Excerpted from a speech last week at the House of Commons by North Belfast DUP
MP Nigel Dodds to a major lobby of Parliament by the Zionist Federation and Christian Friends of
Israel, attended by Northern Ireland Friends of Israel as well as hundreds of
people from across the UK.
Since its foundation, Israel has been a flame
of light in a region of despotic darkness. It is a flame of freedom, of
democracy and of human rights. In a region plagued by dictatorship, nepotism and
corruption, such light is sorely needed.
Israel’s nurturing of this flame
has been a startling achievement. Throughout its existence, the State of
Israel has lived under a relentless, genocidal threat. It would have been easy
to justify divergence from the path of democracy in such circumstances, but it
has held true.
It is the duty of Western democracies to ensure that this
flame is not diminished but rather shines brighter than ever before. It is our
duty to ensure a future for Israel free from threat. It is our duty to ensure
that Israel achieves a right and deserved peace. Regrettably, too many in the
West fail to accept these responsibilities, and so it falls to us to fight to
While we fight this battle for hearts and minds, Israel is
trying once again to make a peace. It does so under the most difficult of
circumstances. Some Palestinian leaders continue to endorse the use of terrorism
including its most vile form – the suicide bomber. Israel is asked to
negotiate with Palestinians whose authority to do so is extremely dubious, and
whose ability (and willingness) to deliver is fundamentally
questionable. In the background it is faced by interfering Arab regimes
who mouth peace while paying for, sustaining and justifying terror. The
naivety of American foreign policy under Barack Obama exacerbates the
It would be easy to despair, and not try, but the goal of a
right, proper and deserved peace for Israel is worth striving for
regardless. Despair is understandable when one considers the abject
failure of those who should know better yet who acquiesce in, or give support
to, the blatant anti-Semitism of extreme Islamists. The media and the chattering
classes are silent when Hamas, Hizbullah and preachers of hate mouth their
poisonous diatribes calling for Israel to be wiped from the face of the earth.
But these same people are quick to single out Israel for disproportionately
unfair criticism on a continual basis.
But we must not succumb to
AS ONE who has been through the tortuous process of lengthy and
intense negotiations – in my case relating to Northern Ireland – I offer the
following word of advice: Focus
. Israel must clearly identify what its needs
are, and throughout the process maintain an unfaltering focus upon
this. What are the threats to maintaining this focus? Moral equivalence
Palestinians, Arab regimes and various NGOs have become experts at making false
claims or exaggerating minor imperfections about Israel into scandals. Arab
regimes that don’t even try to subscribe to the most basic of democratic
standards. This demonization is not only driven to create a false moral
equivalence. It also aims to disrupt and distract Israel.
Do not let
Israel is like the guards on the walls of a
besieged city. They have stood on that wall day after day. The desire to protect
the city drives them on in the face of repeated attacks, but with each day the
desire for respite grows. After a siege of 54 years, the desire for it to end
can overwhelm the goal of permanent security. Do not let it.
are the international players, and you will be very familiar with the cast. As
key actors in the Northern Ireland political process, we are all too familiar
with the ways and wiles of the Tony Blairs, Bill Clintons and George Mitchells
of this world. While good will and friendship should never be rejected, it
should always be remembered that it is Israel and its people that will have to
live with the day-to-day consequences of any agreement. A deal that wins Nobel
Prizes but fails helps no one. International actors will always be driven more
by a desire that the process achieves an outcome rather than by what that
Do not let it.
The focus must be on an agreement that
is comprehensive and detailed, leaving little to later interpretation or
vagueness. In our process we were told of the so-called benefits of “constructive
The disadvantages far outweighed the advantages. I am also of
a political party that has been often associated with the word no.
must always be ready to say yes when the terms are right, but equally if what is
offered to Israel does not secure the right, proper and deserved peace, remember
that sometimes it’s right to say no.
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