Category Archives: Theresa May

Rumblings in the Tory Palace: Theresa May and the Brexit Troika

As the Sunday news vine began getting heavy, that sole topic of all-consuming, toxic interest – Brexit – threatened to claim the casualty of the British Prime Minister herself, Theresa May.  Interest centred on a possible troika that had busied itself on harrying May.

In any context, this troika would have seemed a compilation for pure comic effect: buffoonish Boris Johnson as replacement for PM, Michael Gove as his deputy, and Jacob Rees-Mogg, that “ornament on the backbenchers” as Chancellor.  They would be the “dream team”, though the description of a hallucinatory nightmare is probably more appropriate.

In the course of Sunday night, a “source” in Downing Street issued a statement to delay the delivery of blows against May.  Brexit meant an actual departure from the customs union, rather than some halfway house involving the continued payment of dues and obligations to observe Brussels’ wishes.

Were May not to have come clean on this, the Conservatives would have threatened a walk-out, resulting in a public split.  According to an unnamed (they tend to be these days) Tory MP, “If they go for a customs union, the party will split.”

What did this Downing Street source go on to say?  Instead of a Customs Union arrangement, the PM will seek one of two options: a “highly streamlined customs arrangement” or a customs partnership.  The weasel words are coming thick and fast ahead of Brexit meetings this week.

The picture is, in other words, an incoherent mess.  Ministers such as Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond have little stomach for the stoic diet being advocated by the likes of Gove and Johnson.  To totally exit the customs arrangement, according to them, would cause undue harm and imperil the UK economy. Then looms the problems of border checks between Northern Ireland and Ireland, a prospect that has been flagged as destabilising to the peace process.

Rudd, in an effort to calm the waters, told the Andrew Marr Show that “the committee that meets in order to help make these decisions is more united than they think.”  Optimistically, perhaps merely hopefully, she asserted that “we will arrive at something which suits us all.”  Supposedly, somewhere in these discussions, the elusive rabbit of “frictionless trade” will be pulled out of the hat.  All ills will be healed and grievances forgiven.

Rudd’s hopefulness belies the backroom antics that are taking place.  Hilary Benn, the Labour chair of the Brexit committee, pulsates with scepticism on this point.  “I think the government is in a state of open disagreement.  The prime minister has been immobilised.  We’re 19 months since the referendum… and we still don’t know what it is we want.”

The Times has reported that members of May’s Cabinet are sketching plans that would involve Brexiteers conceding to a limited extension to aspects of the existing customs union.  This opportunity would lay the tentative ground for negotiating with non-EU nations for specific trade deals and avoid economic harm – at least in the short term.

Short term stop gaps to limit harm; long term insistence on something apart from the European Union; steps to prevent the manifestation of Brino (Brexit in Name Only).  These are the propositions that hover with tenacity, refusing to leave discussions and intruding at every given moment.

What the Brexiteer cabal insists upon is the fantasy that the UK retains its mould as a dominant power, and that, left alone to its devices, will somehow manage to entertain the likes of India, China and Brazil on a better footing.  Britain outside its European fraternity will be bolder, braver and more effective.  Being within the EU customs union, on the other hand, entails negotiating as a bloc of states, a collective understanding.

Figures like the international trade secretary, Liam Fox, demand an end to the “obsessive criticism” of Brexit.  “Brexit,” he told Conservative Home last month, “is not a time bomb to be defused but a great opportunity to be embraced.”  His overseas trips have been greeted with confidence; on returning, he meets an enervating “self-defeating pessimism that is too often on show from certain politicians, commentators and media outlets over here.”

Britain’s links, however emotional they might be, remain tangibly linked to Europe. These will, in time, become more onerous and costly, and Brussels promises to be stringent on this.  EU negotiators are doing their best to make sure that no benefits accrue to Britain in its departure.  What matters now is how the Brexiteers manage to sell this to the voters.

May’s Britain is flailing before weak leadership and chronic uncertainty, but a Britain with the likes of Johnson-Gove-Rees-Mogg would be an absurdly antiquarian sight, an anachronism that will see the country become a contender for the sick man of Europe.  In destroying the country they claim to love in a fit of patriotic enthusiasm, they just might also destroy the reality of Brexit itself.

Warring on Plastic: David Attenborough, Britain and Environmental Missions

Few documentaries have had quite this impact, so much so that it has ushered in the unfortunate combination of war and plastic, two terms that sit uneasily together, if at all.  Tears were recorded; anxiety levels were propelled as Sir David Attenborough tore and tugged at heart strings in his production Blue Planet II.  The oceans, warned the documentary maker, are becoming a toxic repository, and humans are to blame.

More than eight million tons of plastic eventually finds an oceanic destination.  Decomposition will take centuries.  For Attenborough, one scene from the series stood out.

In it, as snowflakes settle on the ground, a baby albatross lies dead, its stomach pierced by a plastic toothpick fed to it by its own mother, having mistaken it for healthy food.  Nearby lies plastic litter that other hungry chicks have regurgitated.

For Attenborough, plastic supplies a certain demonology for the environmental movement, a vast and urgent target that requires mass mobilisation and action.

There are fragments of nets so big they entangle the heads of fish, birds, turtles, and slowly strangle them.  Other pieces of plastic are so small that they are mistaken for food and eaten, accumulating in fishes’ stomachs, leaving them undernourished.

To firstly declare war against something deemed valuable, even indispensable, to preservation, distribution and storage over a multitude of products, to name but a few purposes, is lofty.  To also identify the casus belli against the inanimate again finds haunting resonance with other failed conflicts: the war against drugs, for instance, or that against terrorism. Will this war go the same way?

Guilty consciences are powerful motivators, and fewer guiltier than the affluent, or mildly affluent.  Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May is one, a figure who has decided to embrace the environmental cause with vote grabbing enthusiasm.  “In the UK alone,” she intoned, “the amount of single-use plastic wasted every year would fill 1,000 Royal Albert Halls.”

May’s direction is far from surprising.  There is Attenborough propelling a movement, and there are the votes that went begging in 2017.  A Tory think-tank, Bright Blue, found that many who refused to vote for her party in the last general election considered environmental initiatives key. Its polling “shows that climate change is the second highest issue younger people want senior politicians to discuss more, second only to health, and actually the top issue for 18- to 28-year-olds.”

In getting on the cart against plastic, May has attempted, unconvincingly, to reassure critics that moving Britain out of the EU would not result in a lowering of environmental standards.  Britannia will remain responsible.  Her government, she spoke with confidence at London Wetland Centre, would “leave the natural environment in a better state than we found it”.

