Tag Archives: Balfour Declaration

Jenny Tonge attacks Israel for not obeying the Ten Commandments.

Baroness Tonge and Manuel Hassassian last night.

Baroness Tonge and Manuel Hassassian last night.

Last night in Parliament (ex-Liberal Democrat) Baroness Jenny Tonge said “If they had only obeyed their own Ten Commandments and half the stuff in the Old Testament…Israel could have been a force for good in the world” (see clip here from 8 mins. 35 secs.)

Tonge was speaking at the Palestine Return Centre event Britain, It’s Time To Apologize for the Balfour Declaration.

Also speaking was Bradford East MP David Ward who in January condemned Jews who “could within a few years of liberation from the death camps, be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza”.

In July he tweeted that “the Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the apartheid State of Israel last?”. He was temporarily suspended from the Liberal Democrats.

But, last night, he claimed he had been suspended for something he didn’t say:

“I didn’t say Israel shouldn’t exist but that it should never have been created. I said it was an apartheid state. If Israel isn’t an apartheid state then find me one that is.”

And last night he said “Israel are winning. We are losing hands down”. His main concern was that there is no proper plan to counteract this. But it’s certainly quite a change from his July claim “the Zionists are losing”!

Also speaking was Lord Ahmed Nazir who was jailed in 2009 for dangerous driving where another road user died. Nazir then blamed his imprisonment on a Jewish conspiracy.

Last night he claimed that “we have a great moral responsibility” and “a huge burden on our conscience” in light of the Balfour Declaration.

“East Jerusalem is being evacuated slowly, there is ethnic cleansing of Palestinian people. Whether they are Christian or they are Muslim they are being thrown out of their own country,” he continued. (see clip here)

Jenny Tonge added Israel has the right to exist but “it must start behaving properly and treat people in the Middle East the way they want to be treated”. She said Israel is a “threat to world peace and a threat to itself” and continued:

“We must take on the pro-Israel lobby. We will not be silenced. We are not anti-Semitic, we are anti-injustice. What happened to the Palestinians is the greatest injustice in the last 100 years.

They are clever. They call it the Jewish state of Israel so if you criticise the Jewish state they say you are criticising Jews and that you are anti-Semitic. But it is directed against the Israeli government, not the Jewish people. Many Jews join us.

We must boycott Israeli goods. The Israel lobby puts so much pressure on politicians. We must do the same.”

Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority’s diplomatic representative in the UK, condemned the Balfour Declaration. He said the Palestinians had been denied the right to self-determination and their basic human rights “due to the pledge by Great Britain to the Zionists”.

He said the Palestinian “right of return” was a “sacred right” and that the “non-Judaisation of the state of Israel is our red line”.

Hassassian continued by saying that Israel is acting as a “pariah state” and “let the Israelis go to hell” and that he would only negotiate with the Israelis when they had first drawn Israel’s borders for him.

He finished by saying “together we can march to Jerusalem” where there should be “no monopoly of one religion at the expense of others. Israel’s Jerusalem is a slap in the face of humanity.”

Meanwhile, if I was living in the Bradford East parliamentary constituency I would be flummoxed to see my MP David Ward spending a disproportionate amount of his time attacking Israel. Have the people of Bradford East had all their problems solved?

The 2015 general election is not too far away and Ward has a tiny majority. Maybe it’s time for the people of Bradford East to elect someone who focuses more on them.

History lecturer: “Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration.”

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

James Renton and Deborah Maccoby of JfJfP at SOAS.

A little known history lecturer is quickly becoming the new poster boy of the anti-Israel movement. Last night at SOAS James Renton detailed why he thinks the British government should apologise for the Balfour Declaration. He was invited to speak by Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

The thrust of Renton’s argument is that there should be such an apology because the Balfour Declaration lacked clarity on the meaning of “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, which, he said, unleashed an expectation of statehood amongst Jews that was never intended. He blames the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on this “misconceived, ill thought through policy of the British government”.

He also argued that the Declaration was based on the mistaken and anti-Semitic assumption that Jews had great power in America and Russia and that they were mainly Zionist. Therefore, such a declaration would encourage Russia and America against Germany during the Great War.

Renton thinks that there was never an intention to create a Jewish state and he quoted from a letter from David Lloyd George to the then Archbishop of Westminster, who told Lloyd George in 1919 that the Zionists in Palestine were “causing a stink and claiming that the country would soon be coming under their control”. Lloyd George replied to the Archbishop:

“If the Zionists claim domination of the Holy Land under a British protectorate then they are certainly putting their claims too high.”

Renton criticised Britain for advertising that it was a big supporter of Zionism while at the same time promoting national freedom for Arabs but without thinking either side really expected political independence in Palestine. This was because the British viewed both Jews and Arabs as “politically backward”.

You can read Renton’s thesis in Haaretz (contact me in you cannot access the link and I will send you the article).

However, his thesis is facile. For one he contradicts himself by saying both that the British thought the Jews had immense power but that they were also politically backward. Which is it?

