By Stuart Littlewood – London
In the space of a few short years Nick Clegg has shot from obscurity to stardom in British politics, joining Conservative leader David “I’m-a-Zionist” Cameron at the head of Britain’s new coalition government.
Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, is deputy prime minister and gets to play PM from time to time, like now when Dave appears to still be enjoying a perk that’s laughably called ‘paternity leave’.
Cameron too came from nowhere to lead a party that’s said to be 80 percent loyal to Israel. This patron of the Jewish National Fund then became prime minister… with Clegg’s help.
But what exactly is Clegg’s little game on the foreign affairs front? Last year he seemed to be his own man and was writing this about Gaza in The Guardian:
"…And what has the British government and the international community done to lift the blockade? Next to nothing. Tough-sounding declarations are issued at regular intervals but little real pressure is applied. It is a scandal that the international community has sat on its hands in the face of this unfolding crisis.
No doubt the febrile sensitivities of the Middle East have deterred governments, caught between recriminations from both sides. No doubt diplomats have warned that exerting pressure on Israel and Egypt may complicate the peace process.
But surely the consequences of not lifting the blockade are far more grave?"
It was shockingly provocative stuff in the cesspit of pro-Israel Westminster.
Around the same time he was telling the Jewish Chronicle:
"There is simply not a shred of racism in me….The very suggestion that I might explicitly or tacitly give cover for racism, I find politically abhorrent and personally deeply offensive.”
I presumed this to be a warning not to count on his support for the Zionist Project.
But now, following the freaky electoral good fortune that catapulted him to the top, and in the wake of Israel’s murderous assault on the Mavi Marmara, Clegg has begun to change his tune. He welcomed the appointment of Lord Trimble to the racist entity’s farcical inquiry into its own entrails, well aware that Trimble is a founding member of the new international movement "Friends of Israel Initiative".
And at the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference a few days ago he abandoned any non-racist credentials he may have had by attending a fringe meeting of his party’s Friends of Israel group along with the new deputy Israeli ambassador to the UK.
According to a report in Middle East Monitor, Clegg thanked Friends of Israel for all the work they had done to promote themselves within the party and declared himself an admirer of "the democratic traditions and liberal ethos of life within Israel".
Clegg has a lot to learn if he seriously thinks Israel is some kind of western-style liberal democracy. He wasn’t even-handed enough to attend a meeting of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine where Britain has helped crush a blossoming, non-racist democracy.
And, in harmony with the puppet-masters in the White House, he said that so much hinges on “the talks”. It is remarkable how those who promote “the talks” never speak of the Israelis’ automatic peace-wrecking tactics – their defiance of international law requiring them to get the hell off Palestinian territory and their continuing killing spree and land thieving, which continue unabated while Palestinians are required to meekly submit to the humiliation of going through the motions of negotiation.
Instead, they whisper respectfully of Israel’s partial “moratorium” on its illegal construction of settlements, as if suspending a criminal programme to seize more land and insert more armed squatters to terrorise Palestinian villagers amounts to a major concession.
The International Community’s Unfinished Business
And how can Clegg or any other respectable leader go along with talks that stand democratic principle on its head and invite Abbas, whose presidential term ran out long ago, who has no popular mandate from the Palestinians and who assumes brutal, dictatorial powers?
Are they all barmy? Their idea appears to be to get an agreement – any agreement, even one signed by a chancer like Abbas who has no legitimacy – just to save a few worthless faces rather than deliver justice to millions and resolve the decades-old bloody conflict.
They show no respect whatever.
Hamas’s chief is right when he says that the massive imbalance of power on the ground makes negotiation at the present time grossly unfair and would play into the enemy’s hands. That’s another fundamental point of principle studiously ignored by the West’s political élite.
The international community has unfinished business to take care of before meaningful talks can take place. And it stands to reason that the correct sequence of events should be (1) Israel ends the occupation and siege, (2) Israel withdraws behind its pre-1967 borders in compliance with UN resolutions and international law, (3) talks begin with no gun to the Palestinians’ head, (4) the Palestinians are properly represented by their elected leadership, even if that’s Hamas.
If the Americans have a problem with these basics they should keep away from the process and let the UN handle it. Actually the UN should have insisted on handling it in the first place. Why don’t they get a grip on their responsibilities?
Meantime Nick Clegg might find it refreshing to stop and re-read the Preamble to his own party’s Constitution, a very fine document indeed especially where it says:
"We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience…"
“We reject all prejudice and discrimination based upon race, colour, religion, age, disability, sex or sexual orientation and oppose all forms of entrenched privilege and inequality. Recognising that the quest for freedom and justice can never end, we promote human rights and open government…
“Our responsibility for justice and liberty cannot be confined by national boundaries; we are committed to fight poverty, oppression, hunger, ignorance, disease and aggression wherever they occur and to promote the free movement of ideas, people, goods and services.”
These principles are as good as any for guiding a person through political life. But how many of them are reflected in the coalition’s policy dealing with the scandal of the Holy Land and in Clegg’s recent pronouncements?
I wait with interest to see how he and Cameron react when Israel’s “moratorium” on squatter settlements expires this weekend.
Will our dynamic duo call for sanctions against Israel for persistent land theft, endless breaches of international law, ongoing lethal violence and continuing defiance of UN resolutions?
And, if necessary, will they show the way and take unilateral action, as principled leaders should?
– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.