Re: The PSC Meeting


By Lord Andrew Phi...
November 11, 2010
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I have just had drawn to my attention a contribution made to The JC.com website on 3rd November by Jonathan Hoffman. It comments on a short speech I made at a PSC meeting last week. It does not report what I said fairly, or accurately (sadly, not for the first time in the JC as far as I am concerned.)
I will not try the patience of the readers of this blog (and my own!) by detailing all his studied distortions. One example, taken from the start of his piece, may serve to give the flavour.
He states that I said “I do believe in the right of Israel to exist”, he adding “Well thanks buddy – and France? Germany? England?”
In fact I emphasised that I believe “passionately” in the right of Israel to exist in freedom and security, adding that I believed in a similar right for Palestine. I did not also say, but could have, that I volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973.
Israel is in my view destroying its long-term security and harmony inter alia and particularly by its military occupation and colonisation of the West Bank (now extending to 42% of that territory, according to the latest Foreign Office estimate).
I will not be deterred from speaking out against that self-defeating, provocative and illegal policy, and its awful impact on the Palestinians.

COMMENTS

telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:38

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-1 points

Andrew, where were you in 1973? Did Israel accept your offer?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:39

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-1 points

Jonathan? Over to you…


Yvetta

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:43

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1 point

Doesn't the appellation "Lord Andrew Phillips" imply that its holder is the younger son of a peer?
Standards are slipping these days.
The rightful title of a life baron is "Lord Phillips".


Yvetta

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:45

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1 point

In any case, Jonathan's main bone of contention was that the chairperson evicted him from the meeting, thus effectively censoring him. Very "illiberal", some of these "liberals" ...


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:45

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0 points

What standards, Yvetta? Ban the Lords, I say. Who elected them?


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:49

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2 points

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/lord-phillips-america-grip-well-organised-...

The extracts that I reported from your speech are entirely accurate, Lord Phillips. Which phrases do you claim not to have said?

In particular you said "Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust and America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby."

This is nonsense and offensively repulsive. It is redolent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a forged antisemitic text purporting to describe a Jewish plan to achieve global domination).

You would not say in a speech "I believe passionately that France has the right to exist" so why is it necessary to say that Israel has the right to exist?

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/open-letter-lord-phillips-sudbury

See also my comments on your Independent article.


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:50

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1 point

It is very interesting to see Lord Philips has taken the trouble to enter a post on the JC and a credit to him to read that he volunteered to fight for Israel in 1973 - what has happened since then i wonder?

As you would expect I have to take issue with some of his assertions that are ill-informed, namely :- self-defeating? for whom?, provocative? to whom? and illegal policy? sorry NOT illegal, impact on the Palestinians? not only do they have their own country aka Jordan

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/140567

and here:-

http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/jordan-is-palestine-says-jordan

but they have their own self governing authority - The Palestinian Adminstration the PA, in the areas of Judea and Samaria AKA the West Bank, and of cousrse in Gaza which is controlled by Hamas NOT Israel.

The key piece of mis-information that Lord Philips has become a party to is the "big lie" that Israel is "occupying" someone elses land -they are NOT!.

To truly determine the legal status of the area known as Judea & Samaria AKA The West Bank, it is important to understand the different types of UN resolutions.

Once you understand the differences it becomes clear there is no such thing as the "Israeli-occupied territories".

If anything, they are actually Arab-occupied territories now "liberated" by Israel.

"Occupied territories" has become the most widely misused term connected with the Arab-Israeli conflict.

People simply do not know the facts or like our trendy-lefty, Guardianesque friends, deliberately misinterpret them thereby completely distorting the real picture of the land distribution between the Arabs and the Jews.

The facts are, according to international law, the Jews have the complete and unquestionable right to settle the territories of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (collectively known as Yesha, not that we actually want Gaza anymore, but nevertheless).

Not a single enforceable international document exists that forbids Israel from settling these lands.

On the contrary, the only existing enforceable document actually encourages Jewish settlement.

This was created on April 24, 1920 at the San Remo Conference, this document has the Principal Allied Powers assigning the Mandate for the territory of Palestine to Great Britain. By doing so the League of Nations "recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine" and established "grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country." Article 6 of the Mandate "encouraged ... close settlement by Jews on the land," including the lands of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha).

