Think Tank Blog
17 September 09
Good sense, intelligent analysis, reason, balance and principled perspective are rare commodities indeed when European newspapers engage with Israel and its predicament in the Middle East these days. So, when a candle is lit in the darkness we should applaud.
Hats off, therefore, to the Times of London. Today’s editorial pegs off the ugly spectacle at the Trades Union Congress this week of some of Britain’s biggest unions banding together to call for a consumer boycott of Israel in the wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, and amid a more general hostility to the Jewish state which often seems all pervasive. At the time of writing, no decision on the boycott calls had been made. The Times, however, has put the whole sordid situation into some useful perspective.
“Israel is a sovereign and democratic state with an obligation, and not just a right, to defend its citizens from armed aggression,” the paper noted. “Gaza has for years been used by Hamas and other groups as a base for rocket strikes on Israeli centres of population.”
While paying reasonable regard to the rights of the Palestinians, the Times reminded its readers of a point that is voiced all too rarely:
“It is also a matter of record that Israel has accepted the case (and several proposals in history) for an independent and sovereign Palestine, but has not found a reliable negotiating partner.”
Quite so, though you probably wouldn’t know it if your only sources of information were the BBC, the Guardian or indeed most other newspapers across western Europe. The fact is that the conflict need not have arisen in the first place.
To cite the two most pertinent examples, UN Resolution 181 — passed on November 29, 1947 — offered to partition Palestine into two states. The Jewish side accepted. The Arab/Palestinian side responded with violence and war. In 2000, President Clinton’s proposals for a two-state solution were also accepted by Israel. The Palestinians rejected them and launched the second Intifida.
Such inconvenient truths, however, mean little to those for whom demonising Israel has become an obsession. The Times has a message for such people which, once again, we should applaud:
“The continual calls for boycotts of Israel — its consumer goods, its agriculture, its cultural ambassadors and its academies — are mere prejudice and obscurantism, and they are shameful.”
To read the article in full, click here:
My book, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe’s Problem with Israel has just been published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. It can be purchased at the following link: