Netanyahu’s annexation plans must not go unchallenged

Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn, reacting to the new Israeli government’s intention to annex 30% of the occupied West Bank, put it well. ‘Thou shalt not steal’, he said.

Unfortunately, Binyamin Netanyahu has little time for this type of directive. Encouraged by the so-called US ‘peace plan’ for the middle east, he wants to introduce legislation to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, to begin the process of annexation. He had originally planned to declare this today, and while there might be a delay to the announcement, by all accounts his intention has not changed.

This must not go unchallenged. International law is clear. The UN charter outlaws the unilateral acquisition of territory by force, which is what the Israeli government intends. When Russia annexed the Crimea in 2014, the EU (encouraged by the UK) enacted tough sanctions on Moscow that remain in place today. I only hope that the EU and Britain will do likewise with Israel.

That said, the EU may have difficulties. Some of its member states are opposed to such action, which can only be taken unanimously. As for the UK, national sanctions alone would have little or no effect.

But something more than hand-wringing is needed, and soon. The EU is considering excluding Israel from vital cooperation in research and other sectors, and a ban on goods exported from illegal Israeli settlements, as this could be done without unanimity. Britain should do likewise.

And there is one measure that the UK could take entirely off its own bat. That is to join 138 other members of the UN and recognise the State of Palestine, in line with Parliament’s motion passed in 2014.

Such a move would give an important boost to Palestinian morale, and put Britain on the right side of history. France is likely to do likewise, and if it does that would put four of the five permanent members of the UN security council in the same camp. The US is, of course, the exception. But even the US under Trump is not entirely immune to world opinion.

Moreover, in the absence of robust action on this by Britain and the international community, authoritarians everywhere will be emboldened. The law of the jungle will be back, with a vengeance. And extremists everywhere would be gifted with new ammunition for their vile campaigns, which, as ever, will have consequences here at home.

Let me be clear. As someone with Palestinian heritage myself, I naturally have skin in this game. My mother’s family features among the millions of people dispossessed by Israeli expansionism since the middle east war in 1967.

That said, I do not question Israel’s right to exist within its borders, as set out UN resolution 242. But Palestinians have rights too, and these will be ever more trampled on if Mr Netanyahu gets his way. Any peace process based on a two-state solution, which remains the only viable way forward, will be buried, along with Israel’s claims to be a modern democratic state. Democracies don’t steal land!

That is why annexation of any territory is to the detriment of Israelis, Palestinians and free-thinking people all over the world.

I know there will be those in Britain who say that we have to acknowledge the reality of ‘facts on the ground’, and the need to maintain good relations with the US administration, not least at a time when we need to revive the ‘special relationship’, get a good US trade deal post-Brexit (in other words, appeasement.)

At the same time, the Prime Minister is fond of holding Britain up as an example of a healthy democracy, championing human rights and good governance everywhere. Israeli annexation puts this to the test. Will the UK government rise to the challenge?

* Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon

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53 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '20 - 1:08pm

    Skin in the game , as Layla describes herself here, is also, by actually being an eloquent and intelligent opponent of antisemitism, which has earned respect and support from leading and admired Jewish figures, like the excellent Liberal Democrat peer, Monroe Palmer.When others without that partly or, any, Palestinian heritage were expedient and would not condemn extremists, such as Hamas, Layla did, and definitely too!

    This article reveals a tendency by the current Israeli government, as with that in the US, to make enemies rather than friends. Any who read it can see how lacking in judgement those two governments are.

    Any who reads this who discovers the views and attitudes of Layla moran on such topics, can realise her good judgement.

    And I say this as a campaigner and writer against antisemitism, for years!

