Whatever his other accomplishments, the Archbishop of Canterbury is not a champion of the Jewish state. Rowan Williams has regularly criticised Israeli policy, particularly its attempts to defend itself, while consistently underplaying the jihadist threat to Western civilisation.
Perhaps his most notorious intervention came in 2006 when, on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem, he lamented the departure of Christians from Bethlehem. In an article he wrote subsequently, he asked how much it mattered to the Israeli Government “to have Christian communities in the Holy Land.” He added: “Are they an embarrassment or are they part of a solution?” The clear implication was that Israel was forcing Christians from the Holy Land.
Naturally this ignored the real reasons for the dwindling Christian population: growing Islamisation in the Palestinian territories accompanied by Muslim violence. On the same tour Dr. Williams dismissed Israel’s security fence, claming that it arose from a ‘terrible fear of the other and the stranger’ rather than a legitimate desire for security.
The failure to understand Israel’s existential plight went hand in hand with his lily livered approach to radical Islam, particularly the persecution of Christians under Islamic rule. At the same time that he was mistakenly denouncing Israeli policy, Christian communities were being repressed in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq and a host of other countries. Yet he chose to focus on Israel, a country whose Christian population had more than trebled since 1948.
In response to the endemic problems in the Muslim world, all Rowan Williams felt able to say was that its political solutions were not ‘always very impressive.’ What was certainly unimpressive was his failure to resist the clamour for Sharia Law in Britain. Unlike moderate Muslims who believed in the application of a single law for all citizens, Williams suggested that in some areas of civil life, Sharia was ‘inevitable’ and should not be resisted.
In his role, Dr. Williams is supposed to champion Christian values. What he cannot see, or admit publicly, is that radical Islam, allied to the state religion of multiculturalism, has undermined those values.
How refreshing then to hear an altogether different perspective from his predecessor, Lord Carey. Last week Carey signed a declaration by the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration which called for Britain’s borders to be tightened in order to stop the British population reaching 70 million by 2029.
He was denounced as a racist but he is nothing of the kind. Carey’s primary concern is that many newcomers are actively rejecting this country’s core Judaeo-Christian values, including religious freedom and parliamentary democracy. And while he acknowledges that most Muslim immigrants are broadly patriotic and share British values, a hardline Islamist core clearly does not. They are opting for segregation, not assimilation.
Indeed not only has Carey understood the threat from radical Islam, he has been prepared to say so quite openly. In a lecture delivered in 2004, Carey called on Muslims to urgently address their religion’s association with violence. He declared that ‘very few Muslim leaders’ unconditionally condemned ‘the evil of suicide bombers’ and acknowledged the role played by the ‘intolerant and tyrannical beliefs’ of Saudi Wahhabism. Further, he had no problems labelling Islamic radicals as ‘terrorists.’ What contributed to this radicalism was the ‘glaring absence of democratic governments,’ widespread educational impoverishment and a lack of religious freedom. His ability to connect the dots was impressive.
Those who appreciate the Islamist jjhad are usually more sympathetic to Israel; so it is with the former Archbishop. In recent years he has spoken out against anti Israeli sanctions which, in his words, “ignore the trauma of ordinary Jewish people.”
He was also one of the few prominent Churchmen to condemn the anti Israeli carol service in Piccadilly, declaring that it would “strengthen an anti-Israeli agenda, trivialize the political issues and nourish an anti-Semitic culture.” One cannot imagine such a robust response coming from the present Archbishop.
At a time when both anti Semitism and militant Islam are on the increase, the Church of England urgently needs a clear moral compass. It is tragic that this commodity is so lacking under its current leadership.
Audacious Dubai hit was a morally justified success
The recent killing of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh by agents using forged passports has provoked indignation from the British establishment. The prime minister has promised a full investigation while the media has lined up to condemn Israel.
But while some have voiced understandable concern at the misuse of passports, others have criticised the operation itself. In the Daily Telegraph last week, Alasdair Palmer said that it was a "sinister development" if assassination was now "an accepted tool of foreign policy".
But to denounce all extra judicial killings as illegitimate is somewhat facile. In recent years, Al Qaeda operatives and insurgents in Pakistan have been killed by the use of American unmanned drones. According to CIA Director, Leon Pancetta: "It's the only game in town in confronting and trying to disrupt the Al Qaeda leadership."
The point is that those who are killed are enemy combatants and therefore legitimate targets in the ongoing war on terror.
Al-Mabhouh fitted into this category. He was a senior operative for Hamas, an organisation whose depraved cult of death glorifies the killing of Jews and Israelis worldwide. He recently confessed to being involved in the killing of two Israelis in 1989 and, at the time of his death, was reportedly on a mission to transfer rockets from Iran to Gaza.
If Mossad carried out the operation - and this has yet to be proven - Israel had every right to regard al-Mabhouh as an enemy combatant with blood on his hands.
The fact that he was dressed in civilian clothing and operating on foreign soil would not have given him immunity from attack.
Liberals are uneasy with extra judicial killings because they involve, by definition, punishment outside the law. But the option of arrest and due process was simply unavailable on this occasion.
Whoever killed Al-Mabhouh knew that he had been living in Syria, a country that provides first class protection for a horrifying variety of terrorist godfathers. With Syria unwilling to hand over al-Mabhouh, the option of arrest inside Dubai was similarly impossible.
With the arrest option unavailable, countries can either give terrorists carte blanche to continue their operations or eliminate them altogether. Had al-Mabhouh been left untouched, he could well have brought a lethal cocktail of Iranian weaponry into Gaza, endangering the lives of countless thousands of Israelis.
