Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

My letter to the Prime Minister

    Dear Mrs May,

    I am pleased and relieved to find that you appear to be free of animosity towards Israel and to hold the Jewish people in high regard.

    This is no small thing. With the demonisation of Israel the default position in political and cultural circles and with open anti-Jewish hatred now a common occurrence, your decency and straightforwardness have unfortunately become the exception in public life rather than the rule.

    I wonder, though, if you fully realise the sources, extent and consequences of these poisonous attitudes towards Israel and the Jewish people?

    They are by no means confined to the Corbynistas. They have characterised progressive circles for decades and have spread within the Tory party too.

    No one is telling the truth. This is where you come in

    The animus against Israel cannot be separated from hostility to Jews. Antisemitism singles out Jews for treatment applied to no other people: double standards, imputation of conspiratorial powers and false claims they are committing crimes of which they are in fact the victims. This is precisely the treatment applied to Israel.

    Although anti-Israelism is anti-Jew, many who oppose Israel are not antisemitic. There are people of goodwill but no knowledge about the Middle East who believe the Big Lies about Israel with which they are bombarded.

    The problem is that no-one is telling them the truth. This is where you come in. For you can use your high office to help change this false and hateful narrative.

    The British care about law and justice. So when they are told that Israel breaks international law and denies the basic rights of another people, it bothers them a lot.

    In fact, these claims are untrue. Israel denies no-one's basic rights and acts within international law. Yet these hateful falsehoods are the official policy of your government.

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says Israel occupies the "Palestinian territories". This is false. There is no such thing as "Palestinian territory". The Palestinian Arabs were never at any point in history in control of any part of Israel or the disputed territories.

    Israel's presence in the territories cannot be legally defined as an occupation. Under the Hague and Geneva conventions, an occupation can only take place on sovereign land. The territories were never anyone's sovereign land. Israel is entitled under international law to continue to hold onto them as a defensive measure as long as its Arab aggressors continue to use them for belligerent ends.

    Your government also maintains that Israeli settlements are illegal under the Geneva conventions. These prohibit an occupying power from transferring people en masse into occupied territory, a provision drafted after World War Two to prevent any repetition of the Nazis' forced displacement of peoples.

    Israelis resident in the disputed territories, however, have not been transferred but moved there through their own free choice. So over the settlements, your government wilfully misrepresents international law.

    Moreover, the original Mandate for Palestine gave Britain the legally binding duty to settle the Jews throughout what is now not just Israel but the disputed territories too. That Jewish right has never been abrogated.

    In other words, far from being illegal settlers or occupiers of another people's land, the Jews are the only people with a legal and historical claim to all this territory and the only people for whom it was ever their national kingdom. A number of distinguished lawyers have said all this over the years.

    The international law expert Professor Eugene Kontorovich has looked at every modern example where occupied territories have been settled. In none of them did the international community denounce such action as illegal or demand that settlers had to vacate the land as a condition for peace or independence. If world powers asked the occupying force to withdraw, they referred only to the army and not the settler population. The only exception? Israel.

    Prime Minister, why is your government employing against Israel such falsehoods, distortions and double standards? It is thereby helping fuel Muslim radicalisation, incite anti-Jewish hatred and weaken its crucial Israeli ally, which provides so much assistance in military and intelligence links to help keep British people safe.

    Next year sees the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. May I suggest you use this opportunity to start telling the truth about the Jewish homeland that eventually resulted from that event, and thus strike a powerful blow for truth, decency and the defence of the free world.

Columnists

The greater danger is on the left

Melanie Phillips

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The greater danger is on the left
Columnists

Bigotry is not free but costly

Melanie Phillips

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bigotry is not free but costly
Columnists

Shoah uniqueness is now taboo

Melanie Phillips

Friday, February 3, 2017

Shoah uniqueness is now taboo
Columnists

Macron indulges his audiences

Melanie Phillips

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Macron indulges his audiences
Columnists

Donald Trump is no antisemite

Melanie Phillips

Monday, March 20, 2017

Donald Trump is no antisemite
Columnists

Narrative is where you find fiction

Melanie Phillips

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Narrative is where you find fiction
Columnists

Not all refugees are pure victims

Melanie Phillips

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Not all refugees are pure victims
Blogs

Negotiating relationships at a non-Jewniversity

Student Views

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Negotiating relationships at a non-Jewniversity
Columnists

Corbyn, Castro and the fraternal toleration of ...

David Aaronovitch

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Corbyn, Castro and the fraternal toleration of ...