Israel’s Best Friends to Her Rescue

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by Neil Godfrey

Before authorizing the UK’s vote in the United Nations condemning Israel’s new settlement program British Prime Minister Theresa May made history by announcing that Britain would formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism. The IHRA’s definition is controversial insofar as it draws a very thin line between criticism of the state of Israel and antisemitism today, so May demonstrated courage in so unconditionally embracing it. Theresa May then did a Donald and tweeted:

The altright Breitbart could not avoid her praise of Israel:

Just two weeks ago, in a speech to the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) group, Mrs. May described the Jewish state as a “remarkable country,” a “beacon of tolerance,” and a “crucial” ally for Britain. Breitbart, 27 December 2016

So UK’s Prime Minister is speaking to Israel as a firm friend. About 9 and a half minutes in May also said:

“We must be honest with our friends like Israel because that is what true friendship is about. That’s why we have been clear about building new illegal settlements. It is wrong, it is not conducive to peace and it will stop.”

It is soon after that announcement, about 13 and a half minutes in, when Theresa May further declared that her government will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism.

If the UK’s stance can be taken as an indication, then the words of an opposition member of the Israeli Knesset, Tzipi Livni, may not be very far astray:

“The entire world is not against the state of Israel, but rather against the settlement policy of the Israeli government. In times of war against enemies, we will stand by the government’s side, but we will not stand beside a government that turns our friends into enemies through its policies.” — as reported in The Algemeiner, 28 December 2016

The American Conservative similarly sends a well-meaning warning to turn Israel from future disaster:

There is a broad international consensus that settlement-building in the occupied territories is both illegal and a barrier to a negotiated resolution of the conflict. No one who is genuinely interested in securing a negotiated resolution of the conflict thinks that continued settlement construction makes a peace agreement more likely. One of the main reasons for continued construction is to establish de facto control over most of the territory that has been occupied while leaving less and less land for the Palestinians so that it becomes impossible for them to have their own state. If that continues, it sets Israel up to rule over a stateless, subject people in perpetuity, and that will be a disaster for all involved. If making an attempt to oppose that dreadful outcome constitutes “betrayal,” I shudder to think what loyalty is supposed to look like.

Calling out Israel for its ongoing illegal behavior becomes unavoidable when there is no progress in resolving the conflict, and the current Israeli government has made it very clear that there won’t be any progress. Criticizing Israel for behavior that has contributed to its increasing isolation in the world is not an unfriendly or treacherous act, and it ought to serve as a wake-up call to warn Israel away from a ruinous path.The American Conservative, 28 December 2016

The same conservative source published a like-minded article by Patrick Buchanan:

Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the most decorated soldier in Israel’s history, has warned his countrymen, “As long as in this territory west of the Jordan River there is only one political entity called Israel, it is going to be either non-Jewish, or non-democratic.”

“If the bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote” added Barak, “this will be an apartheid state.” Of John Kerry’s speech, Barak said, “Powerful, lucid … World & majority in Israel think the same.”

Note that General James Mattis is Trump’s appointed Defense Secretary. Trump has also appointed Thomas Friedman as ambassador to Israel, and Friedman has compared Jews who criticize Israel with Jewish Nazi collaborators. But notice that that the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism appears to define such comparisons as worse than illegitimate.

Defense Secretary-designate Gen. James Mattis warned in 2013 that Israeli settlements were leading to an “apartheid” state. The American Conservative, 30 December 2016

No-one wants to see another apartheid state. These are the warnings of friends of Israel, not her enemies.

I have cited mostly pro-Israel conservative sources till now. Indulge me if I quote from a more liberal news service, but one that is nonetheless Jewish:

Kerry’s address was a superbly Zionist and pro-Israel speech. Anyone who truly supports the two-state solution and a Jewish and democratic Israel should welcome his remarks and support them. It’s a binary incidence, with no middle ground. It’s no surprise that those who hastened to condemn Kerry even before he spoke and even more so afterward were Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett and the heads of the settler lobby. Kerry noted in his speech that it is this minority that is leading the Israeli government and the indifferent majority toward a one-state solution.Haaretz, 29 December 2016

A solid majority of the countries that voted for the UN Security Council resolution are not anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic. The message of their vote was simple: It’s the settlements, stupid.Haaretz, 26 December 2016

Israel is in a terrible fix. The Netanyahu government is hostage to the most extreme right wing elements of all, especially the land lobby. To annex the West Bank outright is political suicide. Israelis do not want to add millions of Palestinians to their Jewish state. To do so would mean that Israel could no longer exist as a Jewish state if it were to remain a democracy. (Assuming a democracy based on ethnic qualifications for citizenship is not an oxymoron.)

