Delegitimization of Israel tops agenda at JPPI conference

Livni on UK arrest warrant: My parents were both put in British prisons, I am also willing to sit in a British prison for Israel.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
October 22, 2010 05:32
3 minute read.
Livni hand

Livni doing a hand thing 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Diaspora and Israeli leaders gathered at the capital’s Mount Zion Hotel on Thursday, for the second day of the Jewish People Policy Institute’s annual conference.

With the peace talks having reached an impasse almost immediately after they restarted and the controversial conversion bill on hold, the most widely debated issue at the conference was the increasing delegitimization of Israel.

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“The front line of our struggle in the international arena is the struggle against delegitimization of Israel. Enemies who have been unable to subjugate us militarily, economically or by terrorism are trying to do this with unfounded slander and delegitimization of Israel internationally,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said during a panel discussion on the subject.

“To this purpose, our enemies recruit so-called ‘human rights activists’ as agents to vilify Israel around the world. In order to deal with this problem, an opposition network of Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, academic institutions, and NGOs must be formed, with the intention of establishing a united front against this delegitimization, and detailing the situation in Israel as it really is,” Ayalon said.

Over lunch, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni commented on the warrant for her arrest issued in the UK last year on suspicion of war crimes, saying she would be “willing to spend time in a British prison for Israel.

“My parents were both put in British prisons,” the opposition head said in half jest. “I am also willing to sit in a British prison for Israel.”



Livni’s parents, Eitan Livni and Sara Rosenberg, were jailed by the British during the 1940s for being members of the IZL (Irgun) Jewish underground organization that fought to oust the British from Mandatory Palestine and create a Jewish state.

Asked by The Jerusalem Post if she considered traveling to the UK to make a principled stand for Israel and risk incarceration, she said that while she had considered briefly it at the time, she received advice against it from experts.

“I am going to come to Britain – I say that to all – but I’m waiting for them to change the law,” she said. “Just to travel to the UK to cause a provocation isn’t constructive.”

In December 2009, a British judge accepted a petition by a pro-Palestinian group that accused Livni of complicity in alleged war crimes by Israel during the Second Lebanon War and issued a warrant for her arrest.

Livni, who was Israel’s foreign minister during the war with Hizbullah in 2006, canceled her trip to the UK and hasn’t visited since.

Livni told the audience on Thursday that British authorities at the time had assured her an amendment to the universal jurisdiction law would be passed lifting the threat of her arrest, but that the recent elections in Britain had delayed their plans.

“Now we have bi- and tri-partisan politics, so it’s taken a little longer to amend,” she said, referring to inclusion of the Liberal Democrats in the British government.

The JPPI conference got off to a controversial start on Wednesday evening, when Defense Minister Ehud Barak seemed to criticize Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for insisting that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

“We are a Jewish state and the great United States recognizes us as such. The demand is essential, but should not be an obstacle to fulfilling Israel’s primary interest in negotiations,” Barak said in an address at the JPPI offices at the capital’s Givat Ram quarter.

On Thursday night, Stuart Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the European Union, spoke at dinner about “mega-trends” in the international arena in general and the end of Pax Americana, the relatively calm period in international relations that lasted from the fall of the Soviet Union until the start of the 21st century.

The US diplomat explained that with Washington’s hegemony challenged by many contenders including China, Israel will have to adapt to this new world by growing closer to other powers.

“Not many people know this, but this year Israel will surpass Russia as India’s largest supplier of weapons,” Eizenstat said.

President Shimon Peres then delivered a conciliatory speech underscoring the importance of peace.

“Today, we should be judged on whether we are able to bring peace or not, on whether we can achieve through negotiations this expensive peace or not. I think we stand a fair chance because overshadowing the Israeli- Arab conflict is the Iranian intervention,” Peres said.

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