Daesh, Hamas, Fatah… if not Hezbollah… What do they have in common? They are all fascists

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and it was the UK parliamentarian Hilary Benn who in December 2015 at last spelt out the moral responsibility to combat fascism in the Middle East. Benn referred to homosexuals being thrown from buildings, the destruction of cultural heritage, mass graves, sex slavery, and murder. He described how our values, tolerance, decency and democracy were held in contempt. Daesh*, he said, are fascists, and fascists must be fought.

While his words gave us focus on Daesh they can equally help us focus on the fascism of the Palestinian leaderships, militant groups, and among large swathes of the general population of the various Palestines (i.e. Hamas-Gaza-Palestine; Fatah-West-Bank-Palestine; and, King-Abdullah-Jordan-Palestine). Indeed, in throwing homosexuals from buildings, Daesh was copying the actions of Hamas in Gaza when they dispatched large numbers of opponents from tall buildings in the entity in the first few days after its election victory there.

The modern State of Israel has been fighting the fascism of Palestinian leaderships for decade after decade.

Fascism lives among elites and among the general population. Their fascism is destructive, and lives in the media, in mosques and in religious study-centres (madrassas). It creates a narrative that refers to the Shoah (the Holocaust) and to how 6,000,000 dead is an exaggeration if not a hoax (the gist of the doctoral thesis written by Mahmoud Abbas in Russia during the Soviet era).

The figure of Adolf Hitler figures large in the modern Palestinian narrative. They boast that they are sorry that Hitler didn’t finish his task, and how they will. All of this is woven into a distorted Palestinian world view and pseudo-historical narrative. In this revised narrative, Jewish presence never existed in the region.

Admiring references to Hitler’s Third Reich can be found in Muslim media, book-shops, and the internet right across the Arab world. Indeed, that Hitler found a key ally in the Holy Land is a historical truth. This ally was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Amin al-Husseini – the man spotlighted by Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year.

The Grand Mufti had been glorified by the German press as ‘the fuhrer of the Middle East’ when he visited Berlin in 1941. Al-Husseini organised a Muslim SS Battalion that slaughtered 90% of Bosnia’s Jews and made broadcasts to the Middle East urging Muslims to honour Allah by implementing their own Final Solution. Yasser Arafat, the founder of the PLO (you know… the great Palestinian… born in Egypt), was the Grand Mufti’s nephew and admirer.

The leaderships of the various ‘Palestines’ of Gaza and the West Bank are locked into a struggle for control over their peoples, and while they agree on very little they each fly the fascist flag, so to speak. As described above, the President in the Fatah-West-Bank-Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, completed his doctoral dissertation in Russia (at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences) and published it in 1984 under the title, ‘The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism’. He claimed that 6,000,000 Jewish deaths at the hands of the Nazis is ‘a gross exaggeration’.

Then there is Hamas…  Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, who modelled his organisation on Mussolini’s bully-boys and Hitler’s brown-shirts. The Hamas founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, an admirer of Hitler, was also inspired by Izz al-Din al-Kassam whose followers killed Jews during the 1936-1939 Uprising – during the British period – and then joined the Grand Mufti in providing the Nazi-Germans with Middle Eastern operatives during World War II. Some of today’s militants in Gaza name their rocketry after al-Kassam – the Kassam or Qassam missiles.

Indeed, the Hamas founding charter (1988) relies heavily on the distortions and untruths of the proven hoax called the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. It is a charter that could have been written by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and any number of Austrian, Polish or Russian anti-Semites.

Unfortunately, there is never any real analysis of Palestinian society or its fascist ideologies, or any profiles of armed fascist Palestinian groups, or investigations into the Palestinian government (Mahmoud Abbas is still President in West-Bank-Palestine 6-years after the end of his term, 2005-2009… and since the Hamas election victory in Gaza in 2006 there has been no other election victory celebration there).