  • It would be hard to disagree with anything in this well timed article, but it’s good to see a senior Liberal Democrat politician make such an unequivocal public statement condemning Israeli government intentions. All who want to see peace and justice in Israel/Palestine must hope Israel’s leaders now realise that a flagrantly illegal act which directly flouts the directives at the core of the Fourth Geneva Convention will do nothing but further harm to the peace process, and to Israel’s standing in the world.
    However, stopping the annexations is only the start. We must ensure that the backlash around the world continues after the formal annexation plan has been dropped, and fuels the process of ending the 53 year illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel, so that at last the Palestinians will get the independent state we promised them when we were granted mandate powers after the end of the First World War.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul '20 - 1:47pm

    This article shows no empathy for Israel’s situation, surrounded by nations that wish to destroy it. Israel’s actions always need to be seen in the context of its perilous situation, and of the the tragic history of the Jewish people. Before rushing to judge, other nations should ask themselves how they might act, if their own existence was similarly under threat. Britain threatens its enemies with nuclear weapons, so who are we to judge?

    There has been a tragic rise in antisemitism recently, often using criticism of Israel as an excuse. The sort of sanctions this article suggests would feed antisemitism.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jul '20 - 2:04pm

    We all have to be careful of the charge of anti-semitism. Although criticism of Israel is theoretically considered allowable, in practice it isn’t. Rebecca Long Bailey found this out for herself the hard way!

    The annexation plan could well come back to bite Netanyahu. In reality it is probably a recognition that there has been a de-facto annexation for many years now. Layla Moran says:

    “Any peace process based on a two-state solution, which remains the only viable way forward, will be buried…”

    It was buried a long time ago. If Leyla Moran is right then there is no viable way forward. However, there is a possible way forward and that is to look at a single state solution. One State with equal democratic rights for everyone who lives within its borders. Or is it being anti-semitic to suggest such a thing?

  • Julian Tisi 1st Jul '20 - 2:07pm

    Excellent article, completely agree. To those who aren’t sure about recognition of the state of Palestine I would say that the impact of this will be to do a little something to tip the scales back in the Palestinians favour. It will make it a little harder for Israel to annex Palestinian territory and will revive the concept of a two state solution as a future goal.

  • Callum Robertson 1st Jul '20 - 2:10pm

    I am always reluctant to weigh in on the Israel-Palestine debate for obvious reasons.

    However, due to my new job I have been researching on this issue.

    It is not the case that the United Kingdom has been silent, nor is it the case that national sanctions would be ineffective.

    On June 22, James Cleverly (Minister of State for the Middle East), spoke to the United Nations on the subject https://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/middle-east-minister-says-uk-would-not-back-any-west-bank-annexation-1.499668

    On the subject of effectiveness, the U.K. has a significant trading relationship with Israel and the use of sanctions would have an effect (although granted this would not be as strong as group action).

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '20 - 2:36pm

    Catherine you and i agree on Israeli rights and concerns a lot.

    Here though my view is you should relate to Leon Duveen and Monroe Palmer . As a non Jewish defender and supporter of the jewish people, and, altogether different and yet linked, the state of Israel’s rights, we need to defer or understand the views of Liberal Democrats of jewish heritage who we respect.

    I think if Leon, who is a Uk and israeli citizen, takes the above view, we need to listen. i know his views are on these issues, mainstream , humanitarian, and as someone myself, very enthusiastic about the group Leon started, Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle east, which I was an early founder member of , and am involved in, We surely can see that view of his as nuanced and relevant.

    I also allude to monroe Palmer, for he is a stalwart in Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel, and yet has openly endorsed Layla Moran in our election . And he is someone I have real liking for as with Leon.

    Layla need show no more empathy on this with Israel, than a Catholic supporter or member of the Alliance party, need feel for the farther reaches of the DUP, having also, condemned, for example, the farther extremes of republicanism too!

    I agree that sanctions are a matter for reflection, as a Liberal on the whole I am concerned they can damage culture or trade of individuals or businesses caught up innocently. But on these issues I do believe Layla Moran worth listening to, as with the colleagues mentioned here too, on these matters.