Let Prime Minister Netanyahu be heard through Breitbart:

“I don’t seek applause, I seek the security and peace and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state,” he continued. “The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years and we are not about to be dissuaded by mistaken policies that have caused great damage. Israelis do not need to be lectured of the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel’s hand has been extended to its neighbors since day one, from its very first day. We pray for peace. We worked for it everyday since then. Thousands of Israel families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them. There are many, many others. No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt. This is how we made peace with Jordan. It is the only way we’ll make peace with the Palestinians. That’s always been Israel’s policy.”Breitbart, 28 December 2016

This is how we made peace with Egypt. Indeed. By withdrawing all occupation forces and illegal Israeli settlements from land captured in the 1967 war. But the Bible never really gave the Sinai to Israel, did it? Not that the UK and US are suggesting that Israel withdraw all settlements from the West Bank today. There is some irony, however, in the fact that the Egypt-Israel peace treaty signed on 26 March 1979 followed hard on the heals of the United Nations Security Council resolution 446, also condemning Israel’s illegal new settlement activity in the West Bank, adopted 22 March 1979 — again with the United States abstaining.

The point is that it is Israel’s friends, nations opposed to antisemitism and pro-Israel in other respects, who are trying to save Israel as a Jewish state and a democracy, who are among those speaking out through the United Nations Security Council resolution 2334. If antisemitism is on the rise once again, and there are indications that it is, then it is encouraging to see that Israel does have such friends today who will speak out against the acts of an Israeli government under the influence of a radical right wing settlement lobby, and who will seek to bring Israel back from isolation into a community of nations made up of many good and strong friends.


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Neil Godfrey

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10 thoughts on “Israel’s Best Friends to Her Rescue”

    1. One has to weep. Coyne looks to his adopted Polish mother as his fount of understanding of the legalities of the West Bank settlements. He could simply have followed the links within the UN resolution 2334 to see the historical and legal arguments upon which the resolution is based. But no, he turns to his adopted Polish mother instead.

      And on the second, he relies upon Maajid Nawaz who has been proven to be self-servingly dishonest in key aspects about his life in Radical and whose post on the settlements demonstrates a most fantastical naivety and sheer ignorance about the ideology behind the settlement program. That Nawaz places the Palestinian question on the same level as territorial disputes over Cyprus and Kashmir equally demonstrates that he has completely forgotten the real issues and history at the heart of the settlement question.

      Coyne is functioning in his own echo chamber.

      1. It’s interesting because has previously called for the settlements to be dismantled. But I guess he didn’t really mean it.

        Malgorzata denied the Israeli use of white phosphorus so perhaps she might not be the most objective source on this.

        As for Nawaz, hardly any of the ideas in that piece are his own. It’s basically just Likud propaganda dressed up as analysis.

  1. I agree with your stance Neil and am glad to see you writing about this. I’ve been watching Fox and their reaction on this has been incredibly one-eyed and ignorant – even worse than usual. It’s good to see your clear-eyed response. I think the US did the right thing here, and I applaud Kerry’s speech. As a NZer I’m glad we were one of the sponsors of the resolution. As you point out, it’s ridiculous to suggest that condemning the settlements prevents peace. The biggest problem is Netanyahu sucking up to the far-right to retain power.

    It’s particularly worrying because Trump has nominated an ambassador who opposes the two-state solution and is on the side of the far-right in Israel.

    I was surprised at Nawaz’s response. In the past he has actually been a balanced voice on the conflict. He seems to have moved to the Israeli side.

    I expressed my disagreement with Jerry and Malgorzata on WEIT, and I’m still friends with them both. They’re good people.

    I wish you didn’t feel the need to include the personal digs about Jerry and Nawaz. I think this would have been a better post without them. Of course, it’s up to you what you write – I’d soon be complaining if you told me what to include in my blog!

    1. My post made no mention at all of Coyne or Nawaz. I was responding to another’s comment about them. I am appalled that Coyne uses his reputation to feed his readers ignorance and bigotry. Such professional betrayal of his public should be called out. He may be nice to you, but I have found him to be dishonest and unfair with me for merely attempting to address factual and logical errors in a comment of his some time ago. He has since used his blog to make snide and false attacks on me (refusing me any right to respond, of course). Despite several offline attempts to engage him in civil discourse (and to patch up our differences) I have found him to be an arrogant bully. But I still try to give him credit where it is due in other posts that interest me.

  2. How right wing is this. Palestinians’ agenda is colonialist. It involves racist ethnic cleansing. Real liberals should shun it. My JPost col m.jpost.com/Opinion/Real-l…

    1. Palestinians are people like Jews and you and me. Most of them want the same things Jews and you and I want. I invite you to broaden your reading and learn more about the variety and reality of other races, even Palestinian Arabs.

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