Monthly Archives: May 2010

A Story of Two Flotillas

1940 Dunkirk evacuation (kingofpeace.blogspot.com)

There are two flotillas of ships sailing today and the contrast could not be more different.

The brave:

Today is the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk that gave us the term the “Dunkirk spirit”. It was a crucial moment in World War Two.

Between 27 May and 4 June 1940 338,000 British and French soldiers were rescued from the beaches of northern France having been pushed back by the invading Germans.

700 vessels ranging from pleasure craft to fishing boats worked under a hail of German bombs to take the Allied troops off the beaches and ferry them to larger ships so they could be brought home.

Winston Churchill called it a “miracle of deliverance” and the evacuation is seen as one of several events in 1940 that determined the outcome of the war.

To mark the anniversary a flotilla of 60 small ships set sail from southern England and will return on 31 May.

The not-so-brave:

Then there is another flotilla supported by Viva Palestina and a Turkish charity. This one has just set sail to try to break the so-called “siege of Gaza”.

The website of Viva Palestina, which has conducted past convoys to Gaza, states in its narrative on the current flotilla: “The Israeli government has turned Gaza into a prisoner camp and has been carrying out a genocide. This camp and genocidal acts very much resemble Hitler’s actions in history.”

Israel and Egypt have imposed restrictions on Gaza to stop Hamas, the Islamist resistance movement, firing thousands of Kassam rockets into Israel.

Any such comparison of Gaza to the Holocaust, in which six million Jews and four million gays, communists, gypsies and disabled people were systematically murdered, is purely sickening.

The people of Gaza should blame Hamas for their suffering, not Israel.

But then we know what happens if they so much as protest against Hamas. Hamas is notorious for binding the hands and legs of so-called “traitors” before throwing them off the tops of buildings to certain death.

Either that or the “traitors” are shot in both knees.

Hamas doesn’t do trials.

When Viva Palestina conducted a convoy to Gaza in February/March 2009 George Galloway, according to the Charity Commission, confirmed that £25,000 of personal money was handed to Hamas along with 100 vehicles.

I hope the current flotilla will at least bring something constructive to the area but when Viva Palestina tried to enter Gaza from Egypt in January an Egyptian border guard was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

While Israel does in fact let in necessities and aid to Gaza it is Islamic extremists who are making life in Gaza intolerable, even to the extent of destroying a United Nations summer camp for children. They accused the UN of promoting immorality.

The current convoy is trying to enter Gaza via sea instead of land after the extended trip Viva Palestina was sent on by the Egyptian authorities in January.

So we recall today the brave men and women of the Dunkirk evacuation for their bravery 70 years ago while under heavy bombardment from the Nazis.

There will never be enough gratitude that we can show them for what they did.

The same may not be said for the activists on the convoy currently en route to Gaza*.

* The father of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit asked the current convoy to carry a parcel and letter into the Gaza Strip for his son, who has been kept in isolation by Hamas for coming up to four years now. The activists refused.

Gaza flotilla

Ahava feels the heat

Thirty anti-Israel protesters congregated outside Ahava in Covent Garden for two hours on Sunday handing out leaflets and singing anti-Israel slogans. There was, as ever, a small counter-demonstration.

The incessant chants of “Israeli mud, Palestinian blood” disturb adjacent shop-owners and residents who might now ask Ahava’s landlords not to renew Ahava’s lease.

Obviously this is unfair. The protests, that take place every two weeks now, have nothing to do with Ahava. It is a perfectly legitimate business that provides a valid service to a strong customer base.

The protesters handed out leaflets sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Boycott Israeli Goods that call for the banning of “illegal settlement produce”. International Solidarity Campaign is also an organiser.

But as with all of these protests, it isn’t really about settlement produce.

An organisation called “Boycott Israeli Goods” gives away the true nature of the protests and when you start speaking to the protesters the settlements are the last thing they mention.

