Melanie Phillips

3 August 2009

The British firestorm against Israel

Published in: Jewish Chronicle

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The shocking rise in anti-Jewish attacks demonstrates that the way Israel is presented impacts directly on the safety of British Jews.

According to the Community Security Trust, there were 609 anti-Jewish incidents in the first six months of this year, more than in the whole of 2008. And more than half the incidents reported in January made some reference to Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.

Well, of course. People were being told day in, day out that the Israelis were wantonly killing Palestinian children.

In fact, Israeli figures showed that the vast majority of those killed were Hamas operatives. Given that half of Gaza’s population are children, not to mention the use by Hamas of civilians as human shields, the relatively small number of child casualties testified to the remarkable care Israel took not to kill children.

What makes the Israel-bashing so monstrous is that Israel is being vilified through falsehood and distortion for defending its citizens against attack. This is tantamount to saying it should not defend itself — and therefore should not exist at all.

When a culture goes bad like this, an enormous amount rides on the attitude and behaviour of those at the top. But this vicious mood is being reflected and exacerbated by the government of that self-described Israel-lover, Gordon Brown.

There has of late been a flurry of Israel-bashing by the Foreign Office. It has totally disregarded the opinion of Colonel Richard Kemp, formerly commander of British forces in Afghanistan and the intelligence co-ordinator for the British government.

Col Kemp recently told a conference in Jerusalem that, like Britain in Afghanistan and Iraq, Israeli forces were up against an enemy that deliberately manipulated Israel’s adherence to international law so as “to produce an international outcry and condemnation”.

And HMG has duly allowed Hamas to manipulate it. The Foreign Office has revoked five export licences for spare parts for Israeli warships’ guns on the grounds that Israel’s actions were 'disproportionate' — even though these are claims fabricated by Hamas and recycled by the UN, media and NGOs.

The FO says it based the revocation on the criterion of whether the proposed items would be used for 'internal repression'. But Gaza is not 'internal' to Israel. Nor does Israel even occupy Gaza any more.

The Foreign Office told me that because of the 'significant control that Israel has over Gaza’s borders, airspace and territorial waters, Israel retains obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power in relation to Gaza'.

But this is nonsense. The Geneva Convention merely lays out the obligations of an occupying power. It does not actually define 'occupation' — which, as set out by the Hague Convention, means military boots on the ground, preventing a territory from governing itself. There are very obviously no Israeli boots on the ground in Gaza, which is governed by Hamas.

This and other similar Foreign Office initiatives form part of a frenzied eruption of anti-Israel malice. Malevolently distorted reports by NGOs have provoked a firestorm of similar articles in the Guardian.

A book entitled Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide by Ben White — who has stated: 'I do not consider myself an antisemite, yet I can also understand why some are' — was launched by both War on Want and the Council for Arab British Understanding at a separate Commons reception presided over by Labour MP Brian Iddon.

And a few days ago, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee — in an incoherent report which condemned Hamas but bashed Israel for fighting it — reiterated its call to negotiate with Hamas.

Moral muddle and manipulative malice over Israel: look no farther for the causes of those shocking attacks on British Jews.

About Melanie

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail. Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents.

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Melanie Phillips
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Contact Melanie