Monday, December 03, 2012

Israel's irrationality is our fault

Israel's actions in expanding settlements is a direct result of being maligned and bullied by the international community, writes Executive Editor Raheem Kassam

Britain diminishes in stature by maligning its ally in Israel
Raheem Kassam, Executive Editor
On 3 December 2012
Britain has a major problem and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is clearly tied up in knots about it.

On the one hand, you have a strong and legitimate will to solve the issue of Palestinian statehood. The problem isn't going away and last week's UN General Assembly vote cemented the fact that the international community wants, sooner rather than later, the Palestinian state to come into its own.

But in doing this in such a manner, decades of negotiations have effectively been defenestrated.

Many have argued that this is a good thing. After all, where have decades of negotiations led? Frankly, nowhere.

But it's naive and dishonest to argue that there are not rejectionists and appeasers in this scenario. That there has been equal will from both sides is a misnomer that is being propagated by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Calling Mahmoud Abbas, a man who presides over incitement, glorification of terrorism and deals with terrorists, a "courageous man of peace" is to move the goalposts distinctly away from Israel's favour.
The reality is that Israel's favour must come foremost in the equation. Before we hear the arguments why not, as we are sure there will be plenty in the comments section, let's consider why.
Israel remains the most legitimate, functioning, transparent and safe democracy in the region. There is little chance, as the considerations are made of its newly democratic neighbours, of Israel turning its back on this form of government that lends to enshrined freedoms not just for Jews, but for the many Christians, Muslims, Druze and Baha'i that live within Israel's borders.
This is also true for women. It is true for homosexuals. It is true for young and old, for rich and poor - Israel is a model for the region. If anyone can doubt this, they are free to name another, but a list of Israel's neighbours does nothing to detract from this statement. EgyptIranIraqSaudi Arabia  YemenSyriaUAEJordanLebanonthe Palestinian territoriesOmanKuwaitQatar, and Bahrain.
None of these countries ranks as highly for core tests on matters of liberty as Israel does.
But granted, this is not the be all and end all of why Western allies should treat Israel differently, though it does form an important and undeniable foundation.
Israel, though not perfect, has gone to great lengths to protect both its own citizens and the Palestinian people at the very same time. The knives come out very quickly against Israel, usually in the form of phrases like 'apartheid wall' and 'prison camp' - but remind yourselves that only five percent of Israel's security fence is a 'wall', and that terror attacks from the West Bank have decreased by more than 90 percent. Unless you're on the side that actively wishes for Israeli civilians to be killed (and sadly there are many) - doesn't this statistic prove that it was a legitimate endeavour at a time when the Palestinian leadership showed no interest in furthering peace negotiations?
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