  • “I know there will be those in Britain who say that we have to acknowledge the reality of ‘facts on the ground’”

    We do have to acknowledge these facts. Does anyone seriously think that Israel will give up those settlements or let them come under Palestinian control? They have ignored the UN for many years and with American support will continue to do so. The Americans (no matter who is president) will always support Israel and if it came to military action the west would always support America. The last chance for a solution that was acceptable to the Palestinians was under Bill Clinton’s presidency. They didn’t take their opportunity and since then the only outcome was likely to be a one state solution.

  • Russell Simpson 1st Jul '20 - 3:24pm

    @Peter martin
    “We all have to be careful of the charge of anti-semitism. Although criticism of Israel is theoretically considered allowable, in practice it isn’t. Rebecca Long Bailey found this out for herself the hard way! ”
    I think it’s necessary to be a bit more accurate Peter. If by Israel you mean actions of the Israeli govt then I’d say it’s clearly allowable to criticise and in no way can that be considered anti semitic. But that was not what RLB was doing! (see Red Ed on Sunday’s Marr show for a good explanation – wow, why wasn’t he doing that 6 years ago?)

  • Peter Martin 1st Jul '20 - 3:51pm

    @ Russell,

    If Ed Miliband ( I presume you mean him) managed to give a good explanation then perhaps you could provide a precis for the benefit of those of us who missed the Andrew Marr show?

    Maybe you could have a go at answering these questions too?

    Would RLB have been sacked if she’d had alleged that American police had learned the tactic from anyone else but the Israelis?

    We do know that Israeli security services do kill Palestinian detainees in a very similar manner to the way George Floyd was killed so why don’t we have the same level of world condemnation?

  • David McDowall 1st Jul '20 - 4:03pm

    What Layla says lies smack bang in the centre of Liberal Democrat values: absolute respect for international law and a sense of fairness. The seizure of other people’s land is viewed as theft, it is a universally applicable principle.
    In a recent tweet, https://twitter.com/_LDFI/status/1277708350856351744?s=20, Lib Dem Friends of Israel seem oblivious of the Party’s commitment to the rule of law, pleading that ‘It is sometimes lonely [for Israel] on the moral and political high ground’. Yet Israel frustrates the Palestinian right to self-determination, and applies conditions amounting to apartheid, and violates the laws of occupation, condemned by the ICJ in 2004, and in UNSCR 2334 of December 2016. Surely Israel must come into conformity with international law before any meaningful negotiation can take place.

    This tweet claims that the Party’s parliamentarians are overwhelmingly friends of Israel, At the moment they sound just a bit cross. That ten out of the Party’s eleven members of parliament have called for sanctions if Israel proceeds with formal annexation sounds as if Israel isn’t quite everyone’s favourite country at the moment. The racially discriminatory injustices meted out daily to Israel’s subject Palestinians are palpable. In his autobiography in 1949, Israel’s first president, Chaim Weizmann observed, ‘‘There must not be one law for the Jew and another for the Arabs… I am certain that the world will judge the Jewish State by what it will do with the Arabs…’

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul '20 - 4:16pm

    Layla, thank you for responding to comments. But could I just add that you should not have written, in the last paragraph but one, the words : ” (in other words, appeasement.) Surely we know from the 1938/9 experience what that can lead to.”.
    In that paragraph, you seem to be comparing both America and Israel to Nazi Germany. To compare Israel to Nazi Germany is deeply offensive, and to make this comparison is generally recognised as being antisemitic.

  • Peter Martin 1st Jul '20 - 4:28pm

    @ David Mc Dowall,

    “….applies conditions amounting to apartheid”

    Even if it’s true, you’re not allowed to say that! The implication is that Israel is a “racist endeavour” which is specifically included in the IHRA definition of antisemitism.

  • I do have concerns over the line “Surely we know from the 1938/9 experience what that can lead to.”

    Surely any reference to Nazi Germany however indirect is a bad idea when discussing the actions of the Israeli government?

