Mick Davis: the fallout from his Israel comments

Last week, the chairman of the UJIA called for the diaspora to openly criticise Israel. Now the community weighs in

By Lord Kalms, November 25, 2010

The JLC may be self-appointed, but even self-appointed leaders should try to speak and behave like leaders. Mick Davis's recent comments show a startling lack of leadership and sense.

Everybody is entitled to their opinion but can anybody really hold a straight face and say the UK Jewish community is unwilling to criticise Israel? Most of us see no lack of debate.

It is simply not the case that British Jews do not speak out about their concerns relating to Israel. Every week across the national and Jewish press, in synagogues and community meetings, the widest imaginable (and often unimaginable) range of views are expressed. They run the gamut of opinions, from the most security-focused Likud sympathiser to those Jews who devote every waking hour to ending the existence of the Jewish state.

If his general points are off the mark, then Mr Davis's specifics are no nearer to it. It is nonsense to claim that leaders did not speak out against the 'loyalty-oath'. The UK media, like the Israeli media, was replete with people speaking out against such a ludicrous and repugnant idea.

Others of the ideas put forward by Mr Davis also lack any grounding in reality. It is very easy - as well as pleasant - for Mr Davis to sit in a London hall with a like-minded critic of Israeli policy and denounce Binyamin Netanyahu as not having the 'courage' to advance the peace process.

Mr Davis has given Israel’s enemies more daggers to use against us

There are many criticisms that can be made of the Israeli Prime Minister, as of any politician, but the claim that he lacks 'courage' is preposterous. His political and military career suggest otherwise.

What he lacks, like his predecessors, is a sincere and capable negotiating partner. The facts of this situation may have been lost on Mr Davis, but the significance of his comments will certainly not be lost on our mutual antagonists.

If someone is going to declare themselves a leader, then they have to take on the responsibilities which such a role brings. First among them is the responsibility to speak the truth. Mr Davis has not done that. He has entrenched lies. No more obvious example could exist than the fact that he has taken up the obscene language of 'apartheid'.

To even start to talk in this language, as Mr Davis has done, dignifies a lie and eventually turns a lie into a possibility. This will give incalculable support to the most fevered haters of Israel.

Israel is no more going in the direction of apartheid than is Great Britain. But such terms have been created and chosen for a reason: to make Israel a state apart. Only Israel gets spoken about in this way. To join this, particularly as a 'leader', is to give an incalculable boon to those who wish to destroy Israel. It is to suggest that if they keep going long enough, continually raising the pitch of vilification, delegitimisation and exceptionalism, then eventually everybody will agree with them. At which point the debate can turn to the one they really want to have - how Israel can be ended.

Mr Davis does a double disservice because of the terrible damage that all this does to our friends. There are many here and abroad who support Israel or simply regard it as having the same rights as any other state. Such people are finding it harder and harder to hold the sane line against a tidal-wave of global insanity. Often beleaguered and all-too-often ignored, for such people Mr Davis' comments will be disheartening. Once again the feeling will be reinforced that they are alone - and that not even their so-called leadership is with them.

Earlier this month a column in a leading Egyptian paper claimed that the very existence of Israel was at risk because the Diaspora was losing support for it. Mr Davis' comments tragically confirm this. And he should know that this direction only has one end. As one of the heads of the latest Gaza convoy said a few days ago: "The Mujahideen have told us that they decided not to defeat the oppressive Jews by gunfire, but instead, by daggers. When I asked them why, they said: they are not worth wasting a bullet on… Israel will be annihilated soon."

Mr Davis has given Israel's enemies more daggers. They will be used. If this is what the JLC aim to achieve then our community - and Israel - would be better off without them.

Lord Kalms is life president of DSG International plc

Last updated: 2:10pm, November 25 2010