This might have satisfied liberal European opinion but not Israel's own government which has no interest in committing national suicide. Some argue that killing militants is ineffective in the long run, given how easily they can be replaced.
Terror groups are like the mythical hydra, we are told. If you kill a few operatives, several more emerge to supplant them. But it is never easy for a terror network to replace experienced commanders and bomb makers, many of whom have been trained for years at considerable expense. At the very least targeted assassinations buy democracies time while their enemies are forced to regroup.
Extra judicial killings are also designed for the purpose of deterrence. Al-Mabhouh's assassination will remind all terrorists and arms smugglers that their operations are under constant surveillance. They will not sleep easily if they know that their movements are being tracked by foreign intelligence and they may become permanently distrustful of others.
Of course not all extra judicial killings are legitimate. Several South American regimes used death squads in the 1960s to crush left-wing opposition while the Soviet Union was notorious for state-sanctioned murder. Autocratic regimes routinely silence peaceful dissidents in the most barbaric fashion, citing national security as a pretext.
But Al-Mabhouh was in a wholly different category. He chose to be part of the global jihad that is currently assaulting Western interests across the globe. In particular, he was an active participant in Iran's unrelenting war of terror against Israel.
That was why, despite the liberal intelligentsia's sanctimonious bleating, his assassination was both audacious and morally justified.
Obama has forgotten who his true friends are 12 March 2010
Since his inauguration, President Obama’s Middle East diplomacy has caused consternation in Israel and beyond. His fixation on freezing West Bank settlements has helped to create the impression that he is a naïve leftist doggedly pursuing an Arabist agenda.
Now his administration is overseeing indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and, once again, settlements have come under the spotlight. Israel’s recent decision to approve 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem was condemned by Joe Biden for ‘undermining trust’ between the two sides and ‘complicating’ negotiations.
This position is rather odd, given that Senator Mitchell had previously accepted that the 10 month settlement freeze would not apply in East Jerusalem. But stranger still is Washington’s refusal to tackle the real causes of the current impasse.
Fundamentally, the Palestinian Authority has never abandoned its destructive mindset regarding the Jewish state. First there is Mahmoud Abbas’ refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a position he has held consistently in recent years. It has enabled the Fatah leader to foster the dream of the ‘right of return’ of Palestinian refugees, a formula for the destruction of Israel.
Then there is the daily incitement to violence against Jews and Israelis, currently at epidemic levels. Teenage Palestinians in the West Bank are taught The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as fact and given maps of the Middle East with Israel erased. When they attend a mosque, they hear sheiks proclaiming that the murder of Israelis is an Islamic duty, indeed the highest religious duty. They see Jews routinely compared to pigs and apes on their televisions.
Far from turning his back on terror, Abbas has glorified it. He recently described the Fatah trained killers of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Hai, a 45 year old Israeli killed last December, as ‘shahids’ (holy martyrs). He recently approved the naming of a public square in honour of Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist who masterminded the killing of 37 Israelis in 1978. Collectively, these things keep the Palestinian mind primed for another round of battle.
This belligerence, which naturally must end, should not be seen as just another Israeli grievance. Its cessation should be a precondition for discussing any grievances. There should be no quid pro quo for ending Palestinian violence, as if the expansion of settlements and the promotion of terror were somehow equivalent.
Yet already you can hear the cries of liberal indignation. How can diplomacy work in an atmosphere of partisanship? Should America not be an honest and impartial broker between Israel and the Palestinians? Would it not be immoral for Obama to favour one side’s position over another?
But this view involves a most spurious form of moral equivalence. Israel remains a long term, dependable American ally and law abiding democracy, which is defiantly battling the scourge of fundamentalist terror. The PA, by contrast, has done little to show that it could become a terror free democracy or a Western oriented state.
As Itamar Marcus of Palestine Media Watch notes, the PA’s key ideological allies are states with a visceral loathing of America: Cuba, Venezuala, North Korea and Iran to name but four. Thus to place Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the same footing is both intellectually and morally wrong. It is to sell out an American ally.
Yet selling out America’s allies has become an unfortunate hallmark of the Obama administration. The President’s cringing obeisance before Iran and insistence on ‘unconditional’ talks ensured that he gave only muted support to the beleaguered Green movement.
Obama bent over backwards to appease the Russians over missile defence and by doing so, abandoned his East European partners. Most recently, he refused to acknowledge British sovereignty over the Falklands, preferring Argentina’s case for UN mediated intervention. In each case, the President won contempt from enemies and allies alike.
Obama certainly can play a constructive role in furthering the cause of regional peace and security. But by failing to acknowledge his country’s genuine friends, he is setting himself up for failure.
Channel 4 allowed sentiment to get the better of reason 25 March 2010
Last week Channel 4 aired a Dispatches documentary called Children of Gaza, which followed the lives of four Palestinian children after Operation Cast Lead. They recounted poignant stories of loss and suffering, of parents killed, houses obliterated and lives torn apart by the tragedy of war.
One would have felt less than human not to sympathise with these youngsters. But sentiment should never get the better of reason. Far from being accurate and objective, this documentary was unbalanced and misleading the result of a blatantly partisan political agenda.
The filmmaker offered little context for Operation Cast Lead and no Israeli spokesman was interviewed. The narrative was effectively provided by children whose responses suggested they had been primed by Gazan terrorists. When interviewed they made statements such as: 'Why are they attacking Gaza?'and 'Did we hurt them?'and 'My father wasn't a terrorist.'One says of his former home: This house was inanimate. It didn't do anything or fire rockets... so why did they destroy it?'
The implication was that the Israeli bombardment was a punitive and reckless action targeting vulnerable citizens. But this gives a totally distorted picture of the war. Some Palestinian fathers were terrorists who belonged to a variety of murderous organisations.
