When friends fall out – Israel, UK and the Dubai killing

You know the story by now? Hamas terrorist arms dealer found dead in a Dubai hotel room. A few days later Dubai declares that more than 20 people with forged UK and other national passports (using names of passport holders living in Israel) were a hit squad and that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, is behind it – or so everyone assumes.

UK government summons the Israeli ambassador. Two months later UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband announces that the top Mossad man in London has been asked to leave. He gives a severe dressing down to Israel and issues  a warning to UK citizens travelling to Israel that they should look after their passports and be wary of identity theft.

Israel supporters in the press here and many Israeli newspapers have stated that this is an overreaction, that the UK government is now openly hostile to Israel and this is some sort of conspiracy with the United States to destabilise the Netanyahu government. They tell us how hypocritical the UK is, some Israeli members of the Knesset have even referred to UK politicians as dogs who are pandering to an anti-semitic agenda.

I too am a strong supporter of Israel but I don’t go along with this paranoia. I also happen to be a British Jew but I am determined that when Israel is wrong I should say so; to do otherwise is dishonest.

No-one has owned up to the killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. So why did Miliband say he has ‘compelling’ intelligence that it was Mossad? Do these who are so keen to shout foul really think that a British Foreign Secretary would make such a statement if he had not be shown evidence by MI6? Israel may even have ‘fessed up’.

Let’s look at the real issue the UK has with Israel here: several UK nationals have been recklessly put at risk by the action of Mossad (let’s assume this is now fact). These are individuals who have put their trust in the State of Israel. Some are Jews who have settled or wish to settle there, some are not, apparently.  And their recompense for this trust is to risk becoming international criminals.  They were not asked if they want to contribute to the assassination of a Hamas arms dealer, they were abused by the state and Israel was found out.

Now I know what you are going to say: countries do it all the time and the UK is hypocritical. No matter. If you are found out you pay the consequences. I do not see that the UK could do otherwise. It cannot be seen as an honest broker in the Middle East if it gives Israel a free pass.

Many commentators say that this is a blow to the War on Terror, and why should anyone cry over the elimination of a terrorist murderer? Not the point. It’s the method, the abuse of British sovereignty by forging its passports and getting caught doing so that is the issue. Let’s just turn it around. If the British had forged Israeli passports in their war on the IRA and used them to assassinate an IRA arms dealer and had been found out, would Israel not be equally aggrieved? Would the UK not have considerable criticism heaped on them from Israel?

If supporters of Israel see this as part of some plot, some evidence that the UK is about to abandon Israel and stand shoulder to shoulder with the US as they throw Israel to the wolves, they are wrong.

What we are seeing is a new approach to the Middle East, an approach in which see the resolution of the problem only being possible if the US and its allies can demonstrate that Israel does not get a free pass.

This is the wrong approach because the real problem is that for 60 years and more the Palestinians have not accepted the right of Israel and the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. That’s the real problem and everything stems from that fact.

It is that which hardens Israeli policies, it is that which leads to conflict.

Gaza, the blockade and Egypt. Did I miss something?

Er.. Did I miss something with all the hoo-ha from the UN and Quartet urging Israel to open all the Gaza crossings, to ease its restrictions and allow EVERYTHING in? This will end the smuggling culture, says Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the UN. This will allow economic recovery and undercut extremism.

Apart from the naivety of this belief, why didn’t he go to Cairo and ask them to open up the Rafah crossing? Israel has no control of that crossing. Why does the Quartet not ask Cairo to ease restrictions? If you remember, Egypt is actually building a metal barrier across the entire border with Gaza. No-one is condemning this. No-one mentions it.

Just thought I’d mention that.

Ging, Ging. Gone Native

As EU foreign policy chief, Baroness Ashton, arrived in Gaza to view the situation and make some pointless noise to demonstrate she was doing something,  the head of UNRWA, John Ging was making outrageous claims about Israel’s so-called ‘blockade’.