For Renton the Balfour Declaration was mainly down to anti-Semitism. As he puts it “Balfour and Mark Sykes said nasty things about Jews” (Sykes was the government’s advisor on the Middle East at the time). And he downplays the role of Christian support for a Jewish state as well as Chaim Weizmann’s efforts in manufacturing ammunition for Britain during the Great War.

This campaign to have Britain apologise for the Balfour Declaration was dreamt up by the Palestine Return Centre. They launched a petition with the view to obtaining one million signatures in support of an apology by the time of the centenary of the Declaration in 2017. Unlike Renton, the PRC thinks the apology should be for the “tremendous injustices” the Balfour Declaration has caused to the Palestinian people.

The PRC are now using the recent decision in the Mau Mau rebellion case, where Britain has been found guilty of complicity in the torture of victims in the Mau Mau uprising against British rule in Kenya in the 1950s and 1960s, to give their campaign a boost.

Renton spotted one difficulty with the PRC’s campaign though. He noted that there will be no one alive from the era of the Balfour Declaration to attest. So he suggested to a representative of the PRC who was in the audience last night that the PRC might have more success if they asked the British government for an apology for the Arab losses during the Arab uprising of 1936-1939.

The problem with that is that the PRC’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel via the so-called Palestinian “right of return”. They want an apology to undermine Israel’s existence. I doubt that Arabs were killed during that Arab uprising is of great significance to the PRC in the scheme of things. Renton might not know of the PRC’s politics, but there’s a good clue in their name Palestine Return Centre as to why they might want an apology.

Anyway, the wording of the Balfour Declaration is clear. What is meant by “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” if not a state? The clue is in the words “national home”.

Renton gave us a sheet of homework asking all 10 of us in the audience some questions:

1. Did today’s talk differ from your previous understanding of this issue?
2. Has Dr Renton’s talk affected how you think about the Balfour Declaration?
3. What aspects would you challenge, and why?

Maybe you could email him at james.renton@edgehill.ac.uk with your answers. He wants to hear from you.

William Hague’s nasty Chatham House speech on Israel.

"Vague" Hague.

"Vague" Hague.

William Hague, Britain’s Foreign Minister, recently spoke at Chatham House about 60 years of diplomatic relations between Britain and Israel.

If you want a perfect example of how Britain’s foreign policy has waivered dangerously over the years towards Israel then this speech is a must read.

On the surface Hague’s speech seemed as fluffy and diplomatic as ever towards Israel.

He begins talking about Israel’s undisputed right to exist and to self-defence and Britain’s firm opposition to those who delegitimise and boycott Israel.

But near the end of the speech he states the following that seems to totally condradict this expression of support:

“The British Government has made very clear our concern about ongoing settlement expansion. We believe it is illegal, an obstacle to peace and a threat to a two state solution.”

Two sentences that say so much.

First, I take issue with the word “settlement”. They are actually towns or cities but, admittedly, one wouldn’t expect Hague to do away with such an in-vogue term.

Second, either something is legal or it is illegal. Murder is illegal. One cannot believe that murder is illegal. It is illegal because the law says so.

But there is no law that says the “settlements” are illegal. I suspect Hague knows this, which is why he says he “believes” their expansion is illegal. Very diplomatic.

Nevertheless, Britain voted for last month’s resolution that stated the settlements to be illegal. The resolution was vetoed by America.

But by stating that he “believes” that “settlement expansion” is “illegal” Hague plays straight into the hands of the delegitimiers and boycotters who target Israel because of this alleged “illegality” (see the Ahava boycott).

Hague’s loose talk is boosting the campaigns of those who wish to tear down the Jewish state. Why does he insist on doing this and what are the Conservative Friends of Israel doing on this matter?

Moreover, it was Britain in the first place, via the Balfour Declaration, that said that Jewish people should live where the “settlements” are now, so unless a law is enacted to the contrary how can something Britain once defined as legal suddenly be considered “illegal”? Hague’s position is illogical.

And what has Hague got against “settlement expansion” anyway? British towns expand as of necessity, so why not Israeli “settlements”?

As for Hague referring to “settlement expansion” as being “an obstacle to peace”, even the Palestinians have accepted the “settlements”. See Palileaks.  It is only Hamas they hinder because they block Hamas’ ultimate desire to destroy the Jewish state.

And as for Hague saying “settlement expansion” is “a threat to a two state solution”, well again this is just a load of baloney when the Palestinians will never sign a peace treaty with Israel in a million years even if the “settlements” were removed. We know what Hamas wants and Fatah are too scared of Hamas to ever sign a peace treaty with Israel.

In the same speech Hague gives an answer to the “settlement” conundrum when he talks of any peace deal involving “1967 borders with equivalent land swaps”. So why all this continued fuss over “settlement expansion”? The Palestinians will receive a 1:1 land swap in any eventual peace deal anyway.

Hague blathers on about the “settlement expansion”, but by doing so he is supporting the delegitimisation of Israel and of the settlers. And we have seen where delegitimisation of the settlers leads.