Had Hamas not launched an incessant barrage of rockets from 2005 onwards, causing disruption, trauma and death to Israeli citizens, Cast Lead would never have happened. Those poor children would now be living in their original homes surrounded by their loving parents.
Imagine if the BBC had interviewed German children in 1943 and asked them to recount their horrific experiences of aerial bombardment. Their comments would have aroused understandable sympathy but would not have explained why they had suffered in the first place. Without the accompanying context of Nazi aggression, an observer would conclude that the Anglo-American governments were uniquely barbaric and worthy of condemnation.
This documentary was also lopsided by refusing to accept the real reasons for the civilian casualties. Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre has just released a report showing how Hamas used 'human shield' tactics throughout the war. Improvised explosive devices were placed inside homes, command centres were set up near hospitals and rockets were fired from schools. Inevitably civilians died in counter-terror operations, despite Israel's best efforts to avoid harming non combatants.
Yet none of this comes across in the programme. In another part of the documentary children in a UNWRA school were asked to draw images of their wartime experiences. In a lesson on human rights, an educator told them that the 'Jews' children' were not to blame for their suffering.
While the focus on non-violence was commendable, it offered a misleading picture of the Palestinian education system. Like Fatah, Hamas terrorists are not in the business of instilling liberal sensibilities in their people. If they were, they would have altered their anti-Semitic charter and ended racist incitement at the Islamic University in Gaza.
Towards the end of the documentary a young boy, who lost his father, expressed his desire for 'martyrdom' while caressing his uncle's Kalashnikov. The adult interviewees implied that the child's desire for murder was inevitable, given the horrors he experienced. Israel was implicitly blamed for creating another potential terrorist in an unending 'cycle of violence.' Of course, this is what Hamas would like us to believe. The less naive among us know that Palestinians are taught the value of jihad from childhood and Jewish 'infidels' are their ultimate enemy. It is this lethal brainwashing which feeds the genocidal war against Israel.
Operation Cast Lead certainly was tragic for innocent Palestinians, as are all wars for non combatants. But this should not cause us to lose sight of the fundamental facts. Hamas, and its Iranian backers, provoked the conflict in 2009 and they must take ultimate responsibility for the ensuing casualties.
Kauman's comments are beyond the pale 27 April 2010
Last month a British political figure claimed that a section of the Conservative party was owned by ‘right wing Jewish millionaires.’ At first glance this defamatory comment would appear to have come straight from the BNP’s political lexicon. Instead it was mouthed by Sir Gerald Kaufman, veteran Labour politician and avowed anti racist, at a meeting of the Friends of Al Aqsa.
At the same meeting another Labour MP, Martin Linton, declared: “There are long tentacles of Israel in this country who are funding election campaigns.” Unlike Mr. Linton, Kaufman has refused to apologise for his remarks or claim they were taken out of context. His willingness to offend the Jewish community is sadly par for the course. Surveying the last decade, one finds that Kaufman has used every tactic imaginable to delegitimise the Jewish state. He has openly compared Israeli actions to those of the Nazis and likened the situation of Palestinians to those of black people in apartheid South Africa.
For recent Israeli leaders, Kaufman has expressed only the harshest comments. In 2002 he described Ariel Sharon as a ‘right wing thug,’ ‘a blustering bully’ and a ‘war criminal.’
He claimed that Sharon’s ‘repulsive government’ had used ‘methods of barbarism’ against the Palestinians which had ‘stained the Star of David.’ During Operation Cast Lead he offered Parliament this rhetorical question: ‘Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass-murderers and war criminals?’
In the aftermath of Israel’s counter terror operations in the West Bank in 2002, Kaufman denounced Israel as ‘an international pariah.’ As a former supporter of Israel who once had an ‘infatuation’ with the country, he now claimed to be disillusioned with its changed image. He argued that Israel was being portrayed by photographs of its soldiers ‘smirking over the corpse of a Palestinian they had just killed’.
But this standard was only selectively applied. He did not condemn Britain or the United States as pariah states despite the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
Despite admitting that Palestinian suicide bombing was ‘undoubtedly horrible terrorism’ carried out by ‘mass murderers’ he suggested that Israel was to blame for its own suffering. He told fellow MPs: ‘We need to ask how we would feel if we had been occupied for 35 years by a foreign power that denied us the most elementary human rights.’
The notion that Palestinian terrorism was Israel’s own fault was reiterated in 2006 when he described Hamas’ electoral victory in Gaza as the ‘inevitable outcome of everything Sharon did as prime minister.’
What was missing here was any sense of context. The second intifada came directly after the Palestinians were offered a two state solution while Hamas’ victory in Gaza owed far more to the Palestinian Authority’s endemic corruption.
Kaufman’s vitriol reached new heights during Operation Cast Lead when he directly compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to those of Nazi Germany. Citing the murder of his grandmother at the hands of the Nazis in WW2, he told MPs: ‘My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.’ He declared that Israel’s Government was ‘ruthlessly and cynically’ exploiting ‘guilt among gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.’
This claim is frequently made by supporters of the extreme right, often in countries where attempts are made to compensate Holocaust victims. But when it comes to making calumnies against Israel, the far left and far right often converge.
In order to deal with this ‘recalcitrant’ nation, Kaufman has suggested a simple remedy. In an article for The Guardian in 2004 he wrote: ‘Economic sanctions and an arms ban against Israel are the only way of breaking the impasse,’ adding for good measure that the sanctions policy ‘brought down apartheid South Africa.’
In a more recent article in the Spectator, he even suggested that it would be ‘poetic justice’ for Israel to be invaded by outside powers as punishment for its ‘illegal’ invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The apartheid analogy, a favourite with those who demonise the Jewish state, is wholly false.
