The British parliamentary resolution that called for the immediate and unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, endorsed by an overwhelming majority of 274 to 12, was an unprecedentedly aggressive act. Although not binding, and with the participation of only 44 percent of parliamentarians (primarily opposition Labour MPs under instructions to vote in favor of the motion), it nevertheless provides evidence of the dramatic surge of hostility against Israel that is sweeping through Europe.
It reflects a growing trend among European countries to encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to pursue his intransigent policy, rejecting meaningful negotiations, refusing to make any concessions and proceeding on the supposition that he has international support to bring Israel to its knees. Regrettably, over the past few months, the Obama administration has been widely perceived as giving a wink to the Europeans to pursue policies toward Israel along these lines, which neither American public opinion nor Congress would endorse.
That such a resolution was even contemplated during the regional meltdown of the past few months has created an Alice-in-Wonderland environment – especially as it failed to even pay lip service to the obligations of the Palestinians. Nor did it acknowledge that both Yasser Arafat and current “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas rejected offers of 95 percent of the territories formerly occupied by the Jordanians.
Abbas continues to incite to violence and hate and his Fatah party still calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. In recent months, the official PA TV revived the medieval blood libel accusing Jews of using the blood of Palestinian children to make matzot for Passover, promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and alleged that Israel was poisoning Palestinian water wells. Abbas continues to glorify mass murderers and insists that there will never be an agreement unless Israel accepts the right of return of the five million descendants of Arab refugees, which would entail the end of Israel as a Jewish state. He also reaffirmed his union with Hamas – the globally designated terrorist organization.
The UK parliamentary resolution effectively endorses a state in which the genocidal Hamas occupies a central role and which, according to polls, would emerge victorious in an election. To make matters worse, Abbas has publicly stated that should that occur, he would hand over control of the state to Hamas.
British socialists who voted for the resolution totally disregarded Israel’s security concerns by supporting the establishment of a state based on the 1949 armistice lines. The resolution does not even require Hamas to amend its charter calling for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews throughout the world – a charter that the Nazis would proudly have supported. Nor did it call for demilitarization and cessation of hostilities against Israeli civilians.
The implications of passing such a resolution are harrowing, exceeding the worst excesses of perfidious Albion when the anti-Semitic British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin displayed his hostility to the Jews during the last years of the mandate.
One cannot justify such behavior on the basis of ignorance. Clearly, the motivations represent a combination of electoral opportunism, leftist political correctness which transforms Israel the victim into the aggressor, cultural relativism which no longer distinguishes between good and evil and promotes moral equivalency; and above all, an indisputable odor of outright anti-Semitism.
Some remarks made in the course of the debate were even more despicable than the resolution itself.
There were renewed demands for an arms embargo, calls to intensify boycott, divestment and sanction campaigns and to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
There were repeated condemnations of Israel for promoting racism and practicing apartheid. This, despite the fact that 20% of Israel’s population is comprised of Arabs who are granted the same constitutional rights and privileges as Jewish Israelis.
One need only visit a Jerusalem hospital or shopping mall to appreciate how absurd it is to accuse Israel of apartheid. In contrast, Abbas has made it clear that a Palestinian state would be Judenrein and that he would not tolerate “the presence of a single Israeli – civilian or soldier – on our lands.” What is that if not ethnic cleansing? Liberal Democrat MP David Ward stated that were he living in Gaza, he would undoubtedly endorse launching missiles against Israel.
Sir Alan Duncan, a leading Conservative MP, condemned the timid Anglo Jewish leadership – desperate to maintain a low profile – for acting as a Jewish lobby, renewing the classic anti-Semitic conspiratorial charge that Jews promote the interests of “a very powerful financial lobby,” and accusing them of harboring dual loyalties.
Demonization of Israel concentrated on settlement policies, described in the debate as “the colonization of another country.” Duncan even went so far as to call for those endorsing Israeli settlements to be considered as racists and be denied participation in public life.
The facts are that the settlements comprise a mere 3% of the territories previously occupied by Jordan; there have been no new settlements created over the past decade; prime minister Ariel Sharon unilaterally withdrew from all settlements in the Gaza Strip – an area that was subsequently transformed into a launching pad for rocket attacks against Israeli civilians.
The only “settlement construction” has essentially related to natural growth in east Jerusalem and the existing blocs, which will undisputedly always remain part of Israel. The growth has been to cater for population expansion and no Palestinians were displaced because of the construction.
Sir Richard Ottaway, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who described himself as a long-standing supporter of Israel, said that a proposed settlement expansion on state land in Gush Etzion “has outraged me more than anything else in my political life.”
Yet the move that so outraged him, wrongly described as a “land grab,” was approved years ago, and involved about 2.6 square kilometers of land adjacent to the Green Line, in an area that shall remain in Israel under any conceivable peace deal, and where no Palestinians live.
Ottaway’s outburst is even more bizarre when viewed in the context of the ongoing murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in the region; five million people who have been transformed into refugees; the imminent massacre of the Kurds by Islamic State (IS), and the barbaric atrocities that organization has already committed; not to mention the thousands of Hamas missiles and terror attacks against Israel.
It is hard to grasp the fact that the British Parliament, with the overwhelming support of the Labour Party, ironically under the leadership of Ed Miliband, a Jew, could endorse such a pernicious resolution. It reflects the electoral influence of Muslim migrants and confirms that anti-Israelism is now embedded in the DNA of the Left. But above all, it reveals the reality that anti-Semitism has remained an integral component of British and European society, which is now expressed as hatred of the Jewish state.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration has failed to fight robustly against this global trend.
Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent gaffe, at a ceremony marking a Muslim festival when he again suggested that the Arab-Israeli conflict was a major element in creating support for IS, was undoubtedly aimed to appease the Arabs and encourage the Europeans to increase pressure against Israel.
Israel must exert great efforts to present its case, but needs to firmly resist pressures to make further unilateral concessions which could have devastating long-term consequences. Fortunately, Israel today is in a stronger position but it must rely on the ongoing support of the American public and Congress to prevent the Obama administration from throwing us to the wolves by failing to exercise the veto at the UN Security Council.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel.
The barbaric behavior of Islamic fundamentalists is beginning to penetrate the consciousness of the Western world, which will hopefully ultimately recognize that Hamas is indeed a component of the global Islamic fundamentalist threat.
As an afterthought, there are certain parallels in the current behavior of British Parliament to that of its predecessor prior to World War II, when it sought to appease Hitler. Had Winston Churchill not assumed leadership, the Nazis may have conquered the world. When recollecting how Churchill responded to calls to negotiate with the Nazis, one could also predict his response to a parliamentarian complaining of lack of proportionality in striking back at Nazi aggression.Isi Leibler’s website can be viewed at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. He may be contacted at ileibler@ leibler.com.