Wednesday, December 2, 2009

British Jews Stand Squarely with Israel

The Zionist Federation was bemused to read the ‘open letter’ to Gordon Brown in today’s Times informing the Prime Minister that British Jews do not speak with ‘one voice’ about Israel. It would be astonishing if the Prime Minister believed that 270,000 Jews spoke with ‘one voice’ about anything. He will appreciate that most of the 1,000 or so signatories have little connection with Jewish organisations and only self-identify for the sole purpose of public vilification of Israel.

It is breathtaking to read that Richard Goldstone is “an internationally acclaimed jurist who has made a substantial contribution worldwide to the development and maintenance of international humanitarian law” and that his co-authors are “distinguished”. As reported in the Huffington Post, Goldstone cut his judicial teeth on the bench of South Africa's Supreme Court under the apartheid regime. During this period between 1980 and 1989 -- some of apartheid South Africa's most violent years -- Goldstone ruled on cases which pitted human rights against South African statutory law, legal precedence, and judicial convention. In 1986, Goldstone sentenced a 13 year old black boy to prison for the “crime” of possessing a tape recording of Oliver Tambo’s voice. Goldstone was severely criticised by South African human rights organisations. Christine Chinkin – Goldstone’s co-author – was clearly far from impartial. She signed an open letter (11 January 2009) in The Sunday Times in which she wrote "Israel's actions demonstrate aggression, not self-defence".

The signatories - who want Gordon Brown to support the Goldstone Report in the UN - clearly have not done their due diligence - let alone read the Report. The Goldstone Mission was created by a biased mandate; its composition was not even-handed; the 12,000 missiles and Quassam rockets fired at Israelis for eight years prior to the action in Gaza get hardly a mention; and there is no mention of Israel’s right to self-defence.

More than 3,600 people have signed a petition to Gordon Brown to reject Goldstone. The signatories who support Goldstone represent a tiny idiosyncratic publicity-seeking fringe which takes its cue from Iran, Libya and Zimbabwe (who voted for the Report in the UN).

The vast majority of British Jews accept that Israel’s action was both necessary and proportionate and salute the skill of those who carried it out. As Colonel Richard Kemp - former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan said: “During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”.

Indeed the ZF is delighted to announce that Colonel Kemp has accepted our invitation to speak directly to the large community of Israel supporters in the UK, at the ZF's Annual Dinner in February.