In apartheid South Africa, black people could not vote and were denied a full range of citizenship rights. Israeli Arabs, by contrast, have always been full citizens of Israel and can vote accordingly. The military restrictions imposed on the West Bank’s Palestinians have come about for reasons of security, not race or religion.
Kaufman derides his critics as ‘fanatical right-wing Jewish chauvinists.’ But given his appalling track record, he has surely put himself beyond the pale. In light of his most recent comment about the alleged machinations of ‘Jewish millionaires’, the Labour leadership should have removed the whip from him with immediate effect. What does it say about Mr. Brown’s government that it has not?
Weak sanctions epitomise a decade of failed diplomacy 28 May 2010
Insanity has been defined as ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ When one examines how the West has tried to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, this adage seems especially apt.
Last week, Hilary Clinton announced that the 5 permanent members of the Security Council had agreed a draft resolution for further sanctions against Iran.
She triumphantly proclaimed that this ‘strong sanctions resolution’ would send ‘an unmistakable message’ to Iran while the Defence secretary, Robert Gates, added that the resolution would give a ‘legal platform’ for countries to take tougher action against Tehran.
Sadly the optimism was premature. Like all previous sanctions resolutions, this one has been diluted to the point of impotence and in the absence of more robust measures, Iran will shortly be joining the nuclear club. This is insanity indeed.
The new draft resolution is patently inadequate for a variety of reasons. The proposals include a ban on countries selling tanks, armoured combat vehicles, warplanes and other heavy weapons to Iran.
However, this falls short of a total embargo on arms sales, including more sophisticated weaponry. Crucially the Russians are intent on sending Iran the lethal S300 surface to air missile, which can shoot down incoming fighter planes. Israeli politicians have described the delivery of this system as a ‘game changer’ for the region.
Even though countries are authorised to intercept ships carrying prohibited items to Iran, the inspection requires the consent of the government whose flag is flown on the vessel. This may be difficult to obtain, especially if the ship in question comes from a rogue state like North Korea.
The draft resolution calls on nations to "exercise vigilance" regarding transactions that involve the Revolutionary Guards. Yet as this is a non binding requirement, its effectiveness is highly questionable.
In fact, just about the only sanctions that might have had any bite, namely those affecting the import and export of petroleum products, were deliberately excluded. China, which imports 15% of its oil from Iran, would have vetoed any such resolution.
It is little wonder that Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Gabriela Shalev, recently predicted that punitive measures against Iran would be “watered down.” The tough talk on sanctions (the only tough thing about them) creates the pretence of resolute action whereas Washington now seems resigned to containing a nuclear Iran.
Yet the advent of a nuclear Iran would be an unmitigated disaster for the US and its allies around the globe.
Countries like Bahrain and Kuwait have large Shiite populations that are capable of being stirred up on Iran’s behalf. The governments of these countries might be forced to appease the nuclear armed mullahs in order to maintain law and order.
The threat of a nuclear arms race in the region is also palpable. In 2008 the U.S. National Intelligence Council concluded that Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities were “partly responsible for the surge of interest in nuclear energy in the Middle East.” One could expect this interest to reach uncontrollable levels in the event of Iranian nuclearisation. Under these circumstances, the non proliferation treaty would be seen as a sham.
Worse, an Iranian bomb would empower the country’s proxies, like Hamas, especially if they were the recipients of a radiological device. This would have a destabilising effect on the entire region.
With sanctions proving ineffective, Israel’s government may feel it has no choice but to launch military strikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. There are grave difficulties with this option, both logistical and diplomatic. To reach Iran, the Israeli air force would probably have to overfly Jordanian, Turkish or Iraqi airspace, the latter being controlled by the US, while the IAF could not be certain of hitting all its targets.
One would also have to expect a serious fracture in relations between the US and Israel, whether or not the operation was successful. Relations have already suffered due to Obama’s craven Middle East policy but they may reach breaking point if Jerusalem is seen to defy the will of an American President.
Yet no Israeli leader can leave his countrymen in the shadow of an Iranian bomb, especially one controlled by hard line Islamist clerics. Such is the deplorable dilemma now facing Prime Minister Netanyahu.
A decade of lethally inadequate Western diplomacy has brought us to this point. It is still not too late to act but time is fast running out. The threat of imminent force, supported by a credible war plan, may force a re-assessment in Tehran. Without it, Iran will soon acquire a nuclear weapon with alarming repercussions for the free world.
Tories are forgetting that Israel is a big asset to UK 17 June 2010
The hysterical reaction to the flotilla affair, from media outlets, NGOs and governments, reflected a deeply entrenched global narrative of Israeli malevolence and mischief making.
Israel was automatically cast as the villain, a pariah nation whose blockade of Gaza was merely another reminder of Zionist infamy. Rather worryingly, both our Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary added to the chorus of indignation.
David Cameron described Israel’s interception of the Mavi Marmara as “completely unacceptable” and said he “deplored the loss of life.”
William Hague went further and called on Israel to “allow unfettered access for aid to Gaza,” ignoring the fact that this would lead to an immediate upsurge in Palestinian attacks. Neither Cameron nor Hague questioned why the Turkish terror mission (sorry, humanitarian flotilla) set sail in the first place.
As self proclaimed friends of the Jewish state, both men should remember a crucial truth. Far from being a liability, Israel remains a fundamental strategic asset to the UK.
For one thing, no other Middle Eastern country better reflects Britain’s political culture and liberal values. Israel is a vibrant democracy which respects the most hallowed freedoms of thought, expression and association. Its citizens are free to practise their religious faith and none face arrest for their sexual lifestyle.
