What would Miliband or Cameron do if Britain was occupied?

  
Gaza devastation, 2014

In interviews with the Jewish Chronicle, Conservative  leader David Cameron and Labour Leader Ed Miliband tried to outdo each other in the depth of their friendship with Israel. They both understood Israel had a ‘duty’ to protect its citizens, and while Miliband questioned the proportionality of Israel’s response to last summer’s right cites from Gaza, Cameron had no criticism to offer.

In his Jewish Chronicle interview, Miliband defended his criticism of Israel during last summer’s Gaza conflict, saying he was right to describe the military action as “wrong and unjustifiable”. But that he was “committed to obtaining security for Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state”.

  

In his interview with the JC on 30/4/2015 Cameron says “As PM, putting yourself in the shoes of the Israeli people, who want peace but have to put up with these indiscriminate attacks – that reinforces to me the importance of standing by Israel and Israel’s right to defend itself. 

  

He regards Israel’s actions as purely defensive as opposed to the offensive nature of Palestinian actions. He says “I feel very strongly that this equivalence that sometimes people try to draw when these attacks take place is so completely wrong and unfair. Because Israel is trying defend against indiscriminate attacks, while trying to stop the attackers – and there’s such a difference between that and the nature of the indiscriminate attacks that Israel receives. I feel that very clearly. I’ve seen it very clearly as Prime Minister and I think it’s important to speak out about it.

He “regrets the loss of life wherever it takes place, but thinks there’s an important difference” and then quotes  Prime Minister Netanyahu who said “Israel uses its weapons to defend its people and Hamas uses its people to defend its weapons.”

But both leaders spoke within a week of the British elections and chose their words carefully so as not to antagonise ‘the Jeeish Community’. But in avoiding any mention of Israel’s continuing violations of International Law and International Humanitarian Law, they were pandering to the pro Israel Lobby.

Both leaders are wary of losing funding from the pro Israel Lobby. Miliband has already felt this simply for criticising Israel albiet mildly over the Gaza war last summer. See here. Both leaders also made nauseating speeches at their party’s respective ‘Friends of Israel’ receptions.

What if Britain was illegally occupied? What would they do?

  

Miliband and Cameron see things very clearly from a British Jewish Comunity point of view but not from a British Palestinian point of view. If they did, they would side with the oppressed and occupied Palestinians.

I say to the potential Prime Ministers, imagine if Britain was occupied. Would you submit to the occupier? Would you say yes, take British land, change its demography, expell Britains, replace them with occupiers? Would you accept the occupier stealing British culture, football as a typical occupier sport, the British pint as a typical occupier drink, fish and chips as typical occupier food? 

Would Cameron or Miliband stand for British children being abducted in the middle of the night or for British women giving birth at checkpoints? Would they accept the arrest of British MPs?

Would they agree to ‘share the land’ with the occupier? Would they resist the occupier, using all possible means?

Would they not call for Boycott, Divestnentand  Sanctions against the occupier? 

I am confident that the answer to all of the questions above would be a resounding no. My confidence comes not from an idealistic stand but from recent history. It comes from a war fought thousands of miles away, when Britain sent a flotilla to endArgentina’s occupation of the Falkland Islands. It did not accept that any historic link between Argentina and the Malvinas justified its takeover by force.

The illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine is not a minor incident. For British Palestinians, it is a catastrophe, which started in 1948. Its continuation to this day is the reason for Pslestinan resistance and for rockets flying out of Gaza. The now infamous Sderot was built on the land of the Palestinuan village, Najd, which was depopulated in 1948. Its residents descendants were under Israeli bombardment, refugees in Gaza last summer.

It is true that the British Palestinian community in Britain is not as organised or as financially capable as the pro Israel Lobby. It is true that while Palestine has support from the British Public which gas not as yet been converted into Sufficuent pressure on Government to change policy. But the tide is turning. Prospective Parliamentary Candudates up and down the country have felt the pressure like no time before this on Palestine. Next time it will be even more intense.

Those MPs elected on the 7th of May and the future Government will feel the heat on this issue until a more moral and just policy on Palestine is adopted. After all Britain bares a moral responsibility to the Palestinian people. The hundredth anniversary of the Balfour  Declaration is likely to take place during the next Parliament. 

It is time the wrong was righted through immediate recognition of Palestine and sanctions on Israel with the first announcement of more illegal settlements, which will surely come.


The Israel Lobby in the U.S. 

The following is an excellent set of panels on different aspects of the Israel Lobby in the U.S. This took place on 10 April at the National Press Club. 

 Part 1 what is the Israel Lobby and how does it work? 

 Part 2 Are critical voices silenced?

Part 3 Is freedom of speech encouraged on American University campuses?

Part 4 Is the lobby good for Israel 

Part 5 How does the Lobby influence Congress 

Part 6 Is there an Iran-Iraq continuum?

From Berlin, on the Palestinians in Europe Conference  

  
I spent the day (25 April, 2015) at the 13th Palestinians in Europe Conference in Berlin, Germany. This was my first experience of this major event. The organisers informed us that over 10,000, mostly Palestinians, had attended the day long event.

  
The conference was jointly organised by the Palestinian Community of Germany and the UK based Palestinian Return Centre (PRC).

The ‘Jewish Community’ in Germany and pro Israel groups had lobbied for the Conference to be banned. Calling themselves ‘Berlin against Hamas’ the group planned to picket the Conference. I must say that I saw no protest and did not hear of a protest. 

