Thursday, 2 November 2017

Today. The Balfour declaration: part one

The resignation of Sir Michael Fallon and the ‘sex pest’ scandal in general has overshadowed almost everything else on the main news channels, but over at the BBC I’ve noticed increasingly frequent mentions of the Guido Fawkes website recently. This indicates that they must be keeping an eye on it and if so, they’ll have spotted this



if not this: or even this
As the BBC should know, several MPs pulled out of this event declaring that they’d just discovered that MEND was a bit dodgy. The MPs that did not (notably Stephen Kinnock and Wes Streeting) defended their decision to attend on the grounds that they were ‘engaging’. None of this seemed to strike the BBC as newsworthy. 
Interestingly, after a slurry of other incidents in and around Jeremy Corbyn’s Party, such as the reinstatement of Moshe Machover and this blatant piece of anti-Jew signalling:



We are being treated to the BBC’s special way of marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration, including a ‘balanced set of interviews’ on this morning’s Today programme. One from the Israeli side and one from the Palestinian side. What could be more impartial than that? 

It would be fascinating to learn how these particular interviews were allocated. Nick Robinson got Tzipi Hotovely and Mishal Husain got that duplicitous rogue - pardon the value judgement - Palestinian spokesperson and chief negotiator Manuel Hassassian. 
This might have been simply because Nick Robinson has a history of struggling to pronounce the name of the latter, but as one commenter on Guido Fawkes’s website observed, 

“It’s only fair because they give Palestinian representatives a hard time with questions like:-
"What's it like living under the jack-boot of Israeli illegal occupation”.

This should give you a flavour of the way the interviews went. First of all it can’t have escaped any listener from any side of the divide, that Nick Robinson was downright rude. He interrupted, hectored and behaved in a decidedly unchivalrous manner. Bullying and, let’s face it, in today’s toxic atmosphere, his aggression could be perceived as gratuitous and, actually, misogynistic, though I doubt whether any hands  went on any knees in the course of that interview.


TH
We’re celebrating one hundred years since the Balfour Declaration that for Israel it represents the beginning of the international recognition of the Jewish peoples’ right to self-determination in our historic homeland; so this is where I would say the international community realised that the Jewish people really want to build a nation state in Israel, a place that Jews were connected thousand years, and the letter of Lord Balfour was really very precise it was speaking that this is a natural thing that the Jewish people should have their homeland, and we’re celebrating.

NR
It was precise in another way though, wasn’t it, the second half of what’s called the Balfour declaration said nothing shall be done which prejudices the rights of the people already living in that area. That is unfinished business is it not?

TH
No, I think that Israel is definitely having equal rights for both the Arab citizens and Israeli citizens and we have that established in the creation of independence, the very statement from this declaration is that all citizens, regardless of race, religion or gender have equal rights…

NR
 (interrupting) Those (rights) are people in Israel proper, but of course there are many people living under Israeli occupation on what the world refers to as the occupied West Bank, they do not have equal rights, do they?

TH
I deny the idea of occupation. This is Judea and Samaria, those are places that, as you can hear, ‘Judea’, it’s based on the connection of Jews to those places. Those are places where in the last twenty five years the Israeli government was trying to give the Palestinians all - I would say, all chances that they will have their own ruling, and this is where the Palestinian Authority was established in 1993. Unfortunately the Palestinians refused, every time, to.. either to have their own self determination or to … the idea that recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is something they are willing to accept. This is the main prob….

NR
 (interrupting) Let’s be clear, when you deny the notion of occupation, you are denying something recognised by every government round the world, you are denying something recognised by the United Nations, which all say that Israel is occupying land, after the 1967 war, and there should be the prospect at least of a Palestinian state there.

TH
Well, we all know how we got to this point. We all know that the Palestinians never accepted the idea of the partition plan….

NR
 (interrupting) No but we’re talking about your idea. You’re saying that it is ‘not occupied’ 

TH
I would like to…

NR
(interrupting) No, forgive me, let’s deal with what you said… in what sense is it ‘not’ occupied?

TH
Any nation can be occupier in a land that the people, the Jewish people belongs in thousand years, look, we’re speaking about Jerusalem, we’re speaking about Beit El, we’re speaking about places like Hebron - you know our founding fathers and mothers are buried in Hebron, so, no-one denies that, even Lord Balfour. The reason he recognised this connection because he was Christian, he knew the bible, he knew exactly the thousand years of connection of Jewish people with those places, so….