  • David McDowall 1st Jul '20 - 5:23pm

    If anyone is in any doubt regarding Israel’s application of policies amounting to apartheid, just match the definition articulated in Article 2 of the Convention for the Suppression of Apartheid (1973) against the policies and practices applied to occupied Palestinian territory, regarding separate law systems, physical separation of peoples both by dwelling and road system, denial of freedom of movement & expression, stifling of the Palestinian economy, etc. We need to be open and honest about what’s going on and also use appropriate words, e.g. ‘appeasement’. Unlike Catherine, I have no intention of surrendering its meaning to the Third Reich. It is a synonym for ‘placation’ and needs rescuing from the resonances she implies.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul '20 - 5:36pm

    Andrew T, Yes, and I believe the international definition of antisemitism specifically mentions comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany as being antisemitic

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland
    In that paragraph, you seem to be comparing both America and Israel to Nazi Germany. To compare Israel to Nazi Germany is deeply offensive, and to make this comparison is generally recognised as being antisemitic.
    Perhaps the real problem is that the Israeli government are behaving in ways that remind people of historical governments and thus encourage them to draw parallels. I, therefore, suggest if the Israeli government doesn’t want to draw a negative historical comparision they change their behaviour.

    I believe the international definition of antisemitism specifically mentions comparisons of Israel with Nazi Germany as being antisemitic
    Clearly the intent of including this in the definition is to prevent and thus silence legitimate criticism of the Israeli government…

  • John Marriott 1st Jul '20 - 6:35pm

    Well, as far as the Middle East is concerned, we are where we are. Should Messrs Sykes and Picot have been allowed in WW1 to divide up the old Ottoman Empire in the arbitrary way they did? Should Arthur Balfour have signed the Declaration that gave the Jews a foothold in the land they had occupied before the diaspora? Did former Liberal Party Leader, Lord Herbert Samuel, who presided over the League of Nations Mandate in Palestine from 1920 to 1925 that eventually allowed Jewish immigration to threaten what little stability that had existed for centuries before show too much sympathy to the Zionist Movement? Should the Arab states have immediately declared war on the State of Israel, when it was founded after WW2, and again several times afterwards? Should Israel have hung on to the territories it occupied as the spoils of the wars it fought against Arab aggression?

    As I said, we are where we are. Let’s not confuse anti semitism with anti Zionism. Now, with Trump added to the mix and a ‘two state’ solution seemingly off the agenda, which certain elements amongst the Palestinians still appear to reject anyway, and with the religious radicals amongst the Israelis insisting that all the land on the West Bank was given to their ancestors by God himself, we are in a bit of an impasse, to put it mildly.

    Mention has been made of Nazi Germany and, by extension, the Holocaust. It wasn’t the only example of genocide in the history of mankind; but it’s the one most of us remember and colours our view, if indeed we have one at all about what has been going on in the biblical Holy Land for over seventy years. However, how many times can people like Netanyahu play that card to justify what they are trying to do? While Israel’s right to exist is still being challenged by certain Arab states the answer is probably “for a long, long time”.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul '20 - 6:50pm

    David, it wasn’t just the word “appeasement”, it was the reference to “the 1938/9 experience” which made it clear that a comparison with Nazi Germany was being implied

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Jul '20 - 7:02pm

    Roland, the Liberal Democrat Party has accepted the international definition of antisemitism. I find your insinuations about its intentions offensive

  • Next time you’re having a read, John, look for the role Lloyd George played in it.

  • David McDowall 1st Jul '20 - 8:35pm

    You’re quite right, Catherine, ‘appeasement’ was used in the context of Europe 1938/39, so I take back what I said. I am, however, mystified by your sense of Jewish Israelis as permanent victims. They’re not surrounded by states determined to wipe them out. Egypt and Jordan have made their peace, the former is co-operating with it to keep 2 million Gazans immured for 13 years of collective punishment. Syria is prostrate, Lebanon as weak as ever. In the meantime, Israel has held the Palestinians captive for over half a century, today five million of them. What would we say if five million Jews were held permanently captive in this way? I, for one, would protest and I hope I would find you, Catherine, with me protesting such an inhuman outcome.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Jul '20 - 8:53pm

    Layla

    Very good to have your response here, a site like this is made all the more constructive with such engagement, appreciated.