They talk of the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs from Israel in 1948, the seige of Gaza and the supposedly awful treatment of Palestinian Israelis.

As for the latter I am sure that there is much more than Israel can do to alleviate poor conditions for many of the 1.2 million Palestinian Israelis that live inside Israel.

But many of them do very well economically and enjoy all social freedoms. Such freedoms they could only dream of if they lived under other Arab governments, including a Palestinian one. Recently, Islamic extremists destroyed a United Nations summer camp for children in Gaza.

As for “ethnic cleansing” I am still trying to get my head around the arithmetic of how 600,000 Jews could possibly ethnically cleanse 750,000 Palestinians while fighting both them and the invading armies of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon.

And as for the siege, the protesters forget that it is enforced by Egypt also. Most Israelis are unhappy with such a “siege” but know the tragic consequences of allowing Hamas to appropriate imported materials meant for the people of Gaza. This would allow Hamas to quickly replenish its deadly stock of Kassam rockets.

Even the leaflets the protesters hand out make no pretence that this is only about settlement produce.

The leaflets state: “This call for a ban on illegal settlement produce is part of a campaign to boycott all Israeli goods until Israel abides by international law and respects human rights.”

So now, it seems, anyone can find a political issue they are passionate about and harrass a legitimate business connected with that issue just to make a point. If Ahava closes, which now seems quite possible, people will lose their jobs and livelihoods.

Ahava’s manager came out towards the end of the protest to speak to the protesters and to explain this point but, as polite as they were, they just explained back to her that she is “an innocent bystander in all this” and that “there’s a far bigger cause at stake”.

Would these self-styled “peace activists” stand outside a Palestinian owned business protesting Hamas’ atrocities against not just innocent Israeli civilians but Palestinian opposition activists? “Of course,” they claim, “we don’t support Hamas but the Palestinians have a right to elect who they wish.”

But electing a government doesn’t mean that government has the right to fire thousands of Kassam rockets into Israel and summarily execute its own people.

The PSC’s patrons are: Jenny Tonge, Tony Benn, Victoria Brittain, Julie Christie, Caryl Churchill, Jeremy Corbyn, Bob Crow, William Dalrymple, Reverend Garth Hewitt, Dr Ghada Karmi, Bruce Kent, Karma Nabulsi, Illan Pappe and Benjamin Zephaniah.

However much these people disagree with Israel’s policies, and even its very existence, surely the likes of Socialists Tony Benn and Bob Crow must be able to see the injustice of bullying a legitimate business in order to close it down with the consequent loss of jobs. Maybe just not when it comes to Israeli workers.

Section 11 of the Human Rights Act emphasises the right to peaceful assembly but what takes place outside Ahava is not peaceful. Shoppers quickly pass Ahava and the adjacent shops and restaurants to avoid the terrible noise. Takings of all businesses in the vicinity are down.

And who would wish to walk into a shop like Ahava that is flanked by four police officers and a security guard there to stop the inevitable invasion that would take place if they were absent (as happened on the first occasion these protesters turned up outside Ahava)?

Sadly, Britain is a society that protects the human rights of suspected al-Qaida terrorists more than those of employers and employees wishing to earn a living here.

Red Ken explains suicide bombings in Israel (again)

Ken Livingstone (Daily Mail)

Ken Livingstone, ex Mayor of London, has given an interview on Press TV (see below) to Andrew Gilligan, Daily Telegraph journalist. In it Livingstone explains suicide bombings against Israeli civilians and accuses respected journalist, Martin Bright, of being an “Islamophobe”.

Livingstone indicated that he will be standing again for London Mayor in 2012.

Gilligan presses Livingstone on the embrace he gave to Islamic preacher, Yusuf “homosexuality is a sin” al-Qaradawi, who Livingstone views as “a great reforming radical”. Livingstone simply compares al-Qaradawi’s views on homosexuality to those of the Chief Rabbi and the Church of England.

Livingstone explains that although al-Qaradawi denounced 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, he makes the exception for suicide bombings inside Israel because the Palestinians’ land is occupied and they have no weapons apart from their own bodies.

Livingstone thinks that the only reason Jews might be offended by this mentality is because they defend Israel “right or wrong”. He says: “There would not be any Palestine suicide bombers if Israel withdrew from the occupied lands. If Israel wants peace it should withdraw from the occupied territories and dismantle its nuclear weapons.”

To most people this would sound like someone who condones suicide bombings in Israel. Gilligan puts this to Livingstone, who denies it. Gilligan does not, sadly, press Livingstone further on this point.

Next Gilligan asks Livingstone about his exchange with Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold, whom Livingstone knew to be Jewish when accusing him of being a “concentration camp guard”. Livingstone explains he will not exempt Finegold from slurs about him being a journalist just because he is a Jew: “He’s a reporter before he’s a Jew.”

Livingstone also refers to Martin Bright, respected Jewish Chronicle and Spectator journalist, as “a bit of an Islamophobe”. Gilligan suggests that Livingstone makes the “Islamophobia” accusation too readily against people who disagree with his views and reminded him that he recently had to apologise and pay damages to Michael Keith for making a similar accusation.

Livingstone does not seem to appreciate the difference between Islamism, adhered to by a tiny minority of Muslims and who interprete the Koran in a violent manner, and Islam itself. Livingstone suggests that Muslims in general are under attack from “the parties and newspapers of the right”.

But Gilligan points out that the main critics of Islamic Forum of Europe in his own Dispatches programme were Muslims. Gilligan says he has seen the transcripts of the IFE who seem to say one thing to the likes of Livingstone but something else to others. According to Gilligan, Islamists wish to “overthrow western style democracy”.

Livingstone suggests that there is no way that these kinds of Muslims would wish to work with someone like himself: “Someone who is a fundamentalist Muslim is not going to be prepared to work with me, an atheist and promoter of homosexual tolerance. I’m everything they would loathe and abhor.”

Gilligan points out that “entryism” is the core of Islamism: “They enter into conventional democratic political parties and take them over. That’s there is Maududi.”

Analysis:

Livingstone’s anti-Zionist instincts are on full display here. He once said that Israel should never have been created. He blamed his loss of office to Johnson on the Board of Deputies of British Jews but he cannot seem to accept that his views are not only rejected by Jews but by British society more generally.

In Part 1 (below) Livingstone attacks the current London Mayor, Boris Johnson, even going so far as crediting him with support from the BNP, something that Johnson has no control over. This echoes the accusation that Israel is supported by the English Defence League. Again, this is something Israel cannot control but it is enough for the anti-Zionist brigade to utilise for their criticism of Israel.

In Part 2 (below at 3 mins 35) Livingstone is questioned by Gilligan over the accusation that Livingstone has been “too close to radical Muslims”. Here Livingstone seems to come very close to condoning suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. In a press conference a few weeks after 7/7 he expressed similar sentiments: “Palestinians don’t have jet fighters. They only have their bodies to use as weapons. In that unfair balance, that is what people use.”

And Livingstone views criticising fundamentalist Islam as a case of Islamophobia. He accuses Martin Bright and Gilligan himself of being Islamophobic. Someone who cannot make this basic distinction is plain ignorant.

Livingstone regularly employs what David Hirsh refers to as the Livingstone Formulation when Israel is criticised: “For too long the accusation of anti-Semitism has been used against anyone who is critical of the policies of the Israeli government, as I have been.” (Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism Cosmopolitan Reflections, Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary study of Antisemitism, 2007, P.38).

By casting both Bright and Gilligan as Islamophobes this formulation is now being extended to defend criticism of all forms of Islam, including Islamism. Gilligan is right to refer to Maududi. The hard-left in the UK takes homophobes like al-Qaradawi at face value when al-Qaradawi says to Livingstone “It is wrong to strike homosexuals”.