There is nothing whatsoever in the Mandate that separates Yesha, (the West Bank), from the rest of the mandated territory. That means that the right of the Jews to settle the land spreads to the whole of the Mandated region of Palestine. It is worth mentioning that the 76% of the territory of Mandated Palestine known today as Jordan, was not permanently exempt from settlement by the Jews either. Article 25 only allowed to "postpone or withhold application of [this] provision."

When the League of Nations was disbanded, the rights of the Jews to settle the territories of Palestine, including Yesha, was not foregone. When in 1946 the United Nations was created in place of the League of Nations, its Charter included Article 80 specifically to allow the continuation of existing Mandates (including the British Mandate). Article 80 stated that "nothing ... shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever ... of any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties."

In November 1947 Resolution 181 recommended the Partition of Palestine. Like all UN Resolutions pertaining to the Jewish-Arab conflict it was not enforceable. It was simply a recommendation, and the Arab countries rejected it. As the Syrian representative in the General Assembly stated:

"In the first place the recommendations of the General Assembly are not imperative on those to whom they are addressed.... The General Assembly only gives advice and the parties to whom advice is addressed accept it when it is rightful and just and when it does not impair their fundamental rights"(1).

If the resolution had been implemented maybe it would be possible to argue that it replaced the San Remo Conference resolution, which had legitimized the rights of the Jews to settle in any place in Palestine. However, it was not only rejected by the Arabs, but in violation of the UN Charter they launched a military aggression against the newly reborn Jewish state thus invalidating the resolution.

By the time of the ceasefire at the end of the War of Independence there was still no other enforceable document pertaining to the rights of the Jews to settle Eretz Yisrael - they remained intact.

Now to the most misunderstood aspect of the scope and application of international documents. In order to resolve the term "occupied" territories, one must clearly distinguish between the different types of resolutions passed by the United Nations. Misconceptions about the issue led to the question of a double standard that was constantly raised by the Arabs after the first Gulf War. The Arabs were unable to understand why from Iraq the UN demanded compliance with the decisions of the international body while Israel was not forced to comply with UN resolutions.

On April 3, 1998 Swedish Foreign Minister Lena Hjelm-Wallen, well known for championing the Arabs' position, in an interview with the London al-Quds al-'Arabi, gave an explanation of this "paradox." She was asked, "What about the double standards that the United States and Europe adopt when it comes to Arab issues?" She answered, "I understand this view, which is common in many Arab countries. Nevertheless, the UN resolutions passed on Iraq are different, because they are binding for all nations according to Article 7 of the UN Charter. Meanwhile, the resolutions passed against Israel are not subject to Article 7 of the Charter."

To understand the way UN resolutions work, it is worth reading an open letter by Uri Lubrani, coordinator of Israeli activities in Lebanon, addressed to Lebanon's Foreign Minister Faris Buwayz and published on February 27, 1998 in the Paris newspaper al Watan al-'Arabi. Although the letter was written regarding Resolution 425, it talks about all resolutions pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Uri Lubrani wrote the following,

"... There are two types of resolutions in the Security Council. The first type are resolutions passed on the basis of Chapter Six of the UN charter that relates to the settlement of disputes through peaceful means. Such resolutions are considered recommendations. They are not binding, and they do not require immediate implementation.... The second type of resolutions are based on Chapter Seven of the UN charter.... This chapter grants the UN Security Council resolutions an implementative authority and commits the international community to use force if necessary to implement these resolutions.... None of the UN Security Council resolutions pertaining to the Arab Israeli conflict, including Resolution 425, were passed on the basis of Chapter Seven. They were passed on the basis of Chapter Six of the UN charter, which is the basis also of UNSC Resolutions 242 and 338."

So, NO mandatory UN Resolution exists pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are left with the San Remo Conference decision that governs land ownership in the region of Palestine. That means that not a single enforceable internationally valid document exists that prevents or prohibits the Jews from settling anywhere in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and all the rest of Eretz Yisrael. Or, to put it differently, from the standpoint of international law for the Jews it is not “occupied” land. I now view the areas as “liberated” land.

