Labour Friends of Israel continues to whitewash war crimes

Palestine1One year on from the tragic events in Gaza last summer, and the British Israel lobby is still trying to distract us from Israel’s crimes by highlighting perceived wrongdoing by other sides.

In her piece for Left Foot Forward, Jennifer Gerber makes a number of claims which require refutation: Hamas’ responsibility for provoking ‘the conflict’; the use of ‘terror tunnels’; Hamas use of human shields; and finally what Gerber laughably calls, ‘Israel’s attempt to avoid civilian casualties’.

Continue reading

Blair should be sacked from his post as Quartet Representative in the Middle East

blair_kennard_640-e1363602340831Following the latest example of Blair’s shameful support for brutal regimes in the Middle East, I have sent this letter to all four members of the Quartet – Ban Ki-moon at the UN, President Obama, President Putin, and President Barroso of the EU Commission:

Dear Secretary-General,

I write as a former Minister in the Blair government in the UK from 1997-2003 and a member of the Front Bench of my party in the UK Parliament for 29 years (1974-2003) to request that you and other members of the Quartet for Middle East affairs should now urgently review the position of Tony Blair as Quartet Representative. Continue reading

On the “Obsession” with Israel and Palestine

Israel-Palestine-e1297092190649I think James Bloodsworth has been unfair locating the opposition to Israel’s bombing and invasion of Gaza in the matrix of revolutionary identity politics. Yes, in the fractured universe of British radicalism the Israel/Palestine conflict is an occasion for position-taking, and, as with nearly all positions assumed, be it war in the Middle East, the attitude to Labour, or whether capitalism has been restored in China, they are a locus for identity work. However, it is a mistake to say this determinesopposition to Israel. Their “obsession” derives neither from freaks of character nor unacknowledged anti-semitism: it’s because mainstream politics recognises, treats and privileges the Israel/Palestine conflict as a strategic priority in ways other persistent conflicts are not. It matters to the left because official society says it matters. Continue reading

Peter Hain is right – the two-state solution is dead

Peter HainIn his recent contribution to the Israel-Palestine debate, Peter Hain did something remarkable. In a speech at Swansea University, the Labour MP, former Northern Ireland secretary, and veteran anti-apartheid campaigner broke with the consensus that a two-state solution spells the best chance of securing a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Unsurprisingly, Hain was rebuked by the Party which reiterated its commitment “to a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel”.

That sounds like an admirable goal, but is it even achievable? Observers of the peace process over the years will be familiar with the historic failure of negotiations based on the two-state paradigm. With time, Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has become increasingly entrenched and permanent, whilst the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land by settlements, illegal under international law, has put to rest any hope of that coveted “viable Palestinian state”. Continue reading