We can't rely on Europe, warns Israel ambassador

By Bernard Josephs, December 16, 2010
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Angry: Ambassador Prosor

Angry: Ambassador Prosor

A stark warning that Israel cannot rely on the support of European leaders in the battle against the deligitimisation and demonisation of the Jewish state was issued this week by Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor.

At a packed meeting at London's New West End Synagogue, the envoy warned: "When push comes to shove, no-one in Israel really thinks that Europe will come to its aid."

He lambasted politicians who felt they were taking a sufficiently principled stand by simply stating that Israel had "a right to exist."

If he had found it necessary to state that Britain has a right to exist ,"people would wonder what I had been drinking?" he declared.

The ambassador also slated those who professed Israel's right to defend its people, yet took every opportunity to criticise it over actions such as the war against missile attacks, or the building of the anti-terror wall.

Israel, he said, was facing a "new kind of warfare," aimed at attempting to cast it out of the family of nations. "Our adversaries are crossing the line every day. There is more pressure, more demonisation."

It was also important to state, he said, that the international campaign in favour of a Palestinian right of return "would not result in a two-state solution but in the destruction of the state of Israel."

Mr Prosor was on a panel chaired by JC editor Stephen Pollard and including Baroness Deech, former principal of St Anne's College, Oxford and a former governor of the BBC, Daniel Finkelstein, executive editor of The Times, Observer columnist Nick Cohen and Rafael Barjardi, executive director of the Friends of Israel Initiative.

Lady Deech in particular was critical of the community's reaction to the campaign to undermine Israel, accusing communal leaders of a failure to make Israel's case with sufficient vigour.

"There has been a failure in leadership and public relations," she said. "We need a Jewish leadership not just for raising funds but for people who will speak out for Israel. We need a network of people who are ready to speak out."

Referring to the plight of beleaguered Jewish students she said: "We have to help them. I understand that they are scared.

"Universities have largely failed to work within a system of freedom of speech within the law. Calls for 'death to the Jews' have been ignored and at the London School of Economics there have been calls for the killing of Israelis, and calling Israelis Nazis.

"Students need to be encouraged to complain but many are not doing it because they want a quiet life."

She was supported by the ambassador who described the situation on campus as "horrific."

With thousands of students from the Middle East in British universities, he said, "horrible things" were being said about Israel under the cloak of freedom of speech. The feeling is that on campuses, anything goes."

The meeting was organised by the Just Journalism group and the Henry Jackson Society.

    Last updated: 4:00pm, December 16 2010