By Stuart Littlewood – London
These last two weeks have changed everything. Any remaining tolerance felt towards Israel and its friends has evaporated.
The regime could never have maintained its illegal occupation of Palestine, or imposed a barbaric blockade on tiny Gaza, or mounted this latest bloodthirsty assault on civil society, were it not for the protection of an over-powerful ‘friends’ network in every major western country.
In Britain the ‘Friends of Israel’ organisation, in its various guises, has its own ‘friends’ occupying key positions at the heart of government. These individuals paralyse any effective action against the lawless regime they subscribe to. They ought to be treated as agents of a foreign military power and weeded out, especially with the European elections coming up and a general election just around the corner.
Membership of Friends of Israel is nowadays a necessary stepping-stone to ministerial rank, I’m told. It is one thing for the Jewish community to back Israel but a much more serious matter if anyone in public office secretly places himself under an obligation to a foreign power and allows it to influence his work. Hundreds of our MPs may have crossed that line.
It is deeply worrying to discover that our Intelligence & Security Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee and Defence Committee are all chaired by Friends of Israel. How can it possibly be in our nation’s best interest?
After boasting how the UN security council resolution negotiated last Thursday underlined the international community’s determination to end the tragedy in Gaza, Bill Rammell MP, minister of state for the Middle East, went on: "Of course a ceasefire can only come about through decisions taken by the parties involved – but in the interests of people in both Gaza and Israel, we will expend every diplomatic effort to stop the violence."
Nothing about implementing the pile of previous UN resolutions. This is typical of the meaningless drivel that routinely comes out of Westminster. Rammel’s boss, David Miliband, in a speech to Labour Friends of Israel last year, numbered himself among "Israel’s most committed friends". Prime Minister Gordon Brown declared himself a Zionist. Peace envoy Tony Blair, another Zionist, is too nervous to meet Hamas and look them in the eye. So we can be sure that their diplomatic efforts amount to no more than revving the engine with the parking brake on.
It is equally obvious that the Israelis will remain deaf until their lust for land is satisfied. They’ll listen only when hefty sanctions are applied, such as suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement and expulsion of its ambassadors in London and other European capitals.
If Mr. Miliband doesn’t know how to do this, he should take lessons from President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who has expelled the Israeli ambassador in protest against Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
He condemned as "murderers" the Israelis who carried out the military campaign and urged Jews in his country to take a stand against the Israeli government. "Now I hope that the Venezuelan Jewish community speaks out against this barbarism. Do it. Don’t you strongly reject all acts of persecution?" he said. "How far will this barbarism go? The president of Israel should be taken before an international court together with the president of the United States, if the world had any conscience."
Are Jews speaking out against it in London? Plenty are. But the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which claims to be the main voice of the Jewish community, yesterday held a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square with this message from its president: “Israel needs and deserves your support now"… while their brethren carried on with their massacre in Gaza.
On the Israeli Embassy’s website ambassador Ron Prosor merrily vilifies Hamas while overlooking the fact that his own regime has raped the Holy Land for its own benefit for 60 years. He claims Israel left Gaza in 2005. "Every soldier was withdrawn. Every Jewish settlement was evacuated… Politicians staked their reputations on a courageous step towards peace. They hoped Gaza could provide a blueprint of Palestinian autonomy, a precursor to a Palestinian state."
But Mr. Prosor is either very forgetful or very deceitful. Israel, since 2005, has continued to occupy Gaza’s airspace and coastal waters. It controls all ways in and out. It keeps Gazans under constant surveillance with drones, some of which can instantly destroy any target. Thus Israel has disabled Gaza’s civil society, crushed its economy and denied its people any semblance of freedom or prosperity.
Prosor is correct in one thing: this is indeed the sort of blueprint Israelis wishes to impose on a future Palestinian state. Quite rightly the Palestinian people and the government they elected – Hamas –resist.
Now Prosor seeks cover for his country’s war crimes by tying the international community into the slaughter, urging them to "stand up to the extremism that threatens us all. We must start the New Year in the spirit of Churchill. If we are divided, we all stand to lose; if we are together nothing is impossible."
This cheap attempt to recruit the memory of Churchill to their dastardly schemes will anger many people here. Besides, the extremism that threatens us is generated by Israel. Everyone knows it… except those whom Israel has brainwashed.
And the Embassy website still carries a PR ‘briefing’ specially put together by Tzipi Livni to prepare the West for the pre-planned onslaught on Gaza. It contains a lie or gross distortion on every line. The most ludicrous claim – and the most evil in terms of its consequences – is that Hamas violated the 6-month truce begun on 19 June. In fact Hamas kept to the truce and fired no rockets or mortar shells into Israel and restrained other Palestinian groups.
Israel however failed to honour its pledge to lift the economic blockade. Moreover, on November 4 Israelis raided Gaza killing six Palestinians – an act deliberately designed to provoke a retaliation and provide the ‘excuse’ for Israel to launch its long-planned, all-out war on the already seriously weakened Gaza population, who had nowhere to run.
An impressive Palestinian body-count would no doubt buy votes in the run-up to Israeli elections. Or maybe the motive was a desire to turn an infamous jibe by their former army hero Rafael Eitan into reality. It was he who said that “when we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle”.
So it was a relief when Queen Rania Al Abdullah, UNICEF’s Eminent Advocate for Children, injected common sense into the situation by issuing a statement last week to remind the world of the many human rights that have been trampled in Palestine. She emphasized two:
• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights (Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
• Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3)
"Over the past 41 years, the people of Gaza have been living under occupation,” she said. “Over the past 18 months, they have been living under siege. And for the past 10 days, the people of Gaza have been subject to a cruel and continuous military attack. Either the declaration is not so universal, or the people of Gaza are not human beings, worthy of the same ‘universal’ rights.
“This is the message the world is sending out today. Not only is there a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, there is a crisis in our global humanity… This is the message I am sending world leaders: Our humanity is incomplete when children, irrespective of nationality, are victims of military operations."
Our humanity is incomplete … That is a message for every Western politician to wrestle with and something for Israel’s supporters to reflect on, now being a good time to disband and renounce their association with the criminal regime.
The figures for Israel’s killing sprees are too awful to contemplate… In Lebanon 2006, 1,200 dead and 4,400 wounded; in Gaza, as I write, over 900 killed including 370 women and children, and 4,100 maimed and wounded. And let us not forget that in-between times since the start of the second intifada in 2000, Israel has killed another 4,800 Palestinians including 950 children.
Nearly 7,000 lives brutally taken. That’s a disgraceful amount of blood for anyone to have on their hands in the 21st century.
-Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.