One person who has offered analysis of the Hamas leadership in Gaza is Suha Arafat. Last November (2014), on the tenth anniversary of her husband’s death, she expressed dismay at Hamas, and how the terror group had attacked Fatah leaders and buildings after its takeover of the Gaza Strip. Further, she said that Hamas was ruining the futures of Gaza youth, and committing ‘genocide’ upon its own people. The Hamas-generation has grown up with violence, without education, and with emigration as their only hope.

Other analysis has come from Bassem Eid, the founder and former director of the Jerusalem-based Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group (PHRMG). Eid is an advocate for peace with Israel, and a critic of terrorism and is part of the ‘Stop the Boycott’ movement.

Eid also reminds us of the statistics of the suffering brought upon Gaza-Palestine by Hamas and other terror groups and their affiliated Rocket Brigades: how some 5 million tons of rubble remains in Gaza; how 200,000 workers have lost their means of employment; how 80% of the Gazan people are surviving on welfare; how 40% of Gazans are living below poverty lines; and, how 22,000 Gazans are homeless.

He reminds us too how none of this is Israel’s fault and how the responsibility for the fate of Gaza-Palestine lies with its government – Hamas… not Israel.

We should all be reminded that Daesh, Hamas, Fatah, if not Hezbollah too, all have something in common. They are all fascists. Israel knows this, we should too.

*Daesh…: An acronym for the Arabic phrase al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) or ISIS or ISIL. The word ‘Daesh’ is preferred by many because it is similar to the Arabic words ‘Daes’, ‘one who crushes something underfoot’ and ‘Dahes’, translated as ‘one who sows discord’.



Academic boycott – failure of BDS – loss of Palestinian jobs

The student newspaper of Edinburgh University (The Student, Tuesday 3 November 2015)  recently carried a report on the public pledge signed by UK academics to boycott Israeli universities. The piece offered reasonably balanced student and academic opinion about the matter, and included comment from both the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and the Union of Jewish Students (UJS).

The pledge of the UK academics doubtless brought enthusiastic applause across Edinburgh campuses, not least among local supporters of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC). However, let us get this all into perspective. Based on the number of academics and universities reported on, a mere 6-7 academics in each of the 72 universities appear to have actually signed the public pledge, according to the report. Since there are something like 109 university institutions across the UK, with 90-odd in England alone, and since the returns of the Higher Education Statistics Agency tell us that there were 194,245 UK academic staff in 2013-2014, the level of response must surely be read as a dismal failure of the much-lauded ‘latest salvo in the broader Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign’.

It is always possible that the intentions of those 400 out of 190,000 or so academics are positive ones and completely devoid of bigotry, and simply the expression of a desire to ‘help’ Palestinians against particular Israeli policy, perceived policy, or set of Israeli behaviours. However, when there are no comparable boycott campaigns to exclude any other states based on this or that – when Israel is regarded almost as ‘the’ singular evil – then alarm bells ought to start ringing.

Why the focus on Israel? Why no criticism of Egypt for its demolition of houses in Gaza to make way for a barrier? Why is there not even a whimper, not a petition, not a protest, when Palestinians suffer in their thousands in Syria? Why no boycott of China (a country that ‘disappears’ dissenting Tibetans) or Russia for human rights abuses? Or of Myanmar for its treatment of the Rohingya community? Why no focus on the many states where freedom of the press and freedom of speech are lacking? Or of those where there is no functioning legal system? Why no focus on those countries where trade unions and political parties are illegal? Why no focus on countries where there is no democracy? Why no pressure on Palestinian leaderships to dump ‘rejectionism’ and become the actors in a conflict it is within their power to resolve?

Exclusive focus on Jewish Israel for boycott, will normalise Jews across the world as suitable targets for exclusion and punishment. If we can anthropomorphise things a bit, and look at Israel as a student playing in a playground of countries; if we then witnessed a teaching assistant look out the window to watch bullying students terrorising their classmates, and then yank inside for detention the Jewish kid trying to defend him or herself, then we’d want to start asking questions. We’d smell a vague whiff of bigotry.

