As soon as you hear that someone is a human rights lawyer you hope that the subject will not move on to Israel because, for many on the left these days, human rights do not apply to Israel.
This was apparent last night when human rights lawyer John Cooper QC (here’s his showbiz blog) appeared on Sky News to review today’s newspapers alongside Deborah Haynes, Defence Editor of The Times.
Haynes and Cooper were reviewing the story on page 4 of today’s Daily Mail ‘Israel planning to attack Iran before U.S. election‘. Haynes was discussing the ramifications of such an attack and the possibility of scud attacks on Israel. She said she had just returned from Israel and felt that no decision had yet been taken by Israel on attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
She tried to stay objective by restating Iran’s claim that its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes.
Then Cooper had his say and you got a sense of what the chatter around his dinner table must be like when he and his guests discuss the Middle East. Here is the exchange:
Cooper: “You’re the expert on this obviously but I sometimes think we should take a moment to step back from demonising everytime Iran is mentioned. I’m not going to support or standby the atrocities and appalling behaviour that takes place in Iran, certainly not. But I think we often need to analyse what Israel may say is happening. And just because they are saying it is Iran doesn’t mean to say we should always take it from Israel.”
Haynes: “I think it is Iran that is developing nuclear weapons.”
Cooper: “Yes, but on the other hand Israel is not the most peaceful of nations.”
Haynes: “Well, it has got quite combative neighbours. Iran has said that it wants to wipe Israel off the planet.”
Cooper: “All I will say is we shouldn’t always accept, when it comes to international politics, that Israel is the most peaceful of nations. They can be bellicose and they can, to use a colloquialism, ‘wind people up’ as far as their neighbours are concerned.”
Haynes: “Well, they’re using every tool in their box.”
Cooper: “And they have big friends with the Americans, which some of us dont.”
Haynes: “Well, that’s the big thing; whether they can do it on their own or whether America will have to help them and a lot of people say they wouldn’t be able to actually effectively destroy the nuclear facilities on their own.”
Cooper: “The Israel-American axis is sometimes overpowering.”
So, I am not sure what is more disturbing:
1. Cooper acknowledging that Iran commits “atrocities” against its own people, yet he still seems willing to trust Iran’s word over Israel’s.
2. Cooper acknowledging that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but it doesn’t seem to bother him much because, after all, the nation of Israel does tend to “wind people up”. Is the implication that, because of such behaviour, Israelis deserve to be nuked?
3. Cooper twice referring to Israel as “not the most peaceful of nations“. What other country in the world gets referred to as a “nation” these days? For example, in the above exchange Cooper refers to America, not the American “nation”.
Does “nation” include EVERY Israeli? 18% of Israelis are Arabs. I presume he doesn’t mean to include those Arabs, so he must mean EVERY Jewish Israeli?
Seeing as being Jewish seems to be a defining trait could this definition be extended to Jews not just living in Israel? The history of the Jewish people contains, after all, many people who thought we had a knack of winding them up and our ancestors paid a heavy price for such false sentiments.
Either way, had someone said that, for example, Pakistan, the Palestinians or the French are not peaceful nations would that not be considered to have racist overtones?
Worryingly, Cooper has been named by The Times as one of the top 100 influential lawyers of 2012 in the UK.
I wish Haynes had picked Cooper up on his use of the term “nation”. The next best thing would be to be a fly on the wall at one of Cooper’s dinner parties when the subject of the Middle East comes up.