The hard-left is quite flexible at being hoaxed into having sympathy with Islamism eventhough at the core of Islamism is an anti-Semitic, homophobic and misogynistic ideology. This is everything the left would normally reject.

But then again Islamists and the hard-left share one enduring core value: the absence of a Jewish state.

On the Oliver Finegold affair David Hirsh also questions whether Livingstone would have suggested to a black journalist who had similarly questioned him whether he was a “plantation owner”. Likewise, something similar to a Muslim journalist.

All that said, British Muslims are starting to reject those on the hard-left who they feel do not reflect their own Islam, as we saw on election night when a group of 200 Muslims told George Galloway what they thought of him as both he and his Respect Party were rejected by the British people.

With Livingstone also rejected as London’s Mayor this is an encouraging sign.

Clegg does himself no credit.

Clegg suddenly close to Cameron (bbc.co.uk)

After much negotiating since the general election the UK finally has a government.

First, the Liberal Democrats spoke to the Conservatives, they then broke off talks to speak to Labour and when those talks collapsed they came back to the Conservatives and a Con-Lib coalition was concluded quickly (some might refer to it as “Con-Dem”).

We await full details, although we know that certain deals have been done on tax and electoral reform, but one thing is for sure; it is now Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Clegg probably can’t believe his luck.

He lost five MPs (from 62 to 57 out of the 650 available) but still has managed to get close to the reins of power. The Conservatives now have 306 seats and Labour has 258.

And of the 6,827,938 votes that the Lib Dems received we cannot be sure how many of those were just tactical votes to keep out either a Labour or Conservative candidate.

One distasteful part of this coalition government is that during the second televised debate Nick Clegg accused David Cameron of aligning himself in Europe with “nutters, anti-Semites, people who deny climate change exists and homophobes”.

He was forced to apologise by mental health campaigners for using the word “nutters”.

Things might be said in the debates for political advantage that can be then glossed over afterwards. For example, at their first press conference together on Wednesday, and to much laughter all round, Clegg found out for the first time that Cameron had previously referred to him as a “joke”. But to suggest someone is aligned with anti-Semites and homophobes is a very serious allegation.

Clegg does himself no credit in making such serious and unfounded accusations and then almost immediately going on to sit for the next five years with the man he so accuses.

And one wonders what the outcry would have been had Clegg accused Cameron of sitting with Islamophobes and then taking his seat next to him.

Cameron, who recently called east-Jerusalem “occupied”, is now PM. William Hague (Cons.), who called Israel’s actions in Lebanon in 2006 “disproportionate”, is foreign secretary. And Nick Clegg, who called for a ban on the sale of arms to Israel during operation Cast Lead, is now Deputy Prime Minister.

These three are now in control of UK foreign policy, so it could be an uncomfortable five years for British Jews and for Israel.

We will see how it all pans out but the signs will immediately be there when Israel enters its next war with Hezbollah or Hamas. Will there be an immediate outcry by Britain when Israel is forced to take defensive measures to protect its citizens?

There are a few, but not enough, very pro-Israel voices next to David Cameron to keep him on the straight and narrow when it comes to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Michael Gove (Cons.), who wrote Celsius 7/7 as a response to Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9/11, has been appointed Education Secretary. And, to be fair, Chris Huhne, of the Lib Dems, is someone very balanced on the precarious situation in the Middle East. Huhne has been appointed Secretary for Energy and Climate Change.

It is a shame that Clegg beat Huhne for the leadership of their party in 2007.

Then there is Liam Fox (Cons.) who has been appointed Defence Secretary and who fully recognises the serious Iranian threat. In January he told The Times: “There are three reasons why we must take the threat from Iran seriously: the nature of the regime itself, its willingness to export instability and terror and its attempts to develop nuclear weapon technology. Iranian involvement in Syria and Lebanon — funding and training terrorists — continues to stoke regional tension and is an obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian solution. That is why international pressure on Iran must increase and European action must match that taken by the United States.”

