How many times did Ed Miliband declare something like: ‘I have to be honest’ or ‘I’ll be honest with you’?
Was he trying to impress us with his new whiter than white political culture?
Not one word a politician says, especially in a keynote speech as newly-elected Labour Party leader, is not carefully prepared and coded.
He is honest Ed, Britain’s new John Kennedy.
I remember Jack Kennedy; Ed Miliband is no Jack Kennedy.
Did you hear the Kennedy-like:
‘Let the message go out, a new generation has taken charge of Labour’
Compare to the infinitely more elgant and eloquent:
‘Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation’
Having told us about his Jewish refugee parents and his first generation immigrant credentials, he then went on to slag off Israel, as they say in these parts.
A passing reference to the fight against terrorism, and then the gratuitous and left-pleasing attack on Israel’s maritime blockade and its ‘attack’ on the Mavi Marmara.
No mention of Hamas.
No mention of Israel’s security.
No mention of the orchestrated international delegitimisation and demonisation of Israel.
No mention of the Palestinians refusal to recognise Israel as the state of the Jewish people.
No mention of Iran.
Indeed, no mention of any other conflict in the world where thousands, if not millions have died. Only Israel get’s the Miliband as-a-Jew treatment.
‘Look’, he says, ‘I’ve told you my family fled persecution in Nazi Europe to find a haven in Britain. I told you that I am grateful to Britain for accepting Jews’.
Now that gives him the right to tell you that Israel, the country abandoned by the very Britain he is lauding, the country that tried to prevent Jews from entering Palestine as they fled from the same Nazis that his parents fled from, must abandon its own defence to satisfy his and his party’s and, it appears, the other main parties’ distorted vision of the Middle East and, no doubt, keep a few Arab states ‘onside’.
Like Cameron and Clegg he just wants, or feels it is politically advisable to say he wants Israel to end the blockade and allow Hamas, et alia, to rain their missiles and send in their suicide bombers.
Britain’s political class has abandoned all reason and logic when it comes to Israel. In that, they are like much of the rest of the world. They can’t force the Palestinians to make peace so they have to pressurise and demonise the Israelis to make suicidal concessions in return for what? Sweet FA.
And to really underline Ed’s shift to the Left, he endorsed none other than Ken Livingstone as the next Mayor of London. I don’t think I have to spell out Ken Livingstone’s anti-Israel credentials or his love of sheikhs who endorse suicide bombings.
So if Israel is looking for true friends in the UK political classes, Ed has declared himself yet another of the self-righteous who, when it comes to Israel, abandon truth for politicking. Another of the purblind who will spout ad nauseam how they support Israel’s right to exist and then demonstrate that they have no idea what that means or entails.
Oh, for a real Jack Kennedy.
It’s at times like this that you realise that Tony Blair, warts and all, was head and shoulders above the lot we have now.
The Israel bashers ubiquitously in the media and around the world keep telling us it is all Israel’s fault, they don’t want peace, the Palestinian Authority recognised Israel years ago, Israel this and Israel that.
“I wanted that at the very least it will note two states for two peoples. I demanded to know what they meant. One Palestinian state and one bi-national state, or another Palestinian state?,” he told Ynet.“I made it clear that we were out of the picture if the summary didn’t say two states for two peoples.
…further ease Palestinian movement in the West Bank, to which Ayalon replied: “We shall not gamble away Israel’s security and future. Everything depends on the security situation and a political solution based on consent.”
If those who organise humanitarian aid to Gaza via flotillas and other blockade-breaking adventures really are about the plight of the Palestinians, I have some news for them about Arabs and even other Palestinians persecuting their own.
True humanitarians would not ignore the behaviour of Lebanon, Jordan and Libya whilst highlighting the actions of Israel.
(H/T to Elder of Ziyon for all these stories)
The first story is about Libya.
Libya has implemented a program of taxing all of its Palestinian Arab residents.According to Al Jazeera (Arabic), Palestinian Arabs in Libya are now forced to pay an annual fee of up to $1550, and they have to endure a host of new humiliations as well.
PalArabs have been banned from working in various jobs, including education. Relatives cannot visit them. Those who own cars are being taxed for more money than their monthly salaries. Travel documents are expiring and not being renewed, yet the Arab League does not allow Palestinian Arabs from obtaining passports from the countries they have lived in all their lives.