What Sir David says, goes, though May has suggested a slow approach that would eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.  (What, then, is unavoidable?  The question remains unanswered.)  “Plastic-free” aisles are to be encouraged; taxes and charges on takeaway containers are being proposed.  None of these, it should be noted, entails Parliamentary regulation, retaining the old British approach of gradualism in action. No revolutions, please.

Supermarket chains smell climbing profits, luring the ecologically minded to shelves and fridges like willing prey.  One such outlet is Iceland, a chain that wasted little time getting on the radio and airwaves to ride the green belt.  Targets have been advertised, and it promises to remove plastic packaging from all its own labelled products over the next five years.  Even better, goes the fine print, it will enable those with less heavily laden wallets to shop and stay green.

Companies such as Proctor & Gamble, makers of Head & Shoulders Shampoo, have collaborated to produce a recycled shampoo bottle using plastic found in beaches.  This, in turn, pads out it advertising campaigns.  Use our shampoo, and feel good about yourself.

The guilty consciences were whirling and emoting on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday as callers spoke of efforts to spend a week free of plastic, but ignobly failing before their friends, neighbours and fellow citizens, all of whom had managed to go one day further.  There were accounts about how French and German supermarkets ensure that fruits and vegetables are free, emancipated from the confines of plastic, and, it would seem, ready to salve the conscience of the green consumer.

In Britain, Attenborough’s environmental influence has become priestly for such individuals as Oswestry schoolteacher Mandy Price.  She has roped her daughter in as well in what has become a social media campaign featuring #doitfordavid, shared 125,000 times within a matter of hours.  “It has been shared on every continent apart from Antarctica,” praises Emily Davies of the Border Counties Advertiser.

This arms race of satisfying a bruised conscience has an undeniable merit in so far as it acknowledges some of the disastrous consequences of humanity’s addiction to the accessible and the easy.  Ambitious Mandy, for instance, speaks of her Facebook page “receiving photographs from lots of different people who are collecting plastic, even from holidaymakers in Cuba who have seen the posts and have recorded their own two-minute beach clean on the beautiful oceans there.”

But within such wars lie the seeds of, if not failure, then the coming of another problem.  In the British case, enduring snobbery is pointed to.  In Australia’s Northern Territory, environmental groups conceded in dismay that a ban single-use plastic bags less than 35 microns in thickness introduced in 2011 had not reduced plastic bag litter at all. On the contrary, the amount had increased.

This is a battle against human behaviour, against patterns of consumption and use in the human estate. It is, if nothing else, an attempt at behavioural adjustment and revolution.  Such a tall order, such a mission, but one that provides Mandy with rosy affirmation rather than dimming scepticism.

What do you call somebody who supports Israel?

If opposing Israel is anti-semitism then what do you call supporting a state that has been engaged in brutal ethnic cleansing for seven decades. What does that make you?

It’s a question posed by Miko Peled, an Israeli Jew and son of an Israeli general, former Israeli soldier and now a leading voice in the struggle for Palestinian freedom. You couldn’t find a more authentic insider.

What else has Peled been saying about Israel?

The name of the game: erasing Palestine, getting rid of the people and de-Arabizing the country…

As for talk about Israel giving up the West Bank for a Palestinian state:

If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the objective of Zionism and the Zionist state…. By 1993 the Israelis had achieved their mission to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible.

Peled also describes the Israeli army, in which he served, as:

one of the best trained and best equipped and best fed terrorist organisations in the world.

So let’s repeat Peled’s question. What does supporting Israel make you when Israel has been busy ethnically cleansing the native Palestinians for seven decades? What should we call people who defend the indefensible?… who admire the despicable?… who applaud the expulsion at gunpoint of peaceable civilians and the confiscation of their homes and land?

Give them a name, one that will stick.

The claim by Conservative Friends of Israel that 80 percent of the party’s MPs and MEPs are members is alarming and reveals how lacking in integrity we are at the heart of government. It puts us almost on a par with US Congress which is almost totally controlled by the Israel lobby through AIPAC.

Being a Friend of Israel, of course, means embracing the whole rotten kit and caboodle, including the terror and racism on which the state of Israel was built. It means embracing the dispossession and oppression of innocent Palestinians. It means embracing the discriminatory laws against those who remain n their homeland. It means embracing the jackboot thuggery that abducts civilians — including children — and imprisons and tortures them without trial. It means embracing the theft and annexation of Palestinian land and water resources, the imposition of hundreds of military checkpoints, severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods, and maximum interference with Palestinian life at every level.

It means approving the bloodbaths inflicted by Israel on Gaza and feeling comfortable with blowing hundreds of children to smithereens, maiming thousands more, trashing vital infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, power plants and clean water supplies, and causing $6bn of devastation that will take 20 years to rebuild. And, by the way, where is the money coming from?

It means embracing the strangulation of the West Bank’s economy and the vicious ten-year blockade on Gaza. It means embracing the denial of Palestinians’ right to self-determination and return to their homes. It means embracing the religious war that humiliates Muslims and Christians and prevents them from visiting their holy places. It means endorsing a situation in which hard-pressed American and British taxpayers are having to subsidise Israel’s illegal occupation of the Holy Land.

And if, after all that, you are still Israel’s special friend, where is your self-respect?

It is ludicrous that a foreign military power which has no regard for international law and rejects weapons conventions and safeguards can exert such influence on foreign policy in the US and UK. Pandering to Israel has been immensely costly in blood and treasure and stupidly damaging to our reputation.

Everyone outside the Westminster/Washington bubble knows perfectly well that there can be no peace in the Holy Land without justice. In other words no peace until the occupation ends. Everyone knows that international law and countless UN resolutions still wait to be enforced. Everyone knows that Israel won’t comply unless sanctions are imposed. Everyone knows that the siege on Gaza won’t be lifted until warships are sent.

What’s more, everyone now knows that the US is not an honest broker, Israel wants to keep the pot boiling and justice won’t come from more sham ‘negotiations’. Nor will peace. Everyone knows who is the real cause of turmoil in the Middle East. And everyone knows that Her Majesty’s Government’s hand-wringing and empty words serve no purpose except to prolong the daily misery for Palestinians and buy time for Israel to complete its criminal scheme to make the occupation permanent.

Churchgoing British prime minister Theresa May praises Israel for being “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance” when it is obviously neither. It’s an obnoxious ethnocracy. She says our two countries share “common values” when we obviously don’t — although her rotten party probably does.

Given the Israeli regime’s endless crimes against humanity and cruelty to the rightful inhabitants of the Holy Land her remarks are insulting to anyone who lives by Christian values. She even claims that Israel is a country where people of all religions “are free and equal in the eyes of the law” and “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish”. Her ignorance in these matters rivals Trump’s.

And May would do well to call off her efforts to criminalise the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign, which is a grass-roots civil society based resistance movement. She warns that her government will “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”.  But Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights bestows on everyone “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. So she boobs even on that.