    Catherine

    I do not think on that you are correct, as Mark says here, we cannot gain from presumption rather than enquiry, we must not, put words into people’s mouth. my understanding of that passage was Layla meant Trump, not Israel, and, as someone with a wife from America , I would though, agree , readily, that a special relationship with him, needs inverted commas!

  • @Catherine Jane Crosland – I suggest you reread this article on what the LibDems has adopted with respect to the additional caveats.

    https://www.libdemvoice.org/antisemitism-and-the-ihra-definition-63477.html

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 2nd Jul '20 - 8:18am

    Some people commenting here do not seem to grasp why it is offensive to compare Israel with Nazi Germany, and why it is considered to be antisemitic. (I was not, as some have suggested, “putting words into Layla’s mouth”. She may not have used the word “Nazi”, but the references to “appeasement” and to “the 1938/9 experience” make it clear that she is referring to Nazi Germany).
    For one thing, we need to ask why people so often use this specific comparison, rather than, say, comparing Israel to France under Napoleon. Obviously Israel is nothing like France under Napoleon, but it is even less like Nazi Germany. The fact is that the Nazi Germany comparison is often used specifically because this comparison causes great distress to many Jewish people, and not just to Jewish people living in Israel.
    Most Jewish people feel great distress at the thought of the holocaust, even if they were born many years after it occurred. Often members of their family will have been victims of the holocaust. Many, perhaps most, Jewish people feel a strong emotional connection with Israel, even though they may not support the actions of its current government. So naturally they find it deeply hurtful if Israel if compared to the perpetrators of the holocaust, and they know that such a comparison is often made specifically to be hurtful.
    Such an comparison is, anyway, obviously totally without foundation. Israel is not trying to take over the world, nor is it planning mass genocide. I don’t think anyone seriously thinks it is. So why use such a comparison?
    I’m not suggesting that Layla intended to be offensive in the paragraph where she seems to compare Israel, as well as America, to Nazi Germany. But she really should have been aware that this is a comparison that should not be made.

  • I notice the article is now edited – for what it is worth that makes me happy. It must be hugely difficult to talk about an issue like this that is so highly charged and with a personal interest while being careful with language at the same time. I think Layla is excellent at this on a whole range of issues and would really like to see her succeed.

    I think there is a bit of a stereotype of a “Palestinian” as being almost born angry and violent and just having in British politics someone of Palestinian descent who can represent the desire for Palestinian people just to have basic human freedoms is very helpful.

  • Michael Berridge 2nd Jul '20 - 9:07am

    John Marriot, David Raw:
    “But at almost the same time Lloyd George was [speaking favourably in his memoirs about Chaim Weizmann and his scientific work] – in 1936 – he was speaking far more frankly about the Balfour Declaration in the House of Commons during a debate on the Arab Revolt:
    ‘It was at one of the darkest periods of the war that Mr Balfour first prepared his Declaration. At that time the French Army had mutinied; the Italian army was on the eve of collapse; America had hardly started preparing in earnest. There was nothing left but Britain confronting the most powerful military combination that the world had ever seen. It was important for us to seek every legitimate help that we could get. The Government came to the conclusion, from information received from every part of the world, that it was very vital that we should have the sympathies of the Jewish community … The Jews, with all the influence that they possessed, responded nobly to the appeal that was made.'”
    – Robert Fisk, “The Great War for Civilisation” (2005)

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 2nd Jul '20 - 9:22am

    Mark, I’m not accusing Layla of antisemitism, because I realise that some people genuinely do not understand why this sort of comparison is offensive. But I do find it rather worrying that someone in Layla’s position, an MP, and a candidate for leadership of a party, is not aware of this, especially when there has been so much discussion of antisemitism recently.
    (Layla has not “studiously avoided” making the comparison. The fact she did not use the actual words “Nazi Germany” does not mean there is not a comparison. What else would the references to “the 1938/9 experience”, and “appeasement”, mean?)