This conclusion was confirmed by an unexpected (for Israel) source. It is hard to argue with the fact that James Baker, former US Secretary of State, was not the best friend of the Jewish state. However, he categorically rejected the mislabelling of the lands of Yesha as ("occupied") This happened at the Middle East Insight Symposium in Washington on May 4, 1998. Hoda Tawfik, from the newspaper Al Ahram asked him, "What do you think is right? That these are occupied Arab territories and not disputed territories?" Baker replied, "They're clearly disputed territories. That's what Resolutions 242 and 338 are all about. They are clearly “disputed” territories." NOT “occupied” territories.

This is NOT semantics, what it means is that when the Jews build settlements in Yesha, they are NOT building them on "occupied" territories. If one wants, one may call them "disputed" territories, as Baker did. However, this will still not change the fact that from the standpoint of international law it is the very land where the Jews were encouraged to settle.

Finally, it should not be surprising that the San Remo Conference plays such an important role in this particular case. The majority of the other players in the conflict: Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, etc. gained sovereignty over their territories based on the decisions of exactly the same conference.

We Jews finally deserve to settle freely on all of our land.

It is time for Lord philips and his colleagues to stop labelling these areas with the trendy-lefty, Guardianesque term "occupied" but use the term "liberated" and before getting up to speak in public, as an "authority", one should know a little bit about the subject they are speaking on.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:55

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-1 points

Jonathan, if Phillips did say awhat you claim he said about the Holocaust and the Lobby, then it is a disgrace. Have you or anyone else a full transcript of Phillips's speech? It would be interesting to run it so everyone can make up their own minds.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:56

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3 points

"I will not be deterred from speaking out ..."

Yuo are tilting at a straw man. No-one is trying to deter you.

Just lay off the misinformation and antisemitic comments ("Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust and America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby.")


Avraham Reiss

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:57

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2 points

I seem to recall that Phillips is a type of screw-driver.

Which is exactly what Phillips wants to do to Israel, by his own admission.

Is Britain really all sorted out, that his Lordship has time to turn his attention to us poor Israelis?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 13:57

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-1 points

Jonathan, if Phillips did say awhat you claim he said about the Holocaust and the Lobby, then it is a disgrace. Have you or anyone else a full transcript of Phillips's speech? It would be interesting to run it so everyone can make up their own minds.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:11

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4 points

Lord Phillips: If America is "in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby", please explain why over 70% of American Jews voted for Obama rather than McCain, when it was clear that McCain would be tougher on Iran and more friendly to Israel?


Anthony Posner

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:13

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0 points

Lord Phillips,

Kosher American turkeys for Chanukah?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:13

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-1 points

Obviously, Jonathan, the lobby ain't all that powerful. Or clever. Although there is one person here who believes that Jewish votes in New York and California control who gets in to the White House, ain't that right Anthony?


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:38

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2 points

Lord Phillips

I have asked you two questions, will you be answering them?


raycook

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:41

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2 points

Lord Phillips has every right to express his opinion and sympathies.

What he fails to see, as many who think they are occupying some sort of moral high ground, is that the PSC and other organisations here and abroad are little more than apologists for terrorism and do not share the noble lord's desire to see Israel live in peace and security.

Lord Phillips is under the illusion, apparently, that the 'Occupation' is the cause of a grievance and injustice. I would ask His Lordhship what the grievance was in 1967 when Israel was attacked within the borders which he would have them return to.

What was the grievance in 1964 when the PLO=Fatah=Palestinian Authority was formed?

As long as apologists for Palestinian rejectionism flaunt their moral credentials and ignore the very simple and basic reason for the conflict which goes back 100 years, namely, the Arabs do not want the Jews to have a homeland in the area of the former Mandate territory, then their self-righteous and misdirected sympathies will achieve nothing.

If Abbas said tomorrow 'we recognise Israel's right to exist and we are prepared to negotiate borders to establish a Palestinians state that will live side by side with Israel in peace and co-operation' then Israel woud be willing to make difficult decisions to achieve that peace.

Can Lord Phillips name one concession that the Palestinians ever made for peace?

As long as the Palestinians want to destroy Israel then useful idiots will only encourage them to believe that their goal is getting closer day by day.