They enjoy a free press which holds the government to account while the Israeli Supreme Court, the ultimate arbiter of justice, is regarded as a model of international jurisprudence.
Israel’s political character is important for more than sentimental reasons. Unlike autocratic states, democracies rarely succumb to bouts of revolutionary upheaval. This ensures that their foreign alliances have greater strength and stability, regardless of which government is in power.
By contrast, pro Western, undemocratic regimes are often seen as illegitimate by their peoples, helping to fan the flames of radical protest. Violent revolution often results, as was the case in Iran in 1979.
Above all, Israel is on the front line against radical Islam and this provides the basis for her current strategic alliance with Britain, and the West.
The greatest existential threat to the Jewish state today comes from Iran and its terrorist proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Tehran has long supplied Hezbollah with extensive funding and weaponry, turning the Shi’ite terror organisation into an Iranian proxy, while Hamas commanders have been trained by the Revolutionary Guards. Iranian influence has destabilised Gaza and Lebanon, causing violent conflicts in both regions.
Yet Israel’s enemy in chief has also been a mortal threat to the British army. Iran has helped to sustain the violent insurgency in Iraq, supporting Shia militias such as the Mahdi army and the Badr Corps.
Tehran has also funded and trained the Taliban, supplying them with deadly grenades, landmines and short range rockets. This lethal cocktail of weaponry has led to dozens of British deaths.
Some argue that these common threats matter less than the need for secure oil supplies. Israel lacks this vital commodity while the Arabs have it in droves, making a pro Arab, anti Israeli policy appear necessary for Britain.
But the main impediment to this oil supply would come from a nuclear Iran which bullied its neighbours. The country could pressure Gulf states to lower oil production or even block the Straits of Hormuz. Thus a powerful Israel which defies Iran could help secure, rather than hinder, this country’s most vital economic interests.
The tireless work of Israel’s security services has also been indispensable to the UK. In recent years, Mossad has gathered mounting evidence of the threat from Muslim extremism in Britain. Its constant stream of intelligence about radical jihadists has been invaluable to MI5 and MI6.
Colonel Richard Kemp, the former British Commander in Afghanistan, has also revealed that he obtained advice from an IDF Brigadier-General on how to tackle the threat of Afghan suicide bombers. The information he received now forms the basis of the British army’s doctrine for dealing with this type of terrorism.
While other Arab countries also share intelligence with Britain, this is often subject to their leaders’ whims. Saudi Arabia recently threatened to terminate intelligence sharing with London unless the Serious Fraud Office cancelled its probe into the Al-Yamamah affair.
Cameron and Hague should think twice then before slamming Israeli policy. The Jewish state remains one of the strongest of Britain’s allies and a vital strategic asset to the West.
Talking to terrorists is a sign of weakness, not strength 23 July 2010
The poll conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has given us a remarkable insight into Anglo-Jewry and its attitudes towards Israel. On the whole there is much to celebrate. The vast majority of British Jews show a healthy support for the Jewish state and most identify themselves as Zionists. British Jews largely back Israeli measures of self defence, such as the security barrier, and military operations like Cast Lead.
But the most startling revelation is the one highlighted by this paper last week: more than half of British Jews believe that ‘the government of Israel should negotiate with Hamas in its efforts to achieve peace.’
At first glance it is not clear what there would be to talk about. Hamas is a fanatical Islamist movement that is committed to destroying the Jewish state. Its opposition to Israel springs not from any territorial grievance but from the country’s very existence, as well as a visceral hatred of Jews.
The Hamas Charter, which borrows much from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, accuses Jews of controlling the world media for their own purposes. It declares that Jews use their influence and money to stir endless wars around the world and blames them for every modern revolution. In particular, it depicts Zionists as malevolent land grabbers with a ‘limitless’ plan to create a state from ‘the Nile to the Euphrates.’
This is nothing but a vicious and paranoid charter of hate that belongs to the Nazi era. It is hardly surprising that Hamas rejects peaceful solutions to the Arab-Israeli problem as ‘contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.’
At most, its participation in peace talks would yield a hudna, a temporary cessation of hostilities for purely tactical purposes, rather than a lasting settlement. This would allow the terrorists to consolidate their strength and regroup before another round of hostilities.
Yet treating Hamas as a respectable interlocutor would also gravely affect the West’s counter terrorism strategy. Commentators often countenance a dialogue with ‘moderate’ Islamists (they mean Hamas and Hezbollah) in order to counter the more lethal tendencies of al-Qaeda.
Yet Hamas is a Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement described by one commentator as ‘the common wellspring of all modern jihadi terrorism.’ In the past, Hamas has co-operated with local al-Qaeda affiliates such as Jaish al-Islam, the group that abducted Alan Johnston and Gilad Schalit.
Hamas’ leaders have openly distributed propaganda material that salutes jihadists in Chechnya, Kashmir and Afghanistan. And despite the Sunni/Shia divide, they are bankrolled by Iran, the world’s leading sponsor of Islamist terror. With these insidious connections, Hamas is a key player in radical Islam’s war against the West and giving it formal recognition would be disastrous.
In fact, if recent history teaches us anything, it is that negotiating with terrorist groups only produces an upsurge in violence. In 1972, as Northern Ireland witnessed a breakdown in law and order, the British government held unofficial talks with IRA leaders.
When these talks collapsed, the IRA carried out a series of 22 explosions on one day that killed 9 people and injured 130. Willie Whitelaw, the Northern Ireland Secretary, was forced to reflect on the ‘risks of dealing with terrorists.’
In the same decade, Palestinian terrorists unleashed a relentless wave of attacks on European soil. They hijacked planes, bombed embassies and murdered civilians in cold blood.