NR
 (interrupting) Well, let’s go back to Balfour; what he said”

TH
Saying the Jews don’t have connection to those places is denying the very basis of the Balfour Declaration.

NR
Nobody said that Jews don't have connection with them (Hebron, Judea and Samaria) they said that the land is occupied after a war, now Balfour, let’s go back to him he said that nothing should be done….

TH
Excuse me…

NR
(interrupting) forgive me let’s go back to Balfour. Balfour said nothing should be done which prejudices the rights of the Palestinian people  - now you’ve got children - imagine they were Palestinians living on what the world refers to as the occupied West Bank, are you really saying that they would have the same rights as your children have?

TH
Well, my children were raised with the idea that Jew and Arabs can live peacefully together…

NR
 (interrupting) That wasn’t the question.

TH
No, I’m answering to your question because I think that the people that are listening to us need to understand why we don’t have coexistence with the Palestinians, and the reason is very clear. When someone is willing to live with me, and is willing to have a very clear sense that this is the Jewish homeland, it’s very easy to live peacefully with us. They will have future just like my children. They will have the ability to enjoy from a democratic state - think about it, in the Palestinian Authority they never have elections, they deny the basic idea of democracy, they deny the basic idea of human rights. Think about the Gaza Strip. this is a place where there is no Israeli occupation whatsoever, no Israeli settlements, no Israeli forces and you still see a terror organisation that is taking control after the Palestinians choose this terror organisation, so you….


NR
Okay, let me go back to the Balfour one more time if I could, the British government said..

TH
 (interrupting) You need to ask yourself whether the fact that the Palestinian children are miserable is not because of their own leadership. I would say this is the reason…

NR
interrupting) Okay, so the British government’s position is that there is unfinished business in the Balfour Declaration, your Prime Minister is in the UK today and will be celebrating the Balfour Declaration, it is the British Government’s position that only half the Balfour has been delivered, let me just put the same question to you again; you have children; imagine they were Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, would they have the same rights, was my question…. 
(interrupting as soon as she tries to answer) …..and the answer, you know, is ‘no you would not.’


TH
No. Not what I’m answering. In order to have the ability to have a democratic state with full rights you need to build your society that it will be based on those ideas, those are values that the Palestinian society at the moment, unfortunately is not respecting. When they are sending young children - my children are not raised that they need to kill Arabs - yes this is something I’m shocked from - they have schools and square sin the cities that are named after those people

NR
(interrupting) no you don’t - so there are many children so you don’t believe that many schools don’t teach it. Let’s talk about the future if we could, minister, because that’s what matters now.

TH
“Excuse me, you need to be worried about the next generation. You know something? I’m really concerned about the next generation in the Palestinian Authority. it doesn’t seem like you’re shocked from the idea that young children are being raised in this legacy of terrorism. This is horrible.

NR
“Has Israel now abandoned the goal set by many, of the so-called two state solution, in other words of Israel living alongside and in peace with the Palestinian State - from everything you say, you have.

ITH
It’s very clear that the Palestinians are not interested in a Palestinian state....

NR
(interrupting) What’s your policy?

TH
Our policy is coexistence. Our policy is fighting incitement. Our policy is to make sure that our borders will be safe and we won’t have another terrorist organisation on the east side of the border

NR
(interrupting) so there will be no Palestinian state?

TH
It doesn’t seem so. No, I don’t think there will be a Palestinian state because the Palestinians are not interested I…

NR
(interrupting) let me ask you what you think the future is, rather than your view of the Palestinians. Is your view of the future then, a larger Israel, incorporating what you call Judea and Samaria what other people call the occupied West Bank, with second-class Palestinian citizens live there, is that your vision?

TH
No, absolutely not. I think that Judea and Samaria are definitely going to be under Israeli control, I think that the Palestinians should decide whether they want to live peacefully with us. if they want to live peacefully with us the political solutions will be found very easily, but if they would like to declare a war on Israel, what was proven in the last seventy years is that Israel can win every single battle in every war that the neighbours are declaring on us.

NR
Let me ask you finally and personally, do you, do your family, do your children, have Palestinian friends?