Lord Phillips needs to do two thing: examine why he fought in 1973 and then examine why he now stands with Israel's enemies. It's as simple as that.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:52

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0 points

All well and good Ray, but Abbas has said that the Palestinians recognise Israel's right to exist and that he is willing to negotiate borders, peace, co-operation etc. While what Philips said is terrible - if Jonathan is quoting him accurately re the Holocaust and the Lobby -- I don't think it does Israel's case any good if its supporters are inaccurate about the Palestinians.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:59

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3 points

http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=187402

Abbas and the PA do not recognise Israel's right to exist as a State grounded in Judaism


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 14:59

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-1 points

They recognise it as a state that can define itself however it likes.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:03

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4 points

Lord Phillips

You have effectively accused me in print of lying about what you said. As a lawyer and Parliamentarian, you of all people know that that is a serious charge.

Please substantiate it by telling us which of the phrases you did not say.

If you cannot, you must withdraw your statement that I did not report you "accurately".


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:13

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-2 points

Jonathan, is there a full transcript that we can all see?


raycook

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:17

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1 point

T'sam: If Abbas is willing to negotiate why does he use any excuse to avoid it and why did he take 9 months of Israel's moratorium to begin negotiating.

If he recognises Israel's right to exist why do his maps and flags remove Israel completely.

If he recognises Israel then why does TV and the media claim that Israel is occupied Palestine, preach hatred and antisemitism and cntinued resistance. This does not sound like acceptance to me. It's a fallacy.

They recognise it exists, de facto, they do not recognise its right to continue to exist. That is the nub of the problem T'sam.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:23

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-1 points

Ray, I'm not is spokesman, but it was pretty clear that the 10-month moratorium was a ploy and wasn't really full anyway. If they recognise its right to exists (well thanks, buddy, as Jonathan would no doubt say) then that is enough. Anything else is merely declatorational and an attempt to make the talks harder than they actually should be.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:27

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1 point

Lord Philllips has had two hours to substantiate his claim that I did not report what he said "accurately".

He has failed to substantiate it.

One must conclude that my report was indeed accurate.

What does that make Lord Phillips?


Jewish American...

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:33

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0 points

Um.....possibly busy.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:40

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-2 points

Not near a computer…?


richmillett

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:42

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3 points

It is very telling that Lord Phillips chooses to rebut only one aspect he was accused of, namely about Israel's right to exist.

But in the name of boredom refuses to rebut what he said about how he freely invokes the Holocaust.


mattpryor

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:44

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2 points

What a load of revisionist tripe.

June 2009: Netanyahu and Obama call for direct peace talks and Netanyahu embraces a two state solution and a negotiated peace settlement:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10530197

9th November 2009: Netanyahu makes a speech to to the GA on 9th November 2009 calling for unconditional peace talks:

http://www.jewlicious.com/2009/11/netanyahu-calls-on-abbas-to-restart-pe...

He made lots of other speeches along a similar vein, I remember one to American Jews which was particularly passionate, stressing the urgency of resumption of negotiations. On each occasion Abbas refused, complaining about housing permits being issued in Israel's capital city.

2nd December 2009: Netanyahu announced a 10 month settlement moratorium to demonstrate good faith and encourage Abbas to the negotiating table. Abbas continued to refuse to resume peace talks.

9 months later Abbas finally agreed to meet for talks. Then he stalled. Then he stalled some more. Then he walked away, because Israel would not renew the settlement moratorium without a gesture of good will from the PA - i.e. they recognise Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people.

That anyone can look at this chain of events and say that it is Israel that sabotaged the negotiations, rather than the PA, is frankly astonishing.

And what a surprise that Telegramsam embraces and spouts the PLO's wonky narrative.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:56

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-3 points

It's not the PLO's wonky narrative, Matt. Netanyahu talks a good game, but actually does precisely the opposite. The Americans and Palestinians have seen through it and, having learned to talk a good game themselves, want to see action.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 15:59

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-1 points

Anyway, what is far more interesting to a dispassionate observer is whether there is a full transcript of his speech.


mattpryor

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:08

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1 point

Telelgramsam neither of us know Netanyahu's true intentions. We can only judge his words and actions.

He repeatedly called for direct negotiations with the express stated purpose of creating a viable Palestinian state as far back as June 2009 - you think he was lying and playing games. Based on what (apart from your fevered imagination, please)?

