Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, June 2010
Britain's Conservatives Talk the Same Bollox as Israel's Regev
By Stuart Littlewood
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 28, 2010
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – William Hague
Hague has been a Friend of Israel since the age of 15. Burt is an officer
of the Conservative Friends of Israel. Naturally he’s in charge of Middle
East affairs. Lidington also frolics with the Israel flag wavers.
Lord Howell – My Lords, the United Kingdom is in regular contact with the
Israeli and Palestinian governments and our international allies regarding
the current humanitarian situation in Gaza and the wider issues relating to
the peace process. As my right honourable friend the foreign secretary said
... it is essential that there should be unfettered access to Gaza, not only
to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza but to enable
reconstruction of homes and livelihoods and permit trade to take place.
He veers from saying there should be unfettered access to Gaza to saying
the blockade should be lifted only as far as it suits Israel’s “security”.
He thinks pressure on the Israeli government rather than action will work
when decades of experience tells us it won’t. He fails to understand how
Israel sees its own interest. He says Israel has the right to “restrain” the
importation of weapons. Is he sure about that? I don’t think he knows
international law or the UN Charter or the Geneva Conventions as well as he
should. Palestinians, as an illegally occupied people, have a right to take
up arms to defend themselves.
The Knesset comes to Westminster
Eighty per cent of Conservative MPs are claimed to be signed-up Friends of Israel. Now, for your entertainment, let’s see how their website reports a recent House of Commons debate on Middle East Policy:
“... Mark Regev, Israel’s crapaganda specialist, must be exceedingly proud of his pupils [the UK Conservative Friends of Israel]. They now speak it fluently. Readers with only the slightest knowledge of the situation in the Holy Land will be aching with laughter and howling in derision at the tosh these stooges put around.”
- Conservative MPs voice support for Israel in House debate on Middle
- The debate was well attended by Conservative MPs, and provided an excellent opportunity for MPs discuss events surrounding the flotilla incident of Monday 31 May, as well a wider issues of the Middle East peace process.
- Israel received positive support from a number of Conservative MPs, with many contributors displaying a considerable understanding of the wider issues at play in the region such as the Iranian smuggling of arms into Gaza, Hamas ideology of violence and the need to bolster the moderate Palestinian Authority.
- Alistair Burt MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, led the debate for the government and presented an even-handed case, whilst expressing support for Israel.
- Alistair Burt began by reassuring the House that the government would “engage with as much energy as we can in the Middle East peace process” to bring about a lasting two-state solution to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“The only long-term solution to the conflict is a secure Israel living alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian state. We will continue to press for progress, working with the US and through the EU, while supporting Prime Minister Fayyad’s work to build the institutions of a future Palestinian state... The UK is a committed friend of Israel and a friend to the region”.
Re-stating the government’s resolve to continue pressuring Iran to end her nuclear programme, Burt welcomed the UN Security Council resolution recently passed.
“We remain resolved to address concerns through a twin-track process of preventing a nuclear-weapons-capable Iran while reaching out with an offer for constructive engagement. We cannot allow Iran to act with impunity”.
CFI's [Conservative Friends of Israel] Parliamentary Chairman and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee Rt Hon. James Arbuthnot MP presented an authoritative account of Israel’s predicament and began by praising Israel for embodying many of the values that exist with Britain.
“Everyone in this House should have an interest in Israel, because it is a country that embodies the values that we should stand for. Israel [has] become a bastion of the rule of law, democracy, free speech, business enterprise and family values. If that is not what this country also stands for, I am disappointed.”
Applauding “Israel’s determination to stand up for its continued right to exist in peace and security”, Arbuthnot lamented at the difficult position Israel faces as a result of Hamas’s belligerency.
“When peace is destroyed by Hamas kidnapping Gilad Shalit and continuing to hold him prisoner for years, nobody should expect Israel just to accept it. When that peace is destroyed by rocketing from Gaza, nobody should expect Israel to say, ‘Yes, flotillas can be allowed to import whatever they like into Gaza, including perhaps explosives and rockets’.”