But what accompanied this sickening violence was increasing goodwill from Europe’s governments. Some negotiated with the groups directly and all of them released terrorists quickly from prison. Not surprisingly, the campaign of bombings, murders and hijackings intensified.
In more recent years, Israel’s efforts at peacemaking have led to a similar response. Israel’s ultimate reward for the Oslo process was Arafat’s second intifada while the disengagement from Gaza saw an immediate upsurge in rocket attacks. At the time, neither the PLO nor Hamas had abandoned their war against the Jewish state, leading both to view Israeli concessions as a victory for ‘resistance.’
In general, terrorists interpret peacemaking as a sign of weakness. They believe that their enemies are on the ropes and that they have succumbed due to a campaign of murderous intimidation. Hence they increase the number of terrorist outrages in order to extract maximum concessions from the other side.
There is a great difference between talking to terrorists who are emboldened by violence and negotiating with others who have been forced to renounce their militancy. Hamas is an unrepentant terrorist organisation and that should put them beyond the pale for the west.
More mixed messages from Cameron, the political chameleon 5 August 2010
David Cameron has often called himself a Zionist and a passionate friend of Israel. The problem for the Prime Minister is that many regard him as a political chameleon, a man who constantly changes his beliefs to suit his current audience. On many issues, ranging from Europe to the economy, marriage to crime, he has offered decidedly mixed messages depending on the people he has addressed.
So it is hardly surprising that he insulted Israel last week with his speech in Turkey. With Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan listening, Cameron described Gaza as a 'prison camp' and declared as 'completely unacceptable' Israel's 'attack' on the Turkish flotilla. This was music to Erdogan's ears, and Cameron knew it.
At no point did our PM acknowledge that the Turkish terror group, the IHH, had planned a violent incident at sea, and that it was they who attacked Israeli commandos, not the other way round. He said nothing about Israel's offer to transport aid to Gaza if the flotilla docked at Ashdod.
He also failed to mention that Gaza was only under blockade (from both Egypt and Israel) because of the Hamas terror regime in power there. Cameron's call for 'humanitarian goods' to flow into Gaza belies the fact that Israel already delivers 15,000 tons of aid each week and that certain items are prohibited only for security reasons. In short, Cameron's comments were a mixture of misinformation, distortion and outright lies.
Now Cameron's supporters might well dismiss this as a political storm in a tea cup. They could argue that the PM, like any skilful politician, had to adjust his sentiments in order to win over his hosts. Given that the mission to include Turkey in the EU assumed such importance in Cameron's eyes, it was supposedly worth pandering to his audience's anti Israeli mood.
If true, this hardly shows Cameron in a positive light. For this is surely the strategy of a shallow opportunist who is devoid of conviction, a man who is simply too timid to speak truth to power. It is also self defeating, for Cameron will scarcely be well received in Jerusalem when he piously proclaims Israel's right to self defence. After all, unprincipled and expedient statesmanship tends to be fairly transparent. But were Cameron's anti Israeli comments merely part of a tactical exercise?
Two things make me doubt that this was the case. The first is that Cameron has form when it comes to slating Israeli policy. In 2006, at the height of the conflict with Hezbullah, he described 'elements of the Israeli response' as 'disproportionate,' echoing the criticisms made by William Hague. He then claimed that this rather vacuous comment was 'a statement of fact.'
During Operation Cast Lead, the Tory leader condemned the 'violence' (referring to Israel's counter terror operations) and declared that it 'had to stop.' Then during a recent visit to Israel, Cameron took pride in referring to 'occupied East Jerusalem' before adding: 'I think I had quite an argument with Tsipi Livni about settlements and I think Obama is right to take a robust line.'
Following June's flotilla incident, Cameron called for the UN to 'end the blockade and open up Gaza.' Hearing these one-sided comments, many a pro Palestinian Labour MP would have beamed with joy.
Secondly, Cameron's rather anaemic support for Israel is mirrored in his analysis of Islam. In his Turkey speech, he said that the war in Afghanistan was a fight against 'terrorism', not Muslims, and that Islam was an 'inherently peaceful' faith. Moreover, 'real Islam' was 'not incompatible with the values of Europe.'
It is, of course, true that not all Muslims are Islamists and equally true that most reject violent jihad. It is arguable that Islam is open to a variety of interpretations, only some of which lend support to murderous terrorism.
But it is undeniable that radical Islam, which is inherently anti Western and anti progressive, is gaining influence today in many Muslim countries, particularly among the younger generation. Turkey, supposedly the role model of secular tolerance, is governed by a hard line Islamist with links to Iran, Hamas and Syria.
Cameron's attempts to dissociate Islam and terror reflect a certain political correctness which is common to the chattering classes. It also fits in neatly with his attempts to ditch 'the nasty party' and win favour with the centre left.
Quite simply, bashing Israel's perceived militarism is all the rage among progressives, the very people that Cameron believes will give the Tories the stamp of virtue. If his party's values get dumped in the process, that seems to be a price worth paying.
Cameron prides himself on courage and telling it like it is. But there is nothing courageous about repeating malicious falsehoods and distorted history. It is instead the height of cowardice.
Abbas the peacenik? He's just Arafat with good PR 9 September 2010
With the commencement of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, hopes have been raised for a major political breakthrough in the Middle East. Unlike at Camp David in 2000, Israel supposedly has a partner for peace in Mahmoud Abbas, a leader who condemns violence and Hamas and talks of two states.
Yet Abbas’s behaviour has been very odd for a leader desperate for a Palestinian state. Like a petulant child, he has insisted that Israel extend the moratorium on settlement expansion which was introduced by Netanyahu some 10 months ago. Every day has brought a fresh threat to withdraw from the talks unless the settlement freeze is maintained.