In an interview with Jonas Alexis, Miko Peled sounds upbeat about BDS. As long as Israel has a blank check [cheque] from the US and the UK and is undefeatable militarily and diplomatically, BDS “is possibly the only positive change one can point to at this time.”

Many of us have urged beefing up BDS, extending its reach and orchestrating its efforts globally. There seems no other way to force the spineless international community to finally impose the sanctions they should have slapped on Israel decades ago.

It has got to the point where I wouldn’t mind seeing individuals among the political élites targeted by BDS if they deserve it. And many of them surely do.

What the Priti Patel Scandal tells us about the Dark Operations of UK’s Powerful Israel Lobby

The scandal surrounding Priti Patel, who was forced to resign as Britain’s international aid minister last week after secret meetings with Israeli officials during a “family holiday”, offers a small, opaque window on the UK’s powerful Israel lobby.

Ms Patel’s off-the-books meetings with 12 Israelis, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were organised by a British lobbyist in violation of government rules requiring careful documentation of official meetings. That is to prevent conflicts of interest and illicit lobbying by foreign powers.

Government protocol was flouted again when Ms Patel headed to the Golan Heights, occupied Syrian territory, escorted by the Israeli army. There she was shown an Israeli military field hospital that patches up Syrians, including Al Qaeda-affiliated fighters, wounded in Syria’s civil war.

Afterwards, Ms Patel pressed for the Israeli army, one of the most powerful in the world, to receive a chunk of Britain’s overseas aid. Meanwhile, she has sought to cut aid to the Palestinians, including to vital projects in Gaza. A clue as to how she reached such absurd “humanitarian” priorities is provided in the figure of Stuart Polak, mentor on her Israel “holiday”.

The honorary president of Conservative Friends of Israel, Lord Polak has recruited four-fifths of Conservative MPs, and almost every government minister, to a group whose explicit goal is to advance Israeli interests in Britain. The prime minister, Theresa May, is regarded as one of Israel’s most fervent supporters in Europe.

That should be a cause for public indignation – no other foreign state enjoys such unabashed, high-level political support.

Another window on Israel’s meddling opened briefly last week. The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, took to Twitter to relay a damning comment from an unnamed “senior” member of Ms Patel’s party. In a clear reference to Israel, the source observed: “The entire apparatus has turned a blind eye to a corrupt relationship that allows a country to buy access”.

A short time later, presumably under pressure, Ms Kuenssberg deleted the tweet. The BBC has not reported the comment elsewhere and the senior Conservative has not dared go public. Such, it seems, is the intimidating and corrupting influence of the lobby.

More than a decade ago, two leading American academics wrote a study of the Israel lobby’s role in the United States, Israel’s chief patron for half a century. It was a sign of the lobby’s influence that John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt could not find a publisher at home. They had to turn to a British journal instead.

The Israel lobby’s strength in western capitals has depended precisely on its ability to remain out of view. Simply to talk about the lobby risks being accused of perpetuating anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish cabals.

But professors Mearsheimer and Walt described a type of pressure group familiar in the US – and increasingly in European capitals. Everyone from Cuba to health insurers and arms manufacturers operate aggressive lobbyists in Washington to secure their interests.

What is special about the Israel lobby in the US – an amalgam of hawkish Jewish leadership organisations and messianic Christian evangelicals – is the fear it exploits to silence critics. No one wants to be labelled an anti-Semite.

Rarely identified or held to account, the lobby has entrenched its power.

That is under threat, however. Social media and Palestinians with camera phones have exposed a global audience to systematic abuses by the Israeli army the western media largely ignored. For the first time, Israel supporters sound evasive and dissembling.

Meanwhile, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strident efforts in the US Congress through 2014 and 2015 to prevent a nuclear accord with Iran dragged the lobby even farther out of the shadows.

The Israel lobby’s dirty tricks in the UK were exposed earlier this year too. An Al Jazeera TV documentary showed Conservative party officials colluding with the Israeli embassy to “take down” Alan Duncan, a foreign office minister who supports the Palestinian cause.

It is noteworthy that Ms Patel’s downfall came about because of social media. Israeli officials like police minister Gilad Erdan were so unused to scrutiny or accountability themselves that they happily tweeted photos with Ms Patel. Mr Erdan is a key player in the lobby, running a “smear unit” to target overseas critics of Israel.

We may never know why Ms Patel so grossly flouted ministerial rules or what she quietly promised in those meetings in Israel. Colleagues have hinted that, in a pattern familiar from US politics, she hoped to win over the lobby and its wealthy donors for a future leadership bid.

There is no way to know, given the lobby’s penchant for secrecy, whether Ms Patel simply proved less adept at treading a path marked out by former Conservative and Labour party leadership hopefuls.

There is growing hysteria about foreign interference in US and European politics. Is it not time for western states to show as much concern about the malign influence of Israel’s lobbyists as they do about Russian hackers?

First published in The National, Abu Dhabi.

Balfour Merrymaking a Potential PR Disaster for the British Government

The extraordinary programme of centenary celebrations in the UK to honour Lord Balfour and his lunatic Declaration — and the British Government’s continuing part in it — is an affront to citizens here and to countless millions abroad. And many a sharp pin is waiting to burst the pretty Balfour balloon being desperately inflated by Israel-firsters at Westminster.

Balfour’s 1917 pledge and its consequences, played out over the last 70 years, ride roughshod over Christian values and humanitarian law. Rothschild replied to Balfour’s letter saying that “the British Government has opened up, by their message, a prospect of safety and comfort to large masses of people who are in need of it.” Well, it also opened up the prospect — and the reality — of a lifetime of abject misery for millions of Palestinians who had no need of it and certainly didn’t deserve it. It also helped to plant in the most sacred part of the Middle East an evil regime that shows contempt for human rights and international law and is bent on creating instability all around and confiscating every acre of land and every natural resource to aid its expansion.

The daft thing is, Balfour didn’t even write the Declaration. He was simply the upper-class twit who signed it and did so without even bothering to consult the people whose homeland he intended giving away. The carefully worded letter to Rothschild (the so-called Declaration) was the work of Leopold Amery, political secretary to the War Cabinet at the time, who cleverly kept hidden his Jewish ancestry throughout his quite impressive career. He was also largely responsible for forming the Jewish Legion battalions which were the forerunners of the hated Israeli Defence Force, which Israeli Miko Peled describes as “one of the best trained and best equipped and best fed terrorist organisations in the world”.

Amery was an eager Zionist and had a supervisory role in the British mandate government in Palestine during the 1920s, actively preparing it for eventual Jewish takeover. He operated within a government the upper echelons of which were stuffed with Zionist sympathisers such as Churchill and Lloyd George.

