I’m reluctant to post bad news on erev Chag, but I didn’t get around to this yesterday and I don’t want to ignore the issue.
On Monday the British Parliament took time out from its domestic woes – the NHS not functioning, a shrinking economy, an underclass of unintegrated third-world immigrants… the list goes on – to tackle an “urgent” matter 2,000 miles away: whether to recognize Palestinian State.
And the ayes had it, by 274-12, although these alarming numbers take on a different hue when taken with the fact that nearly all the Conservatives stayed away or abstained, and a large number of Labour MPs absented themselves in order not to have to comply with the ridiculous 3-line whip imposed by Labour leader Ed Milliband.
Despite the vote being downplayed as largely symbolic (which it is), there are several ominous implications, not least of which were the shocking antisemitic statements being pronounced right there in the Mother of Parliaments.
One MP spoke about the power of the “Jewish lobby” in the US, while another insinuated that Israel was to blame for the rise in anti-Semitism around the globe.
The well-known “as-a-Jew” Gerald Kaufman spouted forth in a similar manner:
Later in the proceedings, leading Israel critic Gerald Kaufman, the son of Polish Jews, seemed to blame Israeli actions for a rise in anti-Semitism in the wake of the summer’s fighting in Gaza: “I call on right honorary and honorary members on both sides of the House to give the Palestinians their rights and show the Israelis that they cannot suppress another people all the time. It is not Jewish for the Israelis to do that. They are harming the image of Judaism, and terrible outbreaks of anti-Semitism are taking place. I want to see an end to anti-Semitism, and I want to see a Palestinian state.”
Thankfully there were some – very few – tzaddikim b’Sdom (righteous amongst the evil) who did their best to counter the smears and insinuations:
“We are told that 135 members of the United Nations — many of which have relatively little connection with the Middle East, although some have a great connection — have recognized Palestine as a state,” said Conservative Intelligence Committee chairman Malcolm Rifkind. “That has had no effect. It has received 24 hours of publicity but has had no marginal, massive or significant impact on the course of history. There is a great risk that today we will make ourselves feel important and that our own frustration will lead us to vote for a motion that will not have the desired effect and will perhaps make the problems that need to be addressed in reaching a two-state solution more difficult to deal with,” said Rifkind, a former British foreign secretary who is Jewish.
Labour-Cooperative MP Louise Ellman railed against the idea that Israel is uninterested in peace. “It should be remembered that while peace negotiations were under way following the Oslo negotiations, in one month alone — March 2002 — 80 Israeli civilians were killed and 600 injured in targeted suicide bombings … The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza — a correct, unilateral withdrawal — was followed by rockets, the terror tunnels, and more and more death.”
Another British MP, David Burrowes who is currently visiting Israel called the vote a mistake.
I would refer you to “Abu Yehuda” (formerly Fresno Zionism) who has a good analysis of the Parliament vote.
The original motion stipulated that “this House believes that the government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”
During the debate it was amended to include the words “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”
It should also be noted that the amended resolution doesn’t make any sense. If the action is intended to contribute to a two-state solution, then that implies that a Palestinian state doesn’t yet exist to recognize.
Of course it doesn’t make sense even without the amendment, because ‘Palestine’ has no borders or economy short of the international dole, and its unity government is a sham which does not control much of its population.
The practical significance is that a huge majority in Parliament thinks that the creation of an Arab state in the territories would be a good thing. This seems to be the conventional wisdom everywhere in Europe, despite the clearly horrendous security consequences for Israel.
In fact, as the debate shows, many of the MPs think that supporting a Palestinian state is the moral position to take, even going so far as to cite the Balfour declaration! The irony in this is that Britain acted consistently during the Mandate period and afterwards to subvert the intent of the declaration and the Mandate to provide for a national home for the Jewish people.
In fact, from a moral point of view, Britain ought to be harshly criticized for its actions in shutting the door to escape for millions of future victims of Hitler’s Holocaust before and during the war, as well as cruelly preventing survivors from reaching Palestine until its rule was ended in 1948, not to mention assisting the Arabs in their war against the new state of Israel afterwards. It is remarkably hypocritical today for MPs to claim that morality drives them to continue the cynical anti-Jewish policy they have followed since the 1920s.
There are many similar opinion pieces on this sorry subject. I’m sure you have read many of them. One of the must-reads is Brian of London at Israellycool who discusses the vote, the antisemitism expressed within, and the distorted views of the settlements which cloud the whole view of the Middle East. Brian also mentions Melanie Phillips latest facebook post in which she debunks “a string of falsehoods promulgated by Sir Alan Duncan, David Cameron’s special envoy to Yemen and Oman.” Just a short quote:
Duncan’s tirade presents a picture of Israel that is false and wholly distorted. The core of his spitting hatred is his claim that Israel’s settlements are illegal. There is an authoritative body of legal opinion that shows they are not illegal at all; the illegality trope is merely an anti-Israel canard. But even if they were illegal, this would hardly justify Duncan’s venom and vituperation which seem quite out of control.
Read Brian’s whole post and Melanie Phillips’ too.
Here too are some other relevant tweets which reflect my own opinion on the vote and its implications:
My favourite tweet was the one that brought up the original British vote on the original state of Palestine – the one that gave a Mandate to Britain to grant Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish People:
Here is the Israellycool post mentioned in the tweet: “Breaking: Britain recognizes Palestine”, accompanied by the letter “viewing with favour” a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Those were the days!