The piece in The Student noted that the move by academics was ‘hailed by Palestinian rights groups’ and that their pledge ‘was lauded by Palestinian advocacy organisations’. Qatari-born Omar Barghouti, a founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) and founding member of the BDS movement, and who has attended Tel Aviv University (can anyone else see the irony of that one) will doubtless have hailed and lauded the academics. But, what about the Palestinian Government? Has it hailed and lauded the UK academic boycott? Isn’t it the case that the Palestinian Government is disparaging of the BDS movement, and doesn’t believe that it serves the interests of the Palestinian people?

Though skilled at offering one view to Arab audiences and another to non-Arabic-speaking audiences, even Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the boycotting of Israel. Indeed, Palestinian infrastructural decision-making also tells a story far from supportive of BDS. For example, the first buyer of natural gas from Israel’s largest gas field in the Mediterranean will be the Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC) which supplies power to Palestinian areas in the West Bank. PPGC will buy around $1.2-billion worth of gas over 20-years. The Israeli Leviathan Group will sell the PPGC as much as 4.75-billion cubic metres of gas when the Leviathan product begins to flow in 2016 or 2017. The Palestinian company aims to build a $300-million power plant in the West bank city of Jenin to produce electricity from the gas.

It would seem that local Palestinian economic policy is at odds with the shrill calls from distant Europe. Indeed, Professor Jonathan Rosenhead of the London School of Economics has made himself heard through the clamour. He tells The Student that if Israel continues with its policies ‘there are consequences’ and ‘Israel in the end will feel some of the disadvantages which Palestinians already have’. Really?

Isn’t it the case that BDS actions also have consequences, and add to Palestinian disadvantage? Didn’t the movement recently wreck Palestinian job opportunities? Didn’t the successful Israeli Sodastream business leave the West Bank for a new and larger plant at Rahat in the Negev Desert as a result of BDS activity? This action had the consequence of offering more jobs for Israelis and losing 500 Palestinians their employment in the West Bank. Sodastream had been paying them at Israeli wage levels, and had provided private health insurance. The producer of the Bagel-Bagel snack and a global producer of locks – Abloy – also left the West Bank for Israel proper once BDS got stuck in. More jobs for Israelis. Nice one BDS! Always doing something to help Palestine!

While BDS loses Palestinians their jobs, Jordanians are flocking to neighbouring Israel for employment (again, can anyone see the irony of that). This year, just like last year, some 1,500 Jordanian workers are being recruited in three groups of 500 to work in the busy Eilat hotel industry. Israeli Eilat lies adjacent to Jordanian Aqaba in the southern Negev at the top of the Gulf of Eilat, the same stretch of water that laps the beaches of Sharm El-Sheikh. Imagine what a peace treaty like the one between Israel and Jordan could do for Palestinians? Over to you Mr. Abbas.

As the BDS movement continues to show gross failure and incompetence, it is the 189,600 or so UK academics not signing the public pledge to boycott Israeli universities who will be seen to have stood on the right side of history.

BDS, Suha Arafat, and some Jewish history

Small deluded groups of leftist opinion formers in western countries (e.g. the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign) continue in their efforts to discredit Israel and to institute boycott, disinvestment and sanctions against the country. Meanwhile, Jordanian-born Suha Arafat (born in Jerusalem under the Jordanian administration, and widow of deceased Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who was born in Egypt) has instead stated that the time had come for the region’s Arabs to recognise the state of Israel, and that armed struggle to eliminate the Jewish state’s existence was no longer plausible.

Arafat has said that Arabs had to ‘clearly express […] recognition of Israel’. Further, she said that ‘no one can doubt its existence’. What she did not however say was whether or not she thought Israel had a RIGHT to exist… only that it DOES exist. The remarks had come on the tenth anniversary of her husband’s death last November 2014.

She had also expressed dismay at Hamas, and how the terror group had attacked Fatah leaders and buildings after its takeover of the Gaza Strip. Further, she said that Hamas was ruining the futures of Gaza youth, and committing ‘genocide’ upon its own people. The Hamas-generation has grown up with violence, without education, and with emigration as their only hope. She hoped that Hamas would finally understand that it should work towards peace.

While Arafat’s input was a milestone, Israeli officials speak about the need for Palestinians to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. Doing so would recognise the state’s long-term sovereignty and permanence.

