General Antisemitism

UK Launch of “Friends of Israel Initiative”


This is a guest post by Roslyn Pine

Last Monday, July 19th, I was privileged to attend the UK launch of Friends of Israel Initiative (FII), hosted by the Henry Jackson Society, and chaired by the new MP, Robert Halfon, in the House of Commons, Westminster, London.

An illustrious panel, including three of the founding members, addressed the packed meeting. It comprised former Spanish prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar; former President of the Italian Senate, Marcello Pera; British historian, Andrew Roberts; and was joined by the distinguished British lawyer and academic, Anthony Julius. Each spoke from their own individual perspective.

FII is an initiative formed in response to the rising tide of criticism, hatred and delegitimisation aimed uniquely at Israel.  FII is funded by private donors from Spain, America, Israel, France, Italy and the UK – with an initial working budget of almost £1 million a year.

The proceedings were opened by MP Robert Halfon, who observed that just weeks earlier there had been a hostile meeting of parliamentarians, led by foreign secretary, William Hague, in that very same committee room, to debate Israel’s culpability in the Mavi Marmara incident.

Hose Maria Aznar, the driving force behind the initiative, gave the first address, and his message was that any attack on Israel’s legitimacy is nothing less than an attack on Western civilisation and the values it embodies. Simply put, “if Israel goes down, we all go down”.

Marcello Pera spoke about Israel, our “forefather”, and how the culture of human rights was born and has flourished in those countries that have been shaped by Judeo-Christianity.  Israel and the Jews are, therefore, central to the greatest political achievements of the West. The assault on Israel is itself an assault on Judeo-Christian values, and by defending Israel we are defending ourselves.

Andrew Roberts described how the State of Israel has packed more history into her 62 years than have many others in 600 years. He reflected upon the miracle of Israel’s survival, and then on the reasons that confirm Israel’s legitimacy, marvelling at the Jewish contribution to every field of human endeavour – to a degree totally disproportionate to their tiny population.  He concluded his barnstorming speech by asserting that no people in history have needed the right to self-defence and legitimacy more than the Jews of Israel, and that is what we, in the Friends of Israel Initiative, “demand here today”.

Anthony Julius set the campaign against Israel in the context of centuries old anti-Semitism which has now mutated and modernised, and directs its bile against the Jewish state.

Speeches were followed by questions, and the only hostile question, “what about Israel’s human rights abuses?,” was robustly dealt with by Marcello Pera, who countered that Israel does not abuse human rights. He said that when, for example, a photographer contrives to take a photograph of an Israeli soldier standing next to a Palestinian child, he is constructing a narrative of his own choosing that does not reflect the truth. He suggested that the questioner should be more concerned about the large-scale human rights abuses in the countries surrounding Israel.

There was an extraordinary contribution from a Libyan Muslim member of the audience, who reflected on the terrible fate of Libya’s Jews, the oldest Jewish community in the Arab world – one which was destroyed during, and in the years following, WWII. He said he was proud to be associated with this initiative to stand by Israel.

The FII has already published its first paper, “The Challenge to Israel’s Legitimacy,” by former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold, in which he eloquently describes the formidable ideological warfare directed against Israel – the ultimate goal of which is the state’s total demise.

The purveyors of hatred, directed at the world’s only Jewish state and against Jews as such, foremost of whom reside in the media and in university campuses worldwide, have been served notice that their nefarious activities will not go unchallenged, and that the State of Israel has friends who are united in their determination that she shall prevail.

All people of goodwill who stand by Israel were invited to lend their support to this marvellous initiative by adding their signatures of support.  We look forward to its deserved success.

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38 replies »

  1. Wish the Initiative all the best. Jose Maria Aznar is just fantastic. He wrote a brilliant article on islamic terrorism in Spectator some time ago. He gets it!

    Now lets go postal on Cif’s arse.

    Best wishes to all my Israeli friends.

  2. I was there too.
    As I have written elsewhere, there are extremistson both sides.
    Israel frequently hurts its own case as in Operation Cast Lead, the Marvi Marmara incident and the continuing settler activity in ‘Judea and Samaria’ aka the occupied West Bank.
    ‘From the Nile to the Euphrates’?

  3. Richard Tebboth.

    “There are extremists on both sides”.
    A classic non-sequitur.
    Your comprehension skills are seriously wanting.
    The article was about an initiative formed as a result of escalating attempts to delegitimise Israel, prior to her demise.
    Get it?

  4. I cannot foresee Israel’s demise in any scenario other than a nuclear Armageddon which would produce a ‘zero state solution’ throughout the Middle East – if not further afield.

    Were the UK to adopt a coherent post cold war policy on its so-called ‘independent deterrent’ our advocacy of general nuclear disarmament would have a more ethical basis.

    Israel and the NPT?

