Until now, David Cameron’s solitary concern about the slaughter of innocents has appeared to be avoiding giving offence to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Until now, David Cameron’s solitary concern about the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, Palestine has appeared to be avoiding giving offence to Benyamin Netanyahu.


by Syarif Hidayat

British Prime Minister David Cameron has come under fresh pressure over his stance toward Israel’s aggression against the Palestinians living in the besieged Gaza Strip. In a shock resignation, Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member, Baroness Warsi, quit over the government’s stance on Gaza. The high profile politician says she can no longer support David Cameron’s policies.

The trifling objection is that the Government has no policy on Gaza. Until now, David Cameron’s solitary concern about the slaughter of innocents has appeared to be avoiding giving offence to Benyamin Netanyahu and his administration. That is not a policy. It is the cowardly abrogation of moral duty.

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg called for the suspension of arms export licenses to Israel, saying that Tel Aviv had “overstepped the mark” in its deadly attacks on Gaza. Clegg added that he had been working to get the suspension finalized along with his Liberal Democrats colleague and Business Secretary Vince Cable. Cable said they had not yet managed to reach an agreement with Tory coalition partners. An announcement on the matter is expected be made shortly.

According to an unnamed Downing Street spokesman, a review of export licenses to Israel was underway. Labour leader Ed Miliband has also criticized the British premier for not being vocal about Israel’s atrocities.
Also, on Tuesday, August 5, 2014, Sayeeda Warsi, British Foreign Office minister and the first Muslim to sit in the UK cabinet, resigned over what she called the government’s “morally indefensible” policy on Gaza.

Following Warsi’s resignation, several Conservative MPs voiced concern over Israel’s attacks on Gazans. Tel Aviv’s onslaught against the coastal enclave has drawn widespread international condemnation. Israeli forces have killed about 1,900 people, including some 400 children, and have injured over 9,500 others since July 8.

A three-day truce that took effect at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on August 5 is currently in place. The Israeli attacks on Gaza’s population of over 1.8 million have worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in the blockaded coastal enclave.

David Cameron, Zionist and good friend of Israel

An article titled “David Cameron, Zionist and good friend of Israel, rejects the Jewish National Fund” posted by British Archbishop Cranmer, said Back in 2007, David Cameron was a proud, self-declared Zionist. In 2009, he told the Conservative Friends of Israel that his belief in and love for Israel was ‘indestructible’. He said the same in 2010: “In me, you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible.” As recently as this month, he told Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netenyahu: “Britain is a good friend of Israel and our support for Israel and Israel’s security is something I have described in the past and will do so again as unshakeable. We are strong friends of Israel.”

It must therefore have come as something of a surprise to Binyamin Netanyahu – not to mention the Conservative Friends of Israel – that the Prime Minister has severed all links with one of Britain’s oldest Jewish Charities, the Jewish National Fund, for which both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown acted as patrons throughout their terms of office (and remain so).

The Jewish National Fund was established in 1901 to assist Jewish people who wished to settle in their ancient homeland, then part of the declining Ottoman empire. From 1939, the JNF ‘raised money to buy land and create the necessary infrastructure to rebuild the Jewish homeland’. This, of course, was at the height of the ‘Mandate for Palestine’ entrusted by the League of Nations to the British Government – under which the British were under legal obligation to facilitate the creation of a Jewish national homeland in the region, including permitting Jewish immigration (which, incidentally, the British betrayed).

Today, much of the work of the UK branch of the JNF funds infrastructure projects in the Negev – specifically agriculture, irrigation and education – on desert land previously considered virtually uninhabitable.

‘Whatever their background’

The Palestinian lobby has long hated the JNF, and has even accused it of war crimes – a charge vigorously rebutted by the Fund’s Chairman, Samuel Hayek. In a letter to The Guardian last autumn, Mr Hayek, wrote: “Our environmental and humanitarian work is not based on any political or religious affiliation, but rather on supporting Israel and its population – whatever their background. This was the case before the modern state of Israel was created and will continue to be the case long into the future.”