UNWRA is the UN Relief Agency which for 60 years has been dedicated ONLY to Palestinian refugees and the the 3 or 4 generations of their descendants since 1948. As such, it is totally separate from the UN’s main refugee organisation and is the only UN body set up to deal with a single issue.

It just so happens that most of UNWRA’s workers in Gaza are Palestinians and it has been shown, by various reports, and by its own admission, that some, if not many, of these workers are members of Hamas or other terrorist groups.

During Operation Cast Lead John Ging became world famous for his interviews including a notorious one where he claimed that the Israelis had killed dozens of people in a school when he later had to admit that it was about 7 (who were ‘militants’) outside the school.

As a member of the UN, Ging should be politically neutral. If he chooses to criticise Israel he should be careful about his facts and not do the propaganda job of militants and murderers and Israel bashers.

This is what he had to say yesterday, as reported by the BBC:

We have to have action. A thousand days and a thousand nights of a medieval siege is far too much. It’s a shame – it’s a disgrace

What! A medieval siege? Does this man know what a medieval siege was? A medieval siege stopped ANYTHING getting in to a city with the aim of starving its population. ‘Blockade’ is a term used which is itself a lie, but ‘siege’ is beyond acceptable. Where is the furore about this man’s clear alignment with the narrative of terrorists. Ging appears to have gone native.

On Tuesday day this is what was reported by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) on their website:

13,144 tons of humanitarian aid crossed into the Gaza Strip last week

In addition to that, 1,215,602 liters of diesel fuel and 883 tons of cooking gas entered the Gaza Strip; 470 medical patients and accompanying individual were transferred to Israel and the Judea and Samaria region to receive medical treatment

Over the last week, a total of 550 truckloads, consisting of 13,144 tons of humanitarian aid, were transferred into the Gaza Strip from Israel via the various border crossings. 1,215,602 liters of diesel fuel and 883 tons of cooking gas also crossed into Gaza. Likewise, nine truckloads of carnations were exported from the Gaza Strip to Europe.

In addition to that, 470 medical patients and accompanying individuals from the Gaza Strip crossed into Israel and the Judea and Samaria region for medical treatment, and 93 Gazans entered Israel for other various reasons. 216 staff members of international organizations crossed into the Gaza Strip, and 279 crossed from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Essential humanitarian food products, wheat and flour, meat, chicken, fish, legumes and other agricultural produce as well as animal feed, hygiene products and medical supplies were among the goods that crossed into Gaza this past week.

Now, you may not like Israel’s policy of preventing those who want to destroy it from having the means to do so, but ‘medieval siege’ is deliberately emotive language and Ging should be sacked. In fact UNWRA should long ago have been disbanded as it is now just a propaganda weapon for Hamas. In fact, Gaza receives more aid than Haiti. See The Gaza Siege myth article in ynetnews which shows the totally unbalanced approach the UN and, thus, the gullible or disingenuous world treats Israel and its relationship with its would-be murderers.

Living in Gaza is not great, but no-one is starving, hundreds of Gazans receive medical treatment in Israel and Israel co-operates with UN agencies to rebuild Gaza without Hamas or Islamic Jihad getting hold of materials with which to rebuild their terror infrastructure.

Why did Ging not condemn the rocket attack yesterday which killed a Thai worker? Why did the BBC use Ging’s locution and call it ‘the Israeli siege’? Why is everyone so purblind to the fact that Egypt has a border with Gaza and Egypt is completing a metal barrier along its entire length to shut down the smuggling tunnels which are supposed to be a ‘lifeline’ to the ‘besieged’ of Gaza when they are a death line administered from Tehran.

The only thing medieval about Gaza is the religious fanaticism of Hamas et alia and their medieval blood lust which openly declares its desire to exterminate Jews, not Israelis but Jews wherever they can be found. Why does Ging not condemn that as medieval?

Ging has become a tool of Hamas and therefore the UN is a tool of Hamas.