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 2nd Jul '20 - 9:33am

    I’m glad to see that the paragraph that I mentioned has now been changed, so it no longer refers to the “1938/9″ experience.”

  • Toby Keynes 2nd Jul '20 - 9:54am

    @ Catherine Jane Crosland: “The fact is that the Nazi Germany comparison is often used specifically because this comparison causes great distress to many Jewish people, and not just to Jewish people living in Israel.”

    Well, no, when liberals make such comparisons it is rather more likely likely to be because the actions of Nazi Germany are the most widely understood and denounced horrors of the 20th century, by some distance, and the British policy of appeasement is also widely considered the most shameful policy of any 20th century British government.

    You should not seek to delegitimise peoples’ sincere and considered arguments by attributing malign motivations.

  • David McDowall has already dealt decisively with one of the confusions about the use of language, and although he didn’t need to be a noted Middle East expert to do it, he has reminded us that Israel is a powerful state surrounded by much weaker ones, not the other way round.

    The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance created the ‘IHRA definition’ to help people spot anti-Semitism and stop it gaining a new foothold, not in order to protect Israel from justified criticism.

    Some of the examples in the IHRA document are there to ensure people take account of the sensitivity with which related issues need to handled. Direct experience of awful events causes trauma, a serious psychological condition, and reawakening horrifying memories with trauma victims is cruel and pointless, unless done with permission, by a therapist. They can suffer anxiety which can be overwhelming and debilitating.

    However, trauma cannot be inherited, and can only come from direct experience. Most people today have only second-hand knowledge of the Holocaust. The facts must be uniquely horrifying for Jews, most of whom knew, or know of, relatives who were victims, but to read the IHRA document as an instruction that every modern Jew must be shielded from any mention of those events is plain wrong. We owe sensitivity to those who deserve it, and honesty to those who can take it.

    If we fail to show sufficient sensitivity, as can happen during debate about Israel, we might be doing it because we are closet anti-Semites, but in reality most of us are not, and are motivated by the injustices being done to the Palestinians.

  • The appeasement was in fact an action of the British Government. The issue was, in my opinion, the occupation of parts of Czechoslovakia. We failed to draw a line, and there were consequences. This is history. This is our history. We must learn from it.
    Of course the lessons learned will differ from person to person. As I see it we should look at the different options open to us at each time and look at what are the right courses of action rather than what is most expedient.

  • Liberal Neil 2nd Jul '20 - 10:14am

    Andrew & Catherine – the team asked for the wording to be tweaked in the light of the feedback. That paragraph was intended to refer to the UK’s relationship with US/Trump, but in the context of the whole article they can see that it could been misinterpreted.

  • @ Michael Berridge I’m afraid Lloyd George’s true attitude (which was fairly typical of the time) towards the origins of his Liberal colleague Sir Herbert Samuel is quite revealing. See the quote by LLG on p82, The Riddell Diaries (Athlone Press, London, 1986).

    Lord Riddell was Lloyd George’s chief crony, confidant and provider of financial support. He was the provider of LLG’s house (set on fire by suffragettes) on the edge of Walton Heath golf course in 1913. At the time LLG was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    George Allardice Riddell (1865-1934), was a multi millionaire, a director of Walton Heath golf club and proprietor of ‘The News of the World’. His Diaries are a must read for any serious student of LLG’s attitudes and behaviour.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Jul '20 - 2:14pm

    The change in the article responds to comments here, that shows the intention of it was not to compare Israel with Nazi Germany. I am very surprised if any on this site, or any in this party, unlike some others, could not see that such a comparison would be , as said here, offensive.

    I have spent hours attempting to explain in writing, speaking, why as Israel is a democracy, to compare it, regardless of the history of its people, is awful and wrong.