Residents note bitterly that all this is happening while Libya made a big show of sending a ship of aid to Gaza.All of this is in contradiction with Libyan Law #10 of 1998 which was supposed to grant somewhat equal rights to Palestinian Arabs in that country.
This is from a country which egregiously sits on the UN Human Rights Council.
Next in the hall of infamy is Lebanon:
According to the Elder there are “well over 100,000 Gazans in Jordan with limited rights – and no easy way to get out”.
Yes, Gazans. Gazans in a Jordanian open-air prison, Mr Cameron.
The Elder then quotes an Arab researcher called Oroub El Abed who has been documenting the plight of Palestinians:
Gazans in Jordan are doubly displaced refugees. Forced to move to Gaza as a result of the 1948 war, they fled once more when Israel occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967. Guesstimates of the number of Gazans in Jordan range between 118,000 and 150,000. A small number have entered the Jordanian citizenship scheme via naturalisation or have had the financial resources to acquire citizenship.
On arrival in Jordan, the ex-residents of Gaza were granted temporary Jordanian passports valid for two years but were not granted citizenship rights. The so-called ‘passport’ serves two purposes: it indicates to the Jordanian authorities that the Gazans and their dependents are temporary residents in Jordan and provides them with an international travel document (‘laissez-passer’) potentially enabling access to countries other than Jordan.
The ‘passport’ – which is expensive – has value as an international travel document only if receiving states permit the entry of temporary passport holders. Few countries admit them, because they have no official proof of citizenship. Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and some Gulf States are among those who refuse to honour the document. Any delay in renewing the temporary passport or in applying for one puts an individual at risk of becoming undocumented.
Since 1986 it has been harder for Gazans to compete for places in Jordanian universities as they must secure places within the 5% quota reserved for Arab foreigners. Entry to professions is blocked as Gazans are not allowed to register with professional societies/unions or to establish their own offices, firms or clinics. Only those with security clearance can gain private sector employment. Those who work in the informal sector are vulnerable to being exploited. Many Gazans are keen to leave Jordan to seek employment elsewhere but are constrained from doing so. Some have attempted to leave clandestinely.
Rami was brought up in Jordan, studied law and worked for over two years for a law firm in the West Bank city of Hebron. Lacking a West Bank Israeli-issued ID, he was forced to return to Jordan every three months to renew his visitor’s visa. Due to the high cost of living he returned to Jordan in 1999 only to find himself stripped of his Jordanian temporary passport. Now without any form of identity, he notes that “being Gazan in Jordan is like being guilty.”
In Jordan, as in most other Middle-Eastern countries, women cannot pass on their citizenship to their children. Neither is citizenship granted to a child born on the territory of a state from a foreign father. Married women are forced to depend on their fathers or husbands to process documents related to their children. Because of this patriarchal conception of citizenship, children of Jordanian women married to Gazans are at risk of being left without a legal existence.
Heba, a Jordanian national, married Ahmad, a Gazan with an Egyptian travel document. A year after their marriage, Ahmad was arrested for being in Jordan without a residence permit. Deported from Jordan, he was refused re-entry to Egypt and ended up in Sudan. Heba had a child but has been unable to register the birth due to the absence of her husband. She cannot afford to go to Sudan to be with him.
(emphasis by the Elder)
But there is more on Lebanon:
Hot on the heels of the slight easing of restrictions on professions that Arabs of Palestinian descent in Lebanon can practice, the Lebanese Forces (which are mostly Christian) are trying to ensure that PalArabs cannot live in Lebanese-owned homes:
The Lebanese Forces urged the government on Saturday to find a solution to Palestinian occupants of homes owned by Lebanese in villages east of the southern port city of Sidon.
While hailing parliament’s decision to grant Palestinians working rights, an LF statement said “the Lebanese government is urged to find a quick solution to the issue which has become an unacceptable burden.”
It said homes in Miyeh Miyeh, Darb al-Sim and other areas are occupied by Palestinians.
The government should adopt an effective solution to find alternative housing to them, the LF said.
