Reckless Western anti-Zionism rebounds over Libya killings

Uproar over NATO’s accidental killing of civilians shows how short-sighted and damaging was Western fury at Israel’s operation in Gaza

Libya? Gaza?
Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher
On 20 June 2011 10:45

So now it has come back to haunt us. One stray missile landing in a residential district of Tripoli, and NATO and its member governments (including Britain’s) could, in principle, be up on war crimes charges at the United Nations.

No-one really believes the Libyan government’s claim that 800 civilians have been killed by NATO in the operation so far, but the notion being put about by large sections of the western media that this was the first event of its kind is no less implausible. Indeed, it’s fantasy.

Accidents happen. Civilians die in combat operations conducted in civilian areas. Which means that you either refuse to countenance such operations – meaning in turn that all that terrorists and tyrants have to do to survive is embed themselves in civilian areas – or you face reality for what it is.

Here in Jerusalem on a three day trip, it has been interesting to gauge the reactions to what happened in Tripoli on Sunday morning from a people well used to having to deal with that conundrum.

The tactic of hiding inside civilian populations is routine for practically all of Israel’s terrorist enemies, from Hamas to Hezbollah. They therefore have to make a decision: either engage in the messy business of turfing the terrorists out in the full knowledge that innocents will die; or do nothing and allow them to continue their attacks unabated.

In Israel’s case, there’s no choice. Hamas and Hezbollah want the destruction of their country. The threat is existential, and it’s on their borders.

So, when I’m asked (as I was this morning) why Britain should face any less censure than Israel always does in such circumstances (and in this case for participating in raids on a country which poses zero strategic threat to Britain’s existence) there is simply nothing to say in response.

To be fair, our own military is well aware of this. Our armed forces owe a huge debt to Israel over the operation in Afghanistan where our strategy against suicide bombing was designed according to advice from the Israeli military and its counter-terrorism experts.

Israel has saved British lives, which is one reason why we really do owe that country such a debt of thanks.

Instead, of course, our public diplomacy is Arabist to the core.

The Foreign Office’s anti-Zionism is so extreme that when Richard Goldstone himself withdraw the key allegation in his United Nations report that Israel had deliberately targeted civilians in the Gaza conflict in December 2008 and January 2009, they issued a statement to The Commentator saying not that they now believed the Goldstone Report should be withdrawn but that they were determined to stand behind it!

It was always a short-sighted approach. As I said at the time, and have repeated on countless occasions since, given the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our military has inevitably killed hundreds if not thousands of innocents, it was inevitable that projects such as the Goldstone Report would rebound on us.

As the former commander of British forces in Aghanistan Richard Kemp said at the United Nations:

“During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”.

Few people are better qualified to make such a judgment than Colonel Kemp. But it has a corollary.

If Israel did more than any other army in history to safeguard civilians and Britain still gives succor to a report (and an agenda behind it) which alleges war crimes charges against the Jewish state over that operation, then logic dictates that war crimes charges would be even more justified against Britain itself.

In its sordid assault on Israel, the British Foreign Office is thus undermining Britain’s own national interests, setting a precedent in international institutions which could all too easily be used against British soldiers, British politicians and even the British Foreign Secretary.

We could be hoist with our own petard.

Lacking any credible legal, moral or intellectual response, the Foreign Office can only rely on the hope that hostility to the Jewish State is a unique phenomenon. It’s one rule for the Jews, and another for the rest of us which is, of course, ironic given their protestations that singling out Israel has nothing to do with it.

But it’s also reckless in the extreme. We have no idea how the (ridiculously named) “Arab Spring” is going to turn out. We don’t even know what’s going to happen in Libya, or how long we’ll be there.

If things in the region turn nasty, our so-called friends in the Arab League could turn against us. If they do, it is we ourselves that will have provided them with the tools to harm us.

True. In the end, that is just speculation. What we do know, and what has been confirmed to us by the tragedy in Tripoli, is that there is no such thing as a fairy tale outcome in a military campaign.

The Foreign Office and its counterparts across Europe need to accept this, and accept that it applies just as much to the Jews as it does to us.

Robin Shepherd is owner/publisher of the Commentator. His book, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel, is out in paperback. Follow us on twitter  

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