That said, over the next five years the fate of British/Israel relations could depend on how much Gove, Fox and Huhne get the chance to allow their influence to be felt while being ensconced in their own important ministry portfolios.

A good start will be to see how long this coalition takes to ban the extreme Islamist group Hiz but Tahrir, as promised by the Conservatives, and how serious the politicians are in tackling Islamism in the UK in general.

Or will Lib Dem aspirations to keep the Muslim vote on side hinder Conservative attempts to tackle radicalism in our universities.

The other very pro-Israel voices on the back-benches; Lee Scott, Robert Halfon, Matthew Offord and Richard Harrington (all Conservative) and Louise Ellman, Denis Macshane, John Mann and Luciana Berger (all Labour), will do their bit to raise awareness of Israel’s concerns in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and of anti-Semitism in general, but it may not be enough.

Brown sacrificed for the Lib Dems

“Cameron on the Brink of No10″ screams the London Evening Standard. How things have turned in the space of an hour.

The duplicity of the Lib Dems is now all too evident for the country to see.

They have spent the weekend negotiating with the Conservatives when it was obvious to all that their obsession with proportional representation was never going to be accepted by the Conservatives.

Therefore, Clegg can now say that he has fulfilled his duty to speak to the biggest party when the whole exercise seems to have been a charade and a precursor to clearing the decks and starting full on negotiations with Labour.

For all Cameron’s efforts to want to deal with the economic problems, and Clegg making noises that he concurred, Britain is now at the whim of a party that saw its MPs decimated last Thursday when the Lib Dem intake of MPs was reduced from 62 to 57.

This reduction is not exactly a full-out endorsement of proportional representation and yet a discredited third party is now delaying the formation of government at a time of crisis, and all for wanting to change our voting system.

For all those who were wary of the Lib Dems before the election this is confirmation of how disingenuous the Lib Dems are and always have been; their whole raison d’etre has been to change the voting system to entrench themselves in power while allowing the BNP and other fascist parties, including those on the radical left, to also gain a presence in power.

I don’t blame the Conservatives for wanting to form a coalition with the Lib Dems, however distasteful that will be for the 10 million that voted Conservative last Thursday.

I don’t blame Brown or Labour for wanting to stick to power, as any politician would wish to do. Brown feels that he did as much as anyone ever could to keep this country out of an economic depression, after a recession that started in America.

It was Nick Clegg that called on the speaker, Michael Martin, to resign as if the Speaker was solely responsible for the whole expenses fiasco. Now Brown has also gone at his behest, as if one man is solely responsible for the economic crisis.

This is the same Nick Clegg who wishes to reduce Israel’s military capability when it fights Islamic radicals (Hamas) similar to those our troops are fighting in Afghanistan (Taleban).

I am not a Labour supporter but I have been shocked over the last few months by the vitriol commentators have aimed at Gordon Brown. The commentary of many has amounted to unadulterated bullying of a man who while fighting a general election has also had to run the country.

Under Brown and Blair we have become a more progressive society with the minimum wage and civil partnerships introduced.

Sadly, Brown has been remembered by all the pseudo-financial journalists for selling gold at a low, as if they themselves could have predicted the gold price rise to over $1000/ounce.

Meanwhile, Brown invested the proceeds in a weak Euro which has strengthened against the pound.

New Labour has run out of steam and it is time for a change to the Conservatives but for the country to be held to ransom by 57 people who haven’t tasted power for 70 years, and who are holding out solely for proportional representation at the expense of the British economy, brings British politics to a new, and sad, low.

Meanwhile, our next PM could end up being someone who was not involved in the televised debates, that seem to have taken on mythical proportions.

That is if it isn’t the great Nick Clegg, himself.