James Arbuthnot also spoke of Israel's difficulty in preventing smuggling of weaponry into Gaza, citing the case of Karine A.
“On one ship, the Karine A, which was not involved in this convoy, the Israelis found tons of weapons for Hamas. Were they simply to assume that this particular flotilla contained no such weapons to be used by Hamas against both Israel and the population of Gaza, whom Hamas treats so cruelly? Surely not. So obviously the flotilla was going to be stopped and boarded.”
James Arbuthnot also cited the fact that Israel’s military had not sought violence, as seen by the peaceful boarding of five of the six flotilla ships.
He noted that the flotilla was a deliberately calculated attempt to create publicity and that violence resistance aboard the Mavi Marmara had been premeditated.
“Given that the flotilla was designed to be provocative and to end in violence, we should not blame Israel for the violence against which it failed to guard itself; the blame lies with those who went on to the flotilla expressly seeking martyrdom.”
Bob Blackman MP assessed the problematic role of Hamas, which presents a considerable obstacle to not only the peace process, but progress for the Palestinian people.
“We are challenged on the position of humanitarian aid, yet the state of Israel allows some 15,000 tonnes per week of humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. However, there is the role of Hamas: it holds up the aid. It uses it as an incentive to control the people of Palestine, and as a means of repression. Until it ceases its repression, the people of Palestine will not see the benefit of having a properly, democratically elected Government who truly represent them.”
Bob Blackman urged the House to be clear on the dangers of negotiating with Hamas without pre-conditions.
“It is very difficult to negotiate with people whose fundamental aim is to destroy one’s government and one’s very being”.
Lastly, Nick Boles MP gave the House a fascinating speech on Israel's excellent record of democracy, freedom and human rights.
“In Israel, Israeli Arabs have always had all rights-the same as Israeli Jews-except for one: they do not have to serve in the armed forces, because the state of Israel recognizes that it would be unfair to set them against their Arab brothers. However, they can vote and be elected, and many have been. There is even an Arab-Israeli serving on the Supreme Court in Israel... Israel is an oasis in a desert-an oasis of freedom, democracy and human rights in the Middle East”.
Robert Halfon MP was not called upon by the Speaker but had prepared a fantastic speech, which he has since published on his online blog.
The whole thing can be seen at http://www2.cfoi.co.uk/Briefings/WeeklyBriefing/ where
you’ll also find the comical “Israel’s legitimate right to impose the
Gaza has become a terrorist state. Over 5,000 missiles have been fired into Israel since Hamas takeover in June 2007. Terrorists continue to infiltrate Israel from Gaza to execute brutal terror attacks. Weapons and explosives – supplied by backers Iran and Syria – are continuously smuggled into the Strip to be used against Israeli citizens and territory. This sort of situation is untenable. No country can be expected to live under this sort of pressure.
It must be noted that five of the six ships were peacefully intercepted and safely docked at the Israeli port of Ashdod without incident. Unfortunately, a significant minority of “activists” on the Mavi Marmara reacted with extreme violence to the Israeli military personnel... it has become apparent that these “activists” had prepared for violence by accruing various weapons, amongst which were knives and sharpened metal bars.
Security footage on the boat shows these men preparing their ambush and television images have shown these same individuals chanting horrific anti-Semitic songs. Before the incident, various spokesmen for the flotilla stressed that the intention was to make a political statement and “break the siege” rather than delivering the aid itself.
Flotilla or no Flotilla, blockade or no blockade, we must never forget that Israel, a democratic state, is battling for its survival against an enemy that seeks its destruction. The West faces the same enemy on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. A free and just Palestinian state and a secure Israel will only come about when these terrorist movements have been vanquished...
Every line a gem. Vintage Regev. Almost.
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