  5. Manna from heaven, indeed. Or as I once saw it written online, manner from even.

    There is a wonderful comment from Andrés Rosendo, and it is fantastic to see so many Spanish names.

  6. About time decent people stood up to be counted. At last an answer to old fashioned right wing anti-Semites and new fashioned Guardianistas!

  7. Derek. it would do Prison Camp Cameron a lot of good to sign, as long as he read through some of the comments and took them on board.

    But maybe he is really plastic.

  8. How refreshing! This is an exciting opportunity – people who care about Israel should get behind this initiative 100%.

  9. Great initiative.

    Hope to see many cross posts here.

    Perhaps the UK government will participate in funding. (Just joking – flatulence).

  10. Yesterday, Wednesday, July 28th, I was privileged to attend a meeting with 3 Arab Members of the Knesset, hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign & The Middle East Monitor, and chaired by Jeremy Corbyn MP; it was held in the same committee room in Parliament as the FoI meeting – indeed it overflowed into a crowded second room.
    The MKs: Haneen Zoabi (who was on the Mavi Marmara), Dr Jamal Zahalka and Talab Sana presented a radically different perspective on ‘Democratic Jewish Israel’ to that of the ultimate defender of ‘Western Civilisation’ promulgated by FoI.

    ‘Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.’

    In the immediate context the Israeli-Arab-Palestinians would claim the lamb’s status.
    However, on the wider view, many in the Jewish community would see Israel as the threatened lamb.

    Democracy is conspicuous by its absence in the Middle East, and by extension, in the UN General Assembly.

    For Israel to establish its credibility as ‘a light unto the nations’ as the custodian of Judeo-Christian liberal democracy it must demonstrate justice in its treatment of its minority groups – specifically the Israeli-Arab-Palestinians.

  11. Richard Tebboth
    July 29, 2010 at 1:52 am

    Democracy is also a two way process where the elected government works in the interest of all citizens, irrespective of the citizens ethnicity, colour or creed. In the same way, it is also incumbent upon the citizens to work for in the best interest of their country.

    What I am saying, I guess, is that if I were Mr Haneen Zoabi, I would not have been on board Mavi Marmara. The fact that, from the onset, the Turkish flotilla was intended to be a flagrant display of undermining his own country’s best interest, Mr Zoabi should have been with IDF.

    That doesn’t mean that one gives their unconditional support for everything the leaders do in one’s name, but in this case, Israel is in a constant state of war. What would have happened during WWII if a member of the British parliament had chosen to board a German war ship bound for the white cliffs of Dover?

    Arab Israelis are Israelis first, then perhaps Arabs and muslims.

    Personally, I would doubt if Mr Zoabi has his country’s own best interest at heart and therefore I have no time in listening to what he has to say. I can hear what Hamas are saying quite clearly, thankyou.

  12. Richard Tebboth

    Your (and your kind’s) problem is your ashtonishing ignorance. Were you a bit more informed about Israeli democracy you should ask Mr. Zahalka about his relation to the equal rights of the Israeli Arabs.
    In the not very probable case that he answered the truth you could learn that exactly him, this champion of democracy who called the Arab youths who did national service (helping their own community) traitors. One of the big separating factor between the Arab and Jewish community, that for Jews serving in the army or alternatively doing a three year national service is compulsory while for Arab citizens it is strictly voluntary. Every Arab youth volunteering to do it is a real hero of the fight for equal rights demonstrating to the Jews that they are equal citizens, they want the same obligations and demand the same rights. Mr. Zahalka and his ilk when calling them traitors are making their best to denying their right to be equal Israelis.
    These Arab MK-s are the real traitors, they prefer to being applauded by some British Jew-haters in the UK than the welfare and equal standing of their fellow Arab countrymen they are supposed to be representing.

  13. Richard Tebboth.

    It was an apartheid meeting— anyone with known pro-Israel sympathies was screened out before the event with the excuse that it was full—- always happens.
    What are they afraid of? The truth, of course.
    The fact that you were there speaks volumes.

  14. Richard Tebboth.

    Even you must realise that the complaint by these Arab MKs, with their privileges, that there is discrimination against the Arabs, is rich with irony.
    They are part of a brazen 5th. coumn undermining the democracy they represent.

    Where are their Jewish equivalents in Arab countries, or, indeed, Jewish citizens?

  15. A welcome initiative but it is not clear what it will actually do. I hope it will be more than just a web site publishing opinion pieces.

  16. I proudly signed the petition, and I encourage everyone to do so. I am particularly heartened to see many Hispanic names amongst the signatories, esp. in light of the purported high level of anti-Semitism coming from Spain. To be sure, not all those signatories are Spanish, but I’m sure many are. I think this petition has a chance to grow into something special. Let’s all recommend it to as many people as we can.