The bigotry in Lebanon against Palestinian Arabs is so entrenched that it is not newsworthy. This isn’t about the PalArabs owning land – this is saying that they cannot even live outside camps, even if they are (apparently) paying for it!
Depending upon whose estimate you read, there are some twenty or thirty thousand “refugees” in the Balata refugee camp outside of Nablus. Balata is simultaneously the most populous and smallest of the Palestinian refugee camps — its growing population is confined to one square kilometer, making it one of the most densely populated and miserable places on the planet.
Any regime with an ounce of compassion would have shut Balata down and integrated its people into the surrounding community. Balata is a place without hope, a quagmire of despair, where the day-to-day misery of its inhabitants is partially ameliorated by Western charities and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), while inadvertently building a culture of dependence.
Balata’s creation could ostensibly be laid at Israel’s doorstep, but its perpetuation cannot. The current residents of Balata are only refugees by a crude reworking of the meaning of the term. They themselves have fled from nothing, and sought refuge from nothing. They are the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of the people who fled or were expelled during the 1948 war.
If you want to use the term “apartheid” to characterize some aspect of Middle East politics, then Balata is a good place to apply it. It is the Palestinian Authority’s answer to Soweto.
The PA does not permit the children of Balata to go to local schools. It does not permit the people of Balata to build outside the one square kilometer. The people of Balata are prevented from voting in local elections, and the PA provides none of the funds for the necessary infrastructure of the camp — including sewers and roads.
Balata and the other refugee camps are showcases of contrived misery. They are Potemkin villages in reverse. Naïve peace activists and unsophisticated Western clergy are led through such camps to witness the refugee drama, with Israel conveniently and prominently cast in the role of villain.
Yet we always hear the media and Palestinian huggers everywhere banging on about Israeli apartheid.
And let’s not forget the Egyptians who, of course, are the forgotten jailers of the Gazans, after all, if you are complaining about freedom of movement of Gazans, then why don’t the Egyptians open the Rafah crossing for them?
Oroub El Abed writes that ‘Some 50,000 Palestinian refugees live in Egypt without UN assistance or protection and burdened by many restrictive laws and regulations. Little is known about their plight and their unique status’.
El Abed believes in the mythical Right of Return but she pulls no punches about how Palestinians are treated by fellow Arabs.
The continuing plight of the Palestinians is not all down to history or the Israelis; the Arabs and the Palestinians themselves bear huge responsibility for perpetuating refugee-hood as a weapon against Israeli in total disregard of the lives and livelihood of millions of Palestinians.
And when the UN agency set up specifically and uniquely to deal with Palestinian ‘refugees’ tries to improve their lives in Gaza, they have to face Hamas’ interpretation of Islam which condemns the very people that are there to help them. The Elder lists complaints in the Palestine Times, a Hamas-run newspaper:
- The creation of a UNRWA Women’s Committee meant to foster equal rights between men and women is really meant to end chastity and purity.
- UNRWA sometimes sponsors trips for students where they are in danger of meeting Jews and Zionists.
- UNRWA schools were rumored to have taught about the Holocaust which teaches students to sympathize with Jews
- Some schools have more females than males, causing them to have more female teachers than male teachers
- UNRWA salaries are too high
- UNRWA’s services have decreased as their budget gets stretched.
And it is into the arms of these people that the flotillas and convoys are running. They don’t even seem to have their story right. Are they going to bring humanitarian aid (which they can take to an Israeli port without confrontation) or are they just intent on confrontation and provocation?
Their real motivation is to destroy Israel first, help Gazans a poor second. Indeed, each flotilla and convoy is an exercise in hypocrisy and exploitation of the very people they claim to want to help.
This may be off my usual topic, but there is a connection; bear with me.
Yesterday I watched a wonderful and deeply moving programme in the BBC’s Battle of Britain commemoration series.
We were told the story of that battle, in September 1940, by following two brothers, the actor Ewan McGregor and his older brother, Colin, who is an RAF pilot and has served in Afghanistan.
The story was as much about the boyish dreams of the McGregor brothers to, one day, fly in Spitfires and Hurricanes as it was about the battle and the story of some of the veterans of that battle.
Four Battle of Britain fighter pilots told their story and recalled incidents in conversation with the brothers.