Israelis have a number of reasons for demanding their country be recognised as their national homeland. For the Jews, Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews means the end of the conflict. They want to be sure that a Palestinian state bordering on Israel is the Palestinians’ final demand and that they accept the fact of Israel’s existence.

In some ways too the deluded European and North American BDS-ers also need to accept that fact of Israel’s existence, and to acknowledge that the State of Israel is simply not going to melt away. Boycotting Israel, whose agencies, institutions, universities, and laboratories have been responsible for so many Nobel Prizes and the creation of stunning advances for the good of us all, will not reduce Israeli academic nor military excellence. In boycotting Israel, the people likely to suffer most will be the thousands of Palestinian breadwinners who currently work in Israel’s factories and fields, both in Israel itself and in the West Bank.

The deluded also have to accept some historical facts, study a bit of Jewish history, and research with a great more depth the origin of the ‘Palestinians’ to whom they offer succour.

Firstly, in spite of the ancient Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman exiles endured by many Jews of the region, Jews have nevertheless had a continuous presence there for thousands of years (particularly in Jerusalem, Safed and Tiberias). Indeed, Jewish history and Jews themselves have a presence in the Holy Koran as well as in the Old and New Testaments.

Secondly, it was the Romans who first applied the name Palestine (Palestina) to the region around 70AD – around the time that they destroyed the Jewish Temple in the renamed Aelia Capitolina (Jerusalem) – but it was not at that time a home to the Arabs whose universe at this point was still the Arabian Peninsula. Neither was Palestine a name that the later Ottomans would adopt, as their own imperial system used the ‘vilayet’ and ‘sanjak’ administrative system. They knew the region as composed of the Vilayet of Beirut, the Vilayet of Syria and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem or Sanjak of Jerusalem. European Christians (i.e. the Church of Rome) however would continue to use the Roman name of Palestine… hence our modern attachment to the name.

Thirdly, the Arab ancestors of today’s Moslems in the region only swept in during the 7th century AD and with the imperialist expansion of Islam. Fast forward to the 20th century and to the British presence in ‘Palestine’ (the name of the region applied by the Romans, but ignored by the Ottomans), reference was always made to the Moslem ‘Arabs’ and to the ‘Palestinian’ Jews… the Palestinians were the Jews, the ‘Arabs’ were the Moslems (indeed, the anti-Israeli BDS-er need only refer to English language newspapers of the period to read this for themselves). Then, post-1948, and right through to the Six Day 1967 and the Yom Kippur 1972 and a bit afterwards, references were always to the Jewish-Arab conflict, never to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict.

Fourthly, not all of the diverse Arab populations of Judea, Samaria and Gaza have lived in these areas for the many generations and the many centuries that many voices urge us to believe. Either they came with invading armies, or were imported as cheap labour by the Turks and British, or wanted to profit from the economic advances made by the Jews who had been returning to rebuild their homeland since the 18th century (returning to an empty and barren landscape). Others fled to Palestine from neighbouring Arab countries. While these same voices mock the dual-passport-holding modern Israeli, they ignore the dual-passport-holding Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza many of whom have relatives in Israel, some in Jordan, some in Lebanon, some in Egypt, some in Europe and North America.

Nix to a State of Palestine… Think about a confederation of Palestinian city and town states instead… But not today, or tomorrow… In the meantime expect more violence…

Widely publicised across Europe and North America during the recent Israeli General Election was the remark by Benjamin Netanyahu that there would be no Palestinian state if he prevailed in the closely-fought 2015 Election. Pundits latched onto how this had been the first time that the country’s prime minister had explicitly rejected such an outcome.

So… what was it that Benjamin Netanyahu actually said to create all the media excitement, and the upset, particularly among those who regard the establishment of a second Moslem Palestinian state (the first Palestinian state for Moslems having been created in 1922 and is today known as Jordan) as the one ‘moment’ most likely to return the world to peace and equilibrium and restored order, and to complete the world family of nations? Well… he said: ‘I think that anyone who goes about establishing a Palestinian state today and vacating territory is giving attack territory to extremist Islam to be used against the state of Israel. That is the real reality that has been created here in recent years. Whoever ignores this is putting his head in the sand’.

