A debate in Parliament recently on the Occupied Palestinian Territories drew some very silly remarks from the ‘usual suspects’.

It was opened in commonsense vein by Stephen Kinnock who said:

“It is so vital and urgent that the rule of law be brought to bear as the foundation upon which a viable and sustainable Palestine can be negotiated and built—a Palestine that protects the rights of its citizens and lives in peace with its neighbours.​

“The illegal Israeli settlements…. cause violence on a daily basis and they are a flagrant breach of international law, yet they continue and expand. In 2018, we marked 25 years since the signing of the Oslo accords. That moment in 1993 was meant to herald a new and lasting era of peace and co-existence—the beginning of a genuine two-state solution—but since then, the number of illegal settlers has increased from 258,000 to more than 610,000. Fifty thousand homes and properties have been demolished, and an illegal separation barrier has been built that carves up the West Bank and brutally disconnects towns, cities, families and communities from each other.”

‘This Israeli Government will continue on their current path…. further annexation’

Labour’s Jeff Smith kept the show on a sane level by reminding the House that Israel’s accords with the UAE and Bahrain have led only to a suspension of trouble, not an end. “Netanyahu has said that the plans for annexation remain on the table, and many of us fear that his Government could still bring those plans into practice”.

You can count on it. That is the Zionist Project’s main purpose.

“The single message that I took away from a visit to the West Bank—the one thing that came from many human rights groups and a range of people on the ground including diplomats and strong supporters of Israel—is that unless there are consequences for their actions, this Israeli Government will continue on their current path. That means, ultimately, moves towards further annexation and the end of a two-state solution.”

But from there the debate went downhill to the extent that a colleague, Elizabeth Morley, decided to write to the most irritating participants. It’s a classic put-down and, I think, well worth sharing with readers.

Elizabeth wrote:

Dear MPs,

Thank you all for taking part in this debate.

It was disappointing but not surprising that both the Minister and those who declare themselves Friends of Israel ostensibly pay only lip service to peace, justice, and the rule of international law where Israel is concerned. FoIs invariably shift blame onto the Palestinians, urging HMG to apply more pressure on them than on Israel.

To Mr Crabb, concerned about the threat of violence and death for Jewish Israeli citizens, I would suggest he force himself to try and extend his concern to non-Jewish Israelis too, let alone to Palestinians in the Occupied territory.

Mr Wakeford wondered if new elections in Palestine would “bring not only an impetus for negotiation, but hope for the Palestinian people to move forward and find peace in the middle east?” Has he forgotten what happened after Hamas won the legislative election in 2006 with an overwhelming majority? The so-called free world refused to accept that outcome, thereby facilitating a further 15 years of violence.

To Mr Howell I would say settlements are not just unhelpful, they are illegal. His remark that it is Palestinians ramming Israeli cars that makes the settlements necessary is nothing if not laughable.

Mr Moore, possibly blinded by his support of Israel, says “Violence against Jews in the region had been taking place even before the state’s establishment in 1948”. He should remember that in the same period the non-Jews of Palestine had suffered violence both from the British Mandatory and from the Jewish terror gangs who committed atrocity after atrocity right up to the declaration of the State of Israel. As for his remark that: “For millennia, Jews lived in the west bank, known as the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria”, he should recall that the proportion of Jewish to non-Jewish Palestinians in what was fondly known as the Holy Land before the Balfour Declaration was approx. 5% to 95%! Regarding his comments on Gaza, would he consider his life would have improved after Israel withdrew settlers but destroyed its infrastructure, polluted its land and waters, restricted access to electricity and water, made it unfit for human occupation and, to use David Cameron’s phrase, turned Gaza into “an open-air prison camp” surveilled night and day from land, sea and air? Finally, as for “Palestine—meaning modern-day Israel” – no, it does not!