No Respect for George

George Galloway who was defeated in Poplar and Limehouse

The British general election produced a mixed night for those who trade on anti-Israel rhetoric. George Galloways’s political career seems to have been finally ended when the Respect Part MP lost his fight with Labour’s Jim Fitzpatrick. Respect’s other two parliamentary candidates also failed to make it to Parliament.

Gerald Kaufman (Labour), who said that right-wing millionaire Jews controlled the Conservative Party, was convincingly re-elected while Martin Linton (Labour), who has spoken of Israel’s “long tentacles” which fund the British electoral system, lost his seat to the Conservatives.

The fascist BNP failed to get an MP elected but the Green Party succeeded in getting its first ever MP when its leader, Caroline Lucas, won in Brighton. The Green Party supports the campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

One of the closest contests was in London in the district of Hampstead and Kilburn where Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson, another fierce critic of Israel, won by just 42 votes, out of the 52,822 cast there.

The Muslim Public Affairs Committee seems to have failed in its “Zionist” decapitation strategy as many Israel-friendly politicians succeeded. Lee Scott (Conservative) and Louise Ellman (Labour) were re-elected and Luciana Berger (Labour) and Robert Halfon (Conservative) became MPs for the first time.

Andrew Dismore (Labour), a strong Israel supporter who was targeted by MPAC, lost his seat to Matthew Offord (Conservative). MPAC called this a “success” although, ironically, Offord himself can be considered a “Zionist” and will probably be similarly targeted by MPAC next time.

Richard Harringon, Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel, got elected in Watford.

But the biggest winners may be the anti-Israel Liberal Democrats whose leader, Nick Clegg, called for the banning of the sale of arms to Israel during Cast Lead.

Incredibly, the Lib Dems. were expected to substantially increase their intake of MPs after the first two televised leaders’ debates but Clegg faltered in the third and final debate. The public may not have liked his policies on giving an amnesty to some one million illegal immigrants and on taking Britain into the Euro, especially with the death and destruction in Athens, which is in the Euro, being broadcast on our screens leading up to the election.

None of the three main parties ended up with an overall majority of over 326 seats. The Conservatives now have 306 (up 97), Labour has 258 (down 91) and the Lib Dems. have 57 (down five).

The Lib Dems. are keen to do a deal to give them power for the first time in some 80 years and have given the Conservatives, as the largest party, the first opportunity to consider this possibility. The Conservatives in turn said they would be willing to work with the Lib Dems. to try to implement much of the Conservative manifesto. This will involve easy concessions on tax but the Lib Dems. will also demand major reform of the electoral system, possibly proportional representation, which is something the Conservatives will not concede.

In the meantime Gordon Brown is waiting in the wings, clinging on as Prime Minister, hoping that the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. will fail to agree so that the Lib Dems. will then come knocking on his door, where proportional representation is more of a possibility.

The financial markets have been crashing leading up to, and since, the election. The stock market is heavily down, as is the pound against the dollar. The politicians will need to resolve their differences quickly in order to restore the semblance of stability.

More critically for Israel is the possible concession of some Lib Dems. now taking up cabinet positions which could impact negatively on British-Israeli relations. David Cameron himself has described east Jerusalem as “occupied” and Labour has been generally unsupportive of Israel on the Dubai assassination of Hamas terrorist al-Mabhouh and on the Goldstone Report.

The areas of London with major numbers of Jewish voters, including the four voting districts of Finchley and Golders Green, Hendon, Chipping Barnet and Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner all returned Conservative MPs. Many British Jews might well have voted this way out of concern for the policies of Labour and the Lib Dems. on Israel, while the Conservatives are seen as generally more sympathetic to Israel’s situation.

The Conservatives will clamp down more firmly on Islamic radicalism and will seek to ban Hizb ut Tahrir, but what Jewish voters did not reckon on is that by voting Conservative they could get the Lib Dems. as part of the package.

There is the need for political stability in Britain as quickly as possible to tackle the huge budget deficit. But as the parties hammer out agreement in private most British Jews hope it will not be at the expense of Israel.