In response to the avalanche of pro-Balfour celebratory tosh the Palestine Mission to the UK commissioned a ‘Make It Right’ campaign featuring contrasting images of Palestinian life before and after 1948, when Israel declared statehood on land it had overrun and ethnically cleansed. The campaign message, of course, objects to the Balfour declaration which promised a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Posters were supposed to appear on buses and in Underground rail stations but London’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), has banned the advertisements on the grounds that they “did not comply fully with our guidelines”. It seems TfL don’t like  “images or messages which relate to matters of public controversy or sensitivity” or causes that are “party political”.

Palestinian ambassador Manuel Hassassian accuses TfL of censorship saying:

Palestinian history is a censored history. There has been a 100-year-long cover-up of the British government’s broken promise, in the Balfour declaration, to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians when it gave away their country to another people. TfL’s decision is not surprising as it is, at best, susceptible to or, at worst, complicit with, all the institutional forces and active lobby groups which continuously work to silence the Palestinian narrative. There may be free speech in Britain on every issue under the sun but not on Palestine.

Prime Minister Theresa May has invited her Israeli counterpart ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu to the London celebrations. It is unthinkable in Government circles for an honoured guest to be confronted with a London plastered with such inconvenient messages. Nevertheless, they’ll appear on 52 London black cabs, which aren’t under TfL’s control, so our PM’s loathsome visitor may not entirely escape embarrassment, assuming he’s capable of feeling it.

Conflating justice and tolerance with anti-Semitism

Speaking of declarations I’m reminded of a far more sensible one by Shimon Tzabar, who had been a member of Jewish terrorist organisations in Palestine during the British Mandate including the Stern Gang, Irgun and Haganah. After 1948 and the establishment of the Israeli state he fought in its 1948-50, 1956, and 1967 wars but spoke out against the annexation of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He even began calling  himself a “Hebrew-speaking Palestinian”. Tzabar and others eventually felt moved to publish the following declaration:

Occupation entails foreign rule. Foreign rule entails resistance. Resistance entails repression. Repression entails terror and counter-terror. The victims of terror are mostly innocent people. Holding on to the occupied territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims. Let us get out of the occupied territories immediately.

Wouldn’t Mrs May prefer to celebrate Tzabar’s Declaration? He moved to England where he famously published the MUCH BETTER THAN THE OFFICIAL MICHELIN Guide to Israeli prisons, Jails, Concentration Camps and Torture Chambers. The best and safest way to begin a tour of these horrible establishments, it said, was to look like a Palestinian Arab and get yourself arrested .”Once you look like a Palestinian you have a good chance of being arrested. Your chance is actually so good, that you don’t have to do anything in particular.”

That other Israeli straight-talker Miko Peled, mentioned above, put the cat among the pigeons at the Labour Party conference last month when he told activists that Israel is “terrified” of Jeremy Corbyn becoming British prime minister and will do everything they can to stop him. “They are going to pull all the stops, they are going to smear, they are going to try anything they can to stop Corbyn from being prime minister. It’s up to Labour, it’s up to you [to ensure] that they don’t have the ability to do that…. Jeremy Corbyn is an opportunity for Britain that, if it gets lost, won’t come back for a very long time.

“The reason anti-Semitism is used is because they [the Israelis] have no argument, there is nothing to say,” said Peled. “How can a call for justice and tolerance be conflated with anti-Semitism? I don’t know if they realise this but they are pitting Judaism against everything good and just.”

Peled is an Israeli Jew, the son of an Israeli general, and a former soldier in the Israeli army. You couldn’t find a more authentic insider source. Here’s a flavour of his message:

The name of the game: erasing Palestine, getting rid of the people and de-Arabizing the country…

By 1993 the Israelis had achieved their mission to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible. By 1993 the Israeli government knew for certain that a Palestinian state could not be established in the West Bank – the settlements were there, $ billions were invested, the entire Jordan River valley was settled… there was no place any more for a Palestinian state to be established. That is when Israel said, OK, we’ll begin negotiations…

When people talk about the possibility of Israel somehow giving up the West Bank for a Palestinian state, if it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. It shows a complete misunderstanding of the objective of Zionism and the Zionist state.

Meanwhile Netanyahu has just announced a temporary easing of the fishing limits imposed on Gaza’s fishermen. For two months, in the southern half of Gaza, they will be able to sail out 9 miles after which the limit reverts back to 6. Sounds generous? No, it’s ridiculously cruel. And restrictions remain even tighter in the northern half. Under the Oslo Agreements (1993) Israel is supposed to allow the Palestinians to fish up to 12 miles out, in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea but, as with so many other agreements, the Zionist regime has never honoured its obligation. Furthermore Israel’s 10-year blockade on Gaza has made it impossible for many fishermen to buy parts to maintain their vessels, so the once flourishing fishing industry has been crippled.

And Netanyahu recently locked up the Palestinians for 11 days while Israelis enjoyed festive holidays. Marilyn Garson, writing in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reported:

Netanyahu seals the gates of the West Bank and Gaza for eleven days, to enjoy Sukkot. How flagrant, to confine millions of people in the name of a holiday that celebrates the flimsy, temporary nature of our walls. If Jews were herded behind concrete walls and locked away for eleven days, so that someone else might enjoy a Jew-free holiday, would we shrug that off?

Haaretz is a relatively honest source and to print such a thing in Israel is quite daring.

On the same subject the Jewish Chronicle had this to say:  “Border closures over the High Holidays and other Jewish festivals are routine, but are usually much shorter. The original decision stoked complaints within the Israeli security establishment that it was principally “grandstanding” by ministers eager to burnish their right-wing credentials.” The JC went on the explain that the 11-day closure had been demanded by Israeli police and the Internal Security minister, and was initially opposed by the Israeli military and senior Defence Ministry officials who said that it would be an unnecessary punishment to tens of thousands of law-abiding Palestinian workers.

However, both Israeli papers omitted to say that, thanks to Balfour’s legacy, there has been no freedom of movement for Palestinians since the closure of Gaza and the West Bank by Israel 26 years ago. Closure is the normal state of affairs and not to be confused with foolish ideas that crossings are usually open.

Contradictory Promises

The Balfour Project, which promotes justice, security and peace for both Jews and Arabs, has made available a wealth of information. One of its publications sums up the problem very neatly:

The Declaration pledges Britain’s support for a ‘national home’ in Palestine for the Jewish people on the understanding that the rights of ‘existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’ would not tbe prejudiced. The failure to uphold this second clause, for which Britain bears much responsibility, has caused conflict between Palestinians and Israelis ever since.

This was just one of Britain’s contradictory promises during the First World War. After the war we secured a mandate from the League of Nations which included a ‘sacred trust’ to prepare the people of Palestine for independence. But in the end Britain walked away.