TH
Of course because my brothers, they live in Judea and Samaria and part of the fact that they live in Judea and Samaria they buy in the same places that the Palestinians buy, and…

NR
(interrupting) They have friends?

TH
I don’t think the word if ‘friends’ because they don’t go to the same schools but I do think in the area…

NR
Going to a Palestinian shop is not the same as having friends.the reason I ask you the question is, peace needs hope. What the Balfour Declaration did was to give the Jewish people hope. What hope are you offering to the Palestinian people?

TH
I’m offering them democratic values. if they will accept the idea that everyone, Jews and Arabs, have the right to live here, I think they will have a great and glorious future just like we Israelis have. it’s up to their leadership to make sure that the next generation, the young children of the Palestinians will be raise in the idea that my children have the right to exist. Just like I’m raising my children to understand that their children have the right to exist.

***


Next instalment should be Mishal Husan’s interview with Manuel Hassassassassian, but let’s draw a temporary veil over that, or maybe I'll try having a stab at it later if time permits.

Oh look, maybe I don't need to. Let Melanie Phillips fill you in instead.

Update
I’m pretty sure I wasted my time transcribing this morning’s interview with Nick Robinson and Tzipi Hotovely. For one thing the tenor of Nick Robisnon’s irritability and aggression doesn’t come across very forcefully on the page, and in my haste to get it down I focused solely on the most obvious flaw in the interview, namely his unpleasantness.
However, that apart, I have serious doubts as to whether Nick Robinson knows the difference between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians ruled by the Palestinian Authority.
“Then Robinson started accusing Israel of denying those Balfour rights to the Arabs living under Israeli “occupation”. Hotovely should have replied that these Arabs were not Israel citizens and therefore not entitled to the rights afforded to Israel’s citizens, including Israeli Arabs. Instead she resorted to the knee-jerk and irrelevant political point about the Jews’ own claim to Judea and Samaria. Even when Robinson further compounded his own error by stating falsely that the Balfour declaration had said “nothing should be done to prejudice the rights of the Palestinian people”, she failed to say it had said nothing of the sort because there was no identifiable “Palestinian” Arab people at that time. Instead she spluttered, correctly but irrelevantly, about the Palestinians’ refusal to coexist with Israel.”

As Melanie Phillips so eloquently puts it, the majority of the BBC’s audience will be mistakenly assuming that Israel’s “behaviour is fundamentally unconscionable because the Jews displaced the indigenous inhabitants and rightful inheritors of the land.”

And of course, sadly most of our MPs are equally ill-informed. Melanie Phillips gives a more detailed description of Robinson’s imprecise interpretation of Balfour:

“Robinson stated first that this letter promised a homeland for the Jewish people alongside another homeland for the Arabs. It did no such thing. The relevant text of the letter was as follows: 
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country” (my emphasis). 
The crucial point is in the passage I have highlighted. For the British government did not offer, as Robinson falsely stated, a second homeland for the Arabs. Its undertook rather to protect the “civil and religious” rights of existing non-Jewish communities. 
That pledge has been fulfilled to the letter, since Israel’s Arab citizens and those from other non-Jewish communities have full civil and religious rights. The letter deliberately omitted any pledge to protect Arab political rights because it was only the Jews who had the right to a homeland in Palestine – and that was because it was only the Jews for whom this land had ever been their national kingdom. The Arabs were merely latter-day occupiers.”

I suppose we can’t expect our jack-of-all-trades presenters on the Today Programme to be experts on everything, but one might hope that they’d do some serious homework on this occasion; the

one occasion where, incidentally,  Mishal Husain comes up trumps - comparatively speaking. We are, after all, starting from very a low base.

1 comment:

  1. Tzipi Hotovely is useless as a representative of the Israeli case. Israel should simply rest its case on UN recognition plan and the UN's recognition of it as a member state and indicate that the decision of the Arabs to not accept the partition plan but rather to try and strangle Israel at birth has necessitated Israel prioritising its security. My view is that if the Arabs genuinely gave up on the dream of driving the Israelis into the sea, then the world would quickly force Israel to agree to a reasonable peace plan, despite the nuttier elements dreaming of a Greater Israel. However, we know it is the Islamic perception is at the root of the problem.

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