Another Liberal Democrat shows his anti-Israel bias
Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell MP seems to care less about human rights abusers, and more about Israelis playing football
During a Business Questions session in the British Parliament this week, Sir Bob quizzed the Leader of the House of Commons, Andrew Lansley, on whether or not football's under-21s European Championship should be held this year in Israel.
Most right-headed people would realise that sporting and cultural boycotts neither impact the government of Israel, nor do they target government policies. Boycotts against the Israeli people and private firms in fact simply target people for their nationality.
"The House will know that the Government of Israel now refuse to co-operate with the United Nations Human Rights Council. Despite that, the European football authorities are going to stage the under-21 finals in Israel later this year, and the English FA, despite its “Let’s Kick Racism out of Football” campaign in this country, will be sending a team. May we therefore have a general debate on Israel and its dependence on economic, cultural and sporting associations with the EU, and particularly the UK, when it manifestly is not geographically in Europe?
Evidently trying to mask his prejudices by highlighting that Israel is "not geographically in Europe", Sir Bob gives the game away by not also naming Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Russia and Kazakhstan - the latter of which borders China! In fact, Sir Bob even signed an Early Day Motion about Kazakhstan's human rights abuses - but for some reason has not issued the same call about the European championships for that same country.
Of course, Sir Bob is unconcerned by these facts, instead directing his ire squarely at the Jewish State, which is closer to Europe geographically than half of the countries named above. And where precisely does Sir Bob think Israel should conduct it's sports? In the West Asian Federation? We doubt the Israeli's would be welcomed with open arms.
Nor does Sir Bob raise the issue of human rights in Russia, nor in Kazakhstan, both of which rank drastically below Israel in Freedom House's 'Freedom in the World' report.
Of course Sir Bob has form in this area, a fact that seems to continously evade the Liberal Democrat Party Headquarters. Late last year, Sir Bob called for medicines from Israel to be labelled as such. Israel of course, is a world leader in medicinal products and innovations. Again, he has made no mention of labelling products from other human rights abusers, and interestingly, has recently implied that the "eyes of the world" view Israel in the same light as Syria.
In February last year, Sir Bob insisted that while the Syrian massacre, which has now killed up to 1,000 Palestinians and 70,000 people in total, continued - the "plight of Palestinians in territory occupied by Israel should not be overlooked". The remarks were seen as a strange contrast between a dictatorship slaughtering its people, and a long-standing conflict between two peoples in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
So the question must be asked of Sir Bob Russell - why the one-sided targeting of the most free country in the region? And why has he reserved criticism of other human rights abusers, especially those "not geographically in mainland Europe"?
NB: Sir Bob was knighted last year, a move that Lib Dem party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg advocated. Clegg, speaking last year, described the MP for Colchester as "a unique institution". He said: "He says what he feels and if he doesn't like what I do, or what the party is doing or what the government is doing, he says so. And I think people really, really respect that."
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