In his speech Hague did condemn the slaughter of the Fogel family in Itamar by two Palestinians. But he diluted the condemnation by referring to the loss of innocent life “on all sides”.

I don’t wish to see any innocent Palestinians killed but there is a huge difference between specifically targeting a three month old Israeli boy and slitting his throat and accidentally killing Palestinian civilians while in the process of trying to destroy Hamas positions to stop deadly rockets being launched into southern Israel.

If Hague really supports Israel’s right to self-defence then he should understand that the blame for the spilling of innocent Palestinian blood lies solely with Palestinian terrorists who fire rockets from civilian areas.

Israel does not target innocent civilians, but Hague’s attempt at moral equivalence infers that it does!

Honestly, has there ever been a Foreign Secretary as disingenuous as William Hague? Oh yes, David Miliband, his predecessor, who also spoke of Israel’s right to self-defence, but expelled an Israeli diplomat after Israel, probably, assassinated a Hamas terrorist in Dubai, and in circumstances in which not one civilian was killed or injured.

Omar Barghouti’s Guardian love-in

Omar Barghouti (Guardian.co.uk)

Omar Barghouti (Guardian.co.uk)

The new mantra of the far-left is that the “South Africa moment” has arrived in relation to Israel.

Reasonable people around the world recognise what Israel is up against when confronting Palestinian terrorists groups. They recognise that Israel’s battle is a mirror-image of the battle that NATO troops are fighting in Afghanistan. While the focus of Al Qaida, the Taleban and Hamas are different all Islamist terror groups employ the same brutal tactic of deliberately targeting and murdering innocent civilians.

Yet in an article for The Guardian Omar Barghouti praises Desmond Tutu, Richard Falk and Mairead Maguire for endorsing the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and that some artists have decided not to entertain in Israel. Many superb artists do play in Israel including Elton John, Madonna and Joan Armatrading.

Far from being a “South Africa moment” Barghouti would know, seeing as he is studying for a Masters at Tel Aviv University, that Israel is booming. The currency is very strong (Israeli banks took on no toxic debt), investments continue to poor in and low cost carriers have started to fly there. Exports flourish with tasty Israeli fruit and vegetables gracing the shelves of British supermarkets. Technological and scientific innovation continues apace (Israeli scientists have recently created a breathe test to detect common forms of cancer).

In his article Barghouti argues that BDS wants three main objectives of the Palestinian people realised:

1. The “occupation” ended – This is understandable but it can only be done around a negotiating table. Israel’s security is paramount and Israel has a right to be in the West Bank. Israeli forces are authorised to be there pursuant to UNSCR 242 drafted after the 1967 war. Arguably the settlers are there in accordance with the Balfour Declaration (“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..”) that was incorporated into the British Mandate of Palestine, a legal instrument endorsed by the League of Nations and incorporated into the United Nations.

2. An end to the racial discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens – Barghouti believes Israel is an “apartheid state” because he thinks it privileges Jews over its own Arab population (some 18% of the total). He didn’t give examples but we all know by now that Israeli Palestinians are well represented politically and some are very nicely off thank you very much. If you want to make money in Israel you can. While things in Israel, like most western countries, are not perfect Israeli Palestinians can fight politically to improve their conditions if they feel they are being slighted.

3. The so-called “right of return” for Palestinian refugees – The outcome of this would be the demographic destruction of the Jewish state, which is the real objective of the BDS movement. Israel obviously won’t agree to this but Barghouti thinks this “right” has UN approval and he disingenuously quotes UNSCR 194, which is not a “right” at all.

UNSCR 194 “Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date..

Anyone read the Hamas Charter recently?:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.

I’m not sure that “killing the Jews” correlates too well to wishing to “live at peace with their neighbours”.

Which brings us, finally, on to the most pernicious aspect of the BDS movement. An increasing amount of the Palestinian and pro-Palestinian narrative is being aimed at Jews per se. Anti-Semitic cartoons are rife in the Arab world and Hamas is open about what it thinks of Jews.

Pro-Palestinian activists have no qualms about equating Gaza to a Nazi concentration camp. Placards at anti-Israel rallies proclaim “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” while pictures of children behind barbed wire abound.

Then there are the boycotts themselves. Anthony Julius has recognised that historically the boycott has been the main tool used to isolate the Jews. In his Trials of the Diaspora – A History of anti-Semitism in England he cites France in the 1890s, Limerick in 1904, Nazi Germany, Egypt in 1945 and Saudi Arabia in 1952. In the UK during the 1930s and 1960s right-wing fascists carried out boycotts.

Today it is Israel, which is disproportionately Jewish, that is being similarly boycotted. The sole qualification is to be Israeli. Organisations like Boycott Israeli Goods (BIG) make no bones about this.

Targeting someone because of their origin is normally considered racist but not, apparently, when it comes to Israel. Although the BDS movement is unsuccessful what makes a respected British newspaper like The Guardian unable to recognise the vicious ideology it is promoting is totally beyond me.