Israel Apartheid Week – hoping mud sticks

Across the world anti-Israel activists are holding Israel Apartheid week.

The claim is that Israel is like Apartheid South Africa, that Israel is a racists state where Arabs = Blacks and Cape Coloureds and Israelis = whites.

The absurdity of this claim is patent. Just walk down any street in any Israeli city. You will see blacks, browns and whites freely mingling. The IDF is multi-ethnic. Arabs sit in promenade shelters along Tel Aviv beachfront.  There are no Jews only signs anywhere. Racism is not enshrined in the laws of the land. Arabs can and do from political parties, practise medecine in Israeli hospitals, become members of the Supreme Court.

This is not to say there is no discrimination. Israel is not a perfect society.

If we move to the West Bank, which is not Israel, of course, we have the Israeli Jewish settlements in land which is disputed and internationally recognised as ‘occupied’. Settlers are at risk of violence from Palestinians. You may not like settlements but they exist. The state has taken extraordinary lengths to protect settler communities: Israeli-only roads, checkpoints, gated communities.

The Israeli settlements do well. The Palestinians not so well. Is this really Apartheid? It may be very ugly but what is the alternative? Open season on Israelis? Whatever you think of the settlements you can’t expect them to leave themselves defenceless. The motivation is security and not racism. And that’s the point.

The security barrier  is often used as a symbol of Apartheid but as the barrier has reduced suicide bombings by 99% it is clear that this is a security success, nothing to do with racism.

The fall out for Palestinians of these security measures can be criticised but it is still not Apartheid.

Indeed the Jerusalem Post has an article by Dore Gold in which he quotes Benjamin Pogrund a former Apartheid activist:

In 2006, Benjamin Pogrund, a former anti-apartheid activist, who now lives in Israel (he also served as a deputy editor of Johannesberg’s Rand Daily Mail) responded to a report in The Guardian comparing Israel and apartheid South Africa. As a journalist, Pogrund had specialized in apartheid, and was even imprisoned by the South African authorities for his reporting. Looking at the situation in Israel, he noted that when he had been hospitalized in Jerusalem for surgery, he looked around and noticed that the patients, nurses, and doctors were both Arabs and Jews.

“What I saw in the Hadassah-Mt. Scopus hospital was inconceivable in the South Africa where I spent most of my life,” he said.

The apartheid system was based on legalizing racism. As former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Robbie Sabel has pointed out, in Israel even incitement to racism is a criminal offense.

Gold continues:

Israel’s accusers also try to focus on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but here too their arguments are extremely weak. The majority of Israelis do not want to annex the whole West Bank, but rather feel that they are entitled to “defensible borders” in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242. This is not a case of establishing a different legal system for a specific racial or ethnic group within the Israeli state, but rather a territorial dispute between the parties over Israel’s future borders. In fact, it is the Palestinian Authority that has legal jurisdiction over the Palestinians in these disputed territories, not Israel.

The Israel delegitimisers are fond of using highly potent words and adjectives to smear Israel: apartheid, nazi, racist, war criminals, organ thieves. As Gold so eloquently states:

WHAT underlies the Israel Apartheid Week campaign is not international law, but rather a highly politicized interpretation of Israel’s history in which the Jewish people are viewed as a colonialist movement that recently came from Europe to usurp lands from the indigenous Palestinian population, rather than the authentic claimants to sovereignty in their historical homeland.

In other words truth and human rights of Israelis go out the window to be replaced by assertion, lies, bad history, incitement and the teaching of hatred. Add to this the attempt within many parts of the Arab world to deny any Jewish historical claim whatever to the land and you arrive at a conspiracy to delegitimise the state by any means even if that involves smear and lies.

What is especially galling is that those who accuse Israel are often mired in racism and bigotry and their own forms of apartheid. By law, in the Palestinian Authority, if you sell land to a Jew you face the death penalty. In Saudi Arabia non-muslims cannot even become full citizens. In Jordan, Jews cannot become citizens.

