Liberal Democrat delusions on Israel and the one state solution
In siding with Jenny Tonge and others like her, Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes is betraying a moral blindness so typical of the left when it comes to Israel
Simon Hughes MP, a senior member of the Liberal Democrats, the junior partner in Britain's coalition government, has become the latest public figure to endorse a thoroughly bigoted solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. In a recent interview with The Jewish Chronicle, he said: "We are near to the end of the opportunity of being able to get a peaceful two-state solution because of the extent of the settlements" and called instead for a Plan B.
His alternative plan is a “one state solution” covering Israel and the disputed territories. He believes that this alone can solve this most intractable of conflicts.
Now Hughes is no swivel-eyed fanatic. He does not come across as hysterically critical of Israel as John Pilger, Noam Chomsky or George Galloway do. His language is more measured than theirs and he will have considered his position very carefully.
But in some ways, this makes him more dangerous than the “frothing at the mouth” diehard left-wingers who write for the Morning Post or The Socialist Worker, for he has a veneer of respectability that they lack despite arguing for a formula that is every bit as dangerous as theirs.
Quite obviously, the one state solution spells the death knell for the state of Israel. A “state of all its citizens” covering pre-1967 Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank (with additional Palestinian refugees) would soon acquire an Arab majority, given the prevailing demographic trends in the region. Such an entity would then revert to being yet another Arab state in the Middle East.
If past history is anything to go by, the Jewish minority would once again revert to dhimmi status, their existence subject to the ghastly whims of whichever tyrant was in power. In other words, Plan B marks the end of Jewish self-determination. Quite why Hughes thinks that any Israeli government would agree to this form of national suicide is beyond me.
It requires an astonishingly short memory, to say nothing of a willingness to imbibe Palestinian propaganda, to believe that “settlements” are the main impediment to a “peaceful two state settlement”.
Despite the existence of settlements, Israel twice offered a viable, contiguous Palestinian state, first in 2000-1 to Yasser Arafat and then to Mahmoud Abbas in 2008. Neither Palestinian leader accepted the proposals or showed any interest in negotiation. Arafat resorted to the bloody intifada while Abbas, the apparent moderate, chose demonisation, the falsification of Jewish history and the vile glorification of terrorists.
One should ask Hughes why, if settlements were the crux of this issue, Israel saw an upsurge in terror when she evacuated Jewish citizens from Gaza in 2005.
The reality is that whether you are talking about the PLO or the PA, Arafat or Abbas, the issue remains the same: Israel's continuing existence as a viable state, and their refusal to recognise this. It is intransigent Palestinian rejectionism that should be under the spotlight and which should be forcing a diplomatic Plan B from the Liberal Democrats.
But for Hughes and his friends on the liberal-left, it is Israel's dogged fight for survival in the face of her enemies' genocidal rhetoric that is the problem. Hence she must be removed for the sake of regional stability.
Hughes goes on to argue that a number of issues, ("minority rights", "human rights", "international law" and "the United Nations"), "stack up against Israel as unnecessary steps that don’t enhance its reputation". What he ignores is the vastly disproportionate focus on Israeli “crimes” by western governments, media outlets, NGOs and transnational institutions to the detriment of much worthier causes elsewhere.
The UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, with their sizeable Arab-Third World bloc, both have a notorious reputation for traducing Israel's reputation out of all proportion to its misdeeds. It is this selective focus that conveys the impression of a tidal wave of Israeli abuses without parallel in the civilised world.
In his interview, Hughes calls on "Jewish friends who are moderate and internationalist" to use their influence with Israel. Their task is "to make sure that international law is honoured". Apart from his insulting suggestion that those Jews who dissent from his own views are somehow wild eyed extremists, Hughes is effectively declaring that Israel needs these friends to obey international law.
But the very things he condemns (the security wall, the forced removals of people) do operate within the rule of law and are often motivated by the most profound concerns for security. The country has a Supreme Court that stands up to its government and which is lauded by jurists across the globe. Some of Hughes's more open minded friends should point this out to him.
But Hughes's defence of Baroness Jenny Tonge is perhaps most revealing. Referring to the former Liberal Democrat peer he said: "Sometimes people speak more intolerantly than they should...like many people when they go to see people in refugee camps and people without adequate food and water, the emotions are very strong.”
Yet one wonders what Tonge's emotions were when she declared that the “pro-Israeli lobby" had "got its grips on the western world, its financial grips", or when she lent credence to the view that Israelis may have harvested organs in Haiti. These views, drawing from the well of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, are certainly not 'moderate' or 'internationalist'. They are the kind of highly bigoted sentiments that should place any politician beyond the pale of civilised discourse.
By associating with Tonge and others like her, Hughes betrays a moral blindness so typical of the left.
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
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