Mr McCabe is worried about Palestinian text books. Has he ever studied Israeli textbooks? I assume not. So let him, and others who are similarly worried, read the recent study by Prof. Avner Ben-Amos of Tel Aviv University’s School of Education which shows that the occupation barely figures in Israeli school textbooks, in which Palestinians are all but invisible, while at the same time the Jewish control and the Palestinians’ inferior status appear as a natural, self-evident situation that one doesn’t have to think about. The Bible is used as a historical source and as a moral justification for Jewish occupation of the West Bank. [See https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-in-israeli-textbooks-the-palestinians-are-all-but-invisible-1.8933768]

Mr Largan follows up his cynical remark about Palestine recognition by describing Hamas as “openly committed to the genocide of Jewish people”. I would suggest he and others of that persuasion (Mr McCabe included) brush up their somewhat flimsy knowledge about Hamas and its history.

Mr Clarke-Smith says: “Conflict is in no way as clearcut as it is so often presented, just as the settlements issue requires greater nuance than some are willing to provide.” To him I would say: On the contrary, “the conflict” IS clear cut! It started with the Balfour Declaration, which gave a free ticket to foreign Jews to take over Palestine. Let him “nuance” the history of Palestine beyond all recognition!

Good to see the Minister dismissed Mr Shannon’s puerile attempt to divert attention to Iran.

I have copied in my MP. Unfortunately he did not take part in the debate.

Nevertheless, I am confident that he would have agreed with those who urged HMG to recognise Palestine, ban settlement goods and cease trade with companies profiting from the Occupation.

Thank you for your attention.”

*

Crabb is an especially sad case. He’s Parliamentary Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), a lobby group at the centre of UK government which in 2014 claimed to include 80% of Conservative Party MPs. An utterly shameful state of affairs when you consider what message is sent by eagerly waving the flag of a brutal, lawless and racist regime that has few friends outside the conceited Westminster and Washington ‘elites’.

He is also a Christian who believes in the practical value of prayer. But if he’s such a dedicated supporter of the Zionist Project, which god does he pray to?

In 2017 he told the Jewish Chronicle:

“My interest in supporting Israel through CFI is less to do with faith and much more to do with basic values about liberalism, tolerance, democracy and freedom. When you put yourself on the side of Israel you are putting yourself on the side of those values, which as a Conservative I believe are the essential underpinnings of prosperity in the modern world.

“You cannot fail to be impressed by Israel as a beacon of freedom and liberalism.”

Funny man. Israel’s ‘values’ don’t include letting the Palestinians have their freedom or even the slightest sniff at the underpinning of prosperity.

And he recently wrote:

“As I have emphasised to you on numerous occasions in the past, the way forward is for a renunciation of violence and terror by Hamas and a resumption of full peace talks. It was very encouraging to see Israel and the United Arab Emirates reach a ground-breaking peace agreement over summer and this has to be the way forward. It is tragic that the Hamas leadership remain determined to turn Gaza into a terrorist statelet, rather than a prosperous home for Palestinians.”

The way forward is, and always has been, compliance with international law and UN resolutions and an end to Israel’s illegal and vicious military occupation which, even Crabb must see, deprives Palestinians of any hope of prosperity.

Mrs Morley, I think, would have pointed out to Crabb (as she did to someone else) that if he and his colleagues truly want peace – which I personally doubt because that’s the last thing their adored Israel wants – they are “doing all the wrong things, namely:

  • failing to recognise Palestine;
  • failing to sanction Israel for its decades long illegal occupation of Palestine and its ongoing crimes against Palestinian life;
  • failing to hold Israel to its obligations under international law as regards the return of refugees;
  • failing to stop selling lethal weapons to Israel which are used to maim and murder Palestinians, including children. By not banning settlement products, HMG actively assist those who support the illegal Israeli settlements whose main aim is the displacement, disenfranchisement, elimination by any means of the Palestinian people on their own land. In fact HMG are for ever tilting the balance in Israel’s favour in countless other ways. And no amount of peace deals with Israel’s other Arab nations will make any difference.”

Managing it, never solving it

And I’d be saying to Mr Crabb, if you are seriously interested in Christianity you should connect with the Christian churches out there instead of constantly hobnobbing with the Zionist Tendency. And I do mean the real Christians, those in the front line battling the jackbooted mayhem in the Holy Land.