  17. MK’s Zuabi and Zahalka represent the Balad party, an irridentist party almost exclusively Arab, with a handful of Jewish supporters – Yael Lerrer and Leah Tzemel are two prominent members. MK Taleb A- Sana is a Beduin who claims to represent that Beduin interests, doubtful as, despite some years in the Knesset, he has yet to advance any worthwhile legislation benefitting them.

    Ms Zuabi has had a good run for her money, which came to a grinding halt when she was interviewed by Stephen Sackur on BBC’s Hardtalk programme. She came over as a spoilt child rather than an adult legislator, quite unable to muster any cogent defence of her anti-Israel attitudes. If you live in the UK, you may see the interview on the Net.

    Despite all that these three may have had to say, I am sure they are happy to be in the Israeli Parliament, drawing a NIS 33000 monthly salary, expenses, diplomatic -style immunity and a generous pension plan when they eventually leave the Knesset. Think what would happen to them on their return home if they were Syrian MP’s and bad-mouthed Syria in the House of Commons!

  18. peterthehungarian

    These Arab MK-s are the real traitors, they prefer to being applauded by some British Jew-haters in the UK than the welfare and equal standing of their fellow Arab countrymen they are supposed to be representing.

    It is really sad that those Israeli Arabs who truly appreciate the freedoms that they have in Israel are silent. The ‘Arab masses’ have been a recognised problem for 200 years now and a lot of their gripes not even connected with Jews or Israel.

    Most seem incapable of reasoning for themselves to see the advantages of a western liberal Democracy and reject any suggestion that existing interpretations of the Koran are implacably anti Democratic giving political decisions over to religious leaders.

    Yet they flock to The Evil West in droves.

  19. JerusalemMite.
    “Yet they flock to the evil West in droves”.

    Of course, it’s the money, honey, and the goodies that the West provides in abundance, that their backward ideology hates— except where it can be used against the infidel.

  20. But why don’t they flock to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia or Malaysia.

    All rich countries where the followers of The Prophet rule.

  21. Looks like Cleggeroon will be rushing to sign up after all:

    No 10 Downing Street: “The PM has made clear that he is a friend of Israel. It is not in doubt.”

    del cul fatto trombetta

  22. More self-haters?
    http://www.ijv.org.uk/
    Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) is an organization launched on February 5, 2007 by 150 prominent British Jews such as Nobel laureate Harold Pinter, historian Eric Hobsbawm, lawyer Sir Geoffrey Bindman, Lady Ellen Dahrendorf, film director Mike Leigh, and actors Stephen Fry and Zoë Wanamaker. The organization is reportedly “born out of a frustration with the widespread misconception that the Jews of this country speak with one voice –– and that this voice supports the Israeli government’s policies.” IJV stated it was founded “to represent British Jews … in response to a perceived pro-Israeli bias in existing Jewish bodies in the UK,” and, according to Hobsbawn, “as a counter-balance to the uncritical support for Israeli policies by established bodies such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

  23. Tebboth – heaven forbid that you stood up for me. If you agreed with me for even an instant I’d know that I’d lost my way and was on the wrong path.

  24. Richard Tebboth.
    “More self-haters”.
    No, they love themseves.
    As for Jewish—- in name only. They invoke their Jewishness in order to promote their warped agenda. They have an inferiority compex about their Jewishness, and yearn to be accepted as equals in the gentile word.
    Their message is very transparent— they are saying in code ” we are not like our ghasty co-religionists, so pease accept us”.
    Interesting that some of the names you quote, such as Stephen Fry, Pinter, Mike Leigh have never been within spitting distance of IJVs meetings.
    I know, because I’ve been to them.
    In fact, those who do attend are often sour old Trots who haven’t grown up, and who realise they aren’t going to change the world any time soon. The only people who listen to their rants are their fellow cranks at these meetings.
    IJV, JfJfP, and the rest of them number, at most, a few hundred in the UK,
    and because they are so few, they have to constantly re-form into new groups.
    I’m amused at their narcissistic descriptions of themselves, especially adjectives like “steering group”. They take themselves so seriously as “intellectuals”.
    Next time, Tebboth, you should make yourself known.
    What they do have is disproportionate access to the media, (CiF, BBC etc. etc.) relative to their miniscule numbers.

  25. Sarah Jane. “…sour old Trots, who haven’t grown up…”; love it. Duvidl tags them with a further soubriquet – Jewish turkeys voting for Xmas.

  26. Excellent initiative, and one that is going to be need in the US on a state-by-state basis as the scourge spreads from Europe to the US via Christian “peace activists”.

    • trained ex british army 45 . still fit. happy 2 fight for the great stat of israel at 1 minutes notice. one of the only states that stands up against the bigoted hateful looneys of islam-a religion that in its own words wants 2 behead all non muslims.