In Israel, Arabs enjoy in law full citizenship rights and enfranchisement. There are many mixed schools. Jews lie in hospital beds next to Arabs and are treated by doctors and nurses who are themselves Jews and Arabs.

So for Israel Apartheid Week read – Israel delegitimisation Week.

Problem is that the mud sticks and that is what the activists rely on. They are prepared to believe their own lies and then feed them to others as the truth. I recall another group of people doing that to the Jews a while back. Now what were they called…?

Biden and Bibi love-in scuppered by Israeli incompetence

Oh dear, oh dear. Oy va avoy!

Here is that nice vice-President Joe Biden arriving in Israel to try to get the annual peace talk talks about peace talk talks going again and what happens? His best pals embarrass him and themselves because Israeli politics seems incapable, sometimes, of understanding what ‘joined-up’ means.

You should probably know that since President Obama decided that the way to overcome six decades of Palestinian rejectionism was to get tough with Israel, his target for this toughness has been ‘settlements’. Stop! he says, it’s the settlements that are the reason why Palestinians won’t talk or talk about talks. Even though a settlement freeze was not a prerequisite of the many previous attempts to establish a Palestinian state (because, let’s face it, that’s what it’s really about), suddenly, with this brilliant insight, this veritable epiphany, Mr Obama gave the Palestinians, and the world’s press (including some in Israel) an excuse a) to reject and b) beat Israel over the head.

Along comes Bibi and what does he do? A 10 month moratorium on further settlement construction EXCEPT (and this is a big ‘except’) in Jerusalem (East that is as no-one cares about West). This doesn’t stop the Israelis from finding some excuses, legal or otherwise, of doing some further construction in existing ‘settlements’.

This moratorium was clearly designed as a sop to the Americans, a supplication to show good faith. It was of course (and understandably) pooh-poohed by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian President.

After much background negotiating the Palestinians at last agreed to ‘indirect’ peace talks. This means they won’t sit with the Israelis but act through an (American) intermediary. Abbas somewhat negatively said that he doubted the talks would achieve anything and should be limited to four months. I won’t discuss at this time the reasons why I don’t think Abbas wants  a deal but at least he is giving the impression that he will talk to someone who will act as a carrier-pigeon to the Israelis who will then indulge in something that is called ‘shuttle diplomacy’ which has been put forward as an Olympic sport for 2016.

So what happens when Joe Biden arrives to meet his old friend Bibi? Here’s a flavour of the shmooze that went on (get the bucket ready now):

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Vice President Biden, Joe, welcome to Israel and welcome to Jerusalem.  We’ve been personal friends for almost three decades.  Can you believe it’s been that long?

Vice President Biden: No, you’re getting older, Bibi.  I don’t know…

It get’s worse, stay with me.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: And you remain younger all the time.  And in all that time you’ve been a real friend to me and a real friend to Israel and to the Jewish people and you’ve come to Israel many times since you first came here on the eve of the Yom Kippur War.  But now you’re coming as the Vice President of the United States of America and this is deeply appreciated and for me deeply moving.
….

A tad patronizing, maybe?

I also appreciate the Administration’s effort to advance peace in the region.  I know that this has been difficult and has required a great deal of patience, but I’m pleased that these efforts are beginning to bear fruit and we have to be persistent and purposeful in making sure that we get to those direct negotiations that will enable us to resolve this conflict.

I look forward to working with President Obama, and with you and your entire Administration to forge an historic peace agreement in which the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel is recognized by our Palestinian neighbors and in which Israel’s security is guaranteed for generations to come.

….

I think we heard this before – Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush….

Vice President Biden: Thank you very much.  Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a pleasure to be back.  It’s been too long between visits here and it is true that you and I have been friends a long, long time and a matter of fact, when each of us were in the minority, occasionally I’d get a phone call at home and I’d call you as well to get a sense of what’s going on.  Our friendship is real, but what’s even deeper is the relationship between the United States and Israel.

