a different side of Israel

Tag: Britain

Palestinian Statehood Bid

The former Foreign Secretary of Britain, Jack Straw has called on MPs to back the Palestinian bid for unilateral statehood at the United Nations.

The British government has not yet confirmed whether it will support the bid if a vote goes ahead. The U.S. will not back the move. Straw wrote to every member of British Parliament urging them to help the Palestinian cause for statehood.

“It is vital that the UK and other European countries have the courage to point the way forward.” He added that the UN, World Bank, the EU and the IMF have all deemed the Palestinians “ready for statehood” and said: “We all understand the fears that Israelis have for their security, but it will not enhance their security to deny the right of self-determination permanently to the Palestinians.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s ambassador to the U.S. would not admit that homosexuality would not be tolerated in a Palestinian state. Benjamin Weinthal of the Jerusalem Post, points out that the price for being gay in the Hamas-ruled
Gaza Strip is the death penalty:

The Hamas-controlled Gaza strip has declared homosexuality punishable by death. Hamas cofounder Mahmoud Zahar has said, “You in the West do not live like human beings. You do not even live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?”

In an April broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aksa TV, which was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Syrian academic Muhammad Rateb al- Nabulsi said, “Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”

But homosexuals aren’t all who are strongly unwelcome in the proposed Palestinian State. Ha’aretz reported:

The future independent Palestinian state will not include a Jewish minority, a top Palestinian official told USA Today on Wednesday, adding that it was in the best interest of both peoples to “be separated.”

Maen Areikat, PLO Ambassador to the United States, made the comment just as the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, was preparing to offer up Palestinian statehood to a vote in the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

The left-wing Israeli daily also reported that Hamas is not backing Abbas’ statehood bid. Further evidence that the PA and Hamas are not altogether reconciled:

The Islamist Hamas movement said Wednesday that President Mahmoud Abbas’ plan to approach the United Nations for recognition of Palestinian statehood was a “tactical” move, part of a negotiations process, and therefore could not be backed. The move was not based on principles and “Hamas and other factions are not part of this step and do not support it,” Salah al-Bardaweel, a senior Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, told a workshop in Gaza City.

Libya’s War on Zionism

A WikiLeaks cable revealed that Libyan authorities adopted “repugnant anti-Semitic tactics” against the Marks & Spencer store in Tripoli, in an effort to have the store closed and drive the British company out of the country.

The leaked memos, sent from the US Embassy in Tripoli, show that the anti-Semitic campaign became so violent that American officials were warned by Libyan government insiders that at least one high-ranking businessman, the Marks & Spencer franchiser, could be involved in a “fatal car accident”.

Marks & SpencerA source from the General Union of Chambers of Commerce and Industry told an American contact that M&S was:

“well-known among Libyans and other Arab and Muslim peoples for its strong support of Israeli occupation of Palestine and the huge funds it provides for killing of Palestinians and constructing of illegal settlements in occupied Palestine…The very mentioning of Marks and Spencer is considered by Libyans as an insult to their national feelings and an attack on their national feelings the source clarified.”

The US Embassy warned Washington back in 2008 that attacks on the British retailer by Libyan officials “at the highest levels” risked causing irretrievable damage to bilateral ties with the UK.

The British Guardian quoted the memos, describing:

“The ongoing drama surrounding efforts by the UK government and investors to keep open the Marks & Spencer retail store in Tripoli, and a campaign by some Libyan government officials to close it.”

Not long after the store was launched, it was subjected to what the cable described as “persistent anti-Semitic rhetoric” by the Libyan government.

The store was closed temporarily by Libyan authorities at least twice, and employees were repeatedly taken in for questioning and put under “close scrutiny” by security officials who, the ambassador warned, were used as a “strongarm adjunct in this political play”.

One Syrias Issue

The Jerusalem Chronicle reported Saturday night that the British government is refusing to release documents with information concerning the fate of three Israeli soldiers missing since 1982. They claim the sensitive material could potentially harm diplomatic ties with Syria.

The three Israeli soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman, went missing after clashes with Syrian and Palestinian troops near the Lebanese village of Sultan Yaqub during the Lebanon War in June, 1982.
Baumel, Feldman, Katz

Ivor Lucas, the UK’s ambassador to Syria, submitted a report to London on the day of the clash, and may have even witnessed the soldiers’ capture by Syrian troops.