Calling the conference a pro-Hamas event is way off the mark. I attended most of it, listened to the speeches and enjoyed the Palestinian culture offered through music, sing and dance by young Palestinian groups from across Europe. 

A more accurate description of the event is a pro Palestinian rights and Right of Return Conference. Since the Palestinians have rights and the refugees have a Right of Return enshrined in Inational Law, the Conference was calling for a moral stand on these and for the International Community to support their attainment.

In my view the ‘Berlin Against Hamas Group’ are an extremist group that is against legal Palestinian rights, and for the continuation of Israel breaking of International Law. They are therefore holding the lowest moral ground possible. 

Their frustration is that the Palestinians are organised, the communities across Europe are connected and that Palestinians just will not go away.

The Conference received a speech by President Erdogan of Turkey, delivered on his behalf, which supported Palestinian rights. He called on countries that do not currently recognise Palestine to do so with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Dr Mustafa Barghouthi, General Secretary of the Palestinian Initiative and a member of the Palestinian Legeslative Council addressed the meeting. He is certainly no extremist. He called for unity and reminded the conference that the Palestinians are still here fighting for their rights and especially for their freedom. “Oslo was dead”, he claimed, “Israel has killed it”. He called for an escalation of the popular, peaceful resistance against the occupation and called on Palestinians in Europe to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He also called on Palestinians with European passports to visit Palestine, to connect and to support.

  

Parliamentarians from the UK, Ireland, and Germany addressed the conference as did the Justice  Minister of Morocco.

Amongst the audience were Palestinian refugees from Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. Their plight and that of those that remain was uppermost in the minds of speakers and attendees.  When the speech of the Palestinian Ambassador to Germany was delivered by a representative, he was heckled. This was an expression of anger at the perceived lack of action by the Palestinian Authority to end the suffering of Yarmouk. The speaker delivered the speech and left immediately. 

During the conference news was received of the murder by the Israeli IDF of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem and then another in Hebron. Both reminders of the deadly oppression the Palestinians live under  on a daily basis.

Historically, this Conference has been organised by Palestinians not aligned with Fatah or the PA. However, my overall impression was that while this was the case here, it was a very welcoming event for all Palestinians in Europe and indeed from refugee camps all over the world.

It provides, a now annual focus, for Palestinians from different countries in Europe to meet and connect. The sight of troup after troup of young Palestinians, most of whom had never been to Palestine performing the Dabka, brought tears to my eyes. They know their roots and Palestinian culture lives on. They will pass it to their children. The conference primarily reaffirms the Palestinian people’s absolute determination to exercise their Right of Return.

  

David Ben Gorion is alleged to have said of Palestinian refugees “the old will die and the young will forget’. That the old would die was inevitable but the 13th Palestinians in Europe Conference shows unequivocally, that the young have not forgotten. He will be turning in his grave.

Update 26/4/2015

The Jerusalem Post reports that the ‘Berlin Against Hamas’ Group held a protest outside the venue. In it there is a reference to BDS being a pro Hamas movement. This is a complete lie. The BDS call came from over one hundred civil society organisations in Palestine. Support for it is support for Palestinuan rights and sgainst Israeli occupation and oppression.

Voters ensure UK Parliamentary candidates see Palestine as a key election issue

With the UK parliamentary elections only a month away, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) are feeling the heat on a number of issues.  This time though Palestine is one of them. 

  

A well organised campaign led by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has made it easy for voters to require PPCs to answer five questions. 

  1. I urge the UK Government to uphold the principles of equality, human rights and international law in all its relations and dealings with Israel.
    Yes/no

  2. I consider the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal and unjustifiable.
    Yes/no

    In achieving these principles, what are your views on the following steps that a future UK Government could take:

  3. Do you agree that one of the first acts of the next UK Government should be the recognition of Palestine?
    Yes/no/don’t know 

  4. Do you agree that the blockade on Gaza should be lifted immediately?
    Yes/no/don’t know

  5. Do you agree that we should stop trade with Israel’s settlements on Palestinian land, and stop settlement goods being sold in Britain?
    Yes/no/don’t know

  6. Do you agree that the EU Israel Association Agreement should be suspended until Israel meets its human rights obligations? 
    Yes/no/don’t know

  7. Do you agree that the government should stop supplying arms to Israel until it complies with international law? 
    Yes/no/don’t know

If a candidate answered don’t know to any question, s/he are asked if they have any additional comments? 

These questions are being asked of candidates of all major democratic parties. The answers will be collated and published on the Palestine Solidarity Campaign  website.

The PSC reports that over thirty thousand emails were sent to candidates reaching 600 PPCs.

The PSC reports that initial results from the survey to two of the questions were as follows:

 “The candidates were asked: Do you consider the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal and unjustifiable?

Of the 470 candidates who responded to this question, 93% said yes. Many expanded on their answer, and, across all parties, were unequivocal in their condemnation of Israel’s settlements.

Candidates were also asked: Do you urge the UK government to uphold the principles of equality, human rights and international law in all its relations and dealings with Israel?

Of the 377 candidates who replied to this question, 97% said yes.”

Up and down the UK meetings are being organised with PPCs by constituents supported by the PSC to ensure Israel’s attack on Gaza is not a memory but an election issue.

The above shows that a base line has been established from which a future Goverment can be challenged to ensure that condemnation of Israel for violations of International Law are followed up with actions.

This and an escalating BDS campaign should worry Israel and its apologists. Their influence on Governments is declining, while the influence of ordinary people on their Governments is rising.  

The tide is turning.