….  The relationship between Israel and the United States has been and will continue to be a centerpiece – a centerpiece of American policy and it’s been that way since Israel’s founding in 1948.

….  Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there’s simply no space between the United States and Israel.  There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security

….

Well I’m glad he qualified the ‘no space’ thing because there’s plenty of space from where I’m standing.

President Obama and I strongly believe that the best long-term guarantee for Israel’s security is a comprehensive Middle East peace with the Palestinians, with the Syrians, with Lebanon, and leading eventually to full and normalized relationships with the entire Arab world.  It’s overwhelming in the interest of Israel, but it’s also overwhelming interest to the Arab world and it’s in our interest as well.

This is what my younger son calls ‘stating the bleedin’ obvious’.

And so Mr. Prime Minister, toward that end, I’m very pleased that you and the Palestinian leadership have agreed to launch indirect talks.

This is called ‘bigging up’ in today’s parlance.

We hope that these talks will lead and they must lead eventually to negotiations and direct discussions between the parties.

Well, ‘hope’ is one of Obama’s key words and a word that almost defines Israel.

The goal is obviously to resolve the final status issues to achieve a two-state solution with Israel and a Palestine living side by side in peace and security.

Something which Bibi is not convincingly signed up to, the two-state solution, that is. Palestinians believe in a one-state solution – Palestine. To think otherwise is dangerous but Israel and the US and the world like to pretend that Abbas and co. are not like Hamas; they want a two-state solution. Yes, but only as a first step to a one-state solution.

An historic peace is going to require both parties to make some historically bold commitments.

This means Israel will have to make all the concessions and the Palestinians will reject them as not going far enough. This will be after months of tough negotiations with everyone getting very excited about a ‘peace deal’ only to end in rejection and probably more violence and Israel blamed for not agreeing to destroy itself. Been there before I believe.

You have done it before and I’m confident for real peace you would do it again.

See what I mean?

Over the last year, Mr. Prime Minister, you have taken significant steps, including the moratorium that has limited new settlement construction activity and you have significantly increased freedom of movement across the West Bank.

O-oh, he mentioned settlements – this was before the Israelis kicked him up the backside and then thumbed their nose at him.

You still got that bucket ready? Well here goes.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: I will say that agreements are dependent on the arrangements not on paper, but on the ground.  Here’s a piece of paper that reflects an arrangement on the ground.  We have planted a circle of trees in Jerusalem in memory of your mother; Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden because you have said many times that she was a source of immeasurable strength which I recognize in you, Joe.  We planted a tree to serve as a tribute, a circle of trees next to the leaders of the nations.  We have a forest of the leaders of the nations and right next to it are the trees that we have planted in memory of your mother as a tribute to her immeasurable strength and I want to offer it to you on your visit to Israel.

Vice President Biden: Well, thank you very much.  If you don’t mind my saying Mr. Prime Minister, my love for your country was watered by this Irish lady who was proudest of me when I was working with and for the security of Israel, so it’s a great honor.  Thank you very much.

(full text here)

And immediately after this the Jerusalem authorities announced the approval of 1600 new homes in East Jerusalem. This led to an unprecedented condemnation from Biden

The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel.

- he could hardly do otherwise – and the Palestinians latching on to the opportunity to threaten withdrawal from the indirect talks – maybe they’ll agree to indirect talks about indirect talks? After all, it was they who wouldn’t speak directly.

After all that schmaltz, to have it pushed in your face is unpalatable even for a philo-Israeli like Biden.

The actual truth about the approvals for more building is that a) Israel has never seen East Jerusalem as a settlement and there is no moratorium in place there b) This was a stage in a long process of approval quite separate from State politics c) Even approved, building may not start for years.

However, the timing was unforgivable and even though Bibi told Biden that he did not know, there is something rotten in this State when a municipality can cause such a diplomatic embarrassment at such an important time. Furthermore, it serves to confirm all the prejudices of those determined to undermine Israel and gives further fuel to its enemies.

When will they ever learn.