by Richard Morris
Friday, August 17th, 2012
Israel losing international support, says British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould says Jewish state losing mainstream political support over lack of peace progress and West Bank expansion
The British ambassador to Israel has said international support for the Jewish state among those in the political mainstream is eroding, driven by settlement expansion in the West Bank and continued restrictions on Gaza.
There is “growing concern” in the UK over lack of progress towards peace with the Palestinians. In an unusually forthright interview for Israel’s Channel 10 news, Gould said he detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel.
“Support for Israel is starting to erode and that’s not about these people on the fringe who are shouting loudly and calling for boycotts and all the rest of it. The interesting category are those members of parliament in the middle, and in that group I see a shift.”
But, he added, Britain was “by no means unique” in its growing concern about the lack of progress towards peace.
“Anyone who cares about Israel’s standing in the world should be concerned about the erosion of popular support.”
The shift was a result of Israeli government policies, Gould said, suggesting that it could not be countered or obscured by hasbara. The Hebrew word for explanation refers to efforts by the Israeli government and its supporters to promote a pro-Israel agenda and challenge what it sees as negative media coverage.
“The centre ground, the majority, the British public may not be expert, but they are not stupid and they see a stream of announcements about new building in settlements, they read stories about what’s going on in the West Bank, they read about restrictions in Gaza. The substance of what’s going wrong is really what’s driving this,” Gould said.
Harriet Sherwood who often seems to be the only journalist voice reporting the truth of what goes on in Israel writes of Israeli reaction to Ambassador Gould’s words
At 40, Gould is the first Jewish person to serve as British ambassador to Israel. He said in an interview to mark his arrival in Israel in 2010 that being Jewish gave him “a visceral understanding of why Israel is so fixated on its own security and why security and peace mean so much to Israel and why it’s a country which feels so keenly that it lives on the knife edge”.
Does he not think that thousands of Palestinians have a visceral fixation on their own plight?
Zionist self-love rears its ugly head again from the Ambassador.
He previously held posts in Tehran, Washington and Downing Street.
Anshel Pfeffer, writing in Haaretz, said,
“not only is Gould not betraying his roots, he is doing the Jews of Britain a huge favour,”
saying that this will give strength to those British Jews who wish to say something critical of Israel but at the same time show support for Israel.
According to an article in the Jewish Chronicle of London, an “Israeli Foreign Ministry source said privately that it was a pity more diplomats did not say what Mr Gould had said.”
Mr Gould is clearly a principled and decent human being with a distinguished career behind him.
Why then do I have problems with him and his apparent liberal approach?
It is difficult to define liberalism but whatever liberal wing we think we belong to, the abiding and fundamental philosophy accepted since the Enlightenment is one of individual rights, liberty and equality of opportunity.
My liberal principles make me accept and act on my fundamental moral and political responsibilities to my fellow citizens. The evidence is irrefutable that Israel does not accept those principles and quite clearly breaks international law concerning human rights, land and water rights on a regular basis, despite the horrendous history of the Jews and the irrefutable evidence of Nazi atrocities and policies.
I recently asked Nadine Gordimer at a Q&A session if she thought Israel policies has similar parallels with Apartheid.
I was dismissed rather tartly with some confused defence that the situation and history are vastly different.
I have enormous respect for MS Gordimer but was deeply disappointed with her reply, another confusion of the liberal approach with what should be unequivocal moral action, behaviour and belief with no special pleading for Israel.
It would seem to me that Mr Gould and commentators like Jonathan Freedman, Henry Porter and many others use liberalism as children use comforters, that is to assuage their fears.
It is essentially an immoral approach, pretending to offer radical challenges to the Israeli establishment and British Jews where in fact they co-opt what brave people like Edward Said, Daniel Barenboim, Mourid Barghouti, Ilan Pappe and many others have been writing about for years.
The apparent liberal approach of many British Jews obscures the facts that they are the enemies of fundamental political change in Israel/Palestine.