A legal team from Manchester is reportedly taking action over the silence from the UK government, acting on behalf of Zachary Baumel’s mother, Miriam. They are demanding the release of information from the British government.

The common response received by the British Foreign Office, after petitions for the release of information, according to Baumel, has been:

“We are conscious that the release of sensitive information would cause harm to our relationship with Syria.”

To which Baumel protested, according to the Jewish Chronicle:

“I just want the public to know this is a humanitarian matter…We keep getting information that these boys and my son were seen in Damascus and that there were witnesses, and anyone who saw something or who could help must help. I feel the possibilities are great that he is still alive, but certainly the families of those who were seen in Damascus are entitled to closure…I am calling on the British government to act in a humanitarian manner and let the families know by releasing this document, for us to go further in finding our children. If you have children, if one of your children would be lost, how would you feel?”

Meanwhile, Syria is very much a point of suspicion for Israeli and Western intelligence lately.

According to the Jerusalem Post:

“A compound in western Syria with buildings and hundreds of missile-shaped items has been identified as functionally related to a nuclear reactor Israel destroyed northeast of Damascus in 2007…Satellite footage of the site in Masyaf was obtained by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security and shows a compound built in a ravine and surrounded by what appears to be a line of trenches.”

The facility could also possibly be a Hezbollah stronghold. A WikiLeaks cable reported increased Syrian support for Hezbollah, including domestic facilities and the donation of longer-range rockets and guided missiles that “could change the military balance and produce a scenario significantly more destructive” than the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

A U.S. Defense Department official told the New York Times Hezbollah has 50,000 missiles and rockets, including 40-50 missiles able to reach Tel Aviv, and 10 Scud missiles.

Labor Party Blues

Many democratic governments have a Labor Party. It usually follows a left-wing ideology, supporting such causes as trade unions. Most of these governments are aligned in the Socialist International. Formed in 1951, this is a worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor political parties.

Comrades, you can start blowing your harmonica now!

The Labor party of both Israel and the United Kingdom belong to the organization – and each of these respective labor parties are currently in opposition to the ruling party of the given country.


Four Labor-party MKs recently praised Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog‘s intention to challenge Defense Minister Ehud Barak for leadership of the party. Herzog is the son of former Israeli President, Chaim Herzog.

MKs Amir Pertz, Eitan Cabel, Daniel Ben-Simon and Raleb Majadele said however, in order for Herzog to be taken seriously by Barak, Herzog’s announcement must be accompanied by “meaningful leadership actions” such as resigning from his role in opposition leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s party.

Labor was the only Jewish faction to have MKs vote nay on the new bill requiring new Israeli citizens to pledge a loyalty oath to a “Jewish and democratic” state.


And the Labor-party of another country too has made its way into today’s post and that country is Britain. was poised to send a Mazal Tov to Ed Miliband, who was elected over his brother David on September 25, the first ever Jewish leader of the 110-year-old British Labor party. Now we are revoking the prestige of his receiving a Mazal Tov and instead: “tisk tisk…”

The young Jewish leader, formally Secretary of State for the new British Department of Energy and Climate Change, harbors an opinion of Israel which sadly deviates from the pro-Zionist leanings of former prime ministers, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, also Labor party blokes.

In Miliband’s keynote address to the Labor’s annual Manchester conference earlier this month, the MP told his party that they should feel pressure to “strain every sinew” in ending Israel’s naval (and aerial) blockade of the Gaza Strip and the Jewish country’s “attack on the Gaza flotilla was so wrong.”

Louise Ellman, a Labor MP from Liverpool and chairwoman of the Jewish Labor Movement, told the Jewish Chronicle (the main Jewish newspaper in England):

“It was very disappointing that his conference speech criticized Israel without mentioning Hamas rocket attacks on civilians”

She said,

“It’s important for Ed to show he is evenhanded on the Middle East, and the first things he must do are support the universal jurisdiction legislation, show he is opposed to boycotts and support a negotiated peace agreement.”

The Labor party is favored by most British Jews, so Miliband’s stance has brought to that atmosphere a tinge of concern.