And he ought to acquaint himself with the Kairos Document. Eleven years ago a group of Christian Palestinians issued “a cry of hope in the absence of all hope”, reflecting their country’s decades of suffering under brutal Israeli occupation.

They said they had reached a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people because international decision-makers contented themselves with ‘managing’ the crisis rather than solving it. The situation was, and still is, destroying human life and that must surely be of concern to the Church. “We call out as Christians and as Palestinians to our religious and political leaders, to our Palestinian society and to the Israeli society, to the international community, and to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Churches around the world.”

Eight years later, in 2017, came an Open Letter from Christian Palestinians to the World Council of Churches and the ecumenical movement. It was a heart-rending cry for help from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine (NCCOP) saying the situation for Palestinians was “beyond urgent”.

They were concerned that States and churches were still dealing with Israel on a business-as-usual basis and ignoring the criminal reality of the military occupation. After all, the world’s churches had come together in opposition to apartheid in South Africa and helped to defeat it. So why hadn’t they done the same for Palestine?

Then came a third Red Alert “standing on the cliff-edge looking into an abyss”. On the 10th anniversary of their first warning document, Kairos Palestine reached out to world’s Churches yet again, saying that life in Palestine had deteriorated even further under another decade of illegal occupation.

  • “The oppression is more aggressive and brutal.”
  • “Our imprisoned and besieged sisters and brothers in Gaza, non-violently gathered for the March of Return, were the targets of a bloody and deadly response.”
  • “Settlements continue to expand.”
  • “Threats to annex the Jordan Valley and the settlements themselves grow without a word of condemnation from the major powers.”
  • “We are experiencing the continued dispossession of our land, our freedom and our human rights.”
  • “Add to this, three more appalling developments:
    • US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel;
    • the US Secretary of State’s announcement that the US government no longer deems West Bank settlements to be ‘inconsistent with international law’;
    • and the State of Israel’s recent adoption of their Nation State Law which clearly reveals that de facto apartheid has become de jure apartheid.”
  • “The failure of the peace process is further evidence that the current status quo is unsustainable.”

The statement went on:

“There are still many who use the Bible to justify the occupation and who unquestioningly support the State of Israel. And, for the most part, the global Church is failing us. We are standing as if on the edge of a cliff, looking into an abyss.”

The essential point of their 2017 Open Letter was that time had run out: it was beyond urgent. And it ended with the chilling words:

“This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land.”

So did the efforts of these Palestinian clergy, Christ’s front-line troops who daily face hostility, abuse and physical danger, finally get through to our comfy Holy Joes here in the UK’s leafy suburbs? Has the penny dropped that the wellspring of their faith, the birthplace of Jesus, is being stolen and may be lost for ever if Israel gets its way?

How has the World Council of Churches responded to all those urgent pleas from Palestine? And did the message percolated down through the ranks? And have our spiritual leaders, those upstanding ‘men of the cloth’, been mobilising their troops? They promised to study and analyse.

“We want churches in Palestine to know that their perspective is heard and it is vitally important,” said the WCC’s general secretary. “We will continue with the same passionate spirit to work on specific objectives, strategies and partners for advocacy to end the occupation and to work for just peace in Palestine and Israel.”

Or was it all bollox?

Rejecting Christian Zionism

Meanwhile, if Mr Crabb is the true, prayerful Christian he claims to be he’ll be eager to read The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem in 2006.

It says among other things:

“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message.
“We reject the alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States [add the UK] that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine.
“We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that support these policies as they promote racial exclusivity and perpetual war.
“We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.
” We call upon all people to reject Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.
“We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation.”

And Palestinians – Muslim and Christian – are one people. Don’t anyone forget that.

“A man is known by the company he keeps”, said Aesop the legendary storyteller. So what is Mr Crabb, who prays a lot, doing wedded to an organisation that celebrates the Israeli regime’s cruel and criminal ambition to crush its Palestinian neighbours, including their Christian communities, who have always been in that land?

Stuart Littlewood
6 October 2020

Author Details
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. With a lifelong passion for photography he has produced two photo-documentary books, one of which can be read online at www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.
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