As for politicians like the Milibands, Denis Macshane , the morally corrupt Jonathan Sacks and Julia Neuberger, their hypocrisies are manifold.
Mr Gould sees “growing concern” in the UK over the lack of peace moves in Israel.
We might remind him and his ilk that “the lack of peace moves” has been Israeli policy and reaction since 1948 and 1967, all the time encroaching steadily on Palestinian land.
Did he when as Principal Private Secretary to David Miliband from 2007 to 2010 advise the Milibands of this “growing concern” or has it just appeared on the horizon?
Why did Mr Gould launch an appeal amongst UK Jews for £2 million pounds to build six social clubs for Holocaust Survivors in Israel but make no efforts to help the traumatised survivors of Israeli attacks on Gaza or try to alleviate the sufferings of Palestinians still in refugee camps after 70 years?
It makes me queasy when liberals like Freedland and Gould pontificate about peace but forget the people whom Israel persecutes on a daily basis.
Their brand of liberalism always manages to remove the problem to the future.
“Israelis might wake up in 10 years’ time and find out that the level of understanding in the international community has suddenly changed, and that patience for continuing the status quo has reduced,” writes Gould
Perhaps he should be more concerned about those of us “on the fringes shouting loudly and organising boycotts”
We will still be shouting Mr Gould.
We shall bear witness.
The State of Checkpoints.
It is a bizarre, surrealistic world of mirrors.
Our negotiators agreed that in Gaza and Jordan, Israeli security agents, although present throughout the terminal building, would be separated from travellers by one way mirrors.
Provision was made for Israeli security personnel to emerge into the hall, “in the event of an emergency situation and if necessary use their weapons”.
The travel documents of Palestinians were to be checked by an Israeli office “indirectly in an invisible manner”.
So imagine I am a Palestinian.
I enter the Palestinian Hall and see a Palestinian flag, Palestinian policemen, Palestinian luggage, Palestinian families, Palestinian mirrors.
The place smells Palestinian.
An unsmiling Palestinian border policeman is standing behind a large counter.
I give him my passport
He examines it, slips it into a drawer hidden behind thecounter, pushes it through to the other side where it is opened by the Israeli.
Of course I know nothing of this charade !
Behind the mirror the Israeli processes the passport and then pushes it back with one of two coloured paper slips denoting permission to enter or not.
The mirrors are so positioned that at all times the Palestinian official is under scrutiny by Israeli personnel.
They prey on our sanity and humiliate us on a daily basis, taking away hours of time we want to spend with our families and our friends, or trying to make a living.
The IDF play games with us.
At Nablus, Israeli soldiers decided to detain every ninth adult male wishing to cross the checkpoint whose name was Mohammed.
You might imagine…there’s quite a lot of Mohammeds in Palestine.
In 2005 President Bush allocated 200 million dollars “to support Palestinian political, economic and security reforms”.
The pro-Israeli United States Congress qualified that all the aid could not go directly to The Palestinian Authority.
So 50 million dollars of the aid went to Israel to help fund the installation of more terminals, thus knowingly assisting the application of one of the most invasive and blatant tools of the Occupation.
When I arrive at the “state of the art” terminal of Qalandia, I must go through a first set of turnstiles, an x-ray gate, second set of turnstiles, an inspection booth and baggage x-ray whilst I am photographed and loudspeakers blare out instructions, which my old ears cannot understand.
The aim is to eventually do away with any communication between Israeli and Palestinian whatsoever.
Where’s the humanity in these measures ?
Who are these security people and soldiers who examine my passport ?
Where are they from ?
Brooklyn ? Golders Green ? Moscow?
Mourid Barghouti, the Palestinian writer and poet asked himself when he returned after thirty years of exile and waited silently before the soldier.
“Can he notice my humanity or the humanity of the Palestinians who pass beneath the shadow of his shining gun every day?”
From Bitter Fruit Of Palestine by Richard Morris
August 17 2012