If you really examine the words, all that Netanyahu is doing is simply stating the obvious. He doesn’t state that he is against a (second Moslem) Palestinian state, indeed his statement is framed from the point of view of ‘anyone who goes about establishing’ such a state. That doesn’t sound negative, but rather positive. But… of course there cannot be a Palestinian state under the circumstances he then outlines… i.e. the creation of attack territory in that state which can be used by extreme Islamists to attack Israel.

Netanyahu is simply stating reality.

The conditions are not ripe. The Arabs of Gaza and Judaea and Samaria have lost the momentum. They have long missed their chance. Having refused the offers and concessions made by Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak in 2000 and Ehud Olmert in 2007, and in light of the new and catastrophic strategic environment in the Middle East and the danger it poses to Israel, a second Moslem Palestinian state is off the table. Should it be on the table? How can it be? What IS this state? This Palestine. Certainly nothing conceived of by those plenipotentiaries drawing up and concluding the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States which was signed in 1933 and came into force in 1934. Almost immediately this ‘Palestine’ fails to measure up to the Montevideo Convention.

Article I of the Convention defines a state as possessing: a permanent population; a defined territory; a government; and capacity to enter into relations with the other states. What is the ‘defined territory’ of ‘Palestine’? It hasn’t yet agreed the border of the disputed territory with its neighbour, or indeed what its actual territory is. What is its government? The one in Gaza, or in Ramallah, or the imagined ‘unity’ one. Then there is Article X of the Convention which defines the primary interest of a state as being ‘the conservation of peace’. How does this equate with the Constitutions of both Fatah and Hamas which write of eliminating Israel, and with the aggression against Israel from Hamas and other militant groups?

So indeed… Off the table for now… No state for now… Nix… Not for some time to come… Not a state like any other known to us today, that is. Is this something to lament? No. Probably not. The world and UN agencies seem to operate quite comfortably without Biafra and Tibet and Tamil Eelam… and they’ll work fine without a second Moslem Palestinian state.

That is not to say never of course. There ARE models of independent micro-statehood like that of Andorra, or Monaco, or San Marino, or Vatican City that could be emulated in Judaea and Samaria and Gaza. With Israel and its IDF defending a secure border down the Jordan River Valley, small independent demilitarised City-states might perhaps be established, or an independent confederation of demilitarised town and city states, or clusters of the same, each with its own agri-hinterlands – some contiguous, some not – all coming together in a parliament in Ramallah, or Hebron, or Nablus, or Jenin. A demilitarised Confederation of Palestinian City-States? Something to consider?

For now though, gather yourself for the next round of hostility from Gaza against Israel and further setback for the Palestinian people as a result. Use the same script as last time…: Missiles and rocket-propelled-grenades lobbed indiscriminately at Israeli civilians… retaliation from Israel… deaths… international puffing and frothing… tears from celebrities… wailing about proportionality of response… representatives of the many totalitarian states in the UN speak with one voice etc etc…

Recent anniversary: Rachel Corrie (1979-2003), useful tool… useful idiot…

A few days ago the anniversary of the accidental killing in 2003 of Rachel Corrie by IDF ‘sappers’ in Gaza was marked by the usual peak in posts on social media networks by folks who actually seem to care about Corrie – useful tool of the pro-Palestinian propaganda machinery. It is an anniversary that encourages sentiment and excitement. Indeed, in Scotland two years ago (early weeks of 2013) a nation-wide theatre tour of the play My name is Rachel Corrie saw visits from Tobermory to Glasgow, to Ullapool to Skye, to Greenock to Musselburgh and Edinburgh, and to Dundee and Dunfermline, and many places between all of these.

It was a one-woman play composed from Rachel Corrie’s own journals, letters and emails. It created a portrait of the 23-year old American  woman from  Olympia, Washington – often described as a ‘girl’ –  who was supporting what has also often been described as ‘non-violent resistance to Israel’s military occupation’. Corrie was killed during operations carried out by an Israeli military bulldozer in the Gaza Strip on 16 March 2003. Today, in 2015, her parents (Craig and Cindy Corrie) continue to travel around the world giving talks maligning Israel, quite blind to the malign intent of their daughter.