In response to Arab demands (backed by the US and EU) he outlawed Jews building homes for ten months - at much political cost. According to you he did this again as a ploy. Again, based on what?

What did the PLO do during this time?

Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Why?


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:11

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-1 points

Matt, it is pretty clear what Netanyahu's intentions are: play for time and not decide. He cannot even decide on very basic domestic things. He always hopes soemthing will come along and rescue him. This time, tho, the Palestinians are nit being so obliging.
The Palestinians -- and the Americans - just want guarantees that he won't revert to type.


mattpryor

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:13

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1 point

So Telegramsam, having shared your wise and insightful political analysis with the world, are you now willing to concede that Israel has bent over backwards to work towards a viable Palestinian State and the PLO has maintained a rejectionist stance throughout?

Do you actually follow the news Telegramsam or do you just talk about it?


Jewish American...

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:16

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-1 points

Obviously we need a full transcript of what Lord Phillips said, given that Mr. Hoffman's credibility seems to be zip around here.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:17

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0 points

No, Matt, I believe that neither Israel nor the Palestinians is particularly interested in reaching a deal. It would cost whichever Israeli PM or Palestinian President far too much domestically. They much prefer the ostrich-head-in-sand approach in the hope that the other side will go away.


mattpryor

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:18

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2 points

Telegramsam: Saying the same thing again and again does not make it true, it just makes you demented.

All of your analysis is based on conjecture, not fact. It seems pretty clear to me that a negotiated settlement was never in the PLO's interests, which is why THEY stalled for time, knowing full well that the US would push Israel to concede to all their demands eventually anyway.

Are you happy about the future of Israeli Jews being decided by Americans who just want the whole problem to go away and the Arab League Telelgramsam? You seem to be fine with it.


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:20

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0 points

Still no further words of wisdom from Lord Phillips, perhaps he is taking advice from his Liberal Democrat colleague, Baroness Jenny Tonge, before he decides on a response.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:25

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0 points

Matt, neither sides really wants a deal. And as for the Americans, if they are so anti-Israel as you suggest, why do they keep on vetoing every anti-Israel resolution in the UNSC? Why do they keep on giving Israel billions in aid and grants? Hardly the sign of an anti-Israel country.


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:27

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0 points

Yes, Jon, it's a terrible to have to wait for this -- just like waiting for a full transcript of his speech.


Jon.

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:37

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@Jonathan Hoff...

"Lord Phillips You have effectively accused me in print of lying about what you said. As a lawyer and Parliamentarian, you of all people know that that is a serious charge.
Please substantiate it by telling us which of the phrases you did not say.
If you cannot, you must withdraw your statement that I did not report you "accurately".

What will you do if he doesn't Jonathan?

Angrily write some more things in bold?"


yankeeuxb (not verified)

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:38

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-3 points

'I will not be deterred from speaking out against that self-defeating, provocative and illegal policy, and its awful impact on the Palestinians'.

And neither will the rest of us Lord Phillips. We support the rights of Palestinians to live in peace and security alongside Israel in a viable and contiguous state.


mattpryor

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:43

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2 points

Neither side wants a deal? Opinion polls among Israelis suggest differently. But of course you know better than Israelis what it is they really want. Then again you know everything about everything don't you? Even Netanyahu's secret thoughts.

Tell me, if the Israeli government didn't really want a deal, why bother with the building moratorium? Why piss off half the electorate and cause riots? Perhaps you'd like to explain the devious Machiavellian thinking behind this move, since you and you alone seem to have known the Israeli government's true intentions all along?

And I never said America was anti-Israel. You did. Interesting that.


Watchful Iris (not verified)

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:45

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0 points

How long is Jonathan going to make us wait for this full transcript? Does he think we have all day?


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:48

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0 points

yankeexub
speak out as much as you like, it isn't going to get you anywhere.
"a contiguous state" means the erdication of Israel - so dream on!! it ain't going to happen.


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:50

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1 point

yankeexub
if you bother to read the post at 12:50 you might learn why


telegramsam

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:51

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0 points

Matt, the "moratorium" was only for 10 months and was only for show, since it did not include public buildings (schools, synagogues, concert halls). Netanyahu knew it wouldn't cause riots and it didn't.
You said that the Palestinians knew that the Americans would pressure Israel, implying that America was anti-Israel.
I suggest you read this, by a former Israeli diplomat, Alon Pinkas.

