British politicians are once again demonstrating the moral confusion that has seen them pass so many laws contradicting the biblical precepts upon which our civilization was based.
The latest example is the suggestion from an influential House of Lords committee that the UK Government recognise a new state of Palestine.
In a report titled The Middle East: Time for New Realism, published on Israel’s Independence Day, the upper house’s International Relations Committee, chaired by former Conservative cabinet minister David Howell, called for the government to “give serious consideration to now recognising Palestine as a state, as the best way to show its determined attachment to the two-state solution”.
And the relevant paragraph was prefixed by the extraordinary statement that “the balance of power in the delivery of peace lies with Israel”.
Yet the Palestinians have repeatedly made clear their commitment – not to the two-state solution so precious to Western leaders, but to a single-state solution with Israel driven out of the region altogether. PA president Mahmoud Abbas and his rivals in Gaza, Hamas, want all of it; that is why they refuse to recognise the Jewish state!
Surely – judging from their oft-repeated comments over the years – it is obvious to anyone with a semblance of elementary education (Lord Howell went to Eton) that these men do not want peace, but rather a jihad (holy war) against the ‘infidel’ seed of Abraham.
The report does not specify where the borders of this new state should be drawn or even who should run it – Fatah, in charge of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in the guise of the Palestinian Authority, or Hamas, who run a chaotic Gaza; factions which are constantly at loggerheads with each other. What kind of stable society will that produce?
The report also suggests that Britain work with Iran, despite current U.S. policy, “to ensure the stability of the Iran nuclear deal”, adding: “That would be a way of peace in a region needing stability.”
Oh really! Such potential treachery has echoes of 1938, when Neville Chamberlain returned from Germany promising “peace in our time”. Have we learnt nothing in the past 80 years; that appeasement with dictators doesn’t work, for instance? In the case of the Munich meeting, it only further encouraged Hitler in his madness and hastened the death of some 50 million people!
Meanwhile the British Government has rightly refused persistent requests by the Palestinians to apologise for the Balfour Declaration which, 100 years ago this November, promised to do all in its power to enable Jews to re-settle their ancient homeland.
Such requests suggest that the Jews should never have been allowed to return to the region, which is in fact exactly what they think. But instead of giving the Palestinians short shrift while fully backing Jewish aspirations, we keep kowtowing to international demands for endless peace talks which only ever seem to produce more conflict. Israel withdrew from Gaza under international pressure, for example, in one of these so-called ‘land for peace’ deals. And what was the result? …A continuous volley of rocket fire into Israeli territory.
We certainly have no need to apologise for the Balfour Declaration. But we do need to apologise for repeatedly going back on our word in subsequent years as we betrayed the Jews again and again – firstly, by giving the bulk of the land we originally promised them to the Arabs (now Jordan) and then by persecuting them in various ways during Britain’s Mandate of the territory then known as Palestine, particularly by restricting Jewish immigration (to appease the Arabs) at a time when they could have done with a bolthole from Nazi threats.
Then, shamefully, we abstained in the 1947 UN vote to recognise the new state. And it was around this time (70 years ago this summer) that, quite disgracefully, we turned away Holocaust survivors from the port of Haifa, sending some of them back to Displaced Persons’ Camps in Germany, of all places.
For such treatment we should hang our heads in sorrow and shame. Among the dozens of refugee ships turned back in this way by the Royal Navy was the Exodus, with over 4,500 on board, mostly Holocaust survivors. Boarding the ship in international waters, the British killed three and wounded many more.
I’m glad to report that, two years ago, such sorrow and shame was expressed on our behalf by a group of some 100 British people, including Col Richard Kemp and Rev Alex Jacob. They travelled out to Israel for an event at Haifa and Atlit (location of one of the camps) where they asked forgiveness for our action from a similar sized group of Israelis, many of whom had suffered under the Mandate.
We do need to apologise – but not for the Balfour Declaration which, to quote journalist Melanie Phillips, was “the high-water mark of British decency towards the Jewish people. But it’s been downhill all the way ever since”.
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon, and Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com