The highlight of the programme was watching Colin McGregor train first in an old Gypsy Moth, then progress to a US Harvard which was the aircraft used to train the original pilots. Finally, Colin flew a two-seater Spit, fulfilling his life’s ambition. When he returned to the airfield he sat in the cockpit for a few moments in the realisation that he had just done something he had always dreamed about. It was a very emotional moment for him and the viewer.
But just as emotional was Colin’s decision not to take his seat in the second flight which was two Spitfires and a Hurricane in close formation following the route of the South Coast defenders of 70 years ago. He had had his moment, now it was Ewan’s turn. The sense of brotherly love was palpable and so moving as Colin told Ewan that he was giving him his seat.
Ewan, as a passenger in the two-seat Spit, then had his dream come true. Colin appeared to get as much pleasure from Ewan’s experience as Ewan himself. Their brotherly embrace as Ewan returned was very touching.
Why is it that these iconic aircraft and the story of the veterans are so moving? Why do we, rightly, venerate these pilots who, in their early twenties, risked all for their country?
I grew up in the decades just after the war. The War, with a capital ‘W’ was part of my life almost as much as if I had lived through it personally. My mother regaled us with her experiences in the East End of London and the family’s enforced evacuation to Buckinghamshire when their home was hit by incendiaries and ‘time-bombs’.
The War seemed so exciting and even amusing to me as a child.
Countless films about the war told us that we, the righteous, had won and that evil had been defeated with great sacrifice. It was glamorous, it was poignant. But in the end it was a just war.
And so these veterans are our heroes; they saved our country and our civilisation from tyranny. Even the generation after me, in the form of the McGregor brothers, still grew up with this story, and Ewan even said that had it not been for The Few we would all be goose-stepping around. Well, that’s not certain, but many more dark years and even more suffering would have resulted if Great Britain had not held out, alone.
And this, too, is why, the very sight of a Spitfire or a Hurricane, and definitely the sound of them, conjure up a time when our country was united in purpose, when the entire population was engaged in a single momentous enterprise: a fight for survival. In 1940, everyone knew what it was to be British and everyone knew that the values inherent in being British were worth fighting for.
I think it’s worthwhile revisiting Churchill’s speech as the battle was about to commence:
What General Weygand has called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.
Does this not strike a chord with what we are experiencing today?
Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation.
Some believe our Western civilisation is under thread from Islamisation, some believe it is under threat from secularism. I don’t have to explain the reasons for the former. But for the latter we have the recent visit of Pope Benedict to reveal to us a growing movement of aggressive secularism and atheism.
Of course, we all have the right to be atheists or secularists, but the Pope was attacked by a mean-spirited bunch of secularists and militant atheists led by Peter Tatchell and supported by Stephen Fry, Richard Dawkins and others.
I have enormous admiration for these three men, but what we witnessed was a new intellectual hubris fed by self-righteous indignation and assertive secularism which focused on the negative aspects of the Roman Catholic church whilst missing the wider picture.
Although I can agree with the indignation felt by those who support Gay rights, right to abortion and condemnation of paedophiles, what I can’t agree with is the belief that these issues invalidate Christianity and all the positive aspects of religion and moral teachings and hundreds of years of philosophical thought.
It is as if the secularists want to make a tabula rasa of our civilisation and culture by kicking out the Judeo-Christian baby with the holy bath water.
And this is where I bring it back round to Israel. Just as the Church has its problematical teachings and behaviour so Israel has its own issues of human rights, religious extremism, social justice.
And just as the secularist mob attack the Pope, so the Leftist/jihadi axis attacks Israel, and both choose the vulnerable underbelly to delegitimise and demonise but miss the broader picture; they miss the charitable work, the teaching of moral behaviour, the ideas of love and redemption in Catholicism and they miss Israel’s central role as a bulwark against the dark forces of political Islam, its many achievements, the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and the ethical foundation to Jewish thought, teaching and jurisprudence.
What do today’s generation think of the Battle of Britain and the heroes of the RAF? Do they think they were war criminals for bombing Dresden, maybe?
Will Ewan McGregor’s generation be the last to be in awe in the presence of a Spitfire pilot, the last to be thrilled by the sound of a Hurricane, the last to believe that the War was a just war?
What war, if any, are we now engaged in? Is it Western civilisation pitted against Islam or is it Judeo-Christianity against secularism and atheism? Is it both?
I ask myself this question: if we reject the moral authority underpinning our Judeo-Christian civilisation, whence comes our moral compass? Where do get our ethics? How do we know how to behave?
You may say that this question has already been answered by the Enlightenment, by the Bill of Rights, by Human Rights legislation, that church and state have long been separated and we don’t need medievalists to tell us what is moral and what is not.
Yet all these things come ultimately from the Judeo-Christian belief system which are the foundations and cornerstone of our civilisation and in direct contrast to the beliefs of those who would destroy that civilisation, built piece by piece, brick by brick, stone by stone over several millennia.
We seem to be living in an era of self-righteousness and simulated moral indignation. Everyone has to apologise; politicians, theologians, bankers, sportsmen, doctors, scientists, the heads of oil companies. Put a foot wrong and the New Moral Army sticks a microphone under your nose and asks if you are going to apologise and they continue to do so until and unless you do. This is what replaces understanding and forgiveness. This is what will pass for morality in the future.
Hubristic intellectual self-righteousness is the new religion.
Who will stand up for our civilisation now? Who are the Few who will stop ”all that we have known and cared for, … sink[ing] into the abyss of a new dark age”
Did the valiant Few fight and die to preserve our civilisation for just 100 years?
I have previously written about the remarkable former Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar and his Friends of Israel initiative.
If Israel is to restore its standing internationally, defeat attempts to delegitimise the state and restore a reasoned and measured discourse about its policies and its importance to the region and the world, then it requires non-Israelis and, more importantly, non-Jews, to speak up for it.
But not just to speak up for it, but to tell the truth and dispel the myths, to enable Israel to be recognised for what it truly is and what it stands for. This implies that its enemies, their lies and their tactics and organisations that they have co-opted in the anti-Israel narrative of these times, must be exposed. Israel must be allowed the oxygen of truth not be suffocated by the poisonous exhalations of its enemies.
Thank you all for being here tonight in this first event in DC by the Friends of Israel Initiative.
I know that some of you have made an extra effort to be here. Between the upcoming mid-term elections and the High Holy Days, many of us should probably be somewhere else tonight. So, I really appreciate the fact that you are here with us.
Though for a Spaniard having dinner at eight is almost like a late lunch, I know that you have to start early tomorrow, so, I’ll be brief.
I also know that when a politician says “I’ll be brief” the audience should start trembling, but as a former politician I’m entitled to tell the truth, trust me.
I’m here tonight to present to you a work in progress, the Friends of Israel Initiative. An idea I have been promoting with the help of some friends, some of them are here tonight, like:
Former President of Peru, Alejandro Toledo
British historian, Andrew Roberts,
French entrepreneur, Robert Agostinelli,
Former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton,
Spanish former industry minister, Carlos Bustelo,
And others who couldn’t make it tonight, such as:
Professor George Weigel,
Peace Nobel prize Lord Trimble,
Former president of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera,
Fiamma Nerestein, representative in the Italian parliament, and champion of human rights and democracy Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the latest member of our growing Board.
They all answered my initial call, last May, because all shared with me the sense of urgency to do something about the growing trend of deligitimation of Israel.
Our first meeting took place in Paris the very same day Israeli troops stopped the Flotilla heading to Gaza. Very timely, as you can tell.
Our second event took place in calmer waters, in late July, in London.
And now, we are here in Washington D.C.
Why? Very simple: We believe in the West, In the values all we share . In the ties that bind free societies, and distinguish our democracies from those governments who have yet to give way to the rights of their people and the arc of history.
And, we know – better than many – that the West has been shaped, led and defended by America.
As a European, I don’t have any problem saying that America has been a force for good in the World, protecting peace, promoting liberty and human dignity, and expanding prosperity. Furthermore, America has been the best ally of Israel, and it should remain so. And America’s role as the Leader of the Free World, as the the spark of hope for a better life for countless souls the world over should be a source of pride for all Americans.
It certainly serves as an inspiration to us.
Many of us came from Europe. Most of us are not Jewish. And I am sure that many of you may be wondering what it is that we seek, and why we believe it so vital to stand up and be counted on this issue.
Hence, our interest to explain here what we want and why.
