By Hugh Ash
Once it was the far Right – a nasty rash of neo-Nazis, xenophobes and assorted morons with a racist grudge – plus rabid Arabists, who drove the anti-Israel agenda, especially as it provided a handy cloak to hide their anti-Semitism.
Of course, this motley horror show still manages to occasionally crawl out from beneath its rock. But much of its Israel-bashing thunder has been hijacked by the hard Left, many of whom harbour an unhealthy obsession with demonising the only state in the madhouse of the Middle East where democratic sanity prevails.
Naturally, Israel is far from perfect. No multicultural, free society is, especially Britain’s.
And I, too, have issues with elements inside Israel’s present government, especially the Settler Movement, just as I have with certain members of the UK’s ruling coalition and, most certainly, the current, lame-duck US President.
However, I don’t blame Israel as a nation for the policies of some at its helm and I have only admiration for what its eight million citizens – including nearly two million Muslims, Druze and Christians – have accomplished, set against a backdrop of an unremitting, 66-year conflict they never sought. Indeed, far from being the target of bloodlusting venom from its 350 million neighbours, the Jewish state offers them an object lesson in creativity, scientific achievement that includes a cure for Ebola, intellectual thought and justice.
Can you imagine, for instance, a Jewish judge in, say, Egypt, Syria or Iraq – where once-vibrant Jewish communities flourished long before Islam, until they were kicked out – sending a Muslim leader to jail, as an Arab judge did in Israel, when he found former president, Moshe Katsav, guilty of rape.
This and innumerable, everyday instances of equality being exercised across all stratas of Israeli society, regardless of gender and sexuality, kills stone dead the odious lie of an ‘apartheid’ state. In fact, the majority of Arabs agree they enjoy more freedoms and benefits as Israeli citizens than they would in Muslim lands and there’s no queue of them at the border, lining up to become subjects of Palestine. So those (mainly Labour) MPs, who aired the ‘apartheid’ slander – along with a compendium of slurs bordering on racism, like allusions to an all-pervasive ‘Jewish Lobby’ – in last Monday’s House of Commons debate on UK recognition of a Palestine state were talking unmitigated hogwash, as Left whingers often do.
Sadly, all too many are gullible dupes, swallowing hook, line and stinker the deceits of the devious Palestinian PR machine.
Unsurprisingly, then, they parroted its mantra of ‘illegal settlements’, ‘atrocities in Gaza’ and ‘occupation’, with nary one addressing the issue of Arab intransigence in the peace processes – not to mention the countless times Yasser Arafat was offered and refused a viable state – or Hamas’s pledge to destroy Israel and world Jewry with it.
And, such is their appalling ignorance of Middle East history, not a voice from Ed Miliband’s Party of Togetherness mentioned Israel’s land-for-peace swaps with Egypt and Jordan or how these Arab nations purloined all that was meant to be Palestine – had the Arabs accepted UN partition in 1948 – until they waged and lost the 1967 Six Day War.
Meanwhile, even a smattering of Tories joined in the verbal onslaught, most notably Sir Alan Duncan, the former International Development Minister, who used UK taxpayers’ cash to help pay salaries, circa £2,000 a month, to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails.
The small, but perfectly-formed hypocrite, who made millions from serving Arab oil interests, assumed the ‘moral high ground’ to back the motion, perhaps forgetting morality isn’t necessarily his forte.
Named and shamed in the MPs expenses scandal for claiming thousands to manicure his garden – which, by his own admission, ‘could be considered excessive’ – even his property dealings have sometimes been, at best, iffy.
Apart from having to explain his rather ‘complex’ mortgage arrangements, it emerged that in 1992 Duncan lent an elderly next-door neighbour money to buy his 18th Century, Westminster council house under right-to-buy legislation. The neighbour duly did so at a significant discount and sold it to…er, Alan Duncan.
But the motion – ‘This House believes that the government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel’ and later amended to include ‘as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution’ – was a wholly Labour stunt and boycotted by the vast majority of Conservatives. Proposed by Grahame Morris, who recently compared Israel to the Nazis, it passed with a predictable, overwhelming majority: 247 for, 12 against. Basic arithmetic attest to the fact that of Britain’s 650 MPs, less than half attended the debate. And, regardless of the result, it was a shoddy gesture, non-binding on Prime Minister David Cameron, who is icily clear that only a negotiated, bilateral agreement can solve the Middle East’s most intractable dispute.
There is no denying, however, it was a hugely symbolic vote and a warning to Israel of perils to come, should Red Ed’s socialists win a majority in next May’s UK General Election.
But the Israelis are no strangers to British perfidy, because – following the Balfour Declaration favouring a Jewish state in the Levant after World War One – the UK pursued a cynical, anti-Jewish/pro-Arab agenda from the 1920s onward under its League of Nations Mandate.
In fact, from a moral perspective, Britain’s actions in shutting the door to escape for millions of future victims of Hitler’s Holocaust before and during the World War Two, as well as callously preventing survivors from reaching Palestine until its Mandate ended in 1948, deserve opprobrium.
Ditto Labour’s Commons’ motion.
Shot full of ambiguity, it referred to ‘recognition of a Palestine state’ that doesn’t exist, lacks defined borders and whose racist leadership adamantly refuses to recognise its Jewish neighbour.
And, regardless of the latest sham of unity between Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah administration in Ramallah and Hamas’s Islamo-fascist terrorists – one already fraying at the seams – which bipolar entity does the motion recognise: the West Bank Palestine or the Gaza Palestine?
Meanwhile, though such showboating plays well to Labour’s vocal Muslim vote, far from advancing Britain’s influence in the peace process, the Israel-bashing motion leaves an enormous dent in the UK’s credentials as an honest broker.
To read more of Hugh Ash’s comments, follow his award-winning, online blog – Views From The Mallorca Pier – at hughash.wordpress.com