Yes, in 1948 we abandoned the mess we had created. As the last British soldiers marched away Jewish leaders declared statehood without borders, pushing far beyond the boundaries set out in the UN Partition Plan the year before, their terror militia putting to flight hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, massacring many more and stealing their homes and farms.

What Britain caused to happen in the Holy Land was contrary to all decency and justice. History will not judge kindly the British Government’s decision to celebrating Balfour “with pride” while refusing to apologise and make amends. There’s a fair chance the whole sorry spectacle will backfire on Theresa May and teach her unpleasant associates a sharp lesson.

A colleague wrote only yesterday to one of our government ministers and what she said is worth repeating here:

Ministers, from the Prime Minister down, should reflect with humility that but for that disastrous decision by their predecessors 100 years ago, the Holy Land might still be a land of peace where all the faiths lived in harmony together.

Boris Johnson goes Caracas

Shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte.

— Boris Johnson, Twitter, October 3, 2017

The Conservative Party conference in Manchester was always going to hinge on an important question: what would Boris Johnson do to steal the show?  Having demonstrated the hardest of lines on the issue of Brexit, he has become more just a mere thorn in his prime minister’s side.  From thorn, he has become a blade, buried in a vulnerable carriage.

Theresa May had no doubt hoped that giving him the Foreign Secretary position would see an automatic, sacrificial implosion to celebrate.  Johnson had been a noisy Brexiteer and drinking from the poisoned chalice of foreign relations was exactly the sort of thing that would have delighted the May crew.  On his travels, his mischief making would remain where he left them.

Instead, rumours of a leadership challenge have been humming in Tory corridors.  May’s disastrous electoral performance, a miscalculation of gargantuan proportions, has left her, to use the words from the smug former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, a “dead woman walking”.

The only question on any plotter’s lips is whether Johnson is up to the task.  Johnson was never good on matters behind a desk, the sort of mastery of detail that commands a brief and holds his audience by the sheer persuasiveness of labour. Detail is something best left to those who find it important, those squirrel types who parcel data and mind matters as he jaunts and jabbers.  The oratorical flourish, the wordy deflection, the self-mocking dismissal: these are the instruments of Johnsoncraft.

It is the sheer effortlessness of his statements in terms of their schoolboy sensitivity that delights and outrages.  Confusing the global stage, or any stage, as a glorified union debate without strings and codes, Johnson tends to take off the restraints and go for various parts of plain old decency.

During the course of his address to the conference, Johnson did not disappoint.  He took issue with the lack of cheer in editorials in glossy international magazines, the Cassandras keen to debunk notions that Britain was thriving, confidence, prosperous.  “Every day a distinguished pink newspaper manages to make Eeyore look positively exuberant and across the world the impression being given that this country is not up to it.”

London was “storming ahead” with frenetic speed; the UK boasted the lowest unemployment rate in 42 years.  Dreamily, he gave his audience a vision: Britannia, punching above weight and frame and everything else.  “The highest number of people in work ever, the number one destination for investment into Europe”.  All, despite Brexit.

Traditional punching was reserved for that great threat to the conservative order: Jeremy Corbyn.  Corbyn, that “NATO bashing, Trident scrapping, would-be-abolisher of the British army whose first instinct in the event of almost any international outrage or disaster is to upend the analysis until he can find a way of blaming British foreign policy.”

The fact that Corbyn found anything remotely palatable in the notion of socialism, be it in Venezuela or Bolivia suggested an illness at work, a sense of being unhinged.  “He says he still admires Bolivarian revolutionary socialism.  I say he’s Caracas.”

For all the rich smear and the voluminous sneers, Johnson can barely conceal the sense that the Tories are on the run, that Corbyn might, just might, be dangerous enough to count.  The Labour leader seemed to be deluding himself into thinking that he had won the election, expressed in “glutinous victory-style Chavista rallies up and down the country”.

But it was May, insisted the foreign secretary, who had won the highest share of the vote in any election in the last 25 years, May who was true victor.  (Never mind the electoral belting in terms of lost seats registered at the time.)  Best, then, to keep to the deregulation fantasies, the notion that rampant privatisation works.

Johnson’s main speech did not detract from a side show that made the headlines.  Before a Conservative conference fringe meeting, Libya came up in discussions.  Libya, with its “[b]one white sands, beautiful sea, Caesar’s Palace, obviously, you know, the real one.”

UK entrepreneurs wished to invest in Sirte, where Gaddafi met his grizzly, tortured fate.  “They have got a brilliant vision to turn Sirte into the next Dubai.”  There was, however, an important preliminary matter to deal with.  “The only thing they have got to do is clear the dead bodies away.”

This woke the Tories. Suddenly, decency mattered.  The word police had donned uniforms.  Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston felt that Johnson should “consider his position” after such “crass, poorly judged and grossly insensitive” comments. The first secretary of state, Damian Green, was more judicious. “It’s not a sensitive use of language. As I say, we all need to be sensitive in our use of language, particularly in situations like that.”

Use of language is a forte of sorts for Johnson, but care about doing so rarely features.  Crude, crass and insensitive it may be, but his point is simple enough: after the bodies come the investors, the capitalists and the tourists.  The golden road to Samarkand will eventually be taken, if only after a good massacre.  May awaits a more opportune moment to hand the sack.

From Myanmar, to Whitehall, to Washington: The Festering Nadir of Politics

But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles.

— Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013, “The Cure at Troy.”)

Oxford UK, the “city of dreaming spires”, as described by poet Matthew Arnold and the oldest university city in the English speaking world, is to rescind the honour of the Freedom of the City awarded to Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi, over her response to the Rohingya crisis, reports The Guardian.

A unanimous cross-party motion stated that it was “no longer appropriate” to fete Myanmar’s de facto head of State.

Council Leader, Bob Price is quoted as calling the move an “unprecedented step” for the authority. A special meeting to confirm the stripping of the status will be held on 27th November.

Last week St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she studied as an undergraduate, removed her portrait from public display. According the The Guardian (29th September 2017):

In 2012 Aung San Suu Kyi was celebrated with an Honorary Doctorate from Oxford University, and held her 67th birthday party at the college where she studied politics, philosophy and economics between 1964 and 1967.

So far there is no talk of the Doctorate being rescinded, though a number of UK institutions are reviewing honours bestowed on her over the years.

UNISON, the country’s second largest trade union, last month suspended her honorary membership and:

Bristol University, one of a string of universities that awarded honorary degrees to the Burmese leader during her time in opposition, also said it was reviewing its award in light of accusations of brutal mistreatment of the Rohingya”, whilst: “The London School of Economics Student Union said it would be stripping Aung San Suu Kyi of her Honorary Presidency.