We defend Israel because we believe that is the best strategy in current times to defend the West.
When we started putting this Initiative in motion, the whole World was condemning Israel for reasons I don’t need to elaborate since you know them better than I do.
Now, the atmosphere has changed a little since direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians have resumed and the peace process is moving ahead. Despite all the difficulties the negotiations may experience, I think we all should recognize the value, the prospects, and the hopes they represent. I am sure that Israel wants peace, and I know that all true friends of Israel want to see her achive that dream of peace and security.
But as we made clear in our first statement (which should have been on your chair tonight, by the way), there are problems in the region greater than just an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Problems that will not go away even if a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is eventually reached.
While Israel has made peace with Egypt and Jordan, and her economy has strengthened in recent years, now not decades ago, Israel, is facing increasing dangers. She has been forced to defend her people from Hezbollah in the North and thousands of Hamas rockets in the South. And. perhaps most worryingly, Israel is increasingly threatened by the scenario of a nuclear Iran – something the world must certainly act urgently to prevent.
On top of that, Israel is under a new kind of attack. Not conventional war as in 1948, 56, 67 or 73. Not terrorism as we saw in the 70s, 80s and 90s. But a new kind of attack – an attack on Israel’s legitimacy, on her right to exist. A “soft-war”, where many of its adversaries are employing legal tricks, multinational bodies, and an army of dubious NGO’s to present internationally Israel as an illegitimate state, as a barbarian State, a State that should be isolated and converted into a pariah State.
We think this is intolerable. It is unjust, morally wrong, and a strategic risk — not only for Israel and its people — but for all of us.
Israel is an integral part of the West, and the weaker it is, the weaker the entire West will be perceived to be.
Even if we want to turn away from the traumas of 9/11, we simply do not have the luxury to choose our enemies. As Senators Baker, Dole, Daschle and Mitchell made clear in their latest report, published 5 days ago. by the Bipartisan Policy Center, the threat to our way of life from radical islamists is real, and it has not yet been eliminated.
Let me be clear. We don’t want in any case to defend any particular Israeli government or any particular set of policies or any particular party. Israeli institutions are mature enough to defend their choices. We want to stand up for the right of Israel to exist. Judeo-Christian values form the roots of our civilization. Delegitimizing Israel undermines our identity, warps our values and put at risk what we are and who we are.
So, dear friends, it is not only the threat that if Israel goes down, which, make no mistake, many of its enemies would like to see happen, we all go down. It is that letting Israel be demonized will lead to the deligitimation of our own cherished values. If Israel were to disappear by the force of its enemies, I sincerely doubt the West could remain as we know it.
So, I conclude: Is it craziness for a group, as I said before, of mostly Europeans and non-Jews, to say: Enough. Stop this non-sense of making Israel responsible for all the problems in the region, if not beyond? Enough of the short sightedness which refuses to see Israel as a corner stone of our Western civilization?
We do believe that far from it, it is vital. For America, for the West, for Israel. And for our children and grandchildren and the world they will inherit. Because there is still right and wrong in this complicated world. And if we allow those fundamentals to be blurred and eroded and confused, we will all be dangerously adrift.
Defending Israel today means strengthening the West, standing up for our values, and their right to exist as a normal country, a fellow democracy and a celebrated ally in our great western alliance.
I hope that you will share our vision, and will help us in bringing reason and decency back to the discussion concerning Israel.
Thank you very much
With friends like this, maybe, just maybe, enough people of good will and integrity can be brought together to fight with and on behalf of Israel, not on the battlefield but in the hearts and minds of decent people everywhere.
For many months a group of protestors have encamped outside the Ahava shop in Covent garden in central London. They have broken in to this shop and stage a sit in, hung banners in the window and continue to make life for the shop, its customers and the neighbouring establishments as difficult as possible.
At the same time a counter-protest operates in close proximity.
The reason for this relentless protest is that Ahava sells cosmetics made from Dead Sea minerals. The protestors’ beef is that the Ahava operation is based in illegal occupied Palestine and the products are a symbol and rallying point for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions brigade.
The aforementioned Richard Millett and Daphe Anson have blogged about this in the past and it is a special subject for Richard Millett and I urge you to look at his many posts on his blog at richardmillett.wordpress.com (where the name-calling and tongue-poking continues).
