Editorial: Britain's morality wobbling?

The British government is showing all too dismally where its priorities lie.

By JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL
March 24, 2010 12:19
3 minute read.
David Miliband

miliband. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Has the United Kingdom lost its moral bearings? That would explain British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s announcement Tuesday of the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat over the forging of British passports allegedly used by those who did the world a favor by killing Hamas missile-trafficker and strongman Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a self-confessed murderous terrorist.

It would also explain the decision by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to amend its travel advice for potential passengers to Israel as a result of what Miliband called our “identity theft.”

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Unsurprisingly, when the Dubai drama broke, Britain mustered the requisite outrage at the ostensible gross violation of its diplomatic sovereignty. After all, if British passports were forged by an ally, even in the cause of ridding the world of a Hamas killer, this was a breach of trust between friends and a diplomatic transgression – an infraction not to be taken lightly, at least not officially.

But even if it had “compelling evidence” from an investigation by the Serious Organized Crime Agency into the cloning of up to 15 British passports, why has the UK government now decided to publicly humiliate Israel over the affair with so drastic a response?

More fundamentally, where is the outrage that Dubai was hosting this poisonous individual in the first place? And are those who risk their lives to confront such peddlers of death seriously expected to travel openly, under their own identities, into the danger zones?

PERHAPS THE British government’s lost moral compass also explains its dire voting record on the Goldstone Report. And perhaps it lies at the root, too, of its abiding failure to stop the exploitation of its legal system for the purpose of arresting our politicians and military officers should they dare to set foot on British soil.

It spoke of amending its abused legal system back in December, after a London court issued a warrant against opposition leader Tzipi Livni. The Livni farce was preceded by the near arrest in 2005 of Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, former commander of IDF forces in Gaza, and by the cancellation of a trip to Britain by former IDF chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon.



“The government is looking urgently at ways in which the UK system might be changed in order to avoid this sort of situation arising again,” Miliband said at the time. Prime Minister Gordon Brown also voiced support for an amendment.

Now, with elections around the corner, the prospects of change are nil.

One British newspaper has intimated that Israel’s purported forgery of British passports is connected to the delay in revamping what Miliband called the “unusual feature of the [legal] system in England and Wales.”

“Israel does not help its cause when it demands respect for its own citizens abroad but shows no regard for the rights or future security of British passport holders overseas,” argued the Times, which is largely sympathetic to Israel’s challenges, in an editorial shortly after the Dubai incident.

The paper, like the British government, it would appear, has its good guys and bad guys confused. Intelligence activities designed to protect citizens’ lives, even if they cross certain diplomatic frameworks, merit a sensible public response founded in moral support. Those who would manipulate the law to secure the unwarrented prosecutions of Israeli political and military leaders should be stopped.

Britain truly has lost the plot if Dubai and the passport imbroglio have had anything to do with the British government’s failure to amend a legal system that does not distinguish between representatives of terror organizations (both the US and the European Union list Hamas as a terror group) and the political leaders of democracies and their military personnel.

But even if there is no link, the fact is that Britain is dragging its feet over closing an untenable loophole in its law. Meanwhile, it is working hard to castigate Israel for the alleged “identity theft” that led to the termination of a man who bragged about killing civilians.

It has taken punitive action more commonly imposed on the likes of Libya and Syria – action that has been properly imposed on those such countries but cannot be justified in this case.

In so doing, the British government is showing all too dismally where its priorities lie.

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