It is important to remember what Rachel Corrie was actually all about – she was certainly no saint, and as a 23-year old adult she herself knew indeed what she was all about.

Corrie was an activist (her Wikipedia article describes her as activist and diarist) associated with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a body which has harboured known terrorists and which has openly advocated violence against Israel and the destruction of that country. On the day of her death she was not demonstrating for peace or trying to shield innocent civilians – as one might expect of a peace activist – instead she had entered an area where Israeli forces were carrying out a military operation. Her death occurred while Israeli forces using a bulldozer were removing shrubbery along the security road near the border between Israel and Egypt at Rafah to uncover explosive devices, and destroying tunnels used by Palestinian terrorists to illegally smuggle weapons from Egypt to Gaza. Corrie died while interfering with a military operation to legally demolish an empty house used to conceal one of these tunnels… a demolition not unlike these undertaken recently by Egyptian troops around the Gazan border with Sinai.

Much of the ‘sainthood’ and myth surrounding Corrie – a useful tool of the Palestinian propaganda machinery in Gaza – centres round a photograph wired by the Associated Press (AP) giving the impression that Corrie was standing in front of the bulldozer and shouting at the driver with a megaphone, trying to prevent the driver from tearing down the building concealing the tunnels. This photograph, which was taken by a member of ISM (Corrie’s organisation), was not shot at the time of her death however, but hours earlier. Indeed the bulldozer involved in her accidental death was a different one from the one she had been photographed in front of earlier.  The photographer admitted that at the time of her death, Corrie was actually seated.

An investigation into her death concluded that Corrie (whether standing or seated) could not have been seen by the driver of the bulldozer because she was behind debris which concealed the driver’s view.

The accidental death received worldwide publicity in large part because it was the first such incident where a foreign protester was killed, and because the protester was female, and often described as innocent. Corrie and her family would have been aware that the US State Department had warned Americans not to travel to Gaza, and Israel made clear that civilians who entered areas where troops were engaged in counter-terror operations were putting themselves at risk unnecessarily. The Israeli  army had told Corrie and other demonstrators from the ISM to move out of the way.

The organisation which Corrie supported – the ISM – claimed to be a humanitarian organisation dedicated to the principles of non-violent resistance, but it had demonstrated no interest in peace for Israelis. The ISM has acted as an apologist for terrorism, and has, at times, actively abetted militants. ISM is an organisation wholly opposed to the two-state solution envisioned by parties truly interested in peace.

Prince Charles avoids a visit to Israel… reflects Brit attitude to Israel… Brits still stinging and humiliated… Brit elites loathe the upstart…

Israel remains one of the few countries in the World that the British royal family has never officially visited. And, in visit to the Middle East which is taking in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE, but not Israel, this is still true for Prince Charles. Although brow-furrowed and anxious to hear about the plight of Christians in the Middle East during his visit to Jordan, Prince Charles showed himself unwilling to visit the one country in the Middle East where Christians and other minority groups in the region can find safe haven – Israel, just a short jet hop from Amman. His visit to the monarchs of the Middle East takes place just after a poll which showed that Brits regarded Israel less favourably than any other country besides North Korea.

This poll result wouldn’t have come as a shock to Israelis or supporters of Israel of course. Why? Because British supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement are in every university campus, and blood libels about the Palestinian ‘genocide’ and even Israeli organ-harvesting have been heard from the floor of the House of Lords in the Brit parliament (Baroness Tonge). Although Jews are deeply integrated into British society and have felt secure for decades, incidents of anti-semitic violence have been escalating, and anti-semitism has become interwoven and often indistinguishable from anti-Zionism (being anti-Israeli). Statistics show that anti-semitic incidents have increased and that, for Jews, Britain is changing for the worse.
Why is there such the animosity against Israel, an animosity that ranges across the spectrum from left to right and all social classes? These are questions that have been tackled in this blog before but it will do no harm to retrace the ground (see ‘Brits and Israel’, posted 12 December 2012… solidariyut.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/brits-and-israel/). In 2012, we posed the question: Why is the British relationship with Israel such a sour one?