Zionist Federation vice-chairman Jonathan Hoffmann is also prominent in leading the counter-demo.
The two groups are penned into areas where they do not interfere directly with passers-by. The London taxpayers have to foot the Police bill to keep the peace between the two groups. They wave flags and slogans and banners, shout abuse and counter-abuse but there is never, as far as I know, any physical violence.
It’s a very intimidating and unpleasant atmosphere. The demonstrators regularly choose the Jewish Sabbath to minimise any counter-demo, but this is not a successful tactic.
The demonstrators know full well that the Jewish New Year is a time when even non-observant Jews will be attending synagogue and will respect the sanctity of the day.
So it must have been quite an unpleasant surprise to them when, as you can see on Richard Millet’s blog, a group of a dozen Israeli tourists turned up and staged their own Israeli-style defiance.
This defiance was not a slanging match. They insulted no-one. What did they do?
Of what did they sing?
Joy and life.
What was their message?
Just watch. Note the difference between the sour-faced haters who support the likes of Hamas and its death cult, and the joy, exuberance, humour and life-affirming singing and pride in their country exhibited by the Israelis.
The ‘activists’ had no answer except sarcasm, more slogans and even sourer faces.
Whatever your views on Israeli policy in the West Bank/Judea-Samaria, this incident, for me, was uplifting.
Because it confirmed to me the true spirit of Israelis and the Jewish people. It showed that most Israelis want peace, co-existence and life; their enemies want war, destruction and death.
So it has been for decades and so it will continue until one day the Palestinians and their supporters can find a song and a little dance, a smile and a hand of reconciliation.
Ahava means ‘love’ in Hebrew.
Shalom means ‘peace’.
In the spirit of the 1960′s, ‘peace and love’ to Israel. Peace and love to Palestinians and the entire region. Shalom v’ahava.
Over Rosh Hashanah Jews asked to be inscribed in the Book of Life; our enemies embrace the narrative of death.
Disturbing and uplifting at the same time, the videos tell in microcosm so eloquently the story of Israel and the conflict. Two little populations hemmed in by barriers, both physical and mental, gesturing across the divide. One side worn down by hatred, the other invigorated by its own vitality, exuberance and life-embracing spirit.
Thanks to Richard for posting. Whenever I feel disheartened this year, I’ll play them again.
Am Yisrael Chai.
PS support the buycott. Buy Ahava products, they are superb.
PPS Image taken from one of Richard’s videos. I’m sure he won’t mind.
So, in the spirit of the New Year, let us hope beyond hope that the first faltering steps to a real peace can be made.
But what sort of peace can there be whilst Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran and ‘anti-Israelis’ all over the world seek her destruction.
Israel has shown its desire for peace over and over again. They gave back the Sinai to make peace with Egypt. They made peace with Jordan. They withdrew all settlements from Gaza.
What have they received in return? Intifada and rockets and bombs and threats, delegitimisation and boycotts.
As José María Aznar said to the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem recently:
Though I’m not sure about the possibility to achieve a “historic agreement” given the circumstances on the Palestinian side, we must be optimistic. At least the world will see that it is not the Israeli government that is the one that is not willing to talk and is not ready to deliver.
And what are the “circumstances on the Palestinian side”? They are still the refusal to recognise Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, they are its continuing demonisation of, not just Israel, but Jews; they are insistence and a ‘Right of Return’ which neither exists or is practicable; the demand for a return to the 1949 armistice lines and the division of Jerusalem.
In other words, whilst Palestinians still dream of the end of the Jewish state, if not now or next year, at some point in the future, Israelis are willing to make painful concessions to achieve a lasting peace. Or at least to achieve two states recognising the rights of others to self-determination.
It is difficult to see any such agreement when Hamas see any deal with Israel as treason, whilst Hizbullah and Iran still call for Israel’s destruction and Fatah itself remains ambiguous despite its protestations.
We can only hope or pray or work for peace and truth and justice for everyone in the region. An Israel at peace could give so much to the region if only they were willing to accept it. If Israel’s enemies would embrace peace and not war, life not death, the world could be transformed.
In the words of Binyamin Netanyahu “Shalom, salaam, peace”.