Long before the talks started, Abbas was demanding a series of preconditions for these talks. He wanted a future Palestinian state to be defined by the pre 1967 borders, all settlement building ended and a guaranteed time-frame for eventual statehood.
Naturally this was unreasonable behaviour for it was attempting to fix the outcome of negotiations before they had even started, regardless of his own side’s behaviour. What incentive would Abbas have had for agreeing to Israeli demands if a Palestinian state was a guaranteed outcome? The answer is none. Abba Eban’s famous adage that ‘Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity’ seems strikingly appropriate.
If Abbas wants a state so badly, why has he employed such provocative tactics? Perhaps the simplest answer is that he has little interest in a viable settlement, as his recent track record clearly indicates.
Abbas refuses to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and remains committed to the right of return of Palestinian refugees, the ‘respectable’ formula for the eventual destruction of Israel. He has not always been tactful about this aim, however. Earlier this year he told the Arab League: ‘If you want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favour.’
His Palestinian Authority regularly glorifies terrorist murderers, such as Dalal Mughrabi and Abu Jihad, by naming streets, schools and sports centres after them. This not only honours these despicable killers but serves as a lethal incitement to murder.
The PA’s media regularly launch hate filled diatribes against Jews and Israel. Programmes on Palestinian television demonise the Jews, likening them to poisonous animals and willingly reproducing the most vicious anti semitic images.
Palestinian textbooks still contain maps that describe Israel as ‘occupied Palestine’ and thereby blot out the existence of the Jewish state. PA appointed imams, including the Mufti of Jerusalem, describe the conflict as an ongoing ‘religious war’ (ribat) and demonise Jews as ‘the enemies of God.’ This frenzied hatred is the fuel that helps keep the conflict alive. It is the polar opposite of promoting a historic reconciliation between the two peoples.
But this is about more than the issue of Abbas’ good intentions (or lack of them). The moment that he signs up to a two state solution, he will be branded a traitor among hardline Arabs, including the secular Palestinian terror groups linked to Fatah. Indeed a collection of radical Palestinian groups has already called on Abbas to resign, furious that he has ‘capitulated’ to American pressure.
With his recent approval ratings in free fall, the Palestinian leader could suffer a dramatic and possibly irreversible fall from grace. Hamas could entrench their power in the West Bank, just as they did in Gaza after the 2006 elections. Their unequivocal rejection of talks was marked by the barbaric murder of four civilians last week.
With a Hamas led government in the West Bank, Israel would then face a trio of hostile enemies on all its borders. Iran would see its power and influence extended west of the River Jordan, while Israel’s deterrent capability would be lethally compromised. Tel Aviv would become as vulnerable to rocket attacks as Sderot. Meanwhile Abbas’ guarantees of security would be as worthless as Hitler’s promises in the Munich agreement.
But right now, Mahmoud Abbas has little to lose from being obdurate. He can count on America to pressurise Israel over settlements, knowing that this issue has assumed totemic significance in Washington. If he makes good on his threat to withdraw from the talks, he will claim that he stood his ground and refused to sell out the Palestinian dream.
He knows that President Obama will curse those ‘pesky’ Zionists, particularly Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than the Palestinian Authority. After all, Obama’s contempt for the Israeli leader is scarcely a state secret, even if he has hidden it for domestic political reasons.
Western leaders must stop deluding themselves. Mahmoud Abbas may not be about to launch the next intifada but he shows little willingness or ability to end this conflict. In some respects he is another Yasser Arafat - with good PR.
Desmond Tutu - moral conscience turned nasty bigot 15 October 2010
Desmond Tutu has received enormous praise following the announcement that he is to retire from public life. He has been rightly honoured for spearheading the opposition to apartheid and advocating non violent resistance to racism. As a result of his tireless campaigns for a better South Africa, he has become known to many as the ‘moral conscience’ of his nation.
It is rather a pity then that such a revered figure has now become the ‘moral conscience’ of the campaign to boycott Israel, an idea which is every bit as repugnant as apartheid.
Only last month he publicly supported a petition by the University of Johannesburg to terminate its agreement with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). BGU, he declared, was guilty of ‘maintaining links to both the Israeli defence forces and the arms industry’ and thus, in his view, was complicit with the occupation. He went on to say: ‘Israeli universities are an intimate part of the Israeli regime, by active choice.’
This claim is fatuous in the extreme. Israeli academics live in a vibrant democracy and are often the first to criticise government policy. In any case academic boycotts contradict the core principle that ideas should be judged on their merits, not on the identity of those who advance them.
This is particularly true when valuable knowledge and research is at stake, as is the case with BGU. This renowned university is a world leader in arid zone research, biotechnology and water resource management. Their academics offer invaluable expertise to many countries in the developing world, including South Africa. A boycott would simply harm those who benefit from Israeli technology.
In fact Tutu has long sought to demonise Israel because he believes it is an illegitimate state akin to apartheid South Africa. Yet this allegation is as unfounded as it is malicious.
Under the apartheid regime, skin colour determined where you went to school, who you married, which parks and buses you used and, crucially, whether you could vote. Unlike the oppressed blacks in South Africa, Israeli Arabs have the power to vote and thus to alter their socio-economic circumstances. Nor is there any de jure segregation in Israel.
For sure, the Arab community does face instances of discrimination in work and education and these should certainly be rectified. But the key point is that this discrimination, like that in nearly every country, is institutional, not constitutional. It is not backed by the law.