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on 10th May

Richard Hamilton and a disappearing Palestine

Maps of Palestine (2009-2010) by Richard Hamilton

If anyone had taken a stroll through sunny Hyde Park in recent weeks they would have come across the Richard Hamilton exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery.

Richard Hamilton is a great British artist who certainly packs a hard left-wing punch at the world situation, but at 88 he seems to have resorted to banal student politics.

Visitors were immediately greeted by a grubby Thatcherite hospital ward (just as well the exhibition closed last Sunday or the Serpentine could be accused of bias so close to an election).

Another room was dedicated to the conflicts in Northern Ireland and Iraq. There were Jesus-like paintings of some of the IRA hunger strikers who had painted their faeces on their cell walls.

One wall was dedicated to the anti-Vietnam student riots at Kent State University in America in which students were killed by the police. There was also a painting of a gun-toting Tony Blair portrayed as a cowboy.

But, as ever, in these lefty-artists’ exhibitions there was one corner dedicated solely to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

There was a painting, Unorthodox Rendition, of Mordechai Vanunu soon after his capture in Rome in 1986, when he had fallen for the honey-trap of a beautiful Mossad agent who had lured him away from his secure nest in London where he was being shielded by The Times.

Unorthodox Rendition (2009-2010) by Richard Hamilton

What possesses these artists to have such sympathy with someone who would reveal state secrets is beyond me.

Hamilton had also painted Maps of Palestine (see top).

This kind of juxtaposition, a map from 1947 and one from 2010, is straight out of a Ben White talk.

White is continuously invited by the Palestine Societies of British Universities to brief his audience against Israel, while urging them to buy his book, Israel Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide.

Any average anti-Israel talk will make the comparison between 1947 and now.

I watched as people were transfixed by the colourful map (Israel in blue, Palestine in red). Most would have walked away with a subconscious idea that Israel is an expansionist state that takes land that doesn’t belong to it.

There was no hint of the 1947-49, 1967 or 1973 Arab initiated wars against Israel, Israel’s security considerations or of the ongoing peace process negotiations trying to alleviate this tragic Palestinian situation.

And in getting to the 1947 partition resolution many hours of analysis had gone into the allocation of land to its Jewish and Palestinian Arab inhabitants.

There was UNSCOP and the Anglo American Committee of Enquiry, for starters.

The 1947 partition was not some hastily arranged project that favoured one group, the Jews, while prejudicing another group, the Palestinian Arabs.

Hamilton’s painting actually shows how equitable the division was in 1947, although this will have been totally lost on viewers.

The United Nations attempted to create a fair and viable Arab state.

The Jews were to have 55% of the land and the Arabs were to have 45%. This accorded to where each group was roughly concentrated on the ground.

Of course, with there being 600,000 Jews and 1,200,000 Arabs this seems inequitable, until you look at the southern part of Israel’s allocation which was mostly uninhabitable desert.

The size of the Palestinian Arab allocation was irrelevant anyway. The Palestinian Arabs and surrounding Arab countries went to war with the Jews in 1947 because they would not accept a Jewish state per se.

In 1937, the Peel Commission had proposed giving 80% to the Arabs and just 20% to the Jews.

The Jews accepted, but the Arabs rejected a Palestinian state even on 80% of the land.

The Serpentine Gallery exhibition was titled Modern Moral Matters.

Hamilton’s next painting of the tragic conflict could juxtapose Lord Peel’s 1937 partition plan (see below) with that of the UN’s in 1947.

Had the Arabs accepted Peel in 1937 many of the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis may have found refuge in a Jewish state far earlier than 1948.

So as much as the current tragic fate of the Palestinians is a “modern moral matter”, surely the Palestinian rejectionism of 1937 and its past and present consequences for the world is as, if not more, important.

Peel Commission partition recommendation of 1937: Israel in purple, Palestine in green