lIf the Conservative Party wins the next General Election in Britain, as is expected by many, David Cameron’s government will refuse to talk to Hizbullah in Lebanon. You won’t find that declaration of intent in any Tory policy document or even in any British newspapers; you need to read the Jerusalem Post. Yes, the Jerusalem Post, for it looks as if the Tories are now announcing policies in Israel first in an echo of US politics where candidates for the presidency have to announce in advance their allegiance to the Zionist state.
Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones made this announcement in an interview last week, while she was attending the so-called Herzliyah Conference organised by Israel’s Institute of Policy and Strategy. The interview covered a number of issues, including Iran, but the focus was on “extremism” and Neville-Jones set out clearly what her party will do if it forms the next British government. This includes a shopping list of measures: according to the Jerusalem Post, the Shadow Security Minister told those attending the Conference, “We will actively block the dissemination of extremist written material and speech. We will take down the Web sites that promote it. We will deny organizations that promote extremism political funding. We will monitor the charities. We will ensure that the Charity Commission which regulates the charities does not allow money to be transmitted through channels which ends up funding extremism violence and terrorism abroad.”
To-date, the Charity Commission has earned enormous respect around the world for its independence and rigour in regulating British charities. What Baroness Neville-Jones appears to be saying is that a Tory government will inject political interference into the charity system in Britain. Of course, the focus on “extremists” so far has generally been on charities run by Muslims and accusations of “supporting terrorism” have originated in Israel, whose “evidence” was rejected by the Charity Commission’s last Inquiry into the work of British charity Interpal last year. It will be interesting to see if a Tory government with Neville-Jones at the helm of security matters (she is a former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, remember) will regard Zionist charities supporting Israel’s policies of colony-settlements and illegal military occupation of the West Bank as “extremist”.
Probably not, for the Shadow Minister already appears to be selective in her definitions of extremists and moderates: “If you talk with the extremists, why bother to be moderate?” she asked. “It is a very fundamental point for us that the forces we need to promote are the forces of moderation.” So, with this uppermost in her mind, she attended a conference in a country whose politicians and military have been accused recently by the UN of committing war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity in Gaza a year ago; a country which breaks international law and humanitarian conventions with impunity; a country which is colonising land occupied through war – an illegal act; a country which is ethnically cleansing the historic land of Palestine through policies likened to those of apartheid South Africa at its worst. That’s Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones’ definition of “moderation”.
This is a shadow minister who speaks on behalf of the same Conservative Party which, according to journalist Peter Oborne a few months ago, has taken donations from an investor with business interests in the illegal settlements in the West Bank, against international law. Is that the Conservative Party’s idea of moderation? Clearly, Neville-Jones doesn’t mean what she says when she declared to the Conference in Israel, “…it is extremely important that the government has a consistent stand when it comes to terrorism”. Consistent in support of Israel, yes, but inconsistent on matters of justice and the maxim that all are equal before the law.
In a clear reference to British Muslims, Neville-Jones says, “More has to be done to integrate immigrants into British society”, ignoring the fact that the majority of Muslims in Britain have been born in the country; they are not immigrants. Moreover, it is this younger generation of Muslims born and raised in Britain whose disillusion with politics and politicians has been coloured by the double-standards and hypocrisy in foreign policy espoused by the Tory Shadow Minister herself.
According to media reports, in January 2009, during Israel’s brutal assault and invasion of Gaza, Pauline Neville-Jones warned that the war would “encourage Islamism and Islamic terrorism”. She could, of course, have said that the war was wrong and broke legal and moral conventions, and called upon the Israelis to withdraw and change their policies. The fact that she, apparently, chose not to, speaks volumes about the priority that an incoming Tory government will have, a priority that places the security of Israel above the security of Britain and which in part explains why David Cameron’s security spokesperson opted to announce future policies in a foreign state before doing so in this country.