One party insider said:

“These are serious issues requiring serious answers,”

He said,

“Ed’s not about to make up policies on the fly just to answer a reporter’s questions. Moreover, there are a significant number of pro-Israel members of his shadow cabinet.”

The 40-year-old politician isn’t THAT bad though, he did issue the following statement to Labor Friends of Palestine:

“The major instrument for influence at our disposal in relation to the Middle East is trade policy. I am against blanket boycotts of goods from Israel. But Israel, and all countries in the region, must live up to the commitments they have made to respect human rights as part of trade agreements. The EU must be tough enough to ensure that these commitments mean something.”

Ed and David Miliband’s late father, Ralph Miliband was a war refugee from Nazi Poland, who came to England in 1940, a Marxist and professor at the London School of Economics. He has gone down as one of Britain’s most beloved left-wing intellectuals.

The Miliband’s mother, Marion Kozak, now 75, escaped genocide and deportations in Poland and fled to Belgium, where she was hidden by a Christian family.

Upon immigrating to London, she became an advocate of groups like Jews for Justice for Palestinians.

Miliband’s older brother, the 44-year-old David, former foreign secretary, has established a track record for pro-Israel engagement.

Author of “A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel Robin Shepherd”, feels that analysis cannot account for Miliband’s “baseline political values.”

“Miliband comes from left of the Labor Party, which is instinctively hostile to Israel, and if he becomes prime minister, like all others, he will defer to the interests of the Foreign Office and the European Union, both of which have that as their default position as well,”

Shepherd told the JTA.

“I don’t see a lot of maneuverability there.”

Kissed by the English Rose

England’s Message

British-Israeli FlagBritain will expel an Israeli diplomat on Tuesday to reprove Israel for allegedly using forged British passports in the assassination of Hamas operative, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a luxury hotel room in Dubai.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband was supposed to address Parliament over the issue, following an investigation into the use of the 12 fake U.K. passports. Britain’s Foreign Office would not provide any details of Miliband’s statement in advance.

Israel’s foreign ministry confirmed that the country’s ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor was called to London’s Foreign Office on Monday for talks, but did not give further details.

Diplomatic expulsions are a rarely used sanction against foreign governments. Britain kicked out four Russian diplomats in 2007 over the country’s refusing to extradite to London one suspect in the poisoning death of Alexander Litvinenko.

Hang on a Second England

Needless to say Knesset members are outraged by this action – remember, Israel has confessed nothing, further, nothing can be proven in the smooth hit. MK Arieh Eldad suggested that perhaps in response a British diplomat should be expelled from the Jewish Country. In an interview on UK’s Sky News he said:

“…I think the British are being hypocritical and I do not wish to insult dogs here, since some dogs show true loyalty. Who gave the British the right to judge us on the war on terror?”

Eldad was alluding to the Passover haggadah, passed down to him from his father, the late Lehi leader Yisrael Eldad:

“When my father held the seder in Latroun before 500 prisoners he read Chad Gadya (One goat song sung at Passover) to the British prison commander. And the question was posed: If the goat is righteous, then the cat is evil, then the dog is righteous, then the stick is evil – and in the end it turns out that, heaven forbid, God Almighty is evil. What is the answer he gave to the Briton? The answer was that ‘the goat may be righteous, the cat may be evil, but you are the dog. You Briton. Who gave you the right to judge?'”

Eldad’s fellow party member Michael Ben-Ari was asked if he agrees with the comparison and said, “Dogs are usually loyal, the British may be dogs, but they are not loyal to us. They seem to be loyal to the anti-Semitic establishment.

“Unfortunately, the Israeli government and Israeli diplomacy play into their hands. We have learned that a dog must be called by its name. This is anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism.”

Chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Kadima) said that Israel should desist from responding to the crisis with Britain:

“I believe that Israel’s abstaining from giving any kind of response at the height of the Dubai crisis was right. Now that the height of the crisis is behind us, it is certainly all the more logical to refrain from making matters worse.”

He further said:

“Over the years, Israel has adopted a policy of not responding to allegations made against it in such matters. This is sometimes used to accuse Israel of things it has nothing to do with.”

Britain plans to formally announce that Israel is behind the cloning of British passports used in the assassination of the Hamas official.

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