The phrase ‘whatever their background’ is one which is frequently overlooked or conveniently ignored: out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 per cent — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze). It is also worth mentioning that Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs even sit in the Knesset and have held various government posts; one has also been a Supreme Court judge.

And it was that Supreme Court which ruled in 2002 that the Israeli government may not allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose. It is also worth noting that in 1948 there was one Arab high school in the country: today, more than 300,000 Arab children are educated in Arab schools.

‘Apartheid state’

It is a curious ‘apartheid state’ which grants such rights to ethnic and religious minorities: how many Arab states grant such liberties to Jews?

A Downing Street spokesman insists that David Cameron’s decision to resign as a patron of the Jewish National Fund is merely part of a ‘wider review of the Prime Minister’s involvement with charities’, but no others have been specified. Israel’s opponents are now fighting like ferrets in a sack to claim this victory as their own, though The Guardian puts it unequivocally down to the ‘Stop the JNF Campaign’, reporting simply that the ‘Palestine Solidarity Campaign’ welcomed the decision: “It reflects the fact it is now impossible for any serious party leader to lend public support to racism,” campaign director, Sarah Colborne, said in a statement.

The anti-JNF campaign have been spearheaded by anti-Israel MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn, who meets with Hamas officials and speaks alongside veteran terrorists like Leila Khaled , and continues to lobby for the Jewish National Fund’s charitable status to be revoked.

It is worth noting that the resignation as patron of this charity is not the only example of David Cameron’s actions belying his much-vaunted support for Israel. Since becoming Prime Minister he has made a speech in Turkey – one of Israel’s enemies in the region – in which he described Gaza as a ‘prison camp’. He also used the speech to pre-empt investigations into the Mavi Marmara affair to say that Israel’s boarding of the vessel was totally unacceptable whilst entirely ignoring the context of Hamas’ avowed intent to destroy the Jewish state and the constant shelling of Israeli cities, towns and villages which led to the closure of Israeli borders with the Hamas-led enclave.

The Prime Minister has also threatened that the UK will support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state – presumably with the borders of the Palestinians’ choosing – unless ‘Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process’. He has imposed no conditions at all on the Palestinians, such as (for example) ceasing to use UK taxpayers’ money to fund incitement of Palestinian children to hate their Jewish neighbours. Instead, he has publicly welcomed the accord between the supposedly moderate Fatah and the openly terrorist Hamas, saying: “We have to take the positive, optimistic view that, although there will be all sorts of difficulties ahead, Palestinian unity between Fatah and Hamas should be a step forward and we must make sure that it is.” The British Government still officially categorises Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

Pro-Israel rhetoric and the actions

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Melanie Phillips recently examined the widening gap between his pro-Israel rhetoric and the actions that are emboldening Israel’s enemies. At the end she issued a warning to the Prime Minister: ‘…if you are not very careful indeed history will judge that you re-established a direct line back to the malevolence of the British in Palestine; back to that terrible time when Britain so foully betrayed the Jewish people and became a party to genocide.’

It is one thing to be positive; to negotiate optimistically and to be a true friend to Israel to the point of being open and honest about her faults and failings. It is quite another to cave in to the demands of the Palestinian lobby, and thereby tarnish the reputation of a charity which has done nothing to merit the opprobrium that is heaped upon it by Israel’s enemies. As we move towards September, when Palestinians will seek UN support in their unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, one might hope that the Prime Minister will recall his speeches of 2007, 2009 and 2010: one cannot be a ‘Zionist’ or a ‘good friend of Israel’ if one is giving succour to the very genocidal fanatics who wish to cleanse the land of Jews and wipe Israel off the map.

First British Muslim minister quits over stance on Gaza

Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member, Baroness Warsi, quit over the government’s stance on Gaza.

Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member, Baroness Warsi, quit over the government’s stance on Gaza.

In a shock resignation, Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member, Baroness Warsi, quit over the government’s stance on Gaza. The high profile politician says she can no longer support David Cameron’s policies. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was made a life peer in the house of lords in 2007. She’s been chairman of the conservative party, the first muslim minister to serve in a British cabinet, and until Tuesday morning was senior minister of state for foreign affairs.

Warsi – who was also minister for faith and communities – has quit over the government’s stance on Gaza. In her resignation letter she called the government policy “morally indefensible.” As the minister responsible for the UN, the International criminal court and human rights, she said Britain’s stance didn’t show a commitment to the rule of law. It’s a serious – and high profile – blow.

The government has been slammed from all sides, for its muted response to Israel’s actions in Gaza. Actions the UN has called “criminal”. The French “massacres” even the US has called “totally indefensible”. But David Cameron has dragged his heels. Although many will say the resignation of Warsi, and criticism from other politicians, is far too little, far too late. Warsi is now calling for a complete halt of Britain’s £8 billion worth of arms exports to Israel. Just before her resignation the government said it is reviewing the sales but will NOT stop the supply. Action seems a far way off, when even verbal condemnation is hard to come by.

Sayeeda Warsi, a British Foreign Office minister and the first Muslim to sit in the UK cabinet, has resigned over the UK government’s policy on Gaza.

Warsi wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that, “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister (David Cameron) & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza.” Warsi is the first minister to resign on principle from the British government since the coalition was formed between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats in 2010.

This comes as Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government has drawn criticism, including from the main opposition Labour Party, for not taking a tougher line against Israel over its military attacks on Gaza. On August 3, Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband criticized Cameron for failing to take a firm stance on Israel’s aggression against Gaza, saying the prime minister had failed to speak out about the Israeli atrocities.

In addition, the British government recently came under fire after reports showed that the Israeli regime has been using weapons containing British-made components in the fatal aggression against the Gaza Strip. According to British media, arms export licenses worth $70 million have been granted to 130 British defense manufacturers since 2010 to sell military equipment to Tel Aviv.

The Israeli military launched its recent offensive against the Gaza Strip on July 8. At least 1,867 Palestinians, including around 430 children, have so far been killed and over 9,500 others injured during the onslaught. Tel Aviv says 64 Israelis have been killed in the war, while Hamas puts the number at more than 150.

‘Sayeeda Warsi right to resign over Gaza’

The past month has seen the continuation of Israeli air strikes and ground raids in Gaza, along with repeated rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. These are appalling and inexcusable acts of violence on both sides.
With more than 1,800 confirmed dead – one in four of them reportedly children – and more than 9,000 injured, the conflict is causing unimaginable suffering for the innocent. This week saw the shelling near a third UN school housing displaced civilians in Gaza. As a husband and father, watching the news has become unbearable.

At times like this, it is everyone’s responsibility to do what we can to stop the suffering. For thousands of ordinary Britons this has meant donating millions of pounds to the many charities helping those in desperate need in Gaza. The generosity of my constituents in Tooting, and people across Britain, has been truly inspiring. Our political leaders have an even greater responsibility: to stand up and say what is right and to use every means at its disposal to put pressure on both sides to cease the slaughter.

Yet the British government’s lack of leadership on the catastrophe in Gaza has been appalling. David Cameron has been silent while the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza have led to death, suffering and hardship. His and other ministers’ failure to criticize Israel directly is startling.

By contrast, the Labour party has repeatedly condemned the escalation of violence and the ground invasion into Gaza by Israel. Ed Miliband has said that the prime minister is “wrong not to have opposed Israel’s incursion into Gaza” – and that Cameron’s inability to acknowledge the killing of hundreds of innocent civilians is inexplicable to people across Britain and internationally.