“A number” of other institutions are reported to be “reviewing or removing” honours previously bestowed on her, though no doubt as other dubious recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize she will retain that, awarded in 1991.

The UN have described the plight of the Rohingya as: “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Britain’s Disasters and Emergency Committee has launched a major appeal for the Rohingya with the UK government led by Theresa May (who coincidentally also studied at St Hugh’s College, Oxford) leading from the rear by pledging that the government would match the first three million pounds donated by the public.

If humanity existed the government would surely have led, donating the first major tranche of money and urging the public to join. But then when it is of a mindset that appoints a Foreign Secretary, the country’s foremost “diplomat”, who said yesterday of Sirte in Libya – where Muammar Gaddafi was horrifically, barbarically slaughtered and which Secretary Boris Johnson had recently visited:

There’s a group of UK business people, wonderful guys who want to invest in Sirte … and they literally have a brilliant vision to turn Sirte … to turn it into the next Dubai. The only thing they’ve got to do is clear the dead bodies away and then they’ll be there.

From Myanmar, to Whitehall, to Donald Trump sneering at the devastated people of Puerto Rico (if you can stomach it) it seems politics has hit a shameful, stinking, festering, inhuman low. Given the lows of the last decades, that is really saying something.

The Legacy of Balfour: 100 Years of Betrayal and Suffering

It is hard to reconcile how a government that sold out the civilian population of Palestine can celebrate the shameful letter Lord Balfour sent to Lord Rothschild. Although termed in language that presented itself as only offering a homeland to the Jewish people, with no discrimination to be brought against the indigenous Palestinian population, it is evident the agreement was always intended as a precursor to the establishment of Jewish Statehood in Palestine. It is documented that Lord Balfour stated that he had no intention of consulting the Palestinians when he effectively gave their homeland away. This initial deception has only deepened over the years – hence Theresa May’s blinkered ability to further shame the British people by indulging in overt celebrations on the occasion of the centenary of the signing.

Is it really credible that Theresa May and her cabinet are unaware of the 100 year suffering this infamous agreement has caused? While some Palestinians were alert to the intent of this carefully worded script, it was not until the widespread massacres of Deir Yassin and other villages in 1947/8 that Palestinians woke up en-mass to the reality of threat to their homeland. Even then, although fleeing widespread massacres many locked their homes, taking their keys with them, in the belief that it would not be long before an Arab uprising would quell the attacks and they could return home.

It’s now 70 years since they left and took up residence in miserable, crowded refugee camps, but the dream of returning – enshrined in international law as ‘RIGHT of RETURN’, is what makes living in the camps bearable. During this past week of the 35 year commemoration of the Sabra Shatilla massacre I have been visiting camps in Lebanon: Shatilla, Bourj Barajneh, Nahr ElBarad, Rashidieh and Wavel. The genocidal massacre that took place in Sabra Shatilla in 1982 is believed to have resulted in around 3,000 plus deaths. The victims ranged from the elderly, the women, children and babies – (those not yet born are included since witness accounts describe several instances of babies ripped from their mother’s womb. In one report, a baby, close to its birth date was seen to utter its first cry before a knife slit its threat and its un-lived life was halted). Young girls, barely having reached puberty, were raped by Phalange thought to be high on cocaine and pumped up with rage. This civilian population were unprotected by their men folk because all PLO fighters had been assured that if they agreed to go into exile in foreign countries their families would be safe. Upon leaving Lebanon, Yasser Arafat said: “I am leaving here because I love Lebanon”. He believed that by agreeing for the PLO to  leave, not only would the Israelis retreat from their occupation of Lebanon, but that it was the safest way to protect all their families. 

The massacre of Sabra Shatilla is not the only massacre that has taken place here, or within Palestine. Jenin camp experienced a massacre in 2002. The Gazan civilian population, already suffering from near starvation, lack of clean water and other essential resources, experience frequent military attacks from Israel. Each of the camps I visited this past week in Lebanon, have their own history of poverty, hardship and death. Nahr ElBarad has partially been rebuilt after being attacked in 2007. It was only large protests in 2009 that led to the camp returning. Tel al-Zaatar and several others have never been rebuilt. Only the memories remain along with some old PLO film footage. Ain al-Hilweh, the largest of the camps, is currently in semi-lockdown because it’s feared ISIS allied groups may have infiltrated it. Is their fate going to be that of Yarmouk in Syria – insecurity and starvation?

I met a young woman with her three small children in Wavel Camp. She had fled to Lebanon from Yarmouk camp in Syria after it was infiltrated with Islamic State (paid mercenaries). Both she and her children have only known fear and suffering. I couldn’t assure her that her suffering, and her children’s suffering, will end. Maybe like her grandparents, her parents, and her husband, it will only end at the time of their death. Wavel is a small camp for the demands made upon it. There are many refugees living in tents across the fields of Beqaa. Some had slept in a nearby graveyard. Lebanon is facing a crisis of having to cope with an ever increasing number of refugees.

However, what was shocking to hear is that when Syrian/Palestinian refugees enter Lebanon they are required to pay a residency tax of $66 US per person per ramonth. At the point of registration the first three months are free. UNWRA provides some help to about 12% of the families ($100 per household) but it still leaves a massive shortfall in people’s needs. Refugees are left with stark choices; go back to Syria or from wherever they came, risk being picked up by the police, or go into hiding. By creating such a bleak survival scenario for the new coming refugees the global community, Lebanon, UNWRA, are creating a scenario where impoverished refugees could become vulnerable targets for recruitment by ISIS allied paid mercenaries. This is certainly of concern to the Palestinian Popular Committees who are always alert to any kind of radical infiltration into the camps.

As in the case of the Shatilla massacre where it was the Christian Phalange who carried out the physical attacks, Israeli generals often choose to direct operations from a strategic distance. It was by securing the camp boundaries with Israeli soldiers and tanks parked at the entrance that the massacre was able to continue for three days uninterrupted. During the massacre Israel fired flares at regular intervals which Palestinians describe as ‘turning night into day’. It certainly made it easier for the Phalange to carry out their mission. In manipulating others the Israelis are able to keep their hands clean and the deception (palatable to our government) of Israel ‘defending itself’, can continue.

In stark contrast to last year it was interesting to observe that at this year’s gathering in Martyrs’ Square, the attending media appeared not to be interested in interviewing any foreigners. A Palestinian friend pointed this out so I asked one of the camera people if that was the case. He confirmed these observations and when it was suggested that this might have something to do with the 100 year Balfour celebrations in Israel and UK, he acknowledged that this was very likely. Lebanon has good reason to be nervous about its Israeli neighbour, yet the influence of this Corporate Zionist alliance (US, UK, Israel, Saudi Arabia and others) is always present. The ‘allowed’ main stream narrative is dominated by a Zionist Israeli perspective while the Palestinian story continues to be endlessly suppressed. As witnessed this past week, the memory of the massacre of Sabra Shatilla will not be forgotten any more than will the other massacres carried out during this hundred years of injustice committed against the Palestinians.

Zionist Israel has a legacy of crimes against humanity that continue with impunity on an unprecedented level.  Israel has never defined its borders and as a Global corporatist entity it has been at the heart of conflict in the Middle East for the past seventy years. Jerusalem, a city that is considered sacred by the three major Abrahamic faiths, should be a place of peace. The conflict surrounding it and emanating across the Middle East represents a mortal wound in the human body, that if allowed to fester should be a wake up call to all humanity if we want to preserve the dignity of life. The British left Palestine in a chaotic, conflictual mess. It therefore falls upon the British Establishment to take some responsibility for this global tragedy. It is outrageous that Theresa May should celebrate the Balfour declaration, a declaration that has resulted in untold misery and wider conflict in the world. By liberating Palestine from Zionist oppression we would be liberating the world. There is no time limit on memory. All oppressive empires fall. This global corporate Zionist alliance is no exception. It is only a matter of time before the voices of the oppressed… of their narrative….. will be heard. The volume and weight of their truth and rightness will be so powerful that it will no longer be able to be silenced.

Israel’s Chief Stooge at Westminster shames us again

As Prime Minister, I am proud to say that I support Israel. And it is absolutely right that we should mark the vital role that Britain played a century ago in helping to create a homeland for the Jewish people.

Thus spake Theresa May the other day as she welcomed members of the Jewish community to 10 Downing Street. But by focusing on creating a homeland for the Jewish people she’s also celebrating the hell that Balfour’s Declaration created for the gentle Palestinians and for the rest of the region. “Born of that letter, the pen of Balfour, and of the efforts of so many people, is a remarkable country,” said May, apparently blind to the reality.

Right now we’re on the run-up to the centenary of what is arguably the biggest foreign policy blunder in British history: the Balfour Declaration. In 1917 Arthur Balfour, foreign secretary, bowed to Zionist demands for a homeland for the Jews in Palestine and gave an undertaking that set the world on course for long-term turmoil and, for the native Palestinians, unspeakable misery, dispossession and displacement. It was a criminal conspiracy. And Balfour was an A-list idiot who bragged that he wasn’t even going to counsult the local Arab population about this theft of their homes and lands.

Yet he remains a hero of the Conservative Party which, led by Theresa May, plans to celebrate this hundred-year “running sore” — as Lord Sydenham called it — in great style, inviting Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu to the festivities. That’s if the warmonger isn’t under arrest by then on imminent charges of corruption back home.

“I will always do whatever it takes to keep our Jewish community safe,” May added. “Through our new definition of anti-Semitism we will call out anyone guilty of any language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews. We will actively encourage the use of this definition by the police, the legal profession, universities and other public bodies.”

She was referring to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

BDS “unsucessful”? Really?

One of May’s Cabinet minsiters, Sajid Javid, told the World Jewish Congress that the UK would celebrate the upcoming anniversary with pride. “Someone said we should apologise for the Declaration, to say it was an error of judgment. Of course that’s not going to happen.” To apologise, he said, would be to apologise for the existence of Israel and to question its right to exist.

Instead, he emphasised the UK government’s intolerance towards any kind of boycott of Israel. “I’ll be 100 per cent clear. I do not support calls for a boycott, my party does not support calls for a boycott. For all its bluster, the BDS campaign is most notable I think, for its lack of success….  As long as I’m in government, as long as I’m in politics, I will do everything in my power to fight back against those who seek to undermine Israel.” The UK, he said, has maintained close diplomatic, trade and security ties with Israel since its inception, and is counted upon by Israel to vote in its favour at the UN and other international institutions.

As Noam Chomsky has aptly observed: “People who call themselves supporters of Israel are actually supporters of its moral degeneration and ultimate destruction.”

Israel lobby stooges like May and Javid continue trying to ram their pro-Zionist nonsense down out throats despite the fact that last time they attacked the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”, they came spectacularly unstuck. 200 legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe put May in her place by pointing out that BDS is a lawful exercise of freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. Her efforts to repress it amounted to support for Israel’s violations of international law and failure to honour the solemn pledge by States to ‘strictly respect the aims and principles of the Charter of the United Nations’.

May needs a crash course in human rights

Top legal experts were recently asked for their views by Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Their verdict was that those in public life cannot behave in a manner inconsistent with the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population”.

What’s more, there is an obligation to allow all concerned in public debate “to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”. Article 10 says that everyone has the right to freedom of expression including “freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says the same sort of thing, subject of course to the usual limitations required by law and respect for the rights of others.

Eminent human rights lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC has sharply criticised the anti-Semitism definition touted by May. Firstly, it isn’t a legally binding definition so doesn’t have the force of a statutory one. And it cannot be considered a legal definition as it lacks clarity. Therefore any conduct contrary to the IHRA definition couldn’t necessarily be ruled illegal.

He says it was “most unsatisfactory for the Government to adopt a definition which lacks clarity and comprehensiveness” and suggests the Government’s decision to adopt the IHRA definition was simply a freestanding statement of policy — a mere suggestion as to a definition of anti-Semitism that public bodies might wish to use. But no public body was under an obligation to adopt or use it, or should be criticised for refusing to. He warned that if a public authority did decide to adopt the definition then it must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights mentioned above.

A further obligation put on public authorities is “to create a favourable environment for participation in public debates for all concerned, allowing them to express their opinions and ideas without fear, even if these opinions and ideas are contrary to those defended by the official authorities or by a large part of public opinion, or even if those opinions and ideas are irritating or offensive to the public”.

According to Tomlinson, then, the IHRA definition doesn’t mean that calling Israel an apartheid state that practices settler colonialism, or urging BDS against Israel, can properly be characterized as anti-Semitic. Furthermore, a public authority seeking to apply the IHRA definition in order to prohibit or punish such activities “would be acting unlawfully.”

Retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley, has weighed in by criticising the IHRA definition for lack of legal force. “It is not neutral: it may well influence policy both domestically and internationally.” He added that the right of free expression, now part of our domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act, “places both negative and positive obligations on the state which may be put at risk if the IHRA definition is unthinkingly followed”. Moreover the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions “which cannot be cut back by governmental policies”.

Sedley felt the IHRA definition was open to manipulation. “What is needed now is a principled retreat on the part of government from a stance which it has naively adopted.”