    But it is a real leap, and wrong, to think that Layla moran would do that. She is far more measured and moderate than many realise. I once interacted with her online about her very good use of the word rational.She is a rational and radical, Liberal, social democrat, in my understanding of her. She is that. And more. I think we , in seeing the centre left emerge, correctly, needed, must not assume we have, in this particular individual candidate, some wild eyed leftist with no credentials of Liberal common sense and, individual rationality! Quite the reverse is the truth. We have in Layla Moran a very interesting and individual person, with a lot to offer and listen to.

    I have not decided who to vote for yet. The more i read and understand of her though, the more I am impressed by her too.

  • Tahir Maher Tahir Maher 2nd Jul '20 - 3:11pm

    Unfortunately, the discussion has been successfully moved to Israel and Nazi Germany and away from the core point that Israel is trying to annex the West Bank – and why that is against the law and morally very wrong.

  • Miranda Pinch 2nd Jul '20 - 6:06pm

    Catherine. Plenty of people on this thread have responded to you historically and factually. I want to respond emotionally.
    My mother was a Holocaust survivor who was shocked and ashamed at what was being done to an innocent civilian population in Palestine in ‘her name’ as a Jew because of the Holocaust. She was not alone in feeling like that. There are many Diaspora Jews who feel the same.
    If I have been abused as a child, it is no justification for me to go on to abuse others, especially when I use the abuse I suffered as my excuse repeatedly.
    The extent of my family’s suffering in the Holocaust is irrelevant when it comes to the human rights of others. Why should they suffer because my family suffered? Do many wrongs make a right? Please stop labelling those who disagree with your obviously opposite emotional response by labelling others as anti-Semitic. It is allowed to disagree. That is what free speech and democracy is all about. I believe that we should all be working toward human rights and international law applying equally to all.

  • Leon Duveen 2nd Jul '20 - 8:26pm

    As so often happens with any post in the Palestine/Israel conflict, any discussion soon degenerates into a slanging match between the supporters of either side. We need to get past this and help to a solution that helps Israelis & Palestinians find a way to live in peace with each other.
    It is worth reading Gershon Bskin’s article in The Jerusalem Post from yesterday (https://www.jpost.com/opinion/netanyahu-abbas-are-incapable-of-negotiating-peace-opinion-633502) to see that the political leadership on both sides have failed their people and are leading them up a blind alley. As a Party we need to work with those on the ground who will take steps to break down barriers (of all kinds) that are blocking the path to peace, not re-enforce them as we tend to do whenever we try to debate the conflict.
    To this end I have organised, along with Solutions Not Sides (https://solutionsnotsides.co.uk/) a special workshop (via Zoom) with two SNS ambassadors (form Israel & Palestine). This will be on July 9th starting at 7 pm
    The event will include a presentation from SNS on their work, followed by presentations fro the two ambassadors followed by a QA session.
    Because this is a trial session, we are limiting the number of places to 20 so these will be allocated on a first come basis so if you want to be part of this unique event, please email me ([email protected]) asap

  • Paul Kustow 3rd Jul '20 - 12:16am

    Whilst the Netanyahu/Trump idea of annexing a large part of the Jordan Valley and West Bank has raised the hackles of much of the free world, not without justification, many people contributing in response to Layla’s article give a very good impression of believing that Israel is the only perpetrator of injustice and that the Palestinians are the just innocent victims.
    Nothing could be further from the truth. Israel is as strong and in control as it is because after 7 decades of wars, terrorist attacks, threats of genocide, annihilation and vilification it understands that being strong, using good intelligence and taking responsibility for its own defence are some of the ways it has not just survived, but flourished. However, this produces situations which
    Why are we, as Lib Dem’s, not recognising that Netanyahu and his policies are the result of the genocidal Hamas and the corrupt and duplicitous PA and their actions over so many years? In any discussion on this subject we have to be as demanding of changes to their behaviours and policies, as we are to Netanyahu’s. This is absolutely not the one sided dispute that our current policy and Leon Duveen’s new motion would have us believe. We must have a balanced policy.