Undermining bipartisanship on Israel
By: Alon Pinkas
November 10, 2010 04:29 AM EST

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is visiting the United States this week, has never managed to conceal his natural affinity for Republicans and discomfort with Democrats.

Netanyahu’s ideological sympathies are legitimate. The problem is that by doing so he — and like-minded U.S. conservatives — are flirting with disaster: undermining the paradigm of bipartisan support for Israel.

Netanyahu demonstrated this Sunday when he arrived in New Orleans. He asserted that Iran should be threatened with an airstrike, implying that sanctions aren’t working. Defense Secretary Robert Gates quickly rebuked him.

But the prime minister’s timing was no coincidence. It echoed the statement of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a day earlier and was probably intended to provide Republicans with a key talking point: The Obama administration is not doing enough to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear capability.

Netanyahu is set to meet in Washington with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday. He would probably prefer to meet with Republicans, though it is unclear which Republicans he’s most comfortable with — James Baker and Brent Scowcroft or Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell. In any case, former President Bill Clinton can attest to Netanyahu’s political love affair with Newt Gingrich in 1997-98.

Netanyahu’s actions are a distinct break from the past 40 years, when Israel’s strengthening ties with Washington were all a product of bipartisan support — regardless of who was in the White House or who controlled Congress.

Bipartisanship is not a euphemism for conformity of thought. It does not and should not discourage a debate on Middle East policy. It should also not be interpreted as quashing discourse or suppression of criticism of U.S. policy in the Middle East and Israel.

However politically expedient some Republicans consider this idea of transforming the GOP into the natural “pro-Israel” party, it is likely to harm Israel, may dent some Democrats in the process and might well tarnish the Republicans on whose behalf these attempts are made.

From an Israeli perspective, it’s worthwhile to state some basic truisms:

1. Israel’s relations with the United States are a strategic asset without parallel or substitute.

2. The “special relationship” forged in the past few decades is a central pillar of Israel’s national security and deterrence power, and it constitutes Israel’s greatest foreign and defense policy achievement.

3. U.S. military aid and generous access to state-of-the-art military technology and platforms define Israel’s “qualitative advantage.”

4. Washington’s consistent diplomatic support in international institutions, in the face of hostility and often hypocrisy, shields Israel from pariah status.

Here’s another truism: The above reality was developed and can be sustained only if it is based on bipartisanship.

Yes, that maligned B-word. The concept seems erased to the point of extinction from the U.S. political lexicon — but the practice still exists when it comes to Israel. Politically, bipartisanship became an “asset within an asset.”

It is what it is: an expression of support for an ally. The friendship of the American people, the commonality of values and shared self-definition of two frontier societies established in defiance of old orders, the similar self-perception of “a shining city on the hill” and the affinity of strategic outlook transcend party lines.

Democrats and Republicans co-sign pro-Israeli letters, publish joint proclamations and sit on Senate or House committees expressing political and material support for Israel.

The political sources and ideological origins of support may vary among some Democrats and some Republicans — but both view Israel as a trusted ally. U.S. policy toward Israel can and should be debated on its merits, but few are likely to doubt that, by and large, it is bipartisan.

Until, that is, some people decided that perhaps this paradigm should be changed. Conservative groups, neoconservative groups and pro-Israel advocacy groups have deliberately made an attempt to politicize the issue of support for Israel.

More callously and dangerously, they also decided to define exactly what it means to be “pro-Israel.” Basically, if you supported Presidents’ George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama in their efforts regarding the peace process, you are not sufficiently pro-Israel. If you endorsed the policies of Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, your pro-Israel credentials are questionable. It's as simple as that.

Together with Obama detractors in Israel (inside and outside the government) they reduced the issue to one basic equation: Republicans are good for Israel, Democrats aren’t. It goes almost without saying that the tea party has been a proponent of Israeli foreign aid — since 1773.

Forget the endless innuendo against "Barack Hussein Obama." The same Obama recently authorized giving Israel 20 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

To show how reckless and cynical the trend has become: "Pro-Israel" groups put out ads in New York’s 2nd Congressional District in Long Island. The incumbent Democrat, Steve Israel, not only has an impeccable record on Israeli-related issues but is a well-known name in the Israeli prime minister’s office and Defense Ministry.

