Semitism. I have said before, I have no problem when people criticize actions taken by the government of Israel in a manner they would use to criticise actions taken by their own or any other government. Unfortunately, that is not what we are seeing. The incidents at two universities this week are just the latest examples of an irrational, bitter hatred for, and obsession with Israel alone that so far as I am aware is unprecedented in history. And as long as that continues, Jews cannot feel totally safe anywhere. Less than seventy years after the horrors of the second World war, that is a shocking state of affairs.

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No To A One State Solution

September 23, 2012

Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes has called for a one state solution to the Israel – Palestine conflict. I suppose one should not be surprised at such a wooly piece of thinking from him, but let us be clear what he actually means; the abolition of the State of Israel; nothing less, for that is the inevitable consequence of that particular “solution.”

This is why it finds favour with those on the left. It is the ultimate aim of the delegitimizers, the boycotters and their fellow travellers.

When left leaning politicians and commentators like Hughes look at the Middle East today they look at it through the distorting prism of current “liberal” orthodoxy. That means that they view only the bits of the puzzle they want to. Thus they see and readily condemn the Israeli reprisals against terrorists in Gaza but not the hundreds of rocket that those same terrorists have launched against the towns and villages of southern Israel. They choose to ignore the fact that thousands of Israeli children are forced to spend a large part of their lives in air raid shelters to avoid the daily rocket barrage.

They see the separation barrier but forget about the bombed buses and restaurants and the random shootings that claimed hundreds of Israeli lives in the early years of this century which was the reason the barrier was erected in the first place. Of course it would be preferable if the barrier was not there, but the fact remains it has worked and an untold number of lives have been saved because of it. Perhaps it is the fact that it is Jewish lives that have been saved that renders that little detail irrelevant to those on the left.

It is not only their view of the current situation that is so warped. They also display a disturbingly selective memory where the region’s history is concerned. As Palestinians deliberately try to destroy all evidence of Jerusalem’s Jewish history, the delegitimizers happily ignore the four millenia of continuous Jewish history in the Holy Land.

So, when he calls for a one state solution, Hughes is putting the blame for the impasse on Israel Alone. Never mind that during the British Mandate whilst the Jews accepted the 1937 Peel Commission recommendation for a two state solution, the Arabs rejected it outright. Never mind that they again rejected it in 1947 after the UN voted for partition and then launched a deadly attack on the newly formed Jewish State when it declared independence.

I was in Israel as a volunteer in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War. Almost without exception the opinion I heard from every Israeli I spoke to was the same. “Now at last they will have to talk with us and make peace with us.” Alas, just three months later came the infamous Khartoum Declaration. “No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.” Since then there have been negotiations of course but basically the Arab position is as intransigent today as it was then.

At Camp David in 2000, Israel offered huge concessions to the Palestinians, but Arafat would not budge. As Abba Eban said at the time, “Arafat never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” As a consequence, perhaps the best chance for a lasting peace was lost.

To achieve a lasting peace requires two interlocutors willing to achieve an agreement and prepared to make the concessions necessary. In 1937, in 1947 and again in 2000 Israel showed that commitment. Sadly, whenever called upon to rise to the challenge, the Palestinians have not.

So when Hughes calls upon the British Jewish Community to put pressure on the Israeli Government, this member of the community will have no part of it. That is not to say I always agree with everything the government does; I do not. But I am able to put its actions in context. I can understand what living in a country surrounded by an intransigent enemy sworn to wipe it out can do to that country’s psyche.

Of course the Palestinians would welcome a one state solution. They know, that were it to happen, they would succeed in their oft-repeated aim of driving the Jews into the sea. Look at the placards at any anti-Israel demonstration and you will see several proclaiming “Palestine from the river(Jordan) to the sea.” That always has been their aim and I fear it still is.

Is Simon Hughes not aware that he is inviting a second Jewish Holocaust? When hatred of Jews is taught every day in Palestinian schools does he imagine that Arab and Jew would leave peacefully side by side in such a State? Is he unaware that all over the Arab world, internecine warfare is a fact of daily life. If the Arabs can kill each other so easily, and they do as we all know, can he not see the probability of a Jewish bloodbath if his idea came to fruition? Or maybe he just does not care.

Consider what is happening in the Muslim world right now with the protests at a silly film shown on You-Tube. As Islamists tighten their grip over all Muslim countries, does Mr. Hughes expect those hard liners to tolerate, liberal, democratic, freedom loving Israelis in their midst?

Women have full equal rights in Israel. Homosexuality is not a crime in Israel. Freedom of expression is a right in Israel. None of this is so in any Arab or Muslim country.

So a single state solution cannot be the answer. What Simon Hughes and his ilk need to understand is that as long as they continue to view the Middle East through their distorted prism, there is no reason for the Palestinians to make peace with Israel.

If a lasting peace in the region is really his objective he should start by being even-handed and ensuring that the Palestinians understand fully that the Wests commitment to Israel’s survival within secure borders is non negotiable.