On Tuesday Sayeeda Warsi resigned as Foreign Office minister, saying the government’s response to the situation in Gaza had been “morally indefensible … not in Britain’s national interest and will have a long-term detrimental impact on our reputation”. I haven’t always agreed with Lady Warsi, but I think her decision to make a stand on this issue and speak up for the British public is genuinely courageous.

Like Warsi, I want the government to be much clearer to both sides about the unacceptability of its actions. With the current, tentative ceasefire in place, it is more important than ever that we see principled and consistent leadership from our government. As Ed Miliband has said, British ministers must work with the international community to re-establish meaningful negotiations to achieve a two-state solution.

And Warsi must be listened to when she says, “our response to [Gaza] is becoming a basis for radicalization that could have consequences for us for years to come”. The government’s failure to criticize Israel’s incursion is not just a moral failure – it goes directly against Britain’s interests in the world and risks making our citizens less safe as a result.

What is particularly galling about the government’s position is that it is the exact opposite of what David Cameron has said in the past. In 2006, when almost 1,000 people died during Israel’s invasion of southern Lebanon, he was quick to condemn Israel’s actions. Why will he not to do so now? What has changed?

Warsi has done a brave thing in speaking out, and her resignation will be a big loss to David Cameron’s overwhelmingly male, white, wealthy and privately educated cabinet. I sincerely hope that the prime minister reflects on Warsi’s resignation, and when it comes to the crisis in Gaza, change his approach.

‘Moral sense behind UK’s Warsi departure’

The ministerial resignation on a point of purest principle is a rare and precious thing. Most are forcibly resigned, some leave out of exhaustion or to spend more time with money-making ambitions, but not since Robin Cook in 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, has a significant minister walked out for no other reason than the inability to stomach what her Prime Minister is doing – or in this case, not doing – in his or her name.

With Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation as a senior Foreign Officer minister in the Lords, my only problem – and it is absurdly pedantic – is with how she styled her reasoning in the tweet that announced it. “With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister,” Lady Warsi wrote, “& tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza”.
The trifling objection is that the Government has no policy on Gaza. Until now, David Cameron’s solitary concern about the slaughter of innocents has appeared to be avoiding giving offence to Benjamin Netanyahu and his administration. That is not a policy. It is the cowardly abrogation of moral duty.

Others will find more in the departure of Britain’s first Muslim cabinet member about which to object than that. Those, like Melanie Phillips, who are patholigically driven to conflate heartfelt sympathy for the plight of Palestinians with hatred of Jews, will interpret it as sourced in anti-Semitism. One trusts she will treat that brand of slanderous idiocy with the cool disdain it demands.

In an earlier tweet, Warsi expressed the feelings she shares with so many of us – Muslims, Christians, Hindus, atheists, Jews such as myself. “Can people stop trying to justify the killing of children,” she wrote. “Whatever our politics there can never be justification, surely only regret.”

You would naively have hoped that this is far too obvious to state, but while philosophically there may [be] no such entity as a moral absolute, in real terms the indiscriminate killing of children – whatever the provocation of Hamas – is absolutely immoral. Whatever Lady Warsi’s religion, I assume that she felt compelled to act as she did not because she is a Muslim, but because she is a human being. It would profoundly trivialise and degrade her resignation to view it through the prism of tribal loyalty.

The loss of someone who ticked so many valuable boxes for the Tories – female, dark-skinned, Muslim, working class background in the industrial north west – will be a blow to Mr. Cameron. Yet to analyze it in cynical psychological terms feels venal in the light of the darkness that drove her to sacrifice her career. In that same comparative sense, it would be cheap to describe it as a personal tragedy.

But it is sad that she had to go, and sadder still that Mr. Cameron still cannot bring himself to say that what Israel is doing in the name of “Never again” is insupportably wrong. And it is perhaps a greater sadness that there are so few British politicians with the decency, courage and moral sense which Lady Warsi showed yesterday in speaking from the heart, on behalf of many millions, to tell her Prime Minister of his craven silence, “Not in my name.” (HSH)




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