Other groups mounted ads against Rush Holt, the incumbent Democrat in New Jersey’s 12th District. Check his record. If these “He’s not pro-Israel enough” ads in New Jersey were applied in Israel, more than half of the Knesset and 70 percent of the Israeli public would have to be considered “not pro-Israeli.”

In the end, as Eric Alterman wrote in The Daily Beast, “exit polls indicated that Jews voted 66 percent to 31 percent for Democrats."

What's more, the polling also shows that these scare tactics were a nonstarter for most Jewish voters. Only 7 percent identified Israel as the most important issue in determining which party to choose — well behind the economy, health care and government spending.

Critics often, and rightly, accuse Israel and Washington of meddling in each other’s domestic politics. Yet the uniqueness and intimacy of the “special relationship” between the two countries make this meddling almost natural — if blatantly unethical. It is often intrusive and seldom effective. But it is a fact of life.

The history of U.S.-Israeli relations is replete with examples of influence peddling and power games. From Israelis trying to influence U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East by pitting both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue against each another to proxies for U.S. administrations who shamelessly play retail politics in Israel, this is hardly a shocking new phenomenon.

What is new, however, is an attempt by U.S. political groups to insert Israel into the red-blue divide — and lure voters to vote Republican.

This is not to say these people don’t have allies in Israel or that what they are doing is illegitimate. But it is myopic and foolish and does a disservice to Israel and to genuine pro-Israeli groups in the United States.

Leave Israel out of this bipartisanship-bashing party. We are not an issue.


yankeeuxb (not verified)

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 16:55

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-2 points

I've read all of that myth stuff plenty of times. (12:50)

The reality is that the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank are under occupation and the million plus in Gaza are under siege.

These people and their ancestors - alive and dead - were born in Palestine and were then expelled from Palestine, their homes wiped from the map.

The world recognises the West Bank as occupied. Gaza, according to Mr Cameron is 'a prison camp'. Who put the prisoners in there? Israelis.


yankeeuxb (not verified)

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 17:08

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-3 points

The above article by Alon Pinkas is fairly accurate but what he fails to point out, which is what many in Europe recognise, is that Israel's (with the unqualified support of the US) siege of Gaza and occupation of The West Bank in unsustainable. Not only does it create an indignity and militancy amongst those who are occupied and besieged but it also creates a focal point for the world wide protest movement. Just as the Anti Apartheid Movement rallied around the black majority in S. Africa.

In the long term the US's influence will wane in the ME. It may be in 20 years, it may be in 50 or 100 years. Britain's influence in the region collapsed within a generation. The Arabs will have long memories and revenge could be drastic. The hubris shown by Israel – targeted assassinations in hotel rooms, civilian massacres, stolen passports, murder on the high seas - will eventually meet its nemesis. Only by granting dignity and justice to the Palestinians will Israel have a future.


Jon_i_Cohen

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 17:09

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1 point

yankeexub
It is you who are living a myth - in a dream world

The West Bank (as you call it)
The Palestinians govern themselves, have you not heard of the self governing authority? - The Palestinian Adminstration the PA, in the areas of Judea and Samaria AKA the West Bank the Palestinians look after their own civil affairs.

Gaza
As for Gaza, this is controlled by Hamas NOT Israel, the plight of the Gazans is the responsibilty of Hamas, Israel has been out of there since 2005.
Yes it is under a blockade, why is that? it is to stop heavy arms and medium to long range missiles coming in from Iran.

As you well know and can look it all up on the internet if you don't, no one was expeld from The Mandate of Palestine, the Arabs left of their own free will, encoraged by their leaders "to make way for the advancing and invincible Arab armies who would drive the Jews into the seas" - unfortunately for them they were not invincible and were routed by the Jews, so again hadly Israels fault that those that fled could not come back.

It is only the "left", the ignorant, the ill-informed and the useful idiots who take up with views such as you have put forward.

You need to read the posts i have put up and try to educate yourself on the issues before posting.


yankeeuxb (not verified)

Thu, 11/11/2010 - 17:11

Rate this:

-2 points

I agree Yoni1, that Jon_i_cohen doesn't half drivel on with his cut and paste stuff.

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