To find an answer, we looked first at the British government attitude, but the wider British establishment has to be examined. In other words, to find an answer, look not just at elite figures in government over the past 80-odd years, but to those who have guided elite schools and universities and idea-forming industries like the media. Elites in these spheres have never really recovered from the loss of the Empire, and then the loss of the word ‘British’ that used to stand before the word ‘Commonwealth’. These elites have never come to grips with how the Empire was lost, and the loss of what, in their view, ‘ought to’ have been theirs.

If the loss of the Indian Sub-continent in 1947 was not bad enough, and barely 2-years after VJ-day, what really rankled was the loss in 1948 of tiny Palestine which a British garrison of 100,000 was unable to hold. If the loss of Empire was not bad enough, losing Palestine to the Jews was a humiliation.

Between 1945 and 1947 alone, UK forces and police lost 103 dead, and sustained 391 wounded. Indeed, the destruction by Jewish militants of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem – the seat of British military and administrative power in Palestine – resonated strongly for decades. In 1947, after two British sergeants were killed in retaliation for the execution of three Jewish militants, there were anti-Jewish riots in Liverpool over the course of several days, and these spread to other British cities, including London, Manchester, Cardiff, Derby and Glasgow. Some months after the declaration of the independence of the State of Israel which occurred in May 1948 – and during the course of Israel’s war of independence against the forces of the Arab League – British policy towards Israel was shouted loud and clear. Not content with simply encouraging Arab states to invade the fledgling State of Israel, the Defence elites made sure that Royal Air Force conducted reconnaissance flights over Israeli positions, taking off from Egyptian air bases. Indeed, some of these flights were conducted alongside Egyptian planes. There is little doubt that once home again after their humiliation by pre-state Israel, senior UK military personnel, through the Ministry of Defence, had influenced government attitudes to the new state and these would persist until 1956 and the Suez Crisis.

The landed classes and British industrialists have also harboured animosity towards Israel. In the decades before 1948 and Israeli independence there had existed ‘sympathy’ towards the Arab and ‘sourness’ towards the upstart ‘yishuv’ (the Jewish population of pre-state Israel). Among the well-healed travellers of the rich ‘old money’ and the commercial ‘new money’ there was deep regard and respect for the complicated tribal hierarchy of ‘the Arab’ (the same hierarchy that Prince Charles is said to feel at home among and at the same time rather awkward among). The Arab world offered exotic adventure and opportunity, and in the emerging post-war world Arab society offered the sophisticated class layering and deference that was so very familiar. In academia, the old British ‘Arabists’ expressed similar affection for these heirarchies. In contrast, across the earlier ‘yishuv’ and in the nascent Israeli state, a vibrant social democracy was emerging – a new society where these complicated social layers were largely absent.

Another reason for the sour British attitude to Israel is the gradual conversion of the British labour movement to the Palestinian cause. Until the 1960s the British labour movement regarded Israel as a fellow socialist state with anti-imperialist leanings. They admired the short-sleeved, open-necked-shirt-wearing Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and his down-to-earth non-deferential fellow Ministers who would form later Israeli governments. By 1967, the year in which the USA began to take Israel seriously after its June War victory, and to regard the tiny country as a substantial ally, the USA had become deeply embroiled in its escalation of the Vietnam War. And so it was that in the eyes of the labour movement, Israel, after briefly enjoying the status of victim triumphant, began to be viewed through a new frame of reference. The newer and younger liberal and left both in the UK and wider Europe identified with the emerging Palestinian national movement and with the continuing anti-colonial struggle (e.g. in Vietnam, South Africa and Rhodesia), and there was seen a deepening hostility towards Israel, now always to be viewed as a lynchpin ally of the USA. Today in the 21st century there isn’t a UK university campus that does not have a strident pro-Palestine solidarity committee, its members richly swathed in Palestinian scarves often expressing a hatred towards Israel and its Jewish character that would have made Goebbels proud.

Among British Christians too there is a sour and shaky relationship with Israel. Many have been taken in by the Yasser Arafat line that Jesus Christ (you know… the Judean, born in Bethlehem of Judea, and who died many decades before the Roman name of Palestine was applied to the region) was a ‘Palestinian martyr’. They have thrown in their lot with the Palestinian line, totally blind to the oppression of Christians in the West Bank and in Gaza, and blind to the fact that Israel’s minority population of Christians is the only one showing expansion in the whole of the eastern Mediterranean.

Alongside the Arafat tale about Jesus of Nazareth, the ‘Palestinian martyr’, the Palestinian Christians have re-invented traditional Christian anti-semitism, converting Israelis into Romans and themselves into the new Jews. The Anglican Church and the Church of Scotland – the latter having published a document in 2003 entitled ‘Theology of Land and Covenant’ which questioned Jewish claims to the land of Israel, and in 2014 chose to suggest that Jews think of Zion as merely a metaphor – have been re-invigorated by this (having seen themselves in slow decline) and each has contributed to, if not helped lead, the BDS movement in the UK.

Then there is the rather large elephant in the room in this analysis of why Brits are sour towards Israel – Britain’s Moslems… or… rather… the role of Moslems in this climate that does not favour Israel. Recent history has provided the UK with a population which is 5% Moslem, and in the 21st century Moslems are at the forefront of anti-semitic agitation in the country and maintain a large network of organisations to support BDS and the Palestinian and Islamist causes. An ever increasing Moslem population ensures that political establishments will adopt voter-friendly anti-Israeli rhetoric and policies.

The British attitude to Israel is coloured by what the nascent State of Israel did to it in the 1940s, political correctness and guilt, and a media that likes to focus relentlessly on Israeli wrongdoing, real and imagined, while glossing over those of its neighbours.

Christmas – time of real danger for Israel

As Christmas descends on the western world, the moment of maximum danger for Israel emerges. Why is that? Because, as the Christian world gazes dewy-eyed towards Bethlehem in Judea, the relative calm and the relative prosperity of the West Bank (in comparison to the daily grind for Gazans under fascist Hamas for example) is not the scene that best serves Palestinian leaderships and the Palestinian narrative.

What better way to draw the attention of journalists from civil-war-torn Syria, and from the refugee camps of Jordan and Lebanon, than to stage aggravation between Palestinians and Israeli troops at Christmas time, and to launch a missile or two on Israeli civilians. Indeed, aggravation on the Gaza-Israel border has already occurred in the last 24-hours. What better way than aggravation to distract attention from the refugee camps of Jordan, always brim full of Syrians displaced by their own government. Moslems in camps do not serve the interests of Palestinians – the ‘only’ displaced people that has ever lived !

At this precious moment in the Christian calendar, Palestinian President-for-Life, Mahmoud Abbas, carrying on the narrative set by Yasser Arafat, will, as always at this time, release a Christmas message calling Jesus a ‘Palestinian messenger’ – no matter that the Roman term ‘Palestine’ would not emerge until some 70 years after the Nazarene’s death. Abbas will imply, as he does every year, that Israel persecutes Christians, but the facts on the ground tell a different story. The Christian population of Israel is the only one which is growing and thriving in the region. In Palestine, especially in Bethlehem, where they used to form a majority, Christian populations have shrunk. Many feel uncomfortable amid growing Moslem majorities that they see as becoming more outwardly and politically Islamist… not to mention intimidating and corrupt. It is Moslem terror organisations that persecute Christians and other minorities right across the Middle East. In Israel they find safe haven.

Regrettably, European and North American Christian groups, and their leading clergy, have accepted the Abbas narrative rather than the Israeli one, thus hastening the inevitable decline and ultimate eradication of a Christian presence in these ancient Christian centres.

As we go into holiday mode here in Scotland – effectively into self-congratulatory lockdown – this blog wishes all Israelis and all supporters of Israel, chag sameach ve l’shanah tovah !