Nor does the term apartheid apply to Arabs in the West Bank. While it is true that Israeli checkpoints and curfews cause suffering to innocent Palestinians, these measures would not exist without the ongoing terrorist threat to Israeli civilians. Palestinians are not penned into Bantustans from where they can be exploited as a source of cheap labour. The separation barrier (maliciously called the apartheid wall) is designed to keep suicide bombers out of Israel.
Moreover, the Nationalist regime in South Africa was implacably opposed to offering any just settlement for the black majority, at least until the momentous changes in the 1990s.
By contrast, Israeli governments have negotiated a two state solution on several occasions, only to find their offers rebuffed by intransigent Palestinian leaders. Indeed the boycott initiative is gathering momentum just when Israelis are once again wooing their Palestinian counterparts with offers of peace.
But that has not stopped Tutu from expressing his pernicious views. He has argued that Western nations have failed to criticise Israel out of guilt for the Holocaust, and that it is Palestinians who are paying the ‘penance.’
In a speech in the US, he accused America’s ‘very powerful’ Jewish lobby of deterring others from criticising Israeli policy. Aware of the bad PR he had generated, he quickly changed the wording to ‘Israeli lobby.’
For all his belief in non violence, he has equivocated in condemning Palestinian terror. Thus he once said: ‘Surely we must recognise that people caged in, starved and stripped of their essential material and political rights must resist their Pharaoh?’
So for Tutu, these Arab ‘oppressed’ have had little choice but to become suicide bombers, an ignorant position that disregards the cult of brainwashing permeating every level of Palestinian society. Nor is ‘resistance’ a valid term for the wanton murder of innocent civilians. How Martin Luther King would be spinning in his grave.
Instead of championing the anti semitic boycott campaign, Tutu should have acknowledged the role of South African Jewry in fighting apartheid. Despite being a tiny minority, Jews were leading lights in the progressive opposition and some figures, like Helen Suzman, achieved global recognition for their stand. He owes them an incalculable debt for their work.
What a shame for Tutu that, having bravely opposed bigotry for so long, he has now succumbed to it himself.
A phoney deal for a peace process going nowhere 25 November 2010
For two years, President Obama has publicly chastised the Israelis for their settlement policies. Whether it was in his Cairo speech, where settlements were condemned as ‘illegitimate,’ or his public spat over housing construction in Ramat Schlomo, Obama has wasted no time in making this a core issue for the Middle East peace process. This stance has persuaded the liberal media that Israeli ‘intransigence’ is the key barrier to progress.
Now Obama has convinced Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to another (three month) settlement freeze in return for a number of diplomatic and security arrangements. But this phoney ‘settlements for security’ deal will not advance regional peace one iota. It will simply encourage an intransigent Palestinian leadership that continually demands statehood for nothing.
Obama presumably hopes that Mahmoud Abbas will return to the negotiating table, adding impetus to otherwise sterile talks. But this imputes to the Palestinian leader intentions that he almost certainly does not have. For most of the previous ten month settlement freeze, Abbas refused to even meet Netanyahu when the latter was offering face to face talks. Why should he behave any differently now?
There is precious little to suggest that Abbas will undergo a Damascene conversion and sign an agreement on any core issue. Remember that this is the man who refused Olmert’s peace overtures in 2008, the most far reaching concessions offered by any modern Israeli leader.
In any case, the Palestinian leader has already indicated that he will stay away from the talks ‘if there is no complete halt to settlements in all of the Palestinian territories including Jerusalem.’
Naturally he knows that no Israeli government will agree to such conditions, with Netanyahu recently declaring that ‘Jerusalem is not a settlement.’ So even with Israeli concessions and relentless American pressure on the Jewish state, the Palestinian leadership remains disinterested in peace.
The settlements hysteria belies the fact that in any negotiation, the majority of settlements would be annexed by Israel anyway, with land swaps offered for compensation. This was explicit in President Bush’s letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004 in which the US President referred to ‘new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centres.’
More galling is the fact that amid this pressure on Israel, little is being demanded of Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian media remains free to incite hatred against Jews, while their leaders openly reject Jewish sovereignty and insist on the right of return.
But for Obama, this rejectionist mindset, the underlying cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, crumbles into insignificance compared to whether a few hundred Jewish families build extensions to their properties. Yet if settlements are so crucial to a peace accord, why did terror attacks against Israel increase following the decision to remove 7,000 settlers from Gaza in 2005? Settlements were no more the prime issue then than they are today.
Yet Netanyahu may still claim that this 3 month freeze serves Israeli national interests because of the reciprocal concessions from Washington. In return for Israel’s gesture, Obama is reportedly promising to veto anti Israel resolutions at the Security Council for one year. Washington will also provide an additional $3 billion of military assistance in the form of 20 F35 fighter jets.
America’s pledge to veto anti Israel resolutions is designed to prevent a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN. Yet this pledge should be a given, rather than an incentive for peacemaking. American Presidents have long sought to counter the UN’s diplomatic offensive against the Jewish state, using their veto where necessary. Now Obama is offering Israel diplomatic support on a conditional and non permanent basis, hardly a satisfactory way to treat his most dependable regional ally.
Given that Israel is vital to US national security, the new generation of fighter jets is certainly important for the Jewish state, even if it comes with strings attached. But these aircraft will not be arriving for at least 6 years according to most estimates. They will therefore make little difference in confronting the looming menace of a nuclear Iran, the greatest short term threat to regional and world security.
As we speak, Tehran’s leaders are speeding ahead with plans for a nuclear weapon, with only the most ineffective sanctions to confront them. More likely than not, they will very soon have crossed the finishing line. Yet despite this grave prospect, Western leaders are fixated on undermining Israel’s security through a phoney peace process that is going nowhere. No wonder Ahmadinejad is laughing all the way to the A bomb.