Portuguese / Spanish / English

London is the hub of justice, not hate

An article in the Jewish Chronicle, London's hub of Israel hate, coincided with a disturbing report from the Guardian's correspondent in the Galilee. The former is based on a report by the Israeli Reut Institute, a think-tank that advises the Israeli government. Interestingly, the word hate is not used by Martin Bright, the journalist who has written the article; does the JC have an over-zealous sub-editor eager to prove his hard-line Zionist credentials perhaps?

The Guardian article is about a Nazi holocaust survivor who is being hounded by Israel's religious zealots for renting rooms to Israeli Arabs. This curious development, which is so emblematic of Israeli policies, has cost the Zionist state the moral high ground internationally, something it claimed for decades in the wake of the holocaust.

Like Hedy Epstein, another holocaust survivor who joined the Gaza flotilla in 2009, octogenarian Eli Tzvieli has faced a backlash from his own community. He has been threatened that his home will be burnt to the ground if he continues to rent his property to Arabs. Remarkably, he has vowed not to be pressured or become a purveyor of racism and injustice.

To understand the controversy surrounding Mr Tzvieli, it must be recalled that there are over 300,000 dispossessed and displaced Palestinians in Israel today (out of a population of 1,500,000 Israeli-Arabs), all victims of Israel's so-called war of independence and subsequent government policies. These internally displaced Palestinians originate from approximately 44 villages located in the north, including 11 in which most of the villagers remained after their countrymen were driven out by a campaign of ethnic cleansing. A total of 162 Palestinian villages in the north of Palestine were depopulated during the 1948 war.

Fast forward to the present and what do we find? Twenty-one out of 25 localities in Israeli with the highest levels of unemployment have Palestinian majorities. The upshot of this is that they suffer from massive discrimination in health, education, housing and other social services, compared to Israel's Jewish citizens.

Fair-minded and decent British citizens are rightly appalled by the scale of this injustice which is often perpetrated with the complicity of their government in the face of a strong Israel lobby. At long last, the wool which was pulled so tightly over the eyes of the British public has now been removed and their capital has become a hub of the quest for justice. The Israel lobby has organized hundreds of visits to the Zionist state for parliamentarians and journalists, who couldn't have failed to be shocked by the contradictions and inhumanity they unearthed behind the façade of democracy, once they had been able to prise themselves away from their Israeli hosts' lavish hospitality.

This week, one newly-elected Labour MP, Grahame Morris, described before a special briefing the sickening horror he felt when he witnessed 13 year-old Palestinian kids being brought into court in leg chains, handcuffed and hooded; their only crime was throwing stones. "This is incredible; what civilised country would treat children this way?" he asked. If he had carried out just a little pre-visit research, the new MP would have learnt that such policies are part and parcel of the Zionist ideology underpinning the state of Israel. In an article in The Australian a couple of weeks ago, the 100 year old father of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quoted, from an interview the publication of which the PM had tried to have banned. Described as Netanyahu's "greatest influence", Benzion Netanyahu cut his Zionist teeth working with far-right Zionist ideologue Ze'ev Jabotinsky in the 1930s. Benzion himself is "a leading historian opposed to the Oslo accords that gave land for peace". According to The Australian, Mr Netanyahu senior believes that "Israel should have considered a stronger blow last year in Gaza. When the Israeli journalist responded that it was one of the worst blows Israel had handed to a civilian population, he replied: 'That is not enough. It's possible that we should have hit harder.'" He doesn't believe that there is such a thing as a Palestinian people: "There is a Jewish people and an Arab population." What does this mean for ordinary Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation? Benzion Netanyahu is clear: "No solution but force… strong military rule… if it is possible, we should conquer any disputed territory in the land of Israel. Conquer and hold it, even if it brings us years of war." What Grahame Morris witnessed is but some of the fruits of that sort of ideology.

Despite the shock, it was good that Mr Morris witnessed for himself this macabre theatre. Reading about it is not always quite the same as seeing it. Many of his colleagues who don't have the opportunity to visit Israel should read the reports of the Geneva-based Defence for Children International   Palestine Section, which confirm that over 700 Palestinian children are brought before Israeli military courts every year, after being forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew.

The pro-Israel cheerleaders in London have no plausible rebuttal or explanation for these abhorrent policies, so they resort to shooting the messengers instead. They could have seized the opportunity to challenge Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories when he spoke at the University of London this week; they had ample time to prepare their arguments and make their case. Instead, they resorted to type and sent the usual coterie of miscreants to disrupt the event and shout down the UN representative. Half way through Prof. Falk's address one inadequate misfit stormed out of the lecture theatre and yelled, "You anti-Semite liar!" Richard Falk, who is a proud Jew and professor emeritus, maintained his composure and did not return the insult.

Clearly, the days of such tactics are over. Such public disruptions and character assassinations have won Israel no friends among progressive Britons. The fact is simple; there is no logical, moral or political justification for apartheid, ethnic cleansing or settler colonialism in the 21st century. Those who defend such policies not only expose themselves as relics of a distant age they also do a great disservice to their cause, if at all there is such a thing.
In the JC's article noted above, it is mentioned that Israel and its supporters are seeking to build a "political firewall against the assault on the country's legitimacy". Earlier reports said that the Israeli Foreign Ministry is seeking to engage thousands of supporters across Europe to take on such a role. , the Israelis have their work cut out if they are to make a viable, legal case for their actions. Even if it adopts the proposal of the self-declared "innovative policy group", the Reut Institute, Israel would still get a rude awakening by the new realities. Sources close to the institute say it is suggesting naming and shaming the so-called "delegitimizers". All's fair in love and war, it is said, so perhaps the pro-justice lobby should consider naming the Israel lobby provocateurs who act in the most uncouth manner, bereft of acumen or knowledge. Not only are they not fit for purpose intellectually, they are woefully out of touch and ill-informed.

That said, it is evident that the main casualty in all of this is not Israel but the British government. It has been cornered into the embarrassing position of having to change its laws under pressure from a foreign country in order to protect suspected perpetrators of genocide. In doing so, David Cameron et al have abandoned all pretence that they respect the rule of law, particularly the Nuremberg Charter, which pledged to pursue and prosecute war criminals, whatever their nationality, and to which Britain is a signatory.

It is no wonder that British politicians are held in such low esteem. After flaunting their insatiable greed and financial acrobatic skills to enrich themselves, they now seek to tear apart the fabric of the British judicial system to suit the state of Israel.

Nevertheless, the Israel lobby is on the run because the initiative has been taken away from the hapless governments which misrepresent their people and support the Zionist state. The locus has finally shifted to the people; call them what you will, hard-left, Islamic right, or the JC's preferred "Red-Green Alliance". They are changing the international climate faster than Israel can cope with, for no other purpose than to achieve justice for the people of Palestine.

Commentary & AnalysisEurope & RussiaIsraelMiddle EastPalestineUK
Show Comments
Writing Palestine - Celebrating the tenth year of the Palestine Book Awards - Buy your copy of the book now
Show Comments