By Stuart Littlewood – London
I and my dog Mortimer apologise most sincerely to the world, and especially to Arab friends, for our prime minister’s crass speech to the Knesset.
Britain, like the US, has an uncanny knack of producing one silly leader after another from a limitless supply that thrust themselves on an unsuspecting public in order to perpetuate the Great Betrayal and the Nakba. Brown is the latest high-flier from our political swamp. Judging by his performance so far, we Brits are destined to live our lives in a state of perpetual and excruciating embarrassment.
Let it be known that this prime minister doesn’t speak for me or anyone I know when he says: "Britain will always stand firmly by Israel’s side." And nobody of my acquaintance, or their dog, would ever sign up to "an unbreakable partnership based on shared values of liberty, democracy and justice" with Israel. It is quite obvious that none of our values of liberty, democracy and justice is practised by that regime.
However, it was faintly amusing to hear Brown say that "we will do more than oppose what is wrong. We will show those who would give licence to terror the way home to what is right too – showing them that the path to a better future runs not through violence, not by murder, and never with the killing of civilians but by liberty’s torch, through justice’s mighty stream, and across tolerance’s foundation of equality." That should have had Knesset members squirming in their seats, but the irony was obviously lost on them, and on Brown himself.
"I think of David Ben Gurion," he blurted, "who from humble beginnings in Poland built up the Jewish National Institutions and in 1948 said it was not enough for the Jewish state simply to be Jewish, it had to be fully democratic offering equal citizenship to all residents: a democracy not just of one people but of all your peoples…"
Mentioning Ben Gurion in the same breath as democracy and equality is not a good idea. This is the same guy who said: "I support compulsory transfer [i.e. ethnic cleansing]. I don’t see anything immoral in it." On another occasion he admitted: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel… We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it is true, but 2,000 years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.”
Brown even praised Menachem Begin but was careful not to mention the Irgun. It was Begin’s terror gang, the Irgun, that declared war on the British mandate government while Britain was still fighting Nazi Germany. And our prime minister must have forgotten that in 1946 the Irgun under Begin’s leadership blew up British headquarters in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, killing 91.
But Brown woffled on, oblivious to the heavily larded insults his words conveyed. "…This sixtieth anniversary on the achievement of 1948: the centuries of exile ended, the age-long dream realised, the ancient promise redeemed – the promise that even amidst suffering, you will find your way home to the fields and shorelines where your ancestors walked… And your sixty-year journey from independence is evidence for all to see that good can come out of the worst of times." So never mind the countless thousands of Palestinians that were murdered, dispossessed, imprisoned, starved and abused in the process.
"You are truly global citizens – often the first to offer help or medical aid…" burbled the unstoppable Brown. Tell that to the chronically sick, who suffer and die in agony because Israel’s siege blocks the supply of medication and hospital spares and prevents them leaving Gaza for proper treatment. How strange that Brown didn’t actually mention Gaza, or the siege, or what some call ‘the slow genocide’ in his whole tiresome speech.
How dare this grey suit use our good name to offer such brazenly partisan approval to a territorial hi-jack that daily brings misery, disaster and cruel injustice to those who are crammed into the impoverished remnants – the crumbs – of what used to be their Palestine homeland. Fortunately Brown’s days are numbered. Unfortunately another I’m-a-Zionist nutter is waiting in the wings.
And I greatly resent, as do others, any leader of my nation playing the religious card and cloaking himself in the mantle of Christianity (in this case his upbringing in the Church of Scotland) in order to give credence to his support for Israel’s pitiless pursuit of its Zionist programme, the purpose of which is to wipe Palestine off the map.
Another prime minister whose young mind hadn’t come under the influence of a Hebrew-speaking, Israel-loving, church-minister father and later the Israel lobby, might have delivered a very different speech to the Knesset:
"Listen up. Your exclusive claim to the whole territory cuts no ice with the rest of the world. Say goodbye to the West Bank, dismantle the Wall as instructed by the International Court of Justice, compensate the Palestinians for the injury and wreckage of the past 60 years, give them back their water, stop interfering with their freedom of movement, quit throttling their economy and hands off their trade.
"Israel’s security is no more precious than the security of its neighbours and their right to live in peace. End the siege of Gaza and your occupation of Gazan airspace, airwaves and coastal waters. Release the 10,000 Palestinians, including women and children, cooped up in your jails. And it’s time your troops hightailed it out of Jerusalem – it was designated an international city 60 years ago and you’ll share it on equal terms with the other great faiths.
"Renounce your nuclear weapons, sign the non-proliferation treaty and open up your nuclear facilities to international inspection just as you expect your neighbours to. Also sign, ratify and meticulously observe the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty.
"Until Israel renounces terror, violence, murder, assassination, indiscriminate arrest, false imprisonment and torture, it can forget about the EU-Israel Agreement, the preferential exports and all the other benefits – trade, science, research, path-breaking academic and cultural partnerships and new cooperative ventures. Try and be nice for a change, guys. Remember, ordinary British and European folk, unlike the despised political class, wish to do nice business with nice people. If you continue to bully and humiliate our friends in the Holy Land, which you gate-crashed 60 years ago, you will not be welcome in civilised society.
"And before we all get too carried away about Iran, when is Israel going to comply with the 30 or 40 UN resolutions regarding its multiple breaches of international law? Maybe we’ll talk again when you have reined in your militants and extremists, and when you have read, understood and shown proper respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"By the way, when the Freegaza voyagers set out from Cyprus on 5 August to sail through international and Palestinian waters to Gaza, Royal Navy warships will be on hand to make sure they aren’t molested."
Come on Mortimer… walkies.
-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. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.