As for Javid’s crack about not having to apologise for Israel’s existence, he must have forgotten that in the wake of the 1947 UN Partition Plan, which granted the Jews territory within defined borders, they declared statehood in 1948 without borders, grabbing as much extra land as they could by armed terror and ethnic cleansing.  The new state of Israel’s admission to the UN in 1949 was conditional upon honouring the UN Charter and implementing UN General Assembly Resolutions 181 and 194. It has failed to do so and to this day repeatedly violates provisions and principles of the Charter.

When the UK Conservative Government makes pronouncements on foreign affairs it pays to consider that 80 percent of its MPS are claimed to be signed-up members of Friends of Israel and this is a stepping-stone to higher office. Conservative Friends of Israel, according to their website, are active at every level of the party.

It is sad that so many of our politicians are so spineless and so insecure that they feel the need to herd together under the flag of what the UN has called a racist state.

Balfour’s Shameful Legacy: UK Government must say sorry and protect Christian Churches in Palestine

Dear Mr Mundell,

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Dumfries Agricultural Show. If you recall, we talked briefly about Mrs May’s perverse plan to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration “with pride” and invite Israel’s PM Netanyahu to the jollifications.

The infamous Declaration was a pledge contrived by Zionists inside and outside the British Government. It was in effect a ‘promissory note’ to the Zionist movement for their help in bringing the US into WW1; and it was made with utter disregard to the consequences for the majority Arab population in Palestine. Worse, it amounted to a betrayal of our Arab allies, cutting across an earlier promise for their help against the Turks. There was strong opposition in Parliament even from Lord Montague, the only Jew in the Cabinet. Lord Sydenham remarked:

What we have done, by concessions not to the Jewish people but to a Zionist extreme section, is to start a running sore in the East, and no-one can tell how far that sore will extend.

Well, we know now. And it’s high time the wound was healed.

The Declaration by Balfour, a Zionist convert, needs to be read in parallel with The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism, a joint statement by the heads of Palestinian Christian churches which rejects Christian Zionist doctrine as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States [they could have added the UK] that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine…. We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war.

Justice groups are urging the British Government to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration in November by saying sorry instead of toasting the blunder in champagne. Mrs May could do some real good here. She could, at a stroke, help quell the destructive turmoil in the Middle East and begin repairing Britain’s tattered image. She could even open new trade routes into Islamic markets, vitally important as we leave the EU. By apologising on our behalf for 100 years of agony inflicted on lovely people in a lovely part of the world Mrs May could take a giant step for mankind on the world stage.

But no, she’s pressing ahead with the revelry. And her principal guest, the ruthless Israeli prime minister, is on many a wanted list for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He’s also under investigation in his own country for corruption. This is not just poor judgment on Mrs May’s part but insanely provocative when a UN report recently branded Israel an apartheid regime. It’s even more regrettable considering the desperate cry for help a few weeks ago  from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine in an open letter to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement, signed by over 30 organisations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza. You can read this disturbing document here.

They issued a similar cry for help 10 years ago but the tyranny of the occupying forces has gone from very bad to much worse. Their latest message is frighteningly stark:

Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status-quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.

“The name of the game: Erasing Palestine” (Miko Peled)

I was encouraged to hear you say that you visited Occupied Palestine independently rather than accept the usual propaganda tour organised by Conservative Friends of Israel and the Israeli government. Nevertheless, claims by the CFoI that 80 percent of Conservative MPs and MEPs are signed up members is alarming and puts us almost on a par with US Congress which is controlled by the Israel lobby through AIPAC. It is ludicrous that a foreign military power which has no respect for international law and rejects weapons conventions and safeguards can exert such influence on foreign policy in the US and UK. Pandering to Israel has been immensely costly in blood and treasure and damaging to our reputation.

Everyone outside the Westminster bubble knows perfectly well that there can be no peace in the Holy Land without justice. Everyone knows that international law and countless UN resolutions still wait to be enforced. Everyone knows that Israel won’t comply unless sanctions are imposed. Everyone knows that the siege on Gaza won’t be lifted until warships are sent.

Miko Peled, son of an Israeli general, former Israeli soldier and now a leading voice in the struggle for Palestinian freedom, tells us that “by 1993 the Israelis had achieved their mission to make the conquest of the West Bank irreversible [and] the Israeli government knew for certain that a Palestinian state could not be established in the West Bank”. What’s more, everyone now knows that the US is not an honest broker and peace won’t come from sham ‘negotiations’ between the weak and the all-powerful. Everyone knows who is the real threat to peace in the Middle East. And everyone knows that Her Majesty’s Government’s hand-wringing  and empty words serve no purpose except to prolong the daily misery and buy time for Israel to complete its criminal scheme to make the occupation permanent.

Mrs May praises Israel for being “a thriving democracy, a beacon of tolerance”, when it is obviously neither. She says our two countries share “common values” when we obviously don’t; and given the Israeli regime’s incessant crimes against humanity and cruelty to the indigenous people it terrorises such a remark is insulting to anyone who lives by Christian values. She even claims that Israel is a country where people of all religions “are free and equal in the eyes of the law” and “Israel guarantees the rights of people of all religions, races and sexualities, and it wants to enable everyone to flourish”. This is arrant nonsense. The lady needs to tone down her misguided adoration of the rogue regime.

She also needs to call off attempts to criminalise the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign calling it wrong and warning that her government will “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”.  Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights bestows on everyone “the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.

As the Secretary of State for Scotland, the senior Central Government figure hereabouts and a member of the Cabinet, you have the ear of the PM on heavyweight matters of state — such as this. I hope you’ll allow me, please, to pursue the  through your goodself (keeping my MP Alister Jack informed).  I do not wish to receive the usual proforma reply from the Foreign Office about the UK’s adherence to the 2-state solution — a futile position, as anyone paying attention to the situation has known for years. What I do hope for is reasons why HMG is still exporting weaponry to Israel when it is used against the Palestinians to maintain the illegal occupation, why no move is made to break the 10-year blockade of Gaza which has brought nearly 2 million citizens to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, why HMG keeps rewarding Israel for its other never-ending crimes, its contempt for international law, its disregard for the provisions of the UN Charter, and its continued breaches of the EU-Israel Agreement. And why Mrs May seeks to appeal against the recent court decision defending our right to boycott Israel. Does she not realise that HMG’s inaction leaves civil society no choice but to resort to BDS?

In particular I’d like to know, please, Mrs May’s reaction to the desperate plea from the Christian churches in the Holy Land, and I hope you’ll bring to her notice that letter to the WCC if she hasn’t already seen it. She wears her Christianity on her sleeve, is seen regularly attending church etc, but her faith credentials will be in question if she ignores the contents of the letter.

Whether the questions raised here are tiresomely ducked as usual or given the consideration they deserve, the story will find wide circulation. This request is therefore sent as an open letter.