  • Leon Duveen, this is not a slanging match.
    Completely unfounded assertions have been made in an attempt to justify illegal acts by the Israeli government, and they are being refuted; the rebuttals derive from historically accurate facts.
    It is clear to most of us that one or two contributors have bought the line proposed in the article, which is that although it is ‘kind of wrong’ to annex Palestine, it’s basically their own fault. In the pages of a Liberal Democrat blog, it is right and proper to try to make people understand that this narrative is Israeli propaganda, and is very far from the truth.
    The glaring contradiction in the article demands response. Paying lip service to the idea that annexation is illegal is no good if it is followed by a string of excuses which seek to absolve Israel from blame. As has already been said, the author doesn’t have to reply to these comments, but we will draw our own conclusions about why he hasn’t.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 3rd Jul '20 - 9:18am

    Miranda, Thank you for your comment. I wasn’t going to make any further comments on this article – it is such a very sensitive subject, and there is such a risk of being misunderstood. But I did want to respond to your deeply moving account of your mother’s experiences, and her feelings about actions carried out “in her name” in Israel.
    Your mother sounds a wonderful, caring, generous-hearted person, whose own terrible experiences made her feel especial empathy to others suffering injustice.
    I think you may have misunderstood me. I certainly don’t think Israel would be justified if it used the holocaust as an excuse to justify ignoring the human rights of others. I don’t think it really does make this excuse. But I do think that the tragic history of the Jewish people is a context that we need to consider in order to understand Israel’s viewpoint. You are quite right in saying that if someone has been abused as a child, this does not excuse them if they themselves become an abuser. But I think we would all accept that if someone has suffered serious abuse, this will be likely to affect their outlook on life, often making them fearful of danger, perhaps making them over-react to any perceived threat to themselves or their family. If we know someone in this situation, I think we do make allowances for the way their past experiences affect their behaviour, even if their heightened sense of danger sometimes makes them distrustful of their neighbours, and perhaps sometimes even makes them act unjustly…I do feel that Israel probably genuinely regards its actions as self defense, even if outsiders may well feel that its actions far exceed reasonable self defense…
    I am so sorry if you misunderstood my previous comments, and if I offended you in any way.

  • Miranda Pinch 3rd Jul '20 - 11:27am

    Paul. Your facts are just wrong. Israel’s policies are not as a result of Hamas and never have been, because Hamas did not exist when they started behaving as they do. Israel helped to create Hamas who then won an election. Having won the election fairly, there was a bloody coup and Hamas retreated to Gaza. Israel immediately blockaded Gaza. The rest is history as they say. Using the mantra of Hamas is just plain wrong and unhelpful. If it is all because of Hamas why are the Palestinians living in the West Bank treated so badly at the hands of the occupying forces? and why is the so-called security barrier built almost entirely on Palestinian land splitting Palestinian communities and taking the best land and resouces for illegal settlements. Also, even if you were correct about Hamas, is it right to imprison and collectively punish 2million men, women and children, 70% of them refugees from Israel and 50% of them children in conditions that are largely unfit to live in and with no hope? What sort of reaction do you expect from people in those conditons? Israel’s occupation is just plain illegal under international law and its human rights violations equally so.

  • Miranda Pinch 3rd Jul '20 - 11:40am

    Catherine. I don’t think I did entirely misunderstand you. Israel repeatedly uses the Holocaust as a justification. I could give you many examples and links. The perpetual use of victimhood is something that many Holocaust survivors deplore as indeed do many diaspora Jews. No amount of abuse gives any right to continually abuse others. Many of the securty issues that Israel faces these days are due to their policies. Israel is continually breaking international law and committing human rights violations. Its collective punishment of innocent men, women and children, the stealing of their land and resources, the demolition of their property, the destruction of their livlihoods etc etc. is just plain wrong.
    We cannot continue to make allowances for such behaviour. Do we then allow the Palestinians to abuse others and for that to be justifialble because of the abuse they have suffered? Thereby